DR. JOHN NGORU

The only thing I share with John Ngoru is bad handwriting. But I can write and sign cheques, just in case you thought my handwriting is illegible. The thing is, it’s just bad but legible. It appears to have confidence issues and overwhelmingly dependable on my moods. Speaking of which, it bothers me how much energy and focus I apply just to write nicely. Writing a letter at a time with its own breathing and personal space is, to say the least daunting. I mean, where does the patience to write endearingly come from? In my thinking, one should write as fast as one constructs the sentence in his head. Writing shouldn’t be slower and perfect. It should have some sort of ego and shrubs of beards, especially men handwriting. What I’m I driving at? That it’s an offense for men to have cute handwriting. Back to Dr.Ngoru, our similarity can only be enforced by our handwriting and not perusing medical journals and burning the mid night oil reading bulky books that do not trigger any urge to live a happy life. That aside, I jokingly enquired from him if there is a particular handwriting doctors learn in Med school. And he confirmed not one he is aware of.

Of course, it is intimidating interviewing somebody who is not only an alumnus of the envied Nairobi University School of Medicine but a lad who was among the creme of the class. How on earth do you top in Med school? To be more precise, he was the best final year student of the University of Nairobi in the class of 2013.  You now get the drift!

I met Doctor Ngoru for the first time in the year 2004, in Nyahururu High School, both of us as Form Ones; timid and hugely over-monolised. We were classmates right from Form one to Form four. Speaking of monolisation that ranged from cleaning our uniforms in the dirty sinks, never mind without buckets, because buckets were a privilege especially for Form ones, to reverting to the dormitories after 12 am after the lethal bullies had not only retired to bed but fast asleep. It was more baffling for me in the sense that, my bucket and I departed ways right at the administration block, few minutes after my mum had stepped out of the school gate, when a face I couldn’t make up later, volunteered to assist in carrying my bucket only to melt into the crowd.

That notwithstanding, Ngoru, didn’t only top in our class, but the entire stream of over 150 boys so consistently for the four years of our high school course. And you’d think, he was such a book warmer. Certainly not. I know of fellows who studied harder and for longer hours than him. Dr.Ngoru was just an intellectual in a class of his own. He was a genius who was and is still shy to admit so. In fact, he tried to transfer school three times in high school and succeeded in getting admission to schools that were way better than Nyahururu High. Unfortunately, his parents couldn’t afford to transfer him to those schools even after being served with admission letters since they were way expensive. And so as it would appear, this didn’t thwart the efforts of Ngoru to study much harder even after fate looked grim and unrewarding.

And to put light to his childhood; Dr. John Ngoru grew up like any typical village boy then born in 1989, in a family of five siblings, as the firstborn in Kajiado District. His dad was a driver with the Ministry of Trade and Commerce based in Kajiado but sadly, lost his job controversially. What this meant is that Ngoru and his family had to relocate to their native home back in Nyandarua County. Having a jobless dad and a mother who was practicing small scale farming didn’t add up to much, in terms of family welfare. To add salt to injury, his dad had a responsibility of taking care of his parents and siblings (Ngoru’s grandparents and uncles/aunts).

What type of a kid were you? “I was a quiet kid who loved reading a lot. I moved to top the class from standard 4, where I maintained number one position from then to class 8.” Ngoru, spent his school holidays and weekends grazing his dad’s livestock in the far fields of Lake Ol Bolossat. Which brings me to the point; Andreaders should make a point of visiting Lake Ol Bolossat which for a fact, is the only lake in the former Central province. Here, you can enjoy the beach-like atmosphere and it can be very windy in the evenings. You will enjoy watching hippos from a safe distance, boat riding in the placid water body and peering at the bird life. For your information, there are very competitive villas and vacational homes with ample accommodation spaces. It is quite mesmerizing sipping your cold beer, eyes fixed on the calm lake that extends its wings to the sleepy Nyandarua Ranges.

Dr. Ngoru cleared his primary school in a local private school where he managed to garner 441 out of 500 marks, which was a massive record that fourteen years down the line, no one has managed to break it. He aimed to join Mang’u High School but that proved quite elusive. Who should we blame when one garners such impressive marks only to find oneself in a low caliber school?

What was the feeling when you ended up in a provincial rather than a national school? “Initially, it was very demoralising but I accepted my fate by 2nd term of Form One course. What pushed Ngoru to be this aggressive in his performance? “All I wanted back then was to get my folks off the poverty line.” Which tricks did he use to remain top in class all the way from Primary school to Campus? Ngoru politely dismisses the question of tricks or strategy. “Really no tricks. I was just a normal kid doing what was expected. All I can confirm is that; I rarely forget once I read something. It only has to be once.”

What were your highlights in High school? “As I said; Maintaining position One expect for once, from Form One to Four; Participating in Science Congress up to the National level; Being part of the Music Festivals group that proceeded all the way to the Provincial level; Earning favour from the school principal for being consistently the top student and for my discipline. I also participated in numerous Mathematical contests and I recall being involved in a road accident at one time coming from a contest in Nyeri High School where by the grace of God, I suffered only minor injuries.” Some of your projects that found their way to the National level include? “I fondly recall one that was about a Water pump fitted on bridges. The weight of vehicles driving over the bridge would pump the water. This particular project performed very well at the National contest. Unfortunately, I never pursued it after that. It’s one of those things I regret of.” As for me, I tried presenting a project to the Science Head of Department teacher in the safe company of my deskmate one Lucas from Kinagop who was far better than I in sciences and to our shock, the suggestion which couldn’t befit a project was easily disqualified at the school departmental level for lack of substance. Auuuch!

What’s amazing is that even after Ngoru’s parents were unable to clear his huge school fee balance after clearing Form Four in the year 2007, the school was patient enough to wait for 7 years, after Ngoru had settled in the job market whereby he settled the staggering balance. For the record, he scored an A plain (82) in his KCSE results which is a record Nyahururu High School has yet to break, ten years later. For the two years one would wait by then to join campus, he undertook a certificate course in ICT and moreover, commenced his CPA studies which he managed to clear in under two years. And as you’d expect, he scooped an award for being the top student countrywide in June 2009 exams.

Dr. Ngoru started off his Bachelor of Dental Surgery course in October 2009. By then his dad had secured a favourable job while his mum was running a small business which meant, they managed to send him some pocket money for him to survive in the city under the sun. Ngoru having participated in the 2009 census exercise, had managed to save some cash too which again helped him push along. He quickly established and acclimatized himself as a top student where he further vied and won to be the Vice – Chairman of NUDSA (Nairobi University Dental Students Association). He was also a representative of University of Nairobi Nyandarua Students Welfare Associations (UNNSWA); He wrote and published two articles in the East African Medical Journal; Represented University of Nairobi at the IADR (International Association of Dental Research) East & South African Division where he emerged top and won the Hatton award (2013) in South Africa; Represented IADR East and South African division at the global meeting in Cape Town South Africa in 2014.

As mentioned earlier, he emerged the top final year student of UON in the class of 2013 and was awashed with awards from Nairobi University, Colgate Palmolive, Dentmed and Elida Ponds Foundation. He proceeded to enroll for an internship at Kenyatta National Hospital which he completed in 2015. He was then posted to Lodwar District Hospital under the County Government of Turkana where he still works on part time basis occasionally flying from the Wilson Airport. I quizzed him about Lodwar ambiance? “It’s very hot with temperatures ranging from 35 degrees, at times going as high as 45. Lodwar is a cosmopolitan town.” From what I gathered it has no hill leave alone an anthill and happens to brag of two iconic geographical features; River Turkwel and Lake Turkana. Ngoru attests that the latter has white beaches only comparable to Diani’s water-front.

