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In Death we are alive in Christ; Deathly Meditation

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Ever since my dad passed on, I have been meditating a lot about death. I don’t know if meditation is the right word. I have been thinking about death a lot anyway. It strikes me that although we all appreciate its eventuality, and its certainty, and we all know it does come, we are never really prepared for it. It still strikes us with  a blow that leaves us breathless, leaves us wanting just one more second, one more hour, one more day with those whom we loved and are gone.

I wonder, given a chance, those who have gone, would they also wish for the same? One more day on earth; One more second with their beloved; One more time to make things right. Why would that be so? Is it because of the uncertainty of the end of one phase and the beginning of the perceived next?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Death is the end of earthly Life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, we grow old, we die. Death is a norm to life. The aspect of death however leads to a realization that we are here for a limited time.   Death is a fact, but its the condition of death that is in doubt. For those who die in Christ’s Grace, it is a participation in the death of the Lord so that they can share in his resurrection. To rise in Christ, we must die in Christ. We must, in that time of departure, be away from the body and be at home with the Lord. To a christian then, death is a gain not a loss.

We know then that to get to heaven, we must die in a state of grace, a state of no sin, a state of purity for nothing untainted can enter heaven. Each of us sins within the minute in thoughts, words and deed. Is it even possible to die in a state of grace? How do we work on ourselves so that if we do meet our maker we will be granted the gift of heaven? What are our constant thoughts? Planning evil against someone? How we will tell that juicy story about someones mistakes to that seat mate in class who doesn’t care? How we will yell at our bosses for offending us? What clouds our thoughts most days? What clouds our actions? Are we lying? Seducing the secretary who we well know is married? Promoting pornography by sharing that explicit image or video? What are we constantly saying? A kind and encouraging word or that abuse that makes people block their children’s ears? Are we backbiting? Spreading rumors? Building the courage of someone? If I am to die this moment what will be my state? How then do we attain heaven in our continuous sinful state?

This brings me to my next fascination. Religious Martyrs. Their passion in preaching Christ and their zeal in dying for that which they believed in. There are those who died very gross deaths, “Hang, Drawn and Quartered (Many English Martyrs)”, beheading (St. Cecilia), stoning (St. Stephen), goring by and angry bull (Perpetua and Felicity), starvation, burning (Joan of Arc), being shot, yet the potential of that end did not deter them from doing good, renouncing evil even in presence of authority that would endanger that messenger.  Death was a welcome joy. It was a desired end to attain a greater life to come. While we dread this end, many of these saints looked forward, yearned, hungered for it. What is the difference? What differentiates them from us? I will pretend I understand when St. Paul said “My desire is to depart and be with Christ”; or when he says “My earthly desire has been crucified;. . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me; Come to the Father. I want to see God and in order to see Him I must die. I am not dying, I am entering life“; or  St. Francis of Assisi in his song “All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, From whose embrace no mortal can escape.Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will!The second death can do them no harm.Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks. And serve him with great humility“; St. Augustine of Hippo when he said, “Christ’s martyrs feared neither death nor pain. He triumphed in them who lived in them; and they, who lived not for themselves but for Him, found in death itself the way to life”; St. Clare, on her deathbed speaking to herself Said, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear; for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be Thou, O God, for having created me,”; or the Holy Hermit in the words, “I have always kept death before my eyes and therefore, now that it has arrived, I see nothing new in it.”  

The Church encourages us to prepare for the hour of our death. It even invokes intercession of our mother Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Why is his important, because we know not the day or the hour. I have visited patients in ICU, and I know how helpless it is to watch one we love at that state, between life and death. I do not know what capacity they have, but I assume they are in no position whatsoever to pray for themselves. I assume, maybe they can pray for themselves. I do not know what transpires between one and his or her creator before they breath their last. I know that we all need to live in constant penance and confession and avoidance of mortal sin. Penance for ourselves, penance for those who needs our prayers for the hour of their death, and penance for those gone before us. Why do they need penance? Why do we need penance? Penance is form of “punishment” for wrongdoing. It follows the logic that when we wrong the people we wrong, even when we do confess, we need a form of compensation for the sin, some kind of reparation for the consequence of our wrong doing. For instance, if I steal a cow from my neighbor, I confess my wrong doing, I am expected to return this cow, or equivalent for reparation of the consequences of the wrong inflicted. I cannot do away with all the consequences of that. Some sins however do not have direct consequence, so as a reparation for them, we perform acts of charity or prayers or any other acceptable noble activity to repair this wounded relationship, between ourselves and God, within ourselves and between ourselves and fellow men. The bigger question will be, if I stole a cow, I confess my sins, and I die, before I return the cow or its equivalent, will I go to heaven? am I in a sate of grace?

