An Inspiring Prayer - Reflections of a Young Man™

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An Inspiring Prayer

Let me make a confession: I am an avid reader - a habit I picked up when I first began revising for the SAT exam in August '06 because my revision book stated that the best way to ace the exam was to read widely and wisely. I am confessing that because there was a time I didn't want people to know me as a reader for I associated books with dullness, strictness and anti-social behaviour like I observed in some of my university lecturers. Luckily for me, reading has made me creative, humble, discerning and fun to be with.

Before I resolved to only read books that are truly educative and well-written, I used to devour almost any book I came across especially classics and autobiographies. And I noted that I would sometimes move across the pages of some books with my eyes while my mind was far away in another world - certainly the kind of reading I will discourage in my children. But occasionally, I would be awakened from my trance by a sentence that touched me which I would underline and sometimes memorize.

That is what exactly happened when I first read the vaunted autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - one of the founding fathers of America whose visionary leadership helped transform the country into the mightiest super-power the world has seen so far. I was drifting through it absent-mindedly but determinedly sometime in 2012 when I came across this inspiring prayer in the book:
"Father of light and life, thou good supreme!
O teach me what is good, teach me Thyself!
Save me from folly, vanity and vice,
From every low pursuit and fill my soul,
With knowledge, conscious peace and virtue pure;
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!" [1]
That prayer touched me so much that I drilled it into my memory with relative ease and found myself reciting it when walking like I did yesterday evening. It clearly states all that I desire to be in a way that I can't express in my own words. And I am striving to be a living example of all that the prayer summarizes wittily.

[1] I have extracted this prayer from page 81 of the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, published in 1998 by the Pennsylvania State University.


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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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