In Turkana

In Turkana

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Heart to Heart

My dress my choiceLike an avalanche that has slowly but steadily grown to a humongous size, the Kenyan society seems to be at an almost breaking point. I might be a bit pessimistic but recent events point at a disaster waiting to happen. Social injustice has been the order of the day since time immemorial but recent occurrences especially violence against women should serve as a wake-up call.
I will not dwell on the specific cases that have truly and well been documented but rather a diagnosis of what is ailing us. This is just an opinion and I might be wrong but I’ll let my voice be heard.
 “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. So said Mahatma Gandhi. What is the one thing that you and I can change to stop the rot in our lives, our society and our nation? As a Christian, I’m reminded by Jesus that I need not point out the speck in the eye of another before removing the log in mine. I see the issue at hand as being three-faceted; spiritual, social and economic.
Icover menn the Bible book of Isaiah 6:5, it states “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” In the previous chapter of the book, Prophet Isaiah had been pronouncing words of woe to the corrupt society in which he lived. The King now had died and when the Prophet went into the temple, he saw a vision. It was that of God’s throne in a very vivid manner until Isaiah no longer pronounced woes on others but did so on himself. In the holiness of the Most High, he saw his sin and Isaiah declared ruin upon himself. It reminds me of the evil times we live in and the general rebellion we have communally established against God and his ways. Ways that are just and pure. What have we become?
How many ladies marvel at being referred to as ‘bi***es’ by men and only complain after being treated like female dogs? What sin are we hiding in ourselves that is now getting manifest through the sickening occurrences? You might argue that women are dressing provocatively and thus ‘asking for it’. I beg to differ. I once spent three weeks in Lokichoggio where women walk voice heardtopless and no one throws snide remarks their way nor strips them off the covering of the nether regions. We seem to suffer from a collective problem engraved in our mind that is now being manifest in deeds.
Of course the moral decay around us has a socio-economic aspect to it. Listening to Judge Ian Mbugua on Sunday as he was being hosted on the Churchill Show, I couldn’t help but nod in agreement that real men are dwindling in numbers at an alarming rate. Instead, we have an ever-increasing number of inward weaklings masquerading as men. It’s a sad state, one that no one in particular is to blame but that needs urgent addressing. Kudos to this platform that is speaking out for men to arise. The elevation and massive attention given to the ‘girl child’, as many have pointed out led to years of neglect to their male counterparts. And like a receding wave, we now face a tsunami.
Something has to change. I choose to change. I choose to play my part as a man. Every woman out there has a father, a son, a brother, a spouse, a male friend or colleague. We have to stand for them. Not that they are weak but because it is our mandate. The government won’t do that for us since there’s even a cop who was arrested for stripping a lady. But fair enough that even the President just addressed this issue by launching the 16 Days of Activism. Religious institutions would be a safe haven but we know that’s not always the case.
Some men (and women) are of the opinion that indecency is the cause of all the tribulation we find ourselves facing. The same men who glorify scantily dressed women as ‘socialites’, feast eyes on raunchy music videos and ears on the same and have accelerated the porn penetration of Kenya to among the highest in the world. We could argue all day concerning moral standards and it is valid but action matters more. Statistics over a long time remind us of the grim reality we face. A woman in Kenya is abused sexually every thirty minutes. womanThe chilling statistics, however, do not tell the full story of the emotional devastation of individual rape victims. From toddlers to grannies, in their homes, open places and now even matatus. Something has got to give. I won’t stay silent. Social media campaigns won’t do much either. It’s gonna be a long journey of restoration. A restoration of sanity in society. A journey I am willing to take. Will you join me?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Fun & Freedom