The church teaches us that every of our actions, every thought, should be of those who expect to die before the day ends. Death should no longer be a terror for us if we have a quiet conscience. We need to keep it clear of sin instead of running away from death. If we are not ready for death today, it is highly unlikely we will be tomorrow. May our long gone before saints inspire us with their words to live this life with eternity in our minds, because, death is just a gateway to eternity. St Bonaventure says that, “…to lead a good life a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death…”, St. Alphonsus augments this argument in his sayings “…if you believe that you must die, that there is an eternity, that you can die only once, and that if you then err your error will be forever, irreparable, why do you not resolve to begin at this moment, to do all in your power to secure a good death?…; …Oh! hasten to apply a remedy in time, resolve to give yourself sincerely to God, and begin from this moment a life which, at the hour of death, will be to you a source, not of affliction, but of consolation. Give yourself up to prayer, frequent the sacraments, avoid all dangerous occasions, and, if necessary, leave the world, secure yourself eternal salvation, and be persuaded that to secure eternal life no precaution can be too great, and , “…if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes.”

Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.  It therefore implies that facing the hour of death unprepared could easily be the greatest mistake of our lives. We do not know the day nor the hour, but we do know with iron-clad certitude that death comes for us all. The only logical conclusion to be reached is that we must begin training for this final confrontation today. We must strengthen ourselves against our vices and our attachment to sins, through prayer and penance. We must become dedicated to never losing the state of grace, and to rooting out even the smaller sins to which we have become habituated. If we cannot win a simple battle with our unseen tempters while we are yet strong and in good health, how can we hope to overcome their final, tangible assault as we lay weak and dying? Does this mean we stop living and start dieing? No, it means we live with the end in mind. We start living our heaven here. We make every moment count so that the answer to the question, “If Christ was to come now would you continue doing what He currently finds you doing?”, Would be a resounding YES. May we be prepared, may we live in readiness, may we always be ready for the transformation to the life of the world to come.

 

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Article 47- Motivate you; You are a global person.

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When every New Year begins, many people make resolutions, many set goals, and many set minimums for self accountability. I set Targets. Sometimes the goals are motivated by professional requirements, sometimes by personal growth and sometimes the thrill of accomplishing something or learning something new. The year 2017 had only professional targets. This was motivated by Academic Professional growth. The life of an academic is basically studying, research and sharing this knowledge either in class, through writing or conference presentations. While I set to achieve my targets among the many other things we deem normal like eat, drink, raise children, have fun and socialize, I learnt many things. These lessons are the essence of this write up, not whether my targets were met or not. They will feature somewhere.

