Friday, 26 October 2012

My Ex

I wouldn’t love this post to go viral. It is the story of my ex-girl friend.
Our meeting was accidental. It was in a matatu (some people call it mat). It started so easily by a little banter in that mat. She was immediately in my social network.
I viewed her profile, she was elegant. The real life image next to me was just fantastic. She laughed easy, had a smile I like and the way she talked about her interests and activities made me want her more. She was in an open relationship with nobody in particular and I thought this was my chance.
I sent her a friend request. She accepted the request and put me in her friends’ list. The fact that she didn’t ignore it lifted my spirits and I began laying strategies to make my next move.
First, I poked her and she poked back. Before long, I was writing on her wall, inboxing her and liking every comment and status update she wrote. And somehow she too was doing that in equal measure.
So one day I find her on chat and we started chatting and I squarely put her in the box and close the lid. My relationship status changed from widowed to ‘in a relationship’ that was the beginning of a long nice life.
I would take pictures everywhere upload them and tag her or sometimes just say ‘with my apple’ etc etc Her friends became my friends and mine hers.
And then a topic began trending. It was about my beautiful girl. Everybody began tweeting about her slanderous behavior. It was first whispered that she had joined an infamous group, campus divas for rich men. I didn’t mind much until the hash-tag stop campus divas brought tweetpics of her with some bald headed man. And then I decided to block her. 
blocking her was the most painful thing because i realised I'd have to ask her friendship again. 
A lot of things have changed in my life since. I am looking to find a new mate.

Photo and Poem by Courtesy

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Why you should Follow Your Heart

If you have ever felt that you are not doing what you want, you are not alone. There are millions of people who do the things they do because they have to. Some do this because of family pressures, market trends, recent developments, accidents etc etc. But,  be it that profession you are in, the course you are pursuing or whatever it is, you should never lose the resolve to follow your heart.

I give you my top three reasons why you should follow your heart.

Your Heart already knows what you want
Your heart defines who you are. That is why some people are known to have a good heart- if they are generous, kind, love others and care about what happens to those close to them. While some are perceived to have an evil heart- if they are mean, are sadistic and don’t give a damn what they do to other people.
What your heart wants will always be dear to you. If your heart tells you to be a comedian, follow that path, start somewhere doing whatever you can and believe you me, you shall get there because your mind and soul will give you what your heart desires. 

You will be happy
Happiness comes with contentment. Research has shown that most people who stay happy live even longer.  Happiness is mostly found at work, with family, friends, nature and the Creator. If you follow your heart you will be happy. And you will live longer.

You will find freedom
While many people feel trapped in their circumstances, following your heart could be a source of freedom. You don’t have to look further than your close friends who chose not to follow those big dreams set for them by others. Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group is a free entrepreneur making money and so are others. Just follow your heart. Freedom is guaranteed.

In whatever you pursue keep you eye on the prize. All the things along the way just obstruct our view of the prize so that we may give up. It is only those who dare to dream that see the best that life has to offer.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Interview

John woke up with a start. He rolled on his bed and reached for the alarm; smothering it. His thin worn out blanket lay at his feet. He used it just because he had to. It did not prevent the biting cold anymore. The clock indicated ten minutes past six. The alarm had rang for the second time. He had to move fast. It was a day for another interview.

Since getting out of college two years earlier, he had never held a steady job. He relied on short term contracts given out by his more successful former classmates in big companies. He was among the smartest but the jobs had been elusive to him. They always danced in his eyes as he went from one interview to another. He did not have a tall brother or distant relative to hold his hand and pull him out of his quagmire. He held on to hope. That one day, things would work out. The contracts he got ranged from data entry jobs, sales, and to the bizarre sweat dripping ones. The ones he never imagined he would do as a graduate. Sometimes he would go into construction work; doing manual labour with all sorts of crooks. He had attended so many interviews that he had lost appetite for them.

John groped under the bed for the only basin he had. The lights were off. Without light from the windows, he could stay in the dark till he got accustomed to it. His prepaid electricity bill was still pending. He carefully drew water from the black 100litre water container. The water level was low and he had to bend low to get to it. Bathing was not mandatory here but today, he had to. With water in the taps only once a week and two days to the next 'water day' he knew what that meant for the next couple of days.

He was lucky to get the last occupant of the bathroom leaving. Thank God, there was no queue either. His bathing was always a five minute affair. He had perfected it over the years. It was the only way to cut short the agony of the skin-numbing body-trembling cold water. He also rationalized that with the sharing, he could save other people's time. The condition of the bathroom did not allow a prolonged stay either.

The last phase of his preparation had been the trickiest. His clothes were scanty. John had two suits. One was grey, bought for his graduation.  The other was pin stripe navy blue one. He had bought it from a friend who found it a size too small. He could choose the suit to wear by looking away as he searched for the hangers. As a rule, the one first touched would do for the day. Whether they were clean or not was not considered. Most times they were good. Without mentioning the suits were beaten.

