Forswearing Foolish Ways
I first reported at Starehe Boys' Centre as a student on a lovely Thursday afternoon on 17th January of 2002. Back then, I didn't realize how fortunate I had been to be admitted to the school which treated new students as brothers. It's only in recent years when I have heard of how some of my friends were bullied in their first days in high school by their seniors that I have thanked God for taking me to Starehe which had a tradition of assigning every new student to a second-former who would orient him to the ways of the school.
My second-former was one friendly Leon Osumba from the Luo community of Kenya who was a bit hearing impaired but compensated for that disability by wearing hearing aids. He went out of his way to introduce me to other schoolmates in Chaka House that I was part of. His amiable demeanour explains why I have a visceral hatred for any sort of discrimination on the grounds of age, race, faith, tribe, gender, disability or sexual orientation. And it also explains why I wouldn't mind marrying from the Luo community, provided the lady is a person of fashion and sense.
The captain of Chaka House back in 2002 was one Michael Mwangale who received the first-formers of that year amicably including me. He used to hold regular meetings with us during the first half of Term 1 in which he would mentor us on a myriad of issues including the spread of HIV/AIDS. Like I remember him telling us that it is unwise to ruin our lives with two minutes of sexual ecstasy. And the night before we broke for mid-term holidays in that term, he organized a small bash for us in which we feasted on biscuits and drank plenty of tea. Oh, how I miss those good old days!
I shall always remember Mwangale for a funny comment he uttered during one roll-call. It was a day before we broke for a half-term holiday, an exciting moment especially for us first-formers. After Mwangale was through with whatever important stuff he was telling during that roll-call, he closed his remarks by saying, "And guys, do have a nice half-term. Go say 'hi!' to your sisters."
Again I say, that was Michael Mwangale: a didactic, commanding but sometimes funny young man who in 2002 served as the captain of Chaka House at Starehe Boys' Centre.
But perhaps the Starehian who gave me the best reception in the school was one Jesse Nyoro who was six years my senior and whose photo I have displayed above. He introduced me to Music teachers when he heard that I could play the piano. And he made some very congenial compliments about me to my fellow first-formers. Later on, he encouraged me to accompany hymns on the piano during assembly by giving me a music score of hymn no. 59 in Starehe Boys' hymnal: that wonderful old hymn in limerick form whose first verse goes as follows:
Nyoro treated me like a brother despite the fact that I was a confused new student while he was a famous senior in Starehe pursuing a technical course in the institute division of the school. He still remains my friend who has counselled me on several occasions in recent years.
Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways;
Old now is Earth, and none may count her days,
Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
Still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim:
Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
Like he called me on phone the other day to inquire how I was fairing in life. I told him that I am still working hard and praying for breakthroughs, to which he replied, "What breakthroughs are you praying for Thuita? Don't you realize that your breakthroughs happened a long time ago? Do you know how many people wish they could own a website like you do and write as you do? Stop this business of saying you are praying for breakthroughs."
He proceeded to tell me of two disciples who walked with Jesus without realizing they were with Him until He gave them bread. The point he was trying to make in that reference to the two disciples is that God has already been with me and I only need to open my eyes wider to sense His presence. For whatever reasons, I cannot remember reading about that story of the two disciples walking with Jesus without realizing it in spite of having studied the whole Bible from preface to index.
I however tried to clarify to Nyoro that by praying for breakthroughs, I meant earning money. And I wish I had told him like by winning a lucrative advertising contract in this blog but he cut me short when I mentioned the word money by replying, "Thuita, money only accounts for 10% of happiness. So long as you have food to eat, clothes to wear and good health - those alone are big breakthroughs."
After reflecting on that Nyoro's advice, I am thinking that maybe I should begin counting my blessings instead of focusing on what I don't have. Or maybe I need to forswear my foolish ways and proclaim my inner God by being grateful for the gifts of everyday life as that wonderful old hymn I have mentioned exhorts in its first verse. Actually, that's what I strive to be doing. So should you.
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I love reading mottoes of learning institutions because of the immense wisdom they carry which I try to practice in my day-to-day living. Let me share with you, my dear reader, the mottoes that have inspired me most and some reflections on how we can apply them in our lives.
First is the motto of Starehe Boys' Centre: Natulenge Juu (Let Us Aim High) that is beautifully engraved on the school's crest which was one of the aspects of Starehe I admired most during my years in the school as I have pointed out in the caption of the crest photo above. I love the motto because it resonates with my ambitious nature that I have possessed for as long as I can remember.