We are drawn from different parts of the country and last Saturday, most of us took the 100 kilometer journey to the idyllic lakeside town of Naivasha for a camp that was also to serve as a retreat since it was a long weekend with the following Monday being Mashujaa Day, a Kenyan public holiday.
Over a hundred young people, diverse in many ways but united in Christ were looking forward to a grand time, away from the monotony of daily life and hopefully have a memorable experience. This was gonna be K-Krew’s “Kubamba Village” and boy, did it rock. K-krew/Kubamba is a movement. A ministry whose sole focus is to reach the 14-26 year age group to the Lord and help them remain unashamed for Christ. The group’s vision is to bring 1 million to Christ and to disciple 100,000 believers to maturity. K-Krew, an abbreviation of ‘Kubamba’ has grown from its inception in 2000 when Pastor Moses Mathenge a.k.a. DJ Moz, began a weekly gospel show hosted by a local radio station. At the moment, 7 hours of airtime on Citizen TV every Sunday on the popular shows of Rauka and Kubamba, more airtime has been on Hot 96’s radio show ‘Inuka’, there’s a weekly Bible Study between 6-8p.m. at Nairobi Cinema while each month, an even dubbed ‘Chillage’ happens at the Panari Hotel where guys participate in ice skating among other events.  Through their School of Deejaying, they are training the next generation of Deejays, Hypemen and sound engineers on a professional level.
WP_20141019_009So, here we were in Naivasha, having arrived on a chilly evening but nothing seemed cold. Ripples of laughter broke the air of Nature’s Camp while groovy music pumped as everyone settled in. There were tents pitched outside and the air was full of adventure and expectancy. After dinner, as some danced, I joined other young people to play football. This must have gone on until midnight when we rested awaiting the next day.
Sunday did not feel one and many admitted to have lost the sense of what day of the week it was. There was a time of devotion and the day was full of activities. It was massive fun, and in the Lord. No booze, secular music yet everyone was having a great time. I kept on reflecting on a book that was first published in 1971, written by Billy Graham and aptly titled ‘The Jesus Generation’.
To paraphrase, he wrote the book at a time when The US was experiencing a wave of many young people accepting Jesus in their lives, the hippy movement was declining and Dr.Bill was responding to fears that it was not genuine turning away from sin but just a movement that would decline just as rapidly as it developed. So there I was with many other young people, having fun in the Lord but also pondering on these thoughts.
But then I remembered that it is God who saves and the relationship is personal. I was glad that a remnant will always be there to live for Him. God’s Word that is everlasting declares in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. No one was high on drugs or booze, there was nothing carnal going on and I’m confident that the Jesus culture in Kenya isn’t just a fad. Satan must be wetting his pants as the movement grows from the hearts of every young person in a relationship with Jesus.
Being a Christian is not a fad, it’s not a lifestyle you adopt for Sunday, rather, it’s a personal relationship that lasts for life. It’s not complicated either, since scripture declares that “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God..” and though a solemn decision it is to follow Christ, it’s fairly simple, just like A-B-C (Accept, Believe that Christ is King). 1st John 1:9 outlines; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness..”

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Happy Birthday Le Prof!

trophies men
Like many other fans, or probably out of sheer naivety, I used to think that Arsène Wenger’s first name was not his real name but rather the usage of pun to resemble the World’s Greatest Football Team manager. Maybe it was just destiny that the fine gent would be at the helm of the Arsenal for 18 years now, and counting. But like key and lock, the two are a match that must’ve been made in heaven to give us over a thousand memorable football matches.
Born on 22nd OctAWober, 1949 in Strasbough, France, the former midfielder and Fifa World Manager of the Decade, is probably one of the finest gents one can ever encounter. Football pundits give Wenger credit for his contribution to the revolutionizing of football in England in the late 1990’s through the introduction of changes in the training and diet of players. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he admits that his faith has had an impact in his view of life and to an extent football.
Nicknamed “Le Professeur” by fans and the British media. It reflects Wenger’s studious demeanour. His approach to the game emphasizes an attacking mentality, with the aim that football ought to be entertaining on the pitch. So this is a birthday post to Le Prof. A father figure to many and a cult hero to some. Wise and knowledgeable yet still stubborn in a truly phlegmatic way. Here’s to you turning 65. May God grant you many many more. And hopefully bag in more trophies as you manage The Arsenal!
Having joined Arsenal as an ‘unknown’ in 1996, Arsène has gone on to win many major titles for the club including;
  • The FA Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
  • The FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2013–14
  • The FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2014
Perhaps the greatest of all was when between 2003-2005, the great man led Arsenal to a 49-game unbeaten run and the incredible team won the league unbeaten for more than a season earning themselves the enviable but self attained title of ‘The InvB0h6Rv7IgAAXjBoincibles‘.
Having come really close for the best of them all, the UEFA ChampionsLeague in what is the most devastating game I’ve ever watched in my life in 2006. We played against Barcelona for a ninth of the match as ten men having seen goalkeeper Lehmann sent off for a challenge against an opponent outside the box. But that seems so distant in the past and what matters most now is focus on the present and the future. Starting with tonight’s Champions League match against Belgium’s Anderlecht F.C.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Some Life Lessons