The major hardship was the shirt. Most of them had collars that looked like they were shredded and glued back together. Others were anti-iron. However hard he tried to iron them, they would crease up again. He was very cautious about them because he had attended an interview with one such before. Things had gone well and he tough he was making quite an impression because the panel kept smiling at him. It was not until the last question was asked by the big bellied man at the heart of the panel that he realized what was amusing them.  "Mr. Onyango, did you look at yourself in the mirror before you left your house?" The building almost came down in rapturous laughter. He felt small. He could not even muster the courage to ask the mandatory last question. He did not want a repeat of that experience.

He found a sky blue shirt, clean and pressed. A red tie with stripes went with it; the navy blue suit was picked for this day.  Time was running out. He had just five minutes to make it to the bus station. John wanted to get there early. From experience, he could not get late. It was bad sign to interviewers. On several occasions, he had been late or lost and those were some nightmares he loved to hate. A job seeker is always as lucky as the next interview.

The journey was slow. He had expected it. Forces always conspired to ruin his important days. Today, he could afford a smile. He was in no hurry. He flipped through a dossier he had made for News Media East Africa. He had made many such dossiers in the past. It was a hard task but a worthwhile one. Interviewers are always impressed by candidates who know a lot about their prospective employers. He looked for scraps of information over the internet, from newspapers, journals, magazines and any other relevant sources. He flipped through the dossier absentmindedly as juicy vulgarities from a local FM station rent the air inside the matatu.

He wasn't building castles in the air as he used to when he began job hunting. In those early days, he could imagine the oak table, rolling leather chair, state of the art computer and other trappings that lay on the other side of the hot interview seat. He had grown skeptic.

John fell in love with News Media East Africa the moment he stepped into the reception. It was magnificent. Everything he could see did spell grandeur. He was ushered in by a pretty damsel called Kate. She was kind enough to cheer him up and wish him well. She even said she was looking up to working with him.

The waiting room had four candidates. He had purposed never to compare himself with others.  Thirty minutes later, it was his turn. He was the last; a good sign. He had read in some column in the dailies that the last candidate usually got the job.

He sauntered in, smiled broadly as he said good morning and took his seat. This was perfected from experience. As he rested his back on the seat, he was formatted. His mind went blank as he saw her at the extreme left of the interview panel. He panicked. Sweat drops rolled down his stomach. He was sweating in this cool air-conditioned room. He couldn't wait to hear her full names but when he did, he felt dizzy. With trembling hands, he filled his glass from the plastic water bottle in front of him and gulped it down. He wanted to run away.

The ghosts in his closet had come out. They were here, the most unexpected of places. He had loved Sally. She too had loved him with all the love of her youth. Their love hit the rocks when their country was rocked by mayhem after a botched election. Inter-ethnic animosity could not stomach the beautiful thing they had. His community and hers could not see eye to eye after a blood bath and massive displacement of people. She had cried when her parents sent him away. They had never met again until today. Their daughter Seanice was two years old but he was not aware.

'Tell us about yourself.' The interview was on. He was a veteran at interviews and tried as much as possible to remain focused. The questions came fast and thick but he was prepared. He gave a good account of himself.

After several questions about himself, his competencies, the company, the profession and its current trends and one question of his own he left. He saw her smiling as took his way out.

Two weeks later, the phone rang as he lay on hard hot ballast over lunch time at a construction site. News Media East Africa had hired him. He didn't know what to feel.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Good Old Days

Ever thought about life in the old days? I have and i conjured up these images.

Back then lands were fertile. Rains never failed. Water flowed freely, freshly and abundantly. The crops did exceptionally well. The fruits of the lands were bountiful. Food was available in plenty and variety was not a problem. The world was innocent and uniquely exotic.

Back then education was fun. We learnt through songs, myths and tales. And more importantly through practical experiences infused in the activities we did daily. The boys went herding in the thick of the forest where pasture was greenest. Consequently they learnt the secrets of the woods; the healing power of the herbs and the sacred trees cherished by the community. The girls sought firewood, drew water from the river; playing games and telling stories of the great mothers of the past.

Back then, the grandma and grandpa inspired our young minds with tales of ancient days. They awed us with their mastery of the language, how we wished to speak like them! Seated round that fire place, where the burning embers of wood never stopped blazing, we would start with riddles. Unraveling from the terse pithy statements the secrets of the environment; the nitty-gritties of math simultaneously enjoying the wits of each other. The stories would then come, from the mouths of the old men/women, with memorable moral lessons that shaped the character and behavior that we possessed later on- in our lives in the community.

Back then, the sounds of the drums told us so much: the arrival of a new member; a warrior or a maid, the naming ceremony or the wedding feast where nuptial bliss would be sealed. And the sad notes of the drums would give the alarm of the dreaded monster- death. What about the smoke? The fire signal? Weren’t they enough for communication? The messenger was an important person, taking messages of love and war, of peace and death; and he (messenger) was powerful.