  1. Always do your best: – The six years of my Architecture degree were grueling. Not just for me but for many architecture students. They take a cycle of project introduction (easy), project development (moderate) and project presentation preparation (grueling) and post project break (zombie bliss). Grueling face usually had several sleepless coffee filled nights. In this cycle I learnt to always do my best. I was reminded of this important lesson when a research write up I did in my masters 5 years ago got a publishers attention, got publication and also a conference presentation at the Society for Human Ecology conference held in Los Banos Philippines. If I was to go back in time with the knowledge that the information would be presented to a global audience, would I do anything differently? No. I did my best, with the capacity and resources I had then. I thank God for the opportunities this best brought. May we learn to always do our best in everything we do. We never know who could be “trolling” us.
  2. I am a global Person: – Last year, Kenyans got to go through a phase of individualization. We forgot that we are even Kenyans and retreated back to our tribal and clan cocoons. We forgot that life is beyond where we come from and beyond the village or town we were born (which was not our doing in any way). We live in a global set up. Our tribes, clans and affiliations are just accidents. Our substance lies in what we can do and achieve with who we are. We cannot limit our potential as individuals because of the blood, language and skin colour affiliations. We have to dare the world to recognize the potential within us. I told my students that we have to put ourselves out there so that the world can recognize that “in my small self lies a big giant”. I was encouraging them to participate in global architectural students awards. I gave them an example of myself. An invitation for conference abstracts is made; I forward my abstract and forget about it. I receive an acceptance letter. Wow, you expect positive replies but you still get that jolt. A small someone in Kenya has been invited to present a paper in a global function (Yay). A friend of mine loves taking photos; a world wildlife photography institution recognized his work (Thumbs up). We have to forget the limitations our accidents provide and put our best out there for the world to see that we too have something to give to the world.
  3. Mind what you put up online: I once went for a per-interview meeting (if anything like this exists). It was a forum where all interviewees were invited for a meet and greet. The interviewers were telling us on their expectations of us. One thing struck my mid though. They said they would do a background check on each one of the candidates. That included talking to former employers, academic supervisors, and high school contacts. They also said “we will Google you”. Have we ever tried Googling ourselves and seen what comes out? Some of the opportunities realized was because someone read my profile my employers website and my linked in. Its not that good, which tells me I need to upgrade. I never know who is snooping. With the rise in use of social media, we have become free to be ourselves. How much of ourselves are we destroying or building online? If an opportunity knocked, would our online information build or destroy us
  4. Sometimes, many times, things will not work as we planned: – Recently, a post I put up in 2012 came up on my facebook memory. It went like this:- Three lessons for today: – 1) Man proposes, God disposes sometimes not how or when we want it but in His own perfect timing. 2) To wait on God, no breath is lost but much is learnt. 3) Sometimes, pan Bs and Cs and the rest do not exist. There is only one, which may or may not happen. If it does, well and good, if it does not, we can dream again, it is not the end of life, it is the beginning of another phase. I can remember the context of these words said by my spouse. Back then he was my Fiancé. I wanted to pursue my masters abroad and I had applied for admissions and several scholarships. The admissions were positive but all the scholarships were regrets. I was quite a blow. Five years later, another academic qualification application, and the script is the same. But as the quote ends, it is the beginning of another phase of life. Someone once wrote that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have been doing this the last two and a half years. It is definitely not working. I won’t say I am insane. I will hang on to the dream. It is a new beginning. It is time to dream again and begin another phase.
  5. On a light note, always have a back up shoe. I travelled to present my paper. I read about the weather, culture, currency etc of this place I was going. I packed my clothes well for the function and the weather. I packed a wrong shoe though. The weather in Kenya is mostly friendly for my Kenyan made shoe. But it was terrible for the very hot wet weather of Los Banos. The sole and the shoe kissed each other good bye in the middle of the street and I ended up presenting with a beautiful African dress and a canvas (rubber) shoe written Love in bold white at the back.

As 2018 begins, I set other targets, I hope to achieve them. Last year was really great. I got to heights I never imagined I could when I set out my targets in the beginning. But then there is God who glorifies Himself in many ways through us. We plant a seed in our hearts and He nurtures it and it blooms to more beauty than we never imagined existed. We have to always surrender to Him. Because it is in Him live and move and have our being (somewhere in the bible). I surrender to Him.

To 2018 of more lessons.

Life Lessons – On Marriage

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Two months ago, on 2nd September, 2017,   I attended a friends’ wedding at the Holy Family Basilica. There are many things that make weddings exciting, from the flowers, the happy faces, the smiling people, the wonderfully adorned bride and the her carefully selected bridal party, the charming girls and boys, the music… the list is endless. While weddings still make me cry, I want to share the teachings from this one from the celebrating priest…