In November, 2003, she posted the following on her social media accounts: “The view of Langata cemetery reminds me that that will be my home too some day”.
Many months later on July 26th, 2014, she posted this: “If only we treated others like we would want to be treated, the world would be a happier place,” on her Facebook account. A day later on her Twitter account, she posted the following: “A man’s dignity is not measured by the amount of tears shed when he dies.”
It was now a week before her planned operation meant to donate a kidney to an ailing uncle. While thousands of kilometers away from home, rather unknowingly left the world with tRehema-Kaninihe solemn messages. But with her life, she taught us about paying the ultimate sacrifice for the good of others. Maybe she knew. That as she went under the surgeon’s blade, it would be the last time she would shut her eyes to never open them again-at least in this side of eternity. Some people hold the belief that it’s possible to feel the end of life as it approaches. A lady in the prime of her life, with a determined intent to save a loved one’s’ life and avert the loss of life through a kidney problem. Her story speaks of courage. She must have known the pain too well though, having gotten bereaved of her own father in the previous year and to the same ailment.
She flew out of the country and landed in India for the sake of her ailing uncle. But the cruelty of death struck and took with it the life of Rehema Kanini Muthoni during Kenya’s 16th year anniversary of the 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi. The sadness that followed was as deep as the acknowledgement of her sheer kindness and will.
It’s known for a fact that as time has gone, we have become a world full of egocentric tendencies and individualism is like never before. Sometimes, even caring for one’s own blood-connected relatives is totally lacking. Brothers kill each other for the sake of wealth. Jealousy and other minute matters have been magnified by our own selfish ambition. Love is no longer a verb but a noun. The end, many believe, justifies the means but what if we posed and reflected upon what in life means the most?192971324_76cefbf83aSilence.
I do not know what you hold dearest in life. It could be your education, your looks or the desires that drive you from one day to the next. Realize we will not be eternally here on Earth. We are just passing by. Make the most of it but remember, sometimes you’re not meant to have it all. If you can breath without the aid of machines, praise God for that. Don’t let selfish ambition drive you nuts as you try to prove yourself. Jesus summed up all the commandments as thus: Love God completely and love your neighbour as you love yourself.
Rehema Kanini is described by her family and friends, as a selfless and compassionate individual. Maybe, just maybe, she heeded to Philippians 2:3-4
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Three Wise Men

Conventional wisdom that I agree with states that it is imperative that each person identifies and nurtures a relationship with a mentor. It is both smart and Biblical with prime examples being in the corporate world as well as extraordinary characters that were at some point mentored by someone else. Therefore, I count myself as extremely blessed to have three men in my life who are not even mentors per sê, they are great people that God in His great wisdom planned that I’ll learn, glean and copy from. They may seem ordinary but they are not. And as the last one of them departs the country today, this is just a piece that I hope to read years from now and recall these great pillars in my life.

Ten years ago must have been my first interaction with John Anyangu, though he prefers the Swahili name Yohana or as per latest developments, ‘Baba Jude’. In my church, he seemed like the all-purpose guy who you could rely on all matters. The one who ensured everything was gearing up well in a subtle manner as he worked in the background. Trust Johnny to pray with you and in the next minute run even the most mundane errands with. His laughter ever loud, his zeal indescribable and His walk with God was one that made you think that God would surely pen about Him if the Bible to have a few pages added to it. In 2005, Anyangu made me realize that I had a gift in the performing arts after founding a theatre group by the name Village Pastors Production. He became an inspiration to many of us youngsters while expecting nothing in return. Through Him, I began realizing the power of God in my life and that none of our works would ever qualify anyone for salvation.

I’ll probably never forget a time I wasn’t feeling good enough about an acting role he assigned me. His response was a tale about a small nail holding the doors of a big cathedral. He said though seemingly insignificant, all parts work together for good. Just do your part and leave the rest to God. ‘Johnny’ was his nickname and I guess his wife can now release a remix of the hit song by the same name since they found each other.