In addition, Dr. Ngoru tried his luck at the prestigious Karen Hospital where he was hired as a resident dentist.  While there, he had the rare opportunity of serving the high and mighty in the society. His clientele included former presidents, some of African First Ladies, Cabinet secretaries, Governors, Senators, Members of Parliament, Senior judges and so forth. He would later quit to launch his own state of the art dental clinic at the onset of this year. Clearly, Dr.Ngoru has no regrets for quitting to self-employment since Dental Access has grown in leaps and bounds to be a power house in matters dental health. It is located in the heart of Nairobi at Cardinal Otunga Plaza.

I indulged Dr.Ngoru on Kenyans uptake in matters dental hygiene. This is because I visited a dentist for the first time ever, this year when I battled an excruciating pain for nearly a week. For many years, one of my molars had endured a tooth decay which I toyed with for long, that it could undergo a root canal. Months ran into years and the day of havoc had finally knocked on my doorstep without bulging. The unrelenting tooth ache that was especially worse at night had coincided with my exams dates. Since it was always less severe during the day, I would reassure myself that the pain was dead and gone only to resurface from about 11 pm when retiring to bed and not let go. Not once did I sleep holding my right cheek till morning, sporadically fetching over the counter painkillers that had now been outsmarted by the sheer cold, solid and penetrative pain, leaving me with no choice but to vow that I’d visit the dentist first thing in the morning only to develop cold feet and postpone the whole mission. My fear of the dentist was all about stigma brought about by my mum when she boxed a dentist for a tooth extraction that had gone bad. It appeared the dentist was a quack who made my mum endure all the pains of extraction since she was not properly numbed.

Bwana daktari, how’s Kenyans dental hygiene? “The uptake is impressive. Gradually improving mostly in the cities and urban settings. Kenyans have realized it’s imperative to have regular check ups on matters of their dental health.”

Why do toothaches worse at night? “There are many schools of thought that include; low temperatures at night trigger tooth aches as opposed to the warm temperatures during the day. But more importantly, it’s worthy to appreciate that when one lies down, more blood rushes to the tooth exerting pressure and thereby bringing inflammatory mediators with it.”

Away from dentistry, Dr. Ngoru has managed to set up a poultry farm for his parents in Nakuru producing more than a thousand eggs in a month and about 600 broilers every two months. This is an enormous credit to him for investing in his parents with a sustainable wealth of such magnitude. Is there pressure attributed to first borns? “Yes, the pressure is palpable. Be it endeavoring to being a credible role model to the younger siblings and dealing with insurmountable expectations from the parents. Of course hailing from a typical Kenyan family, the burden of taking care of one’s parents and the younger siblings is inevitable.”

What’s your word of encouragement to the youth who’ve lost hope in life? “Two things; Whatever you do, whether by fate or choice, do it to your level best. Avoid idleness and associate yourself with people who believe in constructive ideas.”

We end it on that note congratulating Dr.Ngoru and his wife for the blessing of a bouncing baby boy to their lives. May he grow to fill the size of daktari’s shoes in matters intellectualism, humility and dignity.

 

 

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SIR JAY

If you call yourself Sir (something) you better look the part. From dressing a Stephano Ricci diamond plated tie to an elegant gold wristed watch that has a heavier ego than all the new found IT cum hacking gurus and crop of wannabe lawyers trying too hard to impress on social media,..you rather be rocking a genuine burnished toe, pair of shoes. Note genuine. Boy, besides, you should never develop the guts to text me out of the woods for a soft loan that will be refunded in 48 hours. I’ll consider it highly offensive and a dire disservice to your name. And by the way, you better be dating a Taita lady and not one of those slay lasses who bombard our timelines with fruit updates and in high heels taller than their ethics. Aaah and; I prefer you be an exceptional public speaker. I mean, how would you introduce yourself as Sir Charles, with a voice that has esteem issues? Something else, you can never afford to be self-absorbed with such a coveted name. And self-absorbed includes dangling with your car keys in boardroom meetings or in those local hotels where you make the rest of us drool at your lonely success ladder like we were made from a different cut.

And, you must be an alpha male; domineering in every polite manner. Sophisticated too and sort of mysterious. Your financial freedom must evoke jealous in all corners of our taste buds. Your phone must be always engaged, striking deals on one end or quietly tossing to expensive champagnes with your boys in hotels that have rooftops. The thing is, we must struggle to keep up with your moves. Moreover, you must be a bigwig outside of social media and your presence should only be commanding if not more. However, you shouldn’t be carried away by that hype, humility must be seen and felt at your every utter. Before I forget, you must give a run to Ezra Chiloba for his fame, at least according to the ladies.

That aside, meet Sir Jay, a contemporary fashion designer, model and largely positive minded young person. You’ll assume he is reserved until you hear him speak. A combination of intellectualism, humility, buzzing optimism and visionary attitude are elements that comfortably suit him. An American height guy, overly tasteful when it comes to fashion and unapologetically metrosexual as you’ll tell from his urbanite demeanor. He stands tall on everything boy child, from mentoring to giving back. Sir Jay, is a marketing genius too and brainchild to the coveted brand – Sir Jay Suits. I met him for the first time in a forum organized last year, for Nanyuki male professionals whose objective was to shed light, empower men in us and provide solutions to the struggling boy child phenomenal. That being last year, we’ve kept tabs and recently had a Tet a Tet with him when I saw the need to feature him in my new series of exposing young people with compelling stories that can be used to mentor and inspire the rest of us.

So, grab a seat as we unravel and make sense to this smell of inspiration.

When I quizzed Sir Jay about where he grew up and how it was like, his grandma name kept resurfacing in his brief responses. His childhood was hugely dominated by his shush and thanks to her, here is a guy who attributes his life principles to have been carved from that shrewd and tough upbringing. Shrewd because grandmas back then (Not millennial shushus) didn’t entertain nonsense while bringing up their grandchildren. They were discipline masters in as much as they were tender and loving. And how was it like, in those early days of Sir Jay life?

He used to collect firewood, feed the goats and chicken and later, stroll downstream to fetch water. Thanks to the fact that, back then rivers would flow freely, unpolluted and full of life unlike the days of our Lord today, where a stream of water is not only seasonal but heavily polluted in its short span of life by our selfish acts and baggage. Why is it that grandmas are extremely passionate when it comes to taking care of their livestock? A case in point, my grandma would rather sleep hungry but ensure her goats and cows have enough supply of dairy meal and Maclik salt. She will also ensure any regular guest at her home assists in cutting some stinging nettle around her house which she puts in a big sufuria and boils the greens and later feeds them to her dear cows. You should see her cows fighting for the cooked stinging nettle, it’s like pizza to the city slay queens. You know that happy face while one takes something delicious. For men, it should be Nyama choma at Tums in Giakaja because beer is certainly not tasteful.

Sir Jay changed schools so often both at Primary and High school level. To be exact, he was in six different schools between primary through secondary school. But why? Lack of funds featured prominently in his childhood hence why apart from changing schools due to lack of school fees, was brought up by his grandma back in Muruguru, Nyeri County. Interestingly, he always emerged the cleanest boy in high school and at some point, he became the school captain due to his neatness. Arguably, almost a decade after, he has still kept this self-made ethos. In addition, he was very sporty in high school unlike me. I tried basketball but my height became the undoing. Tried football, but every lad played football and it became too competitive and congested. Attempted hockey, barely succeeded since it was too crafty. Moved to rugby but couldn’t risk my ribs. Left with no option, I gave up. But on a brighter note, I was very passionate about Art stuff hence resulting to joining Drama club, music club and predictably – Debate Club. At Form 3, I was elected the President of Debate Club. Did I love debating and gathering points for motions, oooh boy! So, back to Sir Jay; he played Football, Handball, Rugby, was in Athletics as well, Triple and Long Jump too.