  1. The people who cause us so much heartache and pain are the people we love the most. Those who are supposed to bring joy into our life. The pain can be caused by anything, from continued neglection, criticism, lack of responsibility, distancing self from your spouse, cheating, not defending your spouse from externalities from other people among others. Our spouses will hurt us, more than once. We are human and it is that weakness that make us wrong those we come in contact with many times. Our humanity though is perfected in Christ. In Christ we can look at the other person, acknowledge our weakness and tell them, I am sorry. In apologizing we acknowledge that we are ready to start all over. In a clean slate. In seeking forgiveness, we acknowledge we have caused hurt, and that we are ready to mend the wound that we have inflicted. We acknowledge responsibility of inflicting that wound and seek never to wound again.
  2. God institutes Marriage. God sustains marriage. He cannot sustain it if we do not commit it to Him. The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator. God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator (Catechism of the Catholic Church-1603). There are joys in Marriage. In the contemporary society, wine is usually shared in joyous moments. In the Bible, during the wedding at Canaan, the wedding ceremony was running out and the hosts were expressing anxiety. Christ, who was invited as a guest, restored that joy by bringing in new wine, in His own way. We must invite Christ to our marriages, so that when our wines run out, He will always be there to restore that which we have lost, squandered, rejected, or left behind. With Christ,there is abundance Joy. In Him, our marriages will last. He will rejuvenate when we run dry. May we always remember to invite Christ. May we always consult Him who instituted it when challenges come.
  3. We should not found our marriages on “Accidents”. I have talked severally of accidents and substance in my previous write ups (Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya; Accidents vs Substance…). We may want to found our marriage on physical appearance, financial stability, tribal lines, political views etc. All these are transitory. We cannot found lasting marriages on something transitory. We have to found our marriages in Christ. Christ enables our human selves to always appreciate our substance, the substance in our spouses. The closer we are to Christ, the closer in communion we remain in Christ, as a couple, the closer we remain in communion with each other.
  4. Let our love be perfect. We are human beings. The many divine things we are endowed are limited by our humanness. Love is a gift of the Holy spirit. While we may receive it with abundance, exercising  it is limited by the fact that we are human. We, more often than not, notice the imperfections in the other and that which made us look at each other in awe, disappears and in its place we look at each other in disgust. Christs instructs us to love each other as He has loved us. We are very imperfect people in the eyes of God, but He loves us still. We are also called to love our imperfect spouses the way Christ loves us. Love their imperfections as much as we love their perfections. Imperfections can be overcome, but only if we are willing to surrender to the inspiration that Jesus brings to the union. Personal imperfections can also be overcome, when we work hard to grow in faith, and in love that Christ instills in us. We commit ourselves to being better than yesterday.
  5. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the salve that heals wounds we inflict on each other often. In forgiveness we sacrifice, even our rights, for the well being of the institution, for the well being of our spouse. Many are the times we will wound the gift of love, out of our weakness, out of pride, out of our belief in entitlement, out of arrogance, out of our fears and complexities. However being offended should not be the last word, just like sin is not the last word with our relationship with Christ.

Let the Lord build our house and watch over our city. If God does not do it, we labor in vain. May we always invite God to journey with us in our marriages. In Him, we will always have the joys of marriage, just like they were when we first got married. Not because there wont be problems, not because there wont be storms but because, with Christ, we will have the grace to sing and dance in the rain.

Article 47:- The Many faces of Friends

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…A faithful friend is a strong defence,

A faithful friend is the medicine of life…

bdr

The beginning of the climb

23rd September 2017. I joined my friend Eric on his 4th Journey up Mt. Longonot. I had promised myself severally how I needed to do this, my own Bucket List activity off the chart. But then there is this friend who has traveled with me in many journeys of life. He has known my downs and my ups, my frustrations and my achievements, my laughter, my celebrations, the toast moments and the lets keep it under the table moments. Eric. He lost his sight sometime back. Every year, through the Kenya Society of the Blind annual Longonot climb, ever since he lost his sight, he goes up the Longonot. This year, I decided to do this with him, as a thank you for the journeys he has traveled with me. The climb attracted quite a gathering. It was flagged off at the entrance to the park and up we went, a step at a time, one meter after another. As much as it was a check off my bucket list, it was a great learning experience especially on friendships. I learnt, on that climb that friendships presents itself in many faces. I will just highlight a few…

The fall back:-

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TEAM ERIC!

The climbers were from several representations. We called ourselves TEAM ERIC. It was a group of Eric, his parents, his neighbour, a gentleman nicknamed Governor, Muthenya and myself. When we started the climb, everyone was all energetic. We had a pacesetter, and the rest of us trooped behind him or her. But as we went up, the energy levels went low. By the time we got to rest post 1, Eric was a bit dizzy. We all took a break. Muthenya snacked all of us. We took out water. And we waited for Eric to get better. How many times do we feel drained in this life we keep walking? How many of us can always look out for that one person who will be there for us at such low moments, when we know that no  matter our lows, someone will stand and wait for us to rethink, refocus, gain back the energy. Someone will give us that boost of energy. That word that will let us know, it is okay to feel weak, it is okay when we don’t have the energy to move on, it is okay to take a break, it is okay to be weak, it is okay to need a shoulder to lean on. All this is a phase of life. And it will pass. We will not be weak forever, we will rise and conquer the rest of the mountain.