Upon completing high school in 2007, Kenya was engulfed in the post-election violence that spilled over to the beginning of the next year. That’s when I attended The Diguna School Leaver’s Camp of 2008. This is a Christian Mission Organization and though reluctant at first, I had no option but attend the youth camp since there’s wasn’t much to do as the violence persisted. A few days into the camp, I met Alan Mwangi, the guy responsible for me being there in the first place since he had catered for my admittance through my small sister who they’d been friends for long. I immediately thought he was the singer Kanjii as he trained us a rendition of the song ‘Under the Rock’. Though his dancing resembled that of Machang’i, the legendary Kikuyu actor and that is one aspect of his life that will probably never change.
So in that January of 2008, little did I know that the youth camp would change my life forever and since then, Alan has been an ever present figure in my life. Witty and wise, he is the guy you can trust to urge you on with life no matter how bleak matters appear. His passion for God and people has allowed Him to be a source of inspiration to many and I am no exception. I think he is the guy who I’d not want to leave behind when I go to my future in-laws for rũracio as not only would he take brilliant photos as is his ability but he’d help my case in the quest for a future soul-mate. You see, I always think he can make a great lawyer or politician for his convincing prowess. Either that or a renowned talk show host . But for now, the Kingdom of God continues to expand due to Alan’s diligence and zeal. Press on, brother!

The same first camp I attended at Diguna will always be special to me. On the first night, the last session was movie time and we were watching the brilliant ‘Black Diamond’. Suddenly, just before climax, the movie was rudely interrupted by a guy simply because there were rules to follow and it was past 10p.m., the allotted bed time. I disliked that guy there and then but God used him two days later as he led us in a session for prayer and I gave my life to Christ. Behold, Tony Ouma-a man who is more of a brother than a friend. I’ll forever be indebted to him. Immediately upon my salvation, he founded a bible-study group on realizing the need for spiritual guidance and till today, I always wear a wristband bearing the BS group name; Chosen 8 29.
Immensely gifted with eloquence, singing ability and tons of wisdom, God has surely transformed the lives of many young people through this fan of K’galo and the former giant Man Utd... Inadvertently, time has now flown and so has he today aboard a flight to a land far away. However, the seeds Tony has sown in my life and in that of many others will hopefully be replicated. A skilful footballer, that’s probably the only thing that failed to rub off on me J but I hold many memories mostly on matters spiritual, relationships and football. Ever approachable, I’ve probably opened up about the most personal battles over the past few years in my metamorphosis from a boy to a man with Tony.

There are many other great people in my life and I thank God for them. And this post is not about perfect, far from it. That would be utterly superficial. But I’ll remain forever indebted to Anyangu, Mwangi and Ouma for their patience with me, their zeal and genuine love for God and their passion to impact our generation. Now that the three have families (Don’t get ideas, ladies), I pray that they’ll be immensely blessed especially with love, health, peace, joy and prosperity.

God bless ya fellas. I celebrate you.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Majestic Mara

I had the privilege of going to Maasai Mara sometime back courtesy of the Mara Wildebeest Resort, an idyllic lodge of its kind tucked at the banks of River Mara that is on a transition path to its former glory when it was under different ownership and name. As promised, it was possible from the porch of the cottages to spy on crocodiles and hippos going about their business in the river unperturbed.The style is rustic, the setting is wild, but the experience is, to say the least, thrilling!

We met in Nairobi on the planned Saturday morning and set off at exactly 8 o’clock in the morning in a procession of three safari vans. Carrying forth from the abnormally freezing temperatures of the capital city, I hoped in my mind that the weather in the Mara would be less harsh. Travelling with professionals from the tourism industry always brings with it stories to no end. Thus the company I had were brilliant. Being approximately 300 kilometres from Nairobi, the journey there was expected to last around four hours with arrival slated in time for lunch. We had a brief stop in Narok town, the epicentre of Maasai country in Kenya. After having a brief stop, we proceeded on towards Bomet and branched from the very smooth tarmac road and onto a laterite road while maintaining the high speed. This I learnt later from our driver guide that it helps cushion the vehicle from all the physical shock of moving on a rough road.

Gradually, the vegetation changed and the weather was pleasant for a safari in the world’s best nature conservancy. The name ‘Mara’ is Maasai for scattered thicket. Maasai on the other hand are a unique people found in Kenya and Tanzania who are proud of their unique culture that they have not let go off even with the advent of modernization. Maa is their language and they are truly the face of Kenya abroad.

The outside dining area
Even before making it to the Sekenani Gate that serves as one of the official entry points, we could see wild game in the vicinity. Herds of zebra grazed alongside their herbivorous friends in wildebeests gazelles, antelopes and a couple of the unique looking eland. Being a National Reserve and not quite a park, the Mara is thus not fenced. This ensures that the local community can access and enjoy the natural resources. This includes pasture for their herds of animals, water and even the collection of firewood is allowed. It is especially a mutually beneficial relationship between the Maasai and the Mara since the former don’t hunt down game for its meat since it is abhorred by their custom. The same scenario is reminiscent of the National Reserves in Samburu.