He joined Nairobi Aviation for his Diploma in Mass Communication but before securing a chance, he was a casual laborer in construction sites in Nanyuki. After seven or so months of carrying heavy loads and moving around in dusty clothes without any protection gear but armed with an optimistic mindset, he juggled from one construction site to another. He built his life a brick at a time but would later move to Nairobi where he switched gears to hawking. Yes, you should remember spotting him along the streets selling everything from flash disks, scratch cards, memory cards, disks and so forth. Hoping he was not a nuisance hawker like what the celebrated Wanja Kavengi writes on Facebook. By the way, have you stumbled on her brilliant writing?

Anyway, Sir Jay was desperate to survive and raise funds for his college fees, hence why he did anything rational to steer his life forward. Incidentally, at college, he participated in a beauty pageant contest for Mr. & Miss. Aviation 2013-14. Guess what? He won! On that very minute, an eggshell was broken and a dream was validly born. Modelling became part and parcel of Sir Jay life and one of his several streams of income. After his breakthrough at Aviation, Sir Jay contested in many other pageants scooping awards left, right and center just to name a few;  Mr. & Miss Mountain Mall and Mr. World Kenya – Laikipia County where he easily won. He also strutted on many runways for instance; Kenya Fashion Week, Festivals for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA), Swahili Fashion Week, French Embassy Fashion for Charity and would later join commercial modelling. While at commercial modelling, Sir Jay featured as a cast in Safaricom ads, Guiness Made of Black, and as the main cast in Blue Moon Vodka, Crown Paints and Fresh chewing gum. He has also been involved in other adverts as a semi-featured cast like in Orange Kenya ad.

Early last year, he took a break from modelling stuff to concentrate on his other brainchild – Sir Jay suits which is a clothing line that features mainly signature suits made for the contemporary man and woman. I asked Sir Jay if he is a tailor or a designer and what’s the difference. “I’m a designer. I design, cut the fabric then the tailor does the rest. For handmade bespoke suits, I do it in tandem with my tailor.” What’s bespoke? Forgive my native upbringing where words like bespoke- suits are vocabulary names I should have used in my English composition. What a loss! “Not to worry, bespoke is a name used to describe suits that are made from scratch by the tailor, customized or rather fairly adjusted to meet a client’s typical measurements and specifications. Normally, the rest are suits designed from standard measurements. ” He points out.

Apart from suits which other products are offered under Sir Jay suits?

“We do office and wedding suits and smart casual attires. We also sell gowns as well. Just recently, we launched a new product called Sir-Jay-Lust-List which encompasses female and male inner wears from lingerie to boxers.”

You recently had an incredible event at a Nairobi hotel?

“Yes, we were launching Sir Jay Lust list as I have just mentioned. It was an invite-only event where I lined up models showcasing my latest products in the offing. There was a lot to learn for my team and me as a person about organizing events. All I can say for now is that Kenya should watch out for the next event from Sir Jay Suits because we are bringing Paris to Nairobi!”

What was the objective of the event?

“To basically broaden my brand and launch Sir Jay Lust List officially to the consumers.”

Where are you based?

“My shop is in Nairobi but also hold a very aggressive promotion on social media.” By the way, check out his Facebook page – Sir Jay Suits.

Tell me more about your clientele base

“I have clients in Canada, Frankfurt Germany, Australia, Doha – Qatar and locally in Kakamega, Kisumu and Mombasa. They are scattered all over the place.”

Where did you acquire your tailoring skills?

“Downtown Nairobi. Different tailors taught me different skills regarding cutting the fabric and designing. YouTube too has helped me greatly on my researches.”

To what extent is talent important towards one achieving his success vis a vis hard work and street smartness

“You can never wish away talent. It’s very important but again there are ethics that ride with it like integrity, honesty, patience and persistence.”

Do you visit the gym?

“Once in a while. I prefer body fitness exercises rather than building muscles.”

Where did you collect the name, Sir Jay?

“I have always been the center of attention when it comes to dressing. I got the name Sir from the streets out of respect for my style.”

Married or dating

“Dating.”

You are very passionate about the boy child.

“Extremely passionate. I have been involved in many mentorship programs attributed to the boy child. Most of these young men lose hope in life for lack of mentors. It’s my urge to every male professional to find time and mentor the young boys around them. If we all do our part, the society will have moved a step ahead in narrowing the gap between girl-boy empowerment.”

For a fact, there is a lot of imbalance in empowerment in this country. It’s time we narrowed the lenses to the very aggrieved boy child without doing any harm to the girl child who has had a fair progress. How do we strike the balance, sir?

“If we leave one part of the gender behind, we will be inviting self-defeat and danger ahead. In other words, we will be running in circus by pulling one side up and going for the other, only to find the side that was earlier on pulled up, disgruntled as we changed attention to the other.”

Basically, what you are suggesting is; we accord the boy child the attention he deserves and while doing so, not lose track of the girl child. Which specific campaigns have you participated in regard of the boy child?

“I have been involved in mentorship programs in rural schools for instance; Inooro Secondary School and Waguthiru Primary in Laikipia County. In addition, I have participated in programs in Nanyuki Children’s home, One More Day and Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. I also participate in street campaigns by Inua Society Initiative where we mentor street kids in Nairobi.  Similarly, I have been involved in Chapati Forum which again serves the less fortunate kids by mentoring and counselling them.”

We leave it on that note as I let Sir Jay catch a flight to Kampala for more business. Cheers, Sir Jay!

 

VASECTOMY

According to Elaine Lissner, founder and director of medical research at Parsemus Foundation an American NGO, “it’s unfortunate women bring millions of children to the world by sole bearing the physical responsibility but still have to bear the repercussions for preventing unplanned pregnancies and failures thereof.”

That said, do you really care about your wife? Like really, really! Can you put a price tag on your love to her? And would that mean that as a fully grown African man who went through a grave ordeal in the name of circumcision in order to qualify being called a man, can as well shelve that level of pain and seek an equally if not worse, gruelling experience just for the same love for her. I’m just imagining vasectomy is damn painful. And this can mean parting with one of your symbolic organs that proves you are a man indeed? Okay, don’t get lost. Here is a simple definition of Vasectomy – It’s a method of male contraception which involves surgical cutting and sealing of part of each vas deferens, typically as a means of sterilization. Before you put your arms up, you better appreciate that – Vas deferens is that pipe that transmits sperms from the testicles to the urethra. Now you know!

Speaking of contraceptives, President Trump caused a major scare across the globe during his campaigns when he threatened to defund Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health organisation that provides contraception to many women around the US, and dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees access to contraception. By any clear reasoning, this was a gross insult to women. That aside, women continue to battle endless side effects depending on their type of contraceptives. This may range from hormonal imbalances which is quite common, mood swings, headaches, depression, acute PMS (I will leave men to find out on this) and for extreme cases – blood clot. Mind you, it’s even worse in areas where women survive with less than a dollar a day, which means using all manner of paraphernalia to mend their dignity. Basically, all I’m trying to do, is draw men in this so called sticky conversation of CONTRACEPTION.

Back to vasectomy;

You may want to refer this as part of first world problems but while doing so make peace with the fact that, quite a number of men here in Kenya have tried their chances with vasectomy. This includes married men and those cohabiting. So, why vasectomy? When a couple feels that they are in the stage where they wouldn’t be interested in raising more kids, long-term contraception methods come into play. Basically, vasectomy is one of those methods that deter pregnancies and taken upon by men to save their women from taking pills or going for those injections, or be it IUD coils, until they check into menopause age bracket. Quite noble isn’t it?

By the way, vasectomy isn’t castration. Nothing changes when it comes to vasectomy but for the latter, one technically ceases operating, if you know what I mean. Of course, nothing is 100% guaranteed under the sun, but vasectomy promises utmost 1% surprise, that is, very slim chances of failure. I hear it is also way cheaper and safer compared to all other forms of contraceptives. Something to worry though, chances of successful vasectomy reversal decline over time. Reversals are more successful in the first 10 years after the operation.