The bounce back/motivator:-

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Crater Point

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After the rest, we continued our climb. We got to the first summit-Crater point. Here one can appreciate the distance traveled. You can see base down below. You can see the crater. Very beautiful. There is a group of people taking rest after the torturous climb. Some who arrived way earlier have already started their descent, others have started going round the crater. We take a breather, a few photos. Then we have to decide whether we are going round or not. Eric’s parents decide not to. Muthenya and Governor are already decided, they are going round. The set off. Eric is undecided. It’s a whole 7.2Km walk. I challenge him. He hesitates. Eventually he falls for the temptation. We set off too. We call the other two to wait up. Another climb to summit 2 begins, Team Eric now a smaller group. Off we go, one step at a time. It is more challenging than the firs climb, but eventually, after a little crawling and falling, a little slipping and trudging, silence and small talks, we get to KILELE NGAMIA. Wohoo! We all need that friend to challenge us to the next level. That friend who realizes our potential even when we don’t know we have it. That person who reminds us that our limit is only our own selves. We can finish the climb together. We shall travel it together. When you lack the energy, you can lean on me, but climbing we must. I remembered the many climbers we passed on. Literally holding on to others to take the next height, the “keep on going” voices behind them, those who gave up but with their team members were kept on their feet. Who with all this motivation got to the top, whichever summit.

bdr

The energy sucker:-

While the motivator challenges us to achieve new heights, this one is the exact opposite. This friends will drain all the energy left in you. Whatever little. They will tell you how much you cannot make in life. How much you don’t have the energy to finish. How untalented you are, how unfit, how feeble, how much a loser you are. I do not know if they are friends or “friends”. Whichever the case, they have a way of making life all doom and gloom. I may not have a perfect example from the climb, but it occurred to me that there are those who probably did not make it to the top because of that voice. Sometimes this voice is our own selves. We tell our selves how much we have not exercised, so we cannot finish the climb. How much unprepared we are for the interview, how many people have failed in life and it won’t be no different, how hard the task is and it should be performed by someone better than ourselves. We kill our own innovation, we drain our own strength. We kill our own self-belief.

The advocate:-

I have learnt that when something happens to us, there are those friends who will be called to answer on our behalf. It is good to have them because they know the real us. They can always speak on our behalf. They can say when we are afraid, they can say when we are being foolish, they can tell when we are falling off the road and going in a tangent of our desired positions. They are the other us. They are our voice when we have none. They can loudly tell one who is trying to make us look bad, “Whatever you say, I dont believe you, because I know her…”. They know that when we fall, we can count on them to lift us up and not laugh and jeer when everyone else is. They know that when my feet refuse o move that one step, its probably because I have a boil in the thigh or a blister on my toe. They don’t judge, they want to know the reason why. They can even explain that why we we do not have the reason.

The twin:-

One thing that has stayed in my mind is this group of two boys, both visually impaired, they passed us in the ascend to the first summit, stumbling, trudging but holding each other up. I think one was partially blind or both were, I do not know, but the determination in their faces and the arms they kept around each other spoke volumes. They passed us the second time just before we got to the second summit. When they did, we cheered them on. They really inspired me. There are those friends who literally walk with us in this wake of life. They stumble when we stumble, they rise when we rise, they laugh with us, they cry with us, they celebrate with us, and they struggle with us in our daily endeavors. They do not necessarily do what we do, they are not necessarily present, but they share in our every moments.

While we all know that faithful friends are hard to come by, while we also appreciate that some friends are multi faced in our lives, we live to thank God because, we have a defense to always lean on, depend on, look up to, and are always nourished in by their presence. A faithful friend is the medicine for life.

What to consider when going to meet someone you do not know so well…

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I walked into a coffee house yesterday with a friend. It was in the evening and there were several people in enjoying their drinks of choice. We sat in the table next to a gentle man and a lady. They were an arms-reach from our table. We ordered. We get engrossed into our discussion. After a while, the lady walks out. For a toilet break I think. She leaves her handbag on the table. Nothing unusual. After a short while, the guy stands and walks out. He leaves the handbag on the table. That is very unusual. It is a non written rule in my head that if I am having a meal or drink, I need to watch the belongings of my companion if they take a toilet break. I shouldn’t take a break when she or he is still away. unless there is a third part. The rule applies to the party too. Or I guessed. Wrong. especially for the scene unfolding. I tell my companion. It is strange that the guy walked out and left the ladies handbag. My statement was more suggestive though, I used the word girlfriend. My companion tells me the guy unzipped the handbag and picked a phone, stood and left. It shouldn’t ring a bell still. In any case,once in a while my husband tells me to put his wallet and phone in my bag, right? Wrong. The waitress comes and puts reserved notice on the table. The ladies handbag is still there. The lady comes back. Runs into the waitress and asks, where the guy went to. She says he just walked down. But little did we know he was not coming back. She comes and sits. Goes through her bag, then she casts a look across and asks if the guy took her phone. My companion answers yes. Then she goes, “Oh My God”.

