A CANDID TALK – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR.DRU

HBD DRUI have penned close to 150 articles in this blog but can’t remember one which was dedicated to this guy who sits behind his laptop quite regularly, to share stories about other people but never his. And what better time to spoil myself with some self-love than today when I can already smell my birthday few hours away. Dear readers allow me not to assume every one of you is aware my birthday is happening tomorrow, 29th November. Just incase you feel ‘philanthropic’ enough to throw some love in kind or otherwise.

From tomorrow, I will be one year older than I am today. To start with, I can only thank God for being gracious enough to reward me with this particular year that is coming to an end. Secondly, when I challenged myself to write this article, I thought of how different I am since I celebrated my last birthday in 2014. I’m I the same person, with the same knowledge, same number of friends, same level of exposure and same mindset? If that’s the case, then I just wasted an entire year, as the talented columnist Wale Akinyemi would put it.

Speaking of Wale, his article yesterday on the Daily Nation got me thinking. He wrote about human development; Mental development, physical development, spiritual development and social development. He emphasized that just as a car would have four wheels to move, we need the four pillars named above for our progression in life. Every year we should use the four parameters to assess our personal developments and relationships.

That said, I had a conversation with myself trying to evaluate what is it that I have learnt or come to appreciate this year;

Invest in God

This year, God proved to me that he answers prayers no matter how long it takes. I have been overwhelmed by his number of miracles. I’d encourage my readers to make the bible their daily reference book and learn to pray. Commit every small or big action of your life to God and life will never be the same again even in your darkest moments. And to echo what Pope Francis said yesterday as he was speaking to the young people in Kasarani Safaricom Stadium – Nairobi “We are often so busy and we leave little room for the things that matter most. Certainly, we can be busy with many good things, such as work, studies and the responsibilities of family and friendship. We think that God is always there, so He can wait, and when I find a little time, I will give it to Him. But we all know what happens when we think this way. God loses first place in our lives, and life loses its flavour, its direction, its focus.”

Family

One thing that I have deliberately created time for, is family. You can never go wrong with family. They are the single most important people in your life. Pick around, you will find out most successful people have very strong ties with family. Your family has a blessing for you. Sometimes a curse depending on how you play around with your life. Family stabilizes you and makes you think rationally, so reach on to them. These are the same people who will tell you the truth even if it hurts. Family is real, genuinely loving and reliable. It’s wise never to be too busy for family.

Seek Mentors

We are living in an extremely crazy world where making it without seeking advice here and there can be a tall order. Again, no man has a monopoly of knowledge. Mentors make visions clearer and success vivid. You learn about mistakes they made at your age and lessons they have gathered so far. They see things from a broader and long term perspective. They will scream to your ear drums when you think of taking a loan to buy a car before a ka-plot. They will advise a car is a depreciating asset straight from the showroom. And certainly shouldn’t ever be your top most priority. They will push you to achieve quite a number of projects before you think of settling down since marriage is never a walk in the park and should be planned for. Mentors will also push you out of your comfort zones. Overtime you will realise comfort zone is an enemy of success.

Your Network

If you were to measure the value of your friends, how worth would they be? Do they share part of your dreams? Are they competitive and do they challenge you? I have learnt to cast my net wider and to consciously become a better person. When you invest in making yourself an ambitious and better human being, you will attract the same caliber of friends. Note, friends should never choose you, you choose them.

Conquer Yourself

Never accept to be a mere scavenger of life. Live purposefully. Antagonise your comfort zones gradually and consistently. Identify your passions and invest time and any other resource needed to breathe life to them. Well-fed passions are magnets of happiness. That is the foundation of conquering yourself. Be in touch with your life and well in charge. Fear, anxiety and disappointments will sneak in once in a while but should always be defeated by you focusing on the bigger picture and where you are heading.

Be a mentor

You grow more and become complete once you dedicate time to inspire and help others in your course of life. Knowledge and success that does not carry others along is obsolete, vague and ungodly. And by the way, you don’t require a Masters degree to mentor, a journey of a thousand miles start with one step.