Safari time
We checked into the lodge, ushered in by the kind of smiles I have only seen in Kenya. A wet medicated face towel in hand as we were led to our rooms designed in a spectacular manner. The lodge-formerly known as the Mara Buffalo Camp is built adjacent to the Mara River that hosts many hippos and crocs as well as being the stage on which the dramatic annual wildebeest migration occurs. Lunch was sumptuous and we were taken round the lodge by, Mr. Frank Neugebauer our German host who is also the General Manager. As the sun prepared to set behind the hills to the Western side of the Mara, we set out on a game drive. As the animals head to the water-holes and the nocturnal ones prepare for the night ahead, there is no better time to view them than in the evening. It was eventful and we got to see all the big five-bar rhinos among others.

Back at the lodge and dinner was served in true African style. Above our heads were countless stars being replicated below by a huge bonfire. The background music was the constant bellowing of hippos half submerged in the Mara River waters that went on overnight. Sadly, we could only experience the magic of Mara for one night and it was time to return back to the city.

It was truly a remarkable weekend. The Mara is a gift that every Kenyan at one point in their lives should experience. The wild is untamed, the undulating topography to behold, the wild animals are in high numbers and accommodation is of various kinds, from high range luxury lodges like the Mahali Mzuri owned by Sir Richard Branson, various categories of hotels and even camping sites for the tourist that is  truly adventurous. 
The entourage

Tembea Kenya

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Nairobi's Darkest Day

City in the Sun

When in primary school, all of us pupils back then used to look forward to when the term would end and have our holidays. As the exams of end of term came to an end, we would fantasize on all the activities to carry out and especially games to play in the whole month of April, August or December. I remember the closing day ceremony on 7th August, 1998. A relatively cool morning in Nairobi, we assembled as a school on that Friday morning and by 10:00 am, we were sprinting home. I couldn’t wait to tune in and catch the morning cartoon shows. I remember finding my mother seemingly agitated. Not a fan of TV, she was keenly drawn to our 14” Great wall TV and I couldn’t figure out what the matter was. Without a word, I tried to make out what it was on TV. It seemed like a horror movie…flames engulfing a few buildings, people running in all directions, most covered in blood and melee that indicated something was very wrong.

But this was no movie as it was easy to identify that the horror on TV was in Nairobi and without any reporting, a caption on the bottom of the screen solemnly read: BREAKING NEWS-BOMB BLAST IN NAIROBI.

Devastation in the City
By that time, all I knew about bombs was what I’d seen on Hollywood flicks in movies and the pseudonym term we used for farting. With time, it was emerging clear that a catastrophe had befallen our Nairobi-the city under the sun. I was young back then but the reality dawned harshly on all of us as Kenyans. Over 200 people lost their lives on that fateful Friday morning. Thousand others were injured and millions of us acquired emotional scars that have never healed completely. In 1998 was the first time I learned of the term ‘terrorism’, a cowardly act of segments of people who like to have their agenda known or taken seriously by robbing of others life.

I remember 16 years later, the terror and anguish that gripped us as children. I was not even double digits old and I can never forget how with my small sisters-two years my junior, how we would put Bibles beneath our pillows in the night. We needed divine protection. I almost swore to never step into Nairobi the city. A tiny blast, even that of a balloon bursting would send cold shivers down our spines. We were scared.

Names of the 257 that perished at the Memorial Park
It’s now 16 years since Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cronies based in Sudan back them decided to and executed terror unknown before to a people who were known throughout for their hospitality and peaceful nature. Almost two decades since that dark day in Nairobi’s history. It would be a forlorn look back at history if the events of that morning were just but a part of history. Sadly, things seem to have only gotten worse. Terrorism is now a global calamity that takes away the lives of thousands annually. Only three years later was the world shaken to a standstill when the US-seemingly the most secure nation on Earth suffered even worst attacks with 0ver 3,000 people perishing in the terror attacks of 9/11.                                                                                      
To compound the matters, a majority of victims have never had justice. And even if the American government decides to compensate the victims of the attack in 1998, some things money just cannot restore, especially to families and loved ones that had people’s lives snatched away from then in an instant. An instant of madness. An instant that proves that man is inherently evil.

May the souls of all that passed away passed away on that fateful morning rest in eternal peace. We will never forget.

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