Second is the motto of Rose of Sharon Academy in Nairobi where I taught piano for a year in 2015: Nurturing Excellence in Spirit, Wisdom and Grace. It is borrowed from a verse in the Book of Luke. A wonderful motto, isn't it?
Third is the motto of Harvard College: Ve ri tas (Verity and Truth). I have tried to apply that motto in every area of my life which explains why I am always truthful in my words and deeds. So even though I was rejected at the college when I applied twice for undergraduate admission, I am glad to be living the Harvard motto.
Fourth is the motto of Patrick Henry College: For Christ and For Liberty. I love that motto because it resonates with my belief in Christ and in respect for other people's faith: be they Muslims, Buddhists or atheists. And that explains why even though I believe deeply in the Bible, I have never tried to impose my beliefs on anyone. I am now striving to win people to my way of thinking, which roots from my faith in Christ, through my words, deeds, humour, warmth of personality and good will towards all people.
Fifth is the motto of Liberty University: Knowledge Aflame. I have been inspired by that motto to acquire knowledge by reading, reflection, socializing and listening to music as well as by occassionally watching movies and sports. Talk of keeping knowledge aflame.
Sixth is the motto of the United States which is poetically well-stated in her national anthem as follows:
So much do I love those lines of the United States anthem and their accompanying melody that I usually find myself singing them out loud when walking and showering. And that's why I trust in God a lot these days.
Then conquer we must,
When our cause it is just;
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust"...
Last but not least is the motto of the Scout Movement: Be Prepared. I try to follow the motto by dressing well even when going to buy something in a nearby kiosk because I never know: I may meet my soulmate! That's why I also read regularly, why I carry three business cards in my wallet and why I am always striving to nurture my strength of spirit to shield me in sudden misfortunes such as the loss of a loved one. I advise you to be prepared as well.
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Scoring in Life
When I wrote in my previous story in this lovely blog of mine about my wonderful experience in my days at Starehe Institute, I forgot to tell you that I also did watch football especially the 2006 FIFA World Cup while at the institute. I found it exciting to look forward to matches though I don't think my intention for watching the matches was for getting enough tales to show off to friends.
Of the numerous world-class footballers that I got to know back then, there was one who stood out from the crowd from my perspective. That was Ronaldinho de Gaucho.
I admired Ronaldinho not only for his good looks and dribbling skills but also for his trademark grin. He seemed to be in love with the game as some other footballers frowned on the pitch. I so much admired him that I put his image on the home window of the software I developed on the 2006 World Cup soccer fixtures.
And when the world cup began in June that year, I strongly rooted for Brazil which I fervently believed would win the cup because of its then talented and experienced attacking combo of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. But alas! The team was sent packing after a quarter-final loss to France following a surprise goal scored by Thierry Henry. That loss to Brazil made me so heartsick that I was unable to attend church the following day.
But I still love Ronaldinho whom I occasionally watch on videos I downloaded from the internet of which in action during his heydays during which he won the La Liga and Champions League with FC Barcelona, Copa America as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup and the World Cup with Brazil - the benchmarks of a truly remarkable football career.
No wonder he was selected once as the European Player of the Year and twice in a row as the FIFA World Player of the Year. To the best of my knowledge, only Ronaldo (of Brazil) and Zinedine Zidane can rival Ronaldinho in their range of football accomplishments. I stand to be corrected.
Although I no longer watch live football matches these days, I treasure the lesson I gleaned from the game which happens to be the most popular sport in the world: that the performance of a football team is not judged by how well it plays but by how many goals it scores. So a star-studded team can play well by dribbling skilfully and making clever passes but if it fails to score, it is no better than that of lousy players.
And after reflecting on that lesson, I have discovered that life too is like a football game in that we have to score on the important aspects of life such as love, peace, health and wealth if we are truly to be remarkable. If we try to live well by eating a balanced diet, reading regularly and exercising physically but still struggle with low self-esteem, loneliness, poverty and hatred, then we are no better than alcoholics.
Let us therefore strive score on those important aspects in life: love, peace, health and wealth. Of those aspects, the most important is love just as Jesus Christ and St. Paul said in their teachings. I am of the opinion that if we strive particularly on love - to love God, ourselves and others - then peace, health and wealth will come easily to us.
Yes, let's love God, ourselves and others. And if we possess love in increasing measure, then we will start scoring well in the other three aspects of life like FC Barcelona's current prolific attacking combo of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.