Away from the serious stuff. I’m excited to have lived to see my next birthday. Kageshi promised me a dinner date, something I’m looking forward to. I declined any alcohol or wine in the spirit of standing with Magufuli. Hashtag #WhatMagufuliWouldDo. Furthermore, Pope is a stone throw away. His impactful speeches have also not dried ink.

A big congratulations to the beautiful Phyllis, a loyal and ardent reader of my blog, wedding Jackson today. May God blessings be part of your portion in your next stage of life.

Celebrating her birthday the same day with me, will be one charming Miss Abby Abbie. “Abby, Nesa…Nayuu! Happy birthday dear.”

MUSES OF AN ACCOUNTANT – WHEN AUDITORS LED TO YOUR WEIGHT LOSS

AuditorsAccountants will agree that it’s all fun and games until auditors come knocking. A day with them is what accountants dread for, in an entire year. They scare the shit out of you. Their demeanor is akin to that of a parent scrutinising a report card of their standard five average performing kid. If there are times accountants cut weight or suddenly ‘fall sick’ avoiding the office is during audit time. Emails from auditors not only intimidate but also threaten, reading between the lines. Their emails will creep quietly and lie on your inbox for 5 – 10 minutes only to bite hard, your damn face the moment you click on Microsoft Outlook. What they will leave behind is a trace of receding hairlines or white hair sprouting on your ‘bald-vulnerable head’, even before you hit 30 or impregnate a lady. No pun intended.

To start with, they will send a list of items they expect to be kept ready beforehand. That email will go like;

Dear Andrew,

Subject to the scheduled audit of company X for the financial year ending (say 2014) to commence on (insert a date), we kindly request you to prepare the following, before then as attached below. (A trail of like a million items will be listed in a word document from log books, original bank statements, lease agreements, title deeds, I – Tax returns and their stamped bank payment slips to payrolls etc.)

Kind regards.

The email will be brief, authoritative, and cold. Poking and putting you on the hot seat. In other words, you as an accountant will be tasty meat ready to be ravaged, ‘dismantled’ and ‘feasted’ by hungry auditors keen to find mistakes, assumptions and irregularities in your course of work. From the very minute you will read that email, the next one week or so will be yours to run all over the office, ransacking through tired and dusty files, pulling and pushing cabinet drawers and begging misplaced crucial documents to show up for a hefty reward. It will be your week to do the ‘final audit’ of your work before the big kahunas land and update on their social media platforms; #OutoftownAudit. They will have bade goodbye to their clinging girlfriends or two year old sweet dolls and be like; “Daddy will be back in 5 days.”

I week later they will spend a night in a town near you. Haha. They will have called you at 4:31pm to confirm they will be in your reception area at 8:03 am the following day. That will cause shivers around your belly or a random heartburn. You will smell hell coming your way to skin you alive. Come the D-day on a chilly Tuesday morning, your boss will call you to his office and introduce you to Chiranjeev Khan and Simon. Pulling faces that will look eager to tear you into pieces, they will give you a subtle smile. They will have worn unironed T-shirts and fitting jeans. (They work for a mhindi audit firm in the heart of Westlands – Nairobi.) You know of these audit firms with weird mhindi names. As your boss tries to break ice with them, their fingers will be hitting hard the keyboards with their heads bogged down at their laptops hardly bothering to give your boss or a poor you, any technical glance.

The next two days will be your longest days alive. Seated on a round table, everyone busy on their laptops, sipping coffee every now and then absent mindedly, with files littered all over, this will be marked by; explaining of transactions, justifying figures, presenting supporting documents, searching for emails that resulted to some of your decisions, printing stuff, combing through documents in your computer, hurriedly noting down important information and more of explaining. These will be the days you will return home in the evening with a sweaty shirt, weary red eyes, unkempt hair and fatigued legs. In an auditor’s world, every shilling must be accounted for, transactions scrutinised and books dissected to unearth and sift the truth. Astute auditors must find mistakes. In any case, that’s what they are paid to do. They will cut you into size with their inquisitiveness and milk as much information from your unwilling mouth. To them information is their weapon. The much they amass the better for their ‘battle’ with you.

At the end of it all, your mediocrity will be exposed. You’ll be frog marched to your boss and if he is also part of the scam, the whole accounting department