Of course we inform the management (through the waitress). The waitress says there are many such cases. She also says the guy frequents there. Maybe with fresh bait every time. This brought back memories of what I used to be told when I was growing up on precautions to take. I am going to share a few tips I gathered a long the way in my journey of life:-

I do not drink alcohol, and probably one of the reasons why was for my own safety. Drinking to some extent reduces the rational capacity of a person. The level of loss is different. Others need only one glass of one, others need a whole crate of beer. I have never wanted to test my limits. Some say that you limit your alcohol consumption. I have learnt that , sometimes in some company this rule does not work. If it is a group outing, it is always easy to volunteer to be the designated driver, or the cab advisor when everyone else has since stopped being themselves. In the least you will ensure everyone is home safe and sound.

One of the safety tips I remember my brother ever mentioning to me way before I joined college was when you are having a drink with anyone, if you need to pee, finish your drink first. If you had not, order a fresh one when you get back. It may look unusual to those who you will be with but just in case your drink was spiked, you will be okay. This does not only apply to alcohol, but also to the teas, coffees we do with friends, prospective clients or customers, and even strangers on blind dates.

It is good to let someone know where you are. It is also good to let this person know at least one person you are with. We may assume we are in control of things, but stuff happens. Picture a guy who goes out for a drink with friends. He drinks later than them. His drink is spiked. He goes Missing in Action (MIA). Or those thieves who unleashes things that you breath and pass out. When someone has been keeping track of your movements it would be easy for them to, in the least know where to start looking for you or who was last with you and what happened when you parted ways. It may be strange but I try my level minimum to always let my spouse know where I am, who I am meeting, where. Even when he is not around, I still let him know.

It is also good to have at least one contact off head. This is where the back up phone mentioned in My Accident… My Lessons makes sense. This will make sure that when tragedy happens to you, even if your phone is dead or has been stolen and you cannot access your contacts list, you can contact one person, hopefully this person is the same as the one you had told where you are.

I also remember a friend of mine telling me never go out without extra cash, enough to cater for your food and drinks just in case the person you are meeting bails out on the bill. Make sure you also have enough money to get you home. This may come in handy when group outings go in a direction you did not anticipate and you need to flee them. You may not have to tell them you are leaving. Excusing yourself for a pee will give you time to walk out on company you do not want to be in discreetly.

In addition to all these, ladies, carry your handbag to wherever you are going in case you are taking a break from the company you are with. Unless that person is your spouse or fiance or your really bestest of friends.  In the least this should apply. If you go to the loo, go with it, if you want to go to the counter for an extra order, please don’t leave it, if you want to walk across the room and say hi to a long lost friend who just walked into the restaurant, that bag is not so heavy, pick it, walk with it. A lady,s bag has everything, from her friends spare keys to her identification documents. If that bag goes MIA can you survive a week without its contents? If not, please make it a part of you.

other advise gathered online include googling the person you are meeting, pepper spay, meeting is busy places, watch for disturbing behaviors and if your instincts say run, then just run.

I asked the girl if she knew the guy well. She she knew him but not so much. I hope in the least she gets her phone back. I also appreciate the restaurants that have CCTV, though I highly doubt they assist much. Maybe another caution should be to sit within camera range. Either way, hopefully this can stop someone from getting into the same pit.

 