Some of the myths around vasectomy include stigma. That the process results to demasculinizing the man and is equal to castration. Moreover, it causes men develop female features for instance, breasts, and that it results to painful sex and reduced sex drive. There is also the element of information gap that erodes all the gains in the recent past.

That said, who is ready for vasectomy?

Certainly not me. They say in Africa, fathers never count their children. How far does that truth travel or amount to? Well, studies have shown that there are more elderly men having second families across the globe than in a similar period 30 years ago. This not being a justification whatsoever, I’m just saying, men would wish to feel psychologically ‘fully intact.’ No man wants to have misgivings about his reproductive health even after hitting a century old, with no teeth to smile about, and notwithstanding, him being awash with white hair and a feeble body that has seen better days. It is that twisted.

I tend to imagine our ancestors watching over us from wherever they are and trying to grapple with any idea of us having gone nuts in matters of embracing vasectomy. Thinking out loud – they will be like; “what’s the problem with contemporary man?” And go like, “Gentlemen, we need to embark on a trip downhill and summon them. This is absurd and will get out of proportion. Let’s get there before the damage gets ahead of us.” And they will descend to somewhere in Accra city, in a fancy hotel overlooking a humongous water pool, in the leafy and serene suburbs of the city where the rich reside or frequent. They will hold a press conference or rather, (a presser – a name I got acquainted with recently on twitter from journo timelines) after meeting our crop of representatives. It won’t be funny anymore. They will press us to declare if we’ve lost our minds! Okay, while at it, Ghana seems like a very safe haven for African declarations plus it was the first African country to gain her independence, in 1957. So, in here there will be a declaration that will read: ACCRA DECLARATION 2017 – NO TO VASECTOMY

And how will our ancestors land in Accra – Ghana in 2017? Does it appear beyond human imagination? Woe unto you who’ve not watched the breathtaking series TIMELESS. You’ve seen how the trio in this movie, that is; a History professor, US Army guy and the Pilot, travel in something alike a spacecraft which they call Time Machine. They embark on trips to critical events that happened in American history way back, in order to battle and protect the ‘right history’ as was intended by nature since a group of criminals had managed to reconfigure the fate of the Free world country. Similarly, assuming our ancestors are a genius lot, they will be in Accra to save the men in us from a fate that will have been orchestrated to destroy the very core of our survival.

This shouldn’t sound harsh to women. In fact, it should worry them that, vasectomy is a permanent contraceptive, so to speak as compared to the rest of them. Hence, it’s unfair to advocate and push it down our throats when we have other suitable contraceptives that can be used by men in as much as, they can be messy and annoying at times. That said, I will through caution here; that we love our women using contraceptives and we will go to whatever length to support them and advice on what’s best for them, given a chance. What this article doesn’t mean is; that we shrug off the conversation on contraception. On the contrary, more contemporary men are receptive to this topic and are more than willing to be drawn in and participate for the greater good of a win – win situation.

Enough said. The jury is out!

 

DAD OF TWINS

Peter is a huge fan of my blog. In fact due to the amassed loyalty, I hear he is the self-appointed chairman of Andreaders in and outside of the country. It is that serious. He is one of those, when we run on each other always like, “by the way, was that storo true? The one you wrote about, last week.” If not, “Andrew, bana tumengonja sana, hujaandika kitu of late” (Andrew, we are getting impatient of your articles, its been awhile). Here he is now, on the spotlight. Pulled him over to the front line of Andreaders army and was like; dude, we can write about your twins and marriage life. He nodded yes sir. I sent him a questionnaire, which he gladly sent back armed with eagerness on how the article will turn out to be.

Dear Andreaders, here is the story of a dad and his twins.

I started off by asking Peter about the million dollar call that men from all walks of life fear most. Babe, I’m pregnant! If you want a man freeze to a statue, surprise him with something close to that statement. But that’s for the unmarried men. Nothing to worry for the married since in actual sense, they plan for this kind of responsibility so meticulously at least in most cases. And so for Peter, when his wife broke the news that she was pregnant, it didn’t turn out so much of a surprise. The surprise came through after, as you will shortly realise.

When your wife gets pregnant, of course as a man, one adjusts some routines and how we visualise life. It suddenly hits you, I will be a father soon, in a way more pronouncing than before she breaks the big news! And to Peter, how he adjusted is that he started helping on the household chores and dedicating all weekends and holidays to being with his wife. From the look of things, since they started courting, Peter, hadn’t seen the inside of his kitchen for god knows how long. And it goes without saying; when your wife gets pregnant, she automatically becomes the attention as the man staggers away to the rear of life.

Let’s talk about the first scan

“We hadn’t planned to do a scan but had to when she started feeling pains and discomfort in her lower abdomen. I immediately took her to the Sonographer early morning and we were given an appointment for 2 pm same day. I had to report to work so we agreed she would go see the Sonographer in the afternoon in the company of a good friend. She called me when she was queuing at the Sonographer’s room and I was just praying that all will turn out well. About 10 minutes later, she called. I was a bit worried this time because I didn’t know what to expect! She said “bae, imagine nimeambiwa niko na twins’’. I took a deep breath, woke up from my office seat and asked her, “what do you mean? Twins? How?’’ I thought she was kidding me! And she said, “yes, I wish you were here to listen to their heartbeats.’’ I drove to town immediately to meet her.”

I paused the question, did you expect twins?

“NO! All through, I never thought about twins! She didn’t have any history of twins from her family. Neither did my family have such a history expect for one case of two daughters for a cousin to my dad. So I would bet with my damn life that chances of getting twins were next to impossible, little did I know! Interestingly, my wife really love twins. We considered it an answered prayer.”

Top on the list on what men fear most, includes whether one will make a good dad. Whether they will make a balanced dad; funny, strict and responsible father, all at the same time. Or if they will turn out to be terrible fathers who will hardly bond with their kids; or will have kids come in the middle of their struggle with alcoholism or infidelity; or will deal with their teenage daughters as they slam doors and lock themselves in their rooms putting on earphones and leaving a resoundingly cold attitude placed on the bedroom door for dad to deal with.

Peter had this to say regarding being a father to girls.

“The best part about being a dad to girls is smashing stereotypes about perceptions regarding a cultured man. Moreover, I grew up in a family of boys only, hence this is a perfect opportunity that God has given me. I clean them whenever I get a chance, take them to doctor’s appointments and wake up in the middle of the night to attend to them. They have taught me to be soft and not so serious all the time besides making me do some silly character voices just to make them smile. More fascinating is that, they have taught me that cuddling before bedtime is mandatory for them to get a good sleep, otherwise we’ll have to deal with cries late at night. As a matter of fact, they’ve made me appreciate how important it is to be kind even when I don’t want to be. As they grow up, I want to instil in them that the sky is way below their limit. I will dare nurture them to responsible and highly independent girls who will wallow and glow with self-love and never bend over to mediocrity be it from men or the larger society.”

I have read and heard of weird pregnancy cravings and shiver to imagine what Kageshi will turn out to be in her gestation period. Will it include cravings for onions as I’m told some do and I hiding the table salt? Or will it be about strong desires for anything sour from milk to porridge? Or poor me, son of a peasant mother will be compelled to come with chocolates every evening if not rushing to my butcher Sir Kiogothe for some camel bones.

