The Starehe Parting Advice - Reflections of a Young Man™

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The Starehe Parting Advice

Photo of my friend Samuel Sifuna, the bugler on the left side, during his days at Starehe Boys' Centre. I have displayed the photo here with his permission. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.

Situated next to a slum on the outskirts of downtown Nairobi is Starehe Boys' Centre: a First-World school founded by Dr. Geoffrey Griffin in 1959 to help transform needy boys into self-reliant gentlemen. I was fortunate to be admitted to the school on 17th January of 2002 after scoring a surprising 421 mark in the national primary school examinations - surprising because of my mediocre marks in Standard Eight continuous assessment tests.

After attending Starehe for close to six years for high school as well as college education, I was lucky to be released into the world in peace on April 2007 by the then new director of the school in a church service on which I was charged never to forget the great benefits I had received in Starehe, and in time to come, according to my means, I do all I can to enable others enjoy the same advantage; and to remember that I carried with me wherever I went, the good name of Starehe.

I was also advised to be of good courage; to hold fast that which is good; to listen for the voice of truth; to think fairly; to love widely; to witness humbly; to render to no man evil for evil; to strengthen the faint-hearted; to support the weak; to help the afflicted; to honour all men; to love brotherhood; to build bravely and to serve God.

In an uplifting prayer, I was prayed for that God's loving-kindness and mercy may follow me all the days of my life; that He may succour me in temptation; that He may preserve me in danger; that He may assist me in every good work; that He may bless me in my ways; that He may keep me in the knowledge of His love; that He may prosper me in all things good; and that He may keep me in the way that leads to eternal life.

That parting advice sounds wise but guess what? I did not listen to it in the service because my mind was preoccupied with other issues like the rejection letters I had received from top American Colleges that had depressed me especially the one from MIT. It was only seven years later in 2014 that I re-visited the advice after leading a frustrating life of constant struggle.

I am thinking that my life would have turned out better had I heeded the advice right from the time I left Starehe in 2007. But I did not because I looked down on some people, failed to stand up for myself, run away from home, permitted some people to mistreat me, allowed others to con me, overslept during the day and cheated when I re-applied to top American colleges. No wonder I got frustrated with life.

Indeed, that Starehe parting advice was wise. It was certainly not available online but it was on-point.


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My New Job

After dropping out of the University of Nairobi in 2011 due to financial constraints, I opted to go home in Kiserian to relax and rejuvenate. I eventually got hooked to the home lifestyle where I had freedom to spend my days as I wished under the auspices of my parents. Sometimes I would read, sometimes sleep and sometimes go roaming - secure in the knowledge that I could go back home any time where a ready meal was waiting for me.

But I stayed too long at home that in 2014, one of my neighbours advised me to find a job. I would have ignored the advice had it not been for a question some people started posing to me in my roaming: "Thuita, what do you do for a living?"

Like my high school classmate named Christopher, fresh from graduating with a Masters Degree in England and newly employed by an international oil company, asked me that question in December of 2014 when we met for a chat at an aristocratic restaurant in Nairobi of which he footed the coffee bill.

The pressure of the question weighed on me that I at one time melted away from an informal church gathering of choir members I hadn't seen for a few years for fear of being asked what I had been doing for a living. Imagine I went to a nearby recreational park where I lay on the ground all by myself as people were merrymaking with their families in the park's amenities. Depressing, isn't it?

Interestingly, I discovered this year that I had been toying with some hobbies like writing, singing, piano playing and public speaking all along since I went back home after dropping out of the university in 2011. I just indulged in them every now and then without any seriousness like the way I hear some men have sex with women with no intention of marrying them; the kind of women Chinua Achebe described as good-time girls in his charming A Man of the People novel.

So I asked myself yesterday, "Aha! Why not turn these hobbies into real work?"

I have therefore resolved to be waking up early everyday to indulge in my hobbies as if they were my real work which hopefully, with God's favour, will evolve into income-earning sources. And now let the whole world rejoice that I finally have a job. I am a writer, a musician, a farmer and a public speaker. Alleluia!


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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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