My Accident… My Lessons

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imagesThe date is 5th September. I am driving a long Nairobi Nakuru Highway. Am am almost at the Gilgil weigh bridge. I am anticipating traffic. There is almost always traffic here. It is getting to 9am. The highway is not so busy though. But then again, it is a Tuesday, it is not those days everyone is rushing to the village or rushing back to the CBD to live yet another week of the activities of 5am to 8pm in a bid to put bread on the table. Besides the usual once in a while crazy trucks speeding past, it is slow. I am the last in a queue of about five vehicles. 60KPH is my speed. Then suddenly, the slow night gets crazy as a speeding truck hits my car, at the rear, near the wheel. My wheel goes poof, I swerve into the truck, minimal impact, I was driving slowly anyway, but the impact still sends me off the road, I loose balance, try to steady the car, I veer across the road, finally when I could remember where my breaks were I stop the car. Breathe in and Out. I shout, everyone Ok? Passenger 1 next to me, yes; Passenger 2 at the back, yes. We are all good. The truck is long gone. I can only see the tail lights vanishing into the darkness. I exit the car, check the impact, one totally damaged wheel, and one flat tyre (reparablle. It lost the valve during the impact). We are going nowhere. The rule of the road says only one spare tyre. I have damaged 2. What to do? I Call my brother. He gives instructions. Call my husband, this calms me a bit. Now I can get into action. Passenger 1 gets help from her brothers. My brother assists me in getting the cops. Cops come and confirm accident, record damage. I call the insurance guy and he instructs me on what I need to do. No intervention to the damages if possible he says. And get police abstract. The brothers take the flat tyre for repair (We need to get out of these woods), someone (the only driver who stopped to see what kind of help we probably needed) said there were rhinos around. The tyre is repaired and we fix them. We test the car. It is still going nowhere. The damaged rear axle is making the car skid. We need to tow the car. The brothers assist us in getting tow services. Finally, the car, my two passengers and I are brought to Nairobi aboard the tow truck. Its 3am. We arrive in Nairobi. We drop the car at the insurance inspection centre. Some guards on patrol offer us a ride (paid) to Passenger 1s home. We dropped Passenger 2 in Kinoo. They can’t drop me home they need to get to work. Its 5am though so I get dropped off at a bus stop. I take a matatu home. Its 6am. I finally get home. Safe. Tired but safe. Glory be to God. I need to get back to the police station to collect the abstract, but first I need some sleep.

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This could be a story of any accident victim on our roads. The stories change from person to person. The essence of this is not for the story itself but my lessons from my long night.

 

  1. Strive to be good Samaritans: – I know that our roads have rogues and cons and helping a stranded motorist, especially at night, is unimaginable. I don’t even know if I can stop to assist a stranded motorist or passenger now, especially in those places that chain messages always point out. But I know that there are good Samaritans out there. The truck driver who saw us by the road side and stopped, I don’t know him, but he stopped. It’s just that what we needed was beyond him. There are those who saw us veering off the road, crossing the road and stopping. They drove on. I don’t blame them. I probably would have done the same. I pray that the scary stories of cons will not deter us from doing good when those one in a million instances comes.
  2. Kindness abounds: – The two gentlemen who helped us that night, I owe them a lot. The insurance guy stayed awake with us. He picked my calls even at 4am. I pick my calls very selectively after 6pm. But he did. He did not owe me anything. His job did not require him to do that. But out of the goodness of his heart he did it. I cannot pay them back the kindness. At least not to them. Maybe someone else will benefit in the payback. May we strive to be kind.
  3. God watches over His children: – I drove to wherever I was going alone. But on my way back I had two passengers. I had company that night. I was not alone. It is because of them that the car could be repaired. It is because of them I could brave the night with the imaginary rhinos. It is because of them that I was probably brave to keep acting. I did not have control of many things that night, but God brought made sure we were safe. A lot could have happened (the mind gets creative here), but God was in control
  4. Always have a backup phone:- There are many things that are put in survival manuals. Matchboxes, pocket knives, blankets, flashlight, flares among others. Add to that list a backup phone. A phone that can take night pictures, even bad ones, but has good battery life. Smart phones die very fast. Mine had died an hour earlier. A mid the confusion I had forgotten about it, but it came in handy.
  5. Forget the incident, remember the lessons: – It is traumatizing to go through some stuff. Especially ones that allow your mind to wander. Get traumatized. Cry. Scream. Get frustrated. Yell at someone. Sigh. But after all the emotions, let your mind derive lessons from the experiences that are life. In the long run, life is a series of events. What hurts is the stories we attach to those events. Hurt a bit, but learn from the events. And let those events make you a braver happier person. Find a reason to be thankful. There are always reasons to be grateful. May it rain, we cannot stop that from happening, but may we never forget to sing and dance in the rain.
  6. If tomorrow Never Comes:- We all have heard of the best regrets one makes on their death bed. You forget to live when you are alive. You forget to live because someone hurt you five years ago. You forget to live because you are afraid of the consequences of your decisions today. You forget to live because you are afraid of what people say. You just survive, because you are living fear. You have one life. Live it well. Live it in the best possible way you know how. Live it to fulfill the person you  are. Live it to the purpose you were created. discover that purpose and live life. If tomorrow never comes, then there will be no regrets because you lived to the best of your capacity, you did the best you could in what was entitled to you, you lived a purposeful life, but more so you were happy and you were not afraid.

Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya

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Accidents vs Substance…, The first time I wrote this, I was in a  sole searching mission. But in the wake of Kenyan Election, Election Petition and call for a re run, I believe I need to remind call us to pause for a moment and do some self evaluation on why we are doing what we are doing, why we are supporting who we support, why we are crying foul or celebrating.

“There are two aspects of each and every thing on this world, living or non living, the accidents and the substance. Accidents are those parts of us that we can live without, the things that appertain to us, not by intention or necessity, a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance; for instance, a hand, a leg, an eye, a kidney, the language we speak, the country we were born in, our culture, our names, among others. Substance is a fundamental or characteristic part or quality, that which defines us, that which makes us us, that which makes timber timber, or a cow a cow, without which it would be a carcass and we would be corpses. That which when we lose we are baptized other names instantly, I cease being Judy, Caroline, Duncan or Eric, we become “The late” or “Marehemu”. It is the same principle that William Shakespeare applied when he wrote a “Rose by any other name would smell as sweet” in Romeo and Juliet.

I have asked myself severally why we keep voting the way we vote, and now that we have a chance to vote our presidency once more if we will vote the same way. If the name Uhuru and the tribe Kikuyu was removed from him, and we made him nameless, or replaced the name with Ekwueme, and his running mate we called him Agwoturumbe; then attached their CVs and their leadership history, the corruption scandals bedeviling their leadership regime, their own personal scandals, would we still vote them in? Would we still be willing to shed some blood, and lose our numerous friendships because we are their staunch supporters? If we removed their accidents, would their substance suffice?

If we assume that Raila was called Emenike and his running mate Elechi, would they still arouse the emotions they are? Would we still fight wars for them? If their accidents were removed, would we still be supporting them, regardless of their history?

Those of us who were celebrating the presidential win, was it because they represent the values we want in a Kenyan leadership or was it solely because of the accidents they have? If we were to swap Uhuru with Raila, complete personality swap, assume that they posses whatever the other party does, would it be the same, If Raila had been head of state for five years, with the track record present, he campaigns as Uhuru did, etc,  would things remain the same, or we would recoil at our choices? Those of us who were disappointed, was it because of Rail’s accidents or because of the values that he would have introduced to the leadership of this country, or the hope that he presented for the nation? Did we go to the streets because he is Raila or because he is the kind of leader that this nation wants at this point but seemingly been denied by the structural failures of our systems? Does he present hope for our nation as a leader or it is just the luoness in him that is irking us?

Leadership can be defined s a process whereby an individual effectively and ethically influences a group of individuals to achieve a common worthwhile goal. This leadership, as per the Catholic church, must be guided by and be consistent with Religious doctrinal teachings. It lays importance on the following values: Solidarity, Family, Dignity of human life, Option for the poor, Dignity of work and rights of workers and Care for God’s creation. The bible has many verses on leadership, but I will just highlight a few, “It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness(Proverbs 16:12)”; “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)” “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant(Mathew 20-26)”, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others(Philippians 2:4)”,”Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)”, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:17)”, among many other examples. What are we looking for really? An upright leader of good moral standings, a leader who is impartial, a humble leader, a leader who looks out for the interest of others, a person faithful to his or her family, self controlled respectable and hospitable, a servant leader. 

We lay so much importance to our accidents; especially in our Kenyan political arena we forget what really counts when we are looking for leadership. The language we speak is so important we are willing to fight every electioneering year since the dawn of Multiparty elections in 1992. We are so attached that we can never define our substance, neither can we define the substance of the leadership we seek.

All of us will go or have gone for interviews. What leadership values do employers seek? Assuming we were CEOs and their CVs were dropped on our in-trays, if we would not employ any of them for whatever short comings, then we are cheating ourselves twice by electing them as our leaders.

We the electorate are the CEOs and we are hiring. What are the leadership values that we are looking for as a nation? Their CVs public or otherwise are in our in-trays now. We have been given a second chance to interview them and appoint the president a new. What do we want? Is it integrity? Is it Accountability? Honesty? Commitment? Dedication to electorate? Transparency? Impartiality? Confidence? Passion? Innovation? Even as we seek to vote the lesser evil (which is ridiculous) what criteria are we using to evaluate? Accidents or Substance?

We have another chance, to interrogate ourselves more than the we need to interrogate the persons vying for presidency, know what we really want, then express that desire in the ballot.

 

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