Back then, age meant wisdom. Elders were the custodians of law and ways of the people. They decided cases of great magnitude through the council of elders; and yes! They were always right! The young men were strong and courageous. Charged with the responsibility of protecting the community, they were never inept. They diligently took that task without dispute and it did not scare them! Their maxim was only one: 'to death for the community.' Children were taught by everybody. That is, everybody had a right to discipline them! And the respected mothers taught the girls and fed the clan.

Back then marriage was special. The man and the woman literally 'knew' each other on their first night together. They were both pure! Yet we did not have clothes! None lacked a partner, none was ugly and none enjoyed staying single.

Back then I suppose things were good and life was great. If I were to make a wish, I would go 'back then' and come back a year later because I still enjoy life as it is now

Are You There Yet?

I once read about a lady who got a job when she took her friend to audition for a job in a local media house. It might have been chance and luck.

Richard Wright, my most influential writer in his novel "Black Boy" tells a lot about living in the Southern USA in the early 1900s, having to deal with a ghost father and sickly mother and a seriously racist America.  His troubled childhood entailed traveling and changing residences as he sought accommodation from different relatives in his early life and graduating top of his class despite not attending one complete school year. His struggles hardened him and by chance he was introduced to the world of books by an Irish American. This encounter changed his life and his love of the ink on paper made him what he finally became- the most loved African American Writer.

Mike Tyson who became the youngest heavyweight boxing champ at the age of 20 did not have a perfect start to life. Growing up in Brooklyn New York, his father abandoned them while he was two. At the age of 16 his mother passed on but before that; Tyson lived in and around high crime neighborhoods where he fought those who ridiculed his high pitch and lisp. These and other experiences shaped Tyson's future. His childhood made him. His talent as a fighter was recognized at the age of 15 while he was in some kind of an approved school.

The soccer legend Pele~ as a young boy could not afford a proper football and usually played with either a sock stuffed with newspapers, tied with a string or a grapefruit.

Thinking about the stories of these few and many other men and women who have shaped their destinies, I found myself at loss trying to figure out what I am really doing with all the talents and the good things I am blessed with. 

It is human nature to think about bettering our situations. We must always yearn to reach the next level. We have to strive to see the other side of things and enjoy the sweat, the danger and determination that culminate into the breathtaking scene we witness when we stand on the mountain peak. 

Life sometimes will not give us all we want but I believe staying focused and not losing the mark, keeping the head up always and looking to climb and trample upon the biggest obstacle to our success makes us successful.  Abraham Lincoln became one of the greatest American presidents after series of losses and trial. If he gave up, his name would just have been a footnote in history.

To borrow Carol Mandi's words "Champions are not made on the pitch. The arena is just where they showcase a talent honed in private practice. There are a few shortcuts, fewer lucky breaks- you are not going to get there without working for it. Spurts of brilliance will serve to energize you but you must just get up and get on with it." 

And because we always have more critics than we need, let’s focus on our supporters.
Are you there yet? If not, just keep working on it. Whatever you put your mind to do, with passion and great motivation will always come to be.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Humbling Aptitude Test

I recently failed an aptitude test.  It wasn’t a hard test but the truth is; I flunked terribly. I had waited for that call that would open the doors for me to get an internship in one of the big shot media firms for over a month when it came. I received the call in the evening to take the test the following day.
I am not a genius but I rarely fail tests. In fact, before this test, I don’t remember another in the recent years that I have failed.
It got me thinking about a number of things. What if we were to take tests about a certain things in life? Which tests would I, you pass.

Personal life test
If you took a test about the things you wanted to achieve in life at your present age, would you pass? Growing up I conjured images of bliss and success and many other things I would achieve by now. Some I have achieved. Some remain just dreams. I don’t know about you. I have made much progress in life but I doubt if I would pass the personal life aptitude test.

Ethnic aptitude test
Our county is truly blessed. Many ethnic communities joined in one accord by great symbols of national unity. Yet we almost always go back to our cocoons and judge others by the language they first spoke or the sound of their surname.  A look at my current inner circle of friends and networks tell me I’d fail the ethnic aptitude if I did not just scrap through. I am however tolerant, do not enjoy stereotypes and I am proud of my heritage as my two names scream.

Spiritual aptitude test
The Creator gives us a choice to follow Him or follow our own ways. Sometimes we cry when things don’t go the way we want them to and say the good Lord has forsaken us. But the analogy of the foot prints perhaps tells us more about the undying love the Father has for his children.  Yet in many occasions we, and I have been found wanting in deed and in what I have failed to do. God is merciful and just because of GRACE I would have passed the spiritual aptitude test.

So I missed the chance to work at a prestigious firm. My intention was to actually work so diligently that the firm would find me indispensible.  I know as much as many other people will testify that I am competent. But the rule of the game was that I had go thorough a necessary evil (test) to be weeded out as the regret letter stated: ‘We managed to get other candidates better suited for the advertised position.’
In the footprints analogy, a man complains about seeing only one set of foot prints when he is in great trouble but two sets when in relative ease. God tells him in those trying moments “I held you in my arms”