Regaining Youthful Looks - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Regaining Youthful Looks

While I didn't bother to measure my weight after I was discharged from Thika Nursing Home in late 2008, I must have grown suddenly huge judging by the comments people were making of me.

"Thuita, are you really feeling comfortable in that weight?" asked my brother Robert as I was helping out at some chores in the kitchen.

"Hey, did someone pump something into you?" inquired Martin, my high school deskmate, expressing his surprise at my gained weight.

Those remarks alarmed me because I had always wanted to look youthful much in the same way Barack Obama appeared like a twenty-something old when he was gunning for the US presidency in '08. I however just couldn't summon enough discipline to cut weight because the events that had led to my admission at Thika Nursing Home left me feeling terribly demoralized.

But later on in early 2011 when I was at the University of Nairobi (UoN), I was pleased to receive comments that I had lost weight - more so from my brother Robert who had negatively commented on my massive looks a few years earlier.

I can't pinpoint the exact cause that led to my weight-loss but I think it lay in the renewed vigour I experienced after matriculating at UoN. A vigour characterized by many walks and constant writing.

Then the same circumstances that led to my hospitalization at Thika Nursing Home recurred in April 2011 which led to my admission at a UoN clinic. A few friends from the university remarked that I had gained weight after I was released from the clinic.

I am reflecting on those incidences because they hold the key to cutting down my excessive weight which was brought to my attention yesterday. Well, I wanted to put a picture of myself in front of a microphone next to the heading of this website at the top. But all the photos taken of me yesterday brought me out as a flabby faddy daddy - not as a young man which this website title suggests I am.

So I will do what I did when I matriculated at UoN: write everyday and take daily walks. And hopefully in a few months time, I will regain my youthful looks and comfortably claim to be a young man. Watch this space!


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Saying "No"

I can't pinpoint the exact cause or reason why people tended to take advantage of me by assigning me mediocre tasks they should have done themselves. But all I know is that they did it often and I did not resist, perhaps for fear of getting rebuked like one of my uncles regularly did to me when I was growing up.

It all began in my childhood years at home where I was often commanded to deliver such things as salt to my family seniors. And our neighbouring farmhand named Mwaga picked up the habit of taking advantage of me by sending me to a nearby kiosk to buy him cigarettes.

Then the habit continued well into high school and beyond. Like in 2004, a senior schoolmate instructed me to go deliver a message to a lass he was afraid of approaching. In 2006, a young woman asked me to get her a lip balm she had forgotten in the church pews that had now been occupied by faithfuls attending a different mass. And in 2008, a church-mate ordered me to go find lose money from his Ksh. 1000 note.

Later on in life as I came to understand my rights, I reflected with bitterness at all the times people had taken advantage of me by assigning me mediocre tasks without pay. As the bitterness ate my peace like a rat on a loaf of bread, I swore never to allow anyone to take advantage of me again. I took to heart this encouraging quote by Frederick Douglass who escaped from slavery in the America of 1800s:
"I prefer to be true to myself even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than be to be false and incur my own abhorrence."
Then came the testing moment sometime in 2015. I was from telling a pupil to get prepared for a piano class after lunch in a school I was teaching in Nairobi when a fellow teacher instructed me to take his plate with food remains to the waste disposal area of the dining hall.

Perhaps out of habit, I quickly obeyed by accepting the plate. But a few seconds afterwards, I began castigating myself. Why had I accepted to take the plate while I didn't take part in eating the meal of the fellow teacher? Had I not sworn never to allow anyone to take advantage of me? Had I not taken to heart the quote of Frederick Douglass?

As those kind of thoughts flooded my mind, I got angry with myself. And I am ashamed to admit that I spilled the anger over to the innocent pupil whom I taught piano after lunch. But at least I learnt what it meant to be brave, to be bold, to be courageous, to be valiant, to be gallant etc.

So when the next testing moment came, I passed it. And gradually, I have found myself saying "no" with increasing ease.


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As some of my friends can testify, I have always been interested in public speaking ever since I enrolled at Starehe Boys' Centre where I gave speeches right from my first year till my last. And like wine, I got better with time. I particularly enjoyed delivering my last speech at the school in which I challenged the students to think like geniuses after I got inspired by Todd Siler's monumental book, Think Like a Genius. Some students were so impressed with the speech that they started talking about it as if I had announced a cure for AIDS.

Unfortunately, I haven't had any public speaking opportunities since I left Starehe. And I find it unwise to deliver speeches to people who are leading better lives than me. That's like a tortoise instructing an antelope on how to outrun a cheetah.

Nonetheless, I have tried to create public speaking opportunities for myself in church, not by preaching but by expressing my concerns and perspectives. Like I once gave an ear-binding speech to choir members at Nairobi's All Saints Cathedral in which I spoke of how I am inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus; of how it is important to be happy in life; and of how I needed their support as I strove to attain my dreams. I finished my speech by asking them to be patient with me because God was not finished with me yet.

I also created a public-speaking opportunity by visiting Starehe Boys' Centre in early 2012 to give success tips to the students because I felt that was the only audience to which I could preach to by virtue of having experienced the world more than they had. Actually, I borrowed the success tips from an inspiring speech that was delivered to high school students by Gerry Sikorski who served as a US senator in the '80s. Okay, let me enumerate the success tips that I passed on to Starehe students.

First, I told them that they had to be absolutely determined to enjoy what they did if they are to succeed in life because no one has ever succeeded at something he or she hated. Secondly, I told them not to be afraid of failing. And if they happened to fail, they should learn from it and move on.

Thirdly, I told them never to give up on anybody because people do really change. Like the student who hardly ever talks in class may become a government spokesman some day. Or the student who hardly ever converses with girls during school functions may end up marrying a remarkably beautiful and sophisticated lady. Or the student who drops Physics in junior high school may come up with ground-breaking ideas in Nuclear and Atomic Physics!

Fourthly, I asked them to remember their family, relatives and friends wherever they will be in life because true friends are valuable in tough times. Fifthly, I asked them to trust their instincts even when the instincts insist on breaking conventions. I gave an example of how an advertising agency became one of the fastest-growing companies by creating adverts that broke conventional wisdom. And finally, I told them never to give up on themselves.

Then I challenged them that if the oppressed are to be freed, it will be because our generation gives us people like Martin Luther Jr. who faced police dogs because he believed injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

That if the hungry are to be fed, it will be because our generation gives us people like Harry Chapin who devoted the last years of his short life not to the riches he could accrue for himself as a singer, but to showing the world of how people were suffering from starvation in Africa.

That if the world's resources are to be preserved, it will because our generation gives us people like Wangari Maathai who confronted a dictatorial regime to expose the destruction of natural resources.

I concluded my speech by asking the students to have a vision in life. And I ended it by reciting this magnificent quote by John Steinback:
"I see us not in the setting sun of a dark night of despair ahead. I see us in the crimson light of a rising sun, fresh from the burning, creative hand of God. I see great days ahead. Great days made possible by men [and women] of will and vision."
That speech impacted me more than it did for those students who listened to me because I have found myself trying to live by what I said. My prayer is that I get opportunities to give better and more original speeches in the future. So help me God.


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