So, what was Peter’s experience with his wife’s bizarre cravings? He technically played safe with this particular query. Here is what he said; “none! I am happy that I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to go buy her roasted meat.” Marriage is tricky. In most cases it is driven by what the couple prioritise; be it peace of mind, respect, faithfulness, compromise and commitment. To some, it’s driven by the number of holiday tours, cars and postings on social media on their every turn and blink. Funny enough, the latter batch never involve us when their relationship goes south, with the same gist they use in the other aspects of their lives. In the end, winners in marriage platform are those that realise money has zero shit and shouldn’t overrule rationality and chastity. So, has marriage changed some areas of Peter’s personality? “Not very much but I would say Fatherhood has changed me in that I’ve learnt to give and receive love unconditionally.” He points out.

I indulged him on what was going through their mind on the eve of the Cesarean operation. Could they touch the tension in the house when one kid didn’t kick as used to? Or could be that the fear of the operation hadn’t hit them as to whether it would turn out smooth or awful.

“I was nervous but still counting my blessings for having twins as firstborns and for a fairly smooth pregnancy journey for my wife.”

What colour were the maternity ward walls…Did the colours kindle hope or fear

“The walls were white with some beautiful wall hangings. The wall hangings played a great role in reducing my stress levels.”

Did the room have running machines or knifes or scissors or people in green attires (forgive me for asking some silly questions)…what’s there in

“No machines or knifes, just the bed, sofa, wardrobe, a table, bed-cot for the twins and a blood transfusion stand. Worthy to note is that we opted for a room in the private wing since we needed a more spacious place, conducive for recuperating and also for hosting me as well, as I wanted to partake in the process of supporting my wife by fully being available for her. ”

Was the environment around the ward pinch silent

“Sometimes silent and other times you’d hear cries from newborns in different wards. Additionally, the fact that the hospital was next to a river, we could hear monkeys chattering. Before the operation the doctor came in and asked her to get prepared for the operation. She got dressed in a green gown, prayed together and accompanied her down stairs to a room near the theatre. I helped the nurses lift her to a movable bed and pushed it to the theatre door where I kissed her forehead as she was received by another group of nurses in the theatre.”

How long was the Cesarean process

“About two hours. That was the longest wait of my life!”

What was going through his mind when the operation was taking place? Was he fidgeting or trying to read some of those decade old magazines strewn about on the waiting bay to no avail or was is it about seeking inspiration from the art evoking wall paintings?

“I was doing rounds round the hospital! I was tirelessly trying not to think that the life of my wife and kids were in the hands of the doctors. You know there is that fear of the unexpected. I thank God that the operation was successful!”

When you were called by the doctor to meet the kids for the first time, how was it

“I was excited that I was officially a father, but anxious at the same time to know their genders since the last scan hadn’t revealed the gender of one twin.”

What training did the nurses conduct to you regarding handling the babies

“I was trained how to bottle-feed them with baby formula, change nappies, bathe them including cleaning and sterilising their feeding items.”

Three months down the line, what have you learned of kids

“One is that you have to be very patient with kids, show them love and always learn to give, with no expectations of returns.”

And running a family

“It’s an honour and a privilege I don’t take for granted, having a loving family to go home to after a long day at work. I consider myself hugely blessed to work hard for people who motivate me in life. Nothing beats family!”

I hear you change diapers and clean the babies. How is the experience for you

“They say that fathers are disinterested in their babies especially when they become restless and stubborn. Well, having been there for my wife throughout the pregnancy journey up to delivery, I know the value of babies. Together with her, we bathe the twins one after the other, I also change their diapers and their clothes if they mess up.”

Tell me about the bond with your daughters…describe it

“We have a strong bond! The secret is simple, babies like attention. I maximise on the opportunity when I’m feeding them, changing their diapers or dressing them. I try mumbling and focusing on them. I make silly faces and smiles until they smile back. In essence I communicate with them.”

Is it true daughters are close to their dads…is it something you’ve noted?

“It’s too early for me to tell, but at least when I get hold of them, they somehow stop crying. This means they recognise their dad.”

What type of a daddy are you? Can you carry your kids in public places; church or malls? By the way, I once saw a man carrying his daughter in church using a baby carrier bag and couldn’t help admire his boldness. He literally stole the show from the passii at the podium. You could see the faces from ladies trying to make those aaaawwwww moments.

“Yes! In fact, for most Sunday afternoons we normally take a walk around town as we do our shopping.”

How do you balance marriage and your boys’ relationships

“Dividing that precious time amongst family and friends is not easy! It takes an extra effort on my part and that’s of my friends to keep the friendship rolling on and my marriage working.”

Do you drink less or more and why; Time constraints or a decision you have made

“I drink less. Main reason being that I want to spend more time with my family. Before marriage, I would only drink over the weekends. It has always been my policy that I don’t drink if I am working the next day.”

What’s your experience with house girls so far

“Finding a good and reliable house help is difficult since it takes a lot when it comes to raising multiples but we thank God so far we have had a lot of help from family relatives and friends.”

I hear you do cycling with your boys over the weekends. Tell me more

“I joined the cycling club early last year. It’s a club of well-organized chaps. Some of the club members represent the country in International races. We cycle to interesting places like Mt Kenya forest and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Cycling is quickly gaining a booming reputation. When I joined the club, there were about 10 members and by close of 2016, we were about 20 dedicated members. However, I decided to go slow on cycling over weekends to dedicate that time for family.”

You are such a Subaru lover and columnist Njoki Chege would detest you for that. Tell me about it

“My favourite Subaru is a Forester SG9. It’s an all-wheel drive Station Wagon with a 2.5litre turbocharged engine. 6-speed manual transmission. Manufacturers of Subarus have mastered the art of making Subaru owners very proud! I don’t drive a Subaru but I know one day I will be able to afford one. You know I like driving behind or next to Subaru’s! Those things are pretty cool!”

Your final remarks

“Being a dad is one of the most fulfilling titles a man can ever have but it takes a lot more than just being a breadwinner. There is a lot of sacrifice involved like time invested for family which comes at a cost of losing a few if not many friends, foregoing some of the things one used to do priory and working extra hard for one’s family to have the most decent upbringing. Of importance too is that, there is a lot of learning needed so that one can be part of each and every milestone in his family uptake. It takes a lot of love too, to run a family successfully!”

Are you a young person, with a compelling story that you strongly believe should be retold to a larger audience for the sole purpose of inspiring and educating. Reach up to me on wandrewism@gmail.com

MEET NANYUKI’S FINEST PHOTOGRAPHER: BEN SON

PhotographyThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, however, a writer will swallow that with a pinch of salt. It’s distasteful and unfair to summarise the hard work behind writing with just a click of a button, on a light note though. Photographers and writers are like siblings who demean each other and fight from kitchen to bedroom. Nonetheless, finding words that keep out of the way the pictures and yet shed light on the nature of photography, is not only daunting but a tall order. In fact, constructing a story out of an image in mind and manifesting that to souls of readers is way beyond public scrutiny.

On another note; you know, professional photographers can be busy and elusive these days. That should be taken as a compliment. Elusive because, Ben Son is the fourth photographer I have written to, requesting to feature in my blog and has honoured his promise. No hard feelings for Paul Maathai of Mathai gallery, or Sammy Wabs or Bobby Wafalme who I understand was involved in an accident recently. Pole Bobby. True story, photography is growing in leaps and bounds. Ordinary young people are investing hundreds of thousands to acquire the best of equipments for their work. This reminds me of hey days, right when I was growing up, when a Mr. Gatere, the only renown village photographer would transverse my village and neighbouring ones to take pics. Mr. Gatere was tall and slender, with an unkempt afro and a high waist thing, always in dark suits and the icing on the cake – the bicycle of course. Yes he would timely show up on Christmas day and Easter holidays mostly uninvited and thanks to our folks who believed in documenting life back then and having the patience of waiting for an entire month to finally get hold of the photos.

Enough of that, introducing Ben Son of HD Media Africa; a well cultivated artistic soul and one of the most sort after photographers in and around Mt.Kenya region, with his core hub being Nanyuki. Besides, he has clients in Nairobi and Nakuru as well. He started off as a videographer until two years ago when he ventured into Photography in what he says are inevitable circumstances. ”Photography found me. Since that moment I have become fascinated by the rhetoric of the image. I fall in love every day and every subject I photograph. It is another art form to me; you can be as creative as possible with a camera as long as you have the ideas. Photography has the power to change our perspective in life and power to help us make decisions.” He quips.

I indulge Ben Son on what he did after Photography met him and how he has managed to cut his own niche in this very competitive industry. Going by what he says; just like any other form of art, there is a lot of passion involved. “For me photography is about the concept, the reasoning behind the image is far more important than the aesthetic value. All my work has a reason, whether to inform, make a statement, discuss or argue, it always seeks to promote a reaction.”

True to what Ben Son points out, talent is a medium which allows us to show our own point of view, sometimes helping us to understand the world we live in and to discover something unique about ourselves. Interestingly, this is easier said than done. This is because a lot of patience and self-discovery is involved to tap and listen to our passion. And the joy of all this is that; it gives us a chance to see what is invisible, hidden deep in our dreams. As Ben Son states it, “Photography just like any other medium of art, evokes emotions in us, asks questions and forces us to reflect on the world around us.”

By the way, why do the greatest of careers start by accident? What goes wrong in school curriculums that doesn’t align success in our paths? It is like filling a crossword puzzle. That’s how self-discovery smells and tastes like! More often than not, there is a lot of sheer luck that is involved to anybody who is hundred percent contented in what he or she does for a living. And that ought not to be. Life should be nicer and way easier to decipher the paths that lead to our own success and genuine happiness. As you will clearly tell from Ben Son, it was by sheer luck he crossed paths with photography. “I had never thought or had an idea close to my mind of becoming a photographer. Now that I’ve hit the ground, I dream and contemplate daily of becoming better and better than I’m today. When I look up to my role models and the ever changing technology and new ideas, its only then I realize I have a long way to go.“

Is he worried on the influx of quacks in Photography? ”This field is vast and in fact serious practitioners are few. The market accommodates all of us but what keeps us afloat is professionalism, creativity and our uniqueness. If people are showing interest in your work it means you are on the right headway and if it translates to cash then you’re in business but most importantly, its client’s satisfaction that I value most.” Additionally, “Anyone can start photo shoot today and be a professional with time. We can all reckon that at one point everyone starts as a quack and only by experience or exposure, passion and persistence that one gradually evolves from that level to a professional, be it a photographer.”

As someone said, never believe in your own hype if you want to go far; Ben Son sounds convinced that there is more ground to cover. “Photography is purely a learning process. Every day I meet new challenges; new ideas and I learn from them. I’ve learnt to embrace and accept them to becoming who I am today. I love the satisfaction one feels when I fulfill a customer’s expectations. My client’s expectations and gratification is what counts most.”

Don’t you miss childhood dreams and the innocence that came with young age, like me? How we painted our foreseeable future with accomplishment and perfection. Sooner we come head to head with the harsh hiccups of a life that plays mischief with us so effortlessly. That said, it is our duty to save ourselves from that shock and align those dreams to today’s reality. So, what dreams did Ben Son harbor growing up? “As a child I loved movies. I thought I was born to be an actor in Hollywood. Vague as it sounds, I really didn’t understand what I wanted to become, but later as I grew up I realized and developed this passion about movie production and photography. Camera work, editing and so forth, though later I’ve narrowed down to photography.”

It is of immense importance for our parents to be steadfast in whooping unrivaled support to our dreams. They are called to put hope and sense in one basket in matters assurance, and going further to assure us that we are curved to live happier and fulfilling lives. And so, Ben Son parents are an important pillar to his career. ”My parents have been very supportive throughout my career journey and in making sure I’m where I am today, in financial matters and moral support. Every time they see my work, recommend and advice, then I feel fully contended and at peace with myself.”

Ben Son considers himself spiritual and in fact serves in a Media department in his church. You know, contemporary-cool churches are so advanced that they even have media departments and things like Young mothers, Young dads Associations, Youths Chapter, Teens forums, Young-Adults, Men of Faith and such like. This is a huge milestone from the traditional ‘mainstream’ churches which had huge presence of elderly folks for affiliations like Women Guild and Men/Women Associations.

Anyway, I have saved this question for far too long. Somebody explain what’s fancier of these two pieces of equipments – Canon and Nikon? “Well, it depends on who is using it. But for beginners, it’s advisable to start with Canon because of budget constraints since it’s more effective on video shooting while Nikon is the real deal in photography. Nonetheless, you can use either since nowadays we have softwares to edit one’s work. “Ben Son attests.

I ask him about his biggest portion of clientele. “Couples and family shoots are my most frequent clients. Plus I do lots of wedding shoots every other weekend.” Of course women are more photogenic than men except for a few men that I won’t mention here, that take far too many photos and clog the new Whatsapp fad and IG. Man is that manly! Moving on, you’d wonder if one can pay his or her bills solely on photography. “I will surprise you with the fact that, the market is really responding well to photography. More middle class families are embracing professional photos and video shoots. Moreover, there is a lot of potential that is unexplored in this market especially outside of Nairobi. Nairobi is so saturated hence the need for the market to widen up and turn its heat away from the city and tap the talent in other photography hubs coming up.”

Does Ben Son believe in mentorship and giving back to the society especially empowering the youths? “I love and believe in mentorship. Photography is a field that anyone and especially youths can venture. I personally involve young people in my projects to equip them with ideas of what the markets expects of them. I also encourage young people especially those who would wish to venture in photography field, that with minimal resources, one can actually start photography as a career and build up on that.”

Signing off in Jack Ma’s spirit!!

“Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.” – Jack Ma

Are you a young person, with a compelling story that you strongly believe should be retold to a larger audience for the sole purpose of inspiring and educating. Reach up to me on wandrewism@gmail.com

 

 

STORY OF A CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

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For the first time in my mainstream writing career somebody edited my work. Okay, not really editing but giving a heads up or what some may refer as green light. This is purely out of courtesy since here is an unusual guest who has a charm for dignity, protocol and decorum. That said, I would love to be an editor someday. It should be fun correcting obvious mistakes, rating one’s grammar muscles, detecting repetitions, cutting on not-so-necessary information, combing and brushing sentences in the best way possible…oooh. Speaking of which, when I will be in my late 40s(God willing) and perhaps feature in Bikozulu 40-series, I pray that my highlight will be editing my sons or daughters thesis then in their formative writing journey, steering them into this jungle of putting ink to the imagination. In all likelihood they will wish to nurture other tastes away from putting words to a story which by the way is quite daunting, and maybe have a thing for sophisticated stuff like Software Engineering or Cardiac Surgeon – which will leave me with no option other than hanging my boots.

Enough of that. Make way for this gentleman with such a brave passion that should sit you down and lend your ears for seven minutes utmost.

Mike not his real name is a student of Christ The King Major Seminary, Nyeri. I got wind of him from Kageshi as they shared common units while he was studying Project Management. This was before he finally made the decision of changing lanes and careers soon after graduating. As from last year, he embarked on a journey through Major Seminary – Nyeri to meet his dreams, make peace with his desires and finally lend his life to Jesus by solely focusing on serving the church. That said, I consider myself very privileged to have him as a friend owing to the fact that, in the current days of our time, it is rare to have such profound young people, holding public covenants with God that for the rest of their time here on earth they will actively and entirely serve him by every deed and act in their young and old age. That dating, harboring affairs and marriage are amongst many things Mike will sacrifice to serve the Lord. That his life companions will be the rosary, a house of prayer, meditation, theology and charity. How mind boggling is such a life! Does it appear fictional on paper? Well, Mike is closing in to clear his first year and counting nine more to graduate. He might graduate after the eighth year though, but will have two more for exclusive charity work.

Childhood being one of my most favourite phases of life, every time I’m digging in on someone’s story I die to know what one’s was made of. And just like many of us, Mike had a seamless one, certainly with nothing close to being a Catholic Father. He loved cartoons, in fact to date. Speaking of cartoons, blame my rural upbringing for not drawing excitement from them. No offence though. This should be because TV missed conspicuously in my childhood. The closest our TV screen beamed, I was in Form One deeply engulfed by adolescence. Anyway, Mike had a liking for drawing, decorating items and other art related stuff too. Let’s just say he was curved to be an Art enthusiast.

He was an altar boy since class three which coincidentally shaped him to what he is studying today. But don’t all boys fantasize with being Catholic priests at some point in their childhood? Especially when one was raised up in a rural background where only high ranking village civil servants and priests would drive and appear to live-large back then. In High school, Mike would read the Bible, spiritual books and novels regularly. This reminds me of something I did in High school; The fact that I went through a grueling Form One harassment, I devotedly read the bible since I kept it in my desk and that’s where most Form Ones spent their time. How could one frequent the dormitories whereas that’s where the cookie crumbled in matters bullying be it washing sweaty Form Fours’ clothes at dead of a night or reciting imaginary poems to hostile and restless Form Threes if not made to call one’s sisters using very smelly shoes that would act as landline calling-handles.

I engage Mike on whether he wrote love letters in primary school.

He dodges that particular question and I let it die as soon as it is born. However, I sneak in a more disturbing one. This time round, on whether he ever had a girlfriend growing up.

Just like any other high school kid, I had a girlfriend. Actually, even in college I still had one. My first girlfriend told me I would make a good priest since she used to see me serve in the celebration of mass.

What was the reaction when you broke the news to her of desiring to be a Catholic Priest

She wasn’t even shocked. She saw it coming.

What of your folks

Dad was very shocked. We didn’t speak for a week.

Your friends

They gradually edged out of my life. But I was lucky because I had a few who have supported me all along.

How was the first day in the Seminary

The place is so quiet, you are not controlled by a bell but oneself. Initially, I thought I was in a wrong place but again I got encouraged as I observed other young men around. I realized that Seminary is not about me as a person but about Jesus. Truthfully, I felt like a new student; with the orientation and learning how to begin all over again. Seminary days are unique. We have four lessons in day, we do manual work thrice, and games thrice. Talk of food; its abundant.

How many are you in your year of admission

We are 40 in total.

Why do we have a very low turnout of young men who’d wish to be Catholic Priests

I think it’s because of lack of moral values. If one is introduced to church at a younger age and instilled good values and teachings of the church, I think the number can increase.

Aren’t you scared of not having children or a life companion

Of course at some point everyone gets scared but again God decides on our vocations and we must rise to the occasion to respect those callings. I highly respect marriage sacrament because without marriage there would be no priests!

Is there monolization in that place

No no no.

Are all seminarians humble or is it like High school where we have a hodgepodge of all characters

Haha hakukosi vichwa ngumu (There can never lack mischievous people)

What are your hobbies

I love cars. Land rovers are my favourite. I also admire professional photography, watch football and basketball. Real Madrid and Golden State Worriors are my favourite.

Do you watch Football in the Seminary

Yes we do watch. I’m a big fan of Team Arsenal. It’s next to rare for me to miss Arsenal – Man U derby. By the way, I’m a goalkeeper in the school football team.

How is a Seminary program? What is the daily routine

We have a prayer book called The Liturgy of the Hours, which we use during morning, mid-morning, evening and night prayers. We use it in and out of school. This prayer book is divided into four weeks. Every day, there is a celebration of a particular Saint. We call it memorial. Some celebrations are bigger than others. They are called solemnities. For instance Mary Mother of God celebrated on 1st Sunday of every New Year. We meet with the Spiritual Director every month to talk about spiritual matters. This conversation is normally private and confidential. We have confessions twice in a month but one can have as many times as possible and is not necessarily limited to two sessions.

We have recollections once in a month. During this time, we maintain dead silence. This is a moment of prayer and meditation. Every semester we have a retreat for a week, where maximum silence is observed. Dead silence, no phones, no alarms, no bells…just silence.

The lecturers are priests. Lessons go for 40 minutes from 9am to 12:30pm. From 2pm we go for games or general cleaning depending on the day. We have our last lesson of the day from 4:30pm. We have evaluations and personal encounters with the Father in charge of Dean of students. Here, we discuss spiritual matters, academic, weak areas and how to improve. One must belong to at least one club and devotion too.

We normally have encounters with Universities and youth forums for mentoring purposes. We get engaged in charity activities every year. Moreover, we participate in country walks and trips regularly.

What is a devotion

This is where you develop your spiritual life whereas in a club one develops his talent

Do you use phones in the Seminary

It’s prohibited to use phones in the school compound, late at night after 10pm, in class, in the Chapel, Dining Hall, during retreats and recollections.

I understand you are on long holiday for three months. What are you up to at this time

This holiday is called pastoral holiday. The Parish priest has allocated me some duties; I teach catechism on Sunday, sometimes I conduct Sunday school teachings, I also teach aspiring altar services and also visit Jumuiyas(Catholic Saint associations) when permitted. I further, mentor youths and aspirants.

What is the procedure of joining the Seminary

One should contact the Parish Priest and he advises depending on the church calendar. Subsequently, one is sent to the Vocational Director where a brief interview is conducted to the applicant. Thereafter, one submits his academic testimonials and a comprehensive medical certificate. The last bit is the Approval stage after thorough scrutiny of the above mentioned stages.

What type of a Priest would you wish to be; the cool, calm and collected who follows traditions or an aggressive and pragmatic one who is vocal on society and church weaknesses.

I’d wish to make up a vocal one who criticizes and provide solutions. Moreover, I will reinforce my ideologies by furthering my studies on moral philosophy after graduating from the seminary. 

What would be your final remarks to the youth especially during this electioneering period

Two words; Pray for Kenya and maintain peace.

 

Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Ray Kroc.

 

Are you a young person, with a compelling story that you strongly believe should be retold to a larger audience for the sole purpose of inspiring and educating. Reach up to me on wandrewism@gmail.com

GRYZ WAHURA: A TRIUMPH OVER DISABILITY

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This article should have been published last week but something eroded the whole rationale. 30th June was fast approaching with thick torrents and fury. What to do when your whole extended family and friends who haven’t called you in fifty years finally emerge from nowhere and keep your phone buzzing unusually! So, around this time of the year, I usually feel quite proud of my career since very learned doctors who spent years in medical school studying complex stuff like, deciphering Human Cell Biology; TSC employed teachers salivating and edging in to meet their pensions; Beautiful, yellow-skinned lady bankers who apparently have no appetite for longer dresses who live for swindling the rest of us to take loans and subsequently sending their goofed and mean-looking credit officers to keep tabs on why the loans are not being serviced; Arrogant entrepreneurs whom you’ll spend years trying to explain to them what is I-tax, passwords and the need to have an email…name them. They will finally discover my number and call naively asking what is requested of them to file these returns. When you mention of P9As, they’ll condense and assume that is something close to a clearance form from CID. That was last week; Maddening crazy and overwhelming. Credit to I Tax portal – It was fast and efficient this time round unlike last year.

Further afield, we are putting up with July weather. Of course you and I under estimated the cold until we bumped on images about the Icing in Nyahururu and the acute low temperatures. What’s with Nyahururu and clouds falling on people’s heads and roads. Isn’t that invigorating? Well, by now you know I was raised in Nyahururu. In actual sense before global warming encroached, made a safe landing and settled, July was one of those months we all dreaded for. I recall my brother and I back then in lower class, where by 6:15 am we would painfully live the house to meet the annoying school bus. A time like July, we would shiver from the teeth to the intestines. Mind you we were on shorts, slogging through the mist and biting cold. By the time we boarded the bus, we couldn’t feel our legs.

Time for Gryz! Back in 2009, in the lifts of the tallest building at that time of Ngara area code was Vision Institute of Professionals. An accounting school where CPA was discovered, nurtured, instilled and exported to the rest of the colleges. In fact, most of these colleges which sprouted out after (Thanks God it was pre-Matiang’i era) had their founders cum lecturers start their careers at Visions. This was the epitome of excellence in the accounting field. Then, having been new to Nairobi, using lifts was quite fulfilling for me. Particularly because I was brought up in the village, Nyandarua County to be exact which has no single hill expect an ant-hill. So, being here boxed in a lift, my height dwarfed by humans with a taste for Nairobi fashion and fancy phones and school bags; I wanted to be like them.

It was on such moments that I met Gryz Wahura. Not that we exchanged pleasantries but at least I got to know of her. She was overly short, light complexion and with feeble legs. While I was joining Visions, she was clearing. Clearly, she was astounding by any standards. CPA not being a cup of tea course, we all wondered how she made it here. What cooked in her ambitions? She must have real fire burning in her belly and a self-drive that would move Kenya economy to first world. Watching her along the corridors, one could tell that was a walking gem eager to learn and change lives.

Eight years later(2017) I inboxed Gryz on Facebook requesting to have her featured in my blog. She had no qualms. I had her draft something for me about her life which I used to come up with a questionnaire to squeeze in more juice for this article. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Gryz’s story told for the first time on an online platform.

Gryz Wahura was born 29 years ago in Nyakahuho village, in Gikondi location, Mukurwe-ini Nyeri County. From the ages of two to fourteen years, she was raised by her grandmother. She is from a single mother who was the bread winner of the entire family. She was born a normal kid, crying and playing like any other until the age of three. This is when her mum realized that her beloved daughter had a spine problem. After back and forth to quite a number of hospitals, she was pronounced as to have a deformity in her spine. Her spine was curving in as she grew instead of forming straight. The spine being a very sensitive part of the body, nothing much could be done out of fear it could cause paralysis to her whole body. Growing up in the village at such a time had its pros and cons. First, there was stigma caused by lack of not so many cases akin to Gryz’s in the village. On the other hand, everyone got used to her physical challenges and she was treated like any other pupil in school including being punished like the rest if she featured in the list of noise makers or not completing her homework. She was active in co-curricular activities namely sports, drama and music festivals. Being treated like a normal kid helped her physiological wounds heal faster. In such formative years of one’s life, it is important to feel indifferent. But you can’t be indifferent in adulthood. Ama? You need to discover yourself, cut your own niche, embrace your personality and goals and remain self-reassuring. To that extent, it is difficult being an adult hahaha.

Something happened on the eve of her KCPE exams. She got a paralysis on her legs. Gryz was in and out of hospital for eight months for therapy and medical checkups, where she was confined to a wheel chair. Gryz later joined a special school for persons living with disability for her O levels in Thika, which was a big chunk of advantage to her because of the facilities and meeting classmates with similar challenges. While here, she lost meaning to life. And as she puts it, “at this point I lost meaning of life. I was a bright kid but I was never serious with my studies in high school, after all to my thinking, who would employ a person on a wheelchair despite their education!”

What was your initial experience on the wheel chair

At first I could not seat on it, I was in denial that I was paralyzed. It took me around six months to accept the situation, until when I joined high school and found other students with severe disability.

I cleared my high school in the year 2004 and I didn’t know what next. At this time I had moved to Nairobi and the stigma from the society was just too much, I didn’t know how to face the world. I had no idea what to do with my life more so since I didn’t know of any college or university which accommodated persons with disability. Between January 2005 and May 2006 I shunned myself from the society and the only place I used to visit was the hospital for my therapy.

 How long did it take you to accept your condition

After continuous therapy I started regaining my senses and I could walk again using crutches. I went through a lot of counseling through workshops and training which played a big deal in accepting my condition. I accepted who I am and realized that there’s so much to life than disability and made a decision to continue with my studies. At this point I didn’t care about public perception so long as I pursued my life.

I indulged Gryz about her adolescence experience.

High school was fun. Being in a mixed school, one could have more than one boyfriend and several secret admirers who would keep writing notes to you without revealing their identity and leave you to do all the guessing. I was very confident in high school which made it easier for me to interact easily with everyone around.

Later she joined Visions which disappointingly, was not disability friendly. This meant, if the lifts were not working, she could only be left with no choice but to use the stairs at times to sixth floor.

In July 2006 I joined Visions Institute of Professionals as a KATC student. At first I didn’t know what would be the reaction of the VIP’s family would be, but what mattered the most is that the management accepted to admit me, the college was accessible and I had a goal in life. I made friends at Visions, several of whom are still good friends to date. And very few people didn’t want to be associated with me.

You searching for a job

Luckily, I didn’t hustle for job. A friend from my current place asked me to apply for a job vacancy which was advertised internally and I got the job. Joined Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI) in January 2012 on a One year renewable contract as an Accounts clerk. Got confirmed on a permanent and pensionable basis as an Accountant 1 in July 2014.

Gryz is very active in Sports

In the year 2010 I joined Para sports as an athlete I participated in field events i.e. short put and javelin throwing.

In August 2010 I was a Gold medalist at the Great Lakes Athletics held in Nairobi. In the same year, I was appointed the National Treasurer of the Kenya Cerebral Palsy Sports Association.

In 2011 I joined the umbrella body that is the Kenya National Paralympic Committee as a Committee Member. This position came with several responsibilities, among them coordinating a youth workshop in Rwanda, youth training camp in Korea, African youth training in Nairobi and a Team Manager for the 20th Common Wealth Games held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Tell me about what motivates you in life

My Mum is my all-time motivator. She encourages me in all ways. I wake up every morning with her words in mind “Grace your life is greater than your disability”

Social Life

I love life and touring is part of me and that’s why I joined the Maina Kageni Road Trip Tour. Have been to several exciting places in the country and few other places in Tanzania and Rwanda.  

Tell me more about Maina Kageni Road Trip

I joined the team when they were on their third week of the tour after I heard Maina talk about it on his morning show on radio. It’s very simple to join, since you only have to pay.

How have you been handled by the rest of the crew in the road trip

Maina and the entire management have been very supportive and extremely friendly. I remember the first time when my friend (a wheelchair user) and I joined the crew, Maina was very encouraged.

Most memorable visit

When we visited Kyanguli Secondary School where the fire tragedy happened in 2001 and killed 63 students. The images were very disturbing. It was overwhelmingly emotional.

Tell me about a typical day in office

I wake up at 6am and retire back at 12 midnight. I get to the office by 8am. Being in a Finance Department, I’m busy all the way to evening.

I also do more in this institution than just accounting stuff. I’m a member of committees like;

  • Disability Mainstreaming Committee
  • Integrity Assurance Committee
  • Information Security Management
  • Tender Committee

 

Currently, Gryz, is pursuing her Finance degree at KCA University.

 Nick Vujicic perhaps one of the most popular persons living with disability worldwide having been born without arms and legs but two small feet, at some point succumbing into severe depression from bully in school, survived all this horrifying childhood challenges and by now is a huge motivator to legions of us.

I will leave you with two of his quotes;

If I can encourage just one person then my job in this life is done…. There’s no point in being complete on the outside when you’re broken in the inside.

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Are you a young person, with a compelling story that you strongly believe should be retold to a larger audience for the sole purpose of inspiring and educating. Reach up to me on wandrewism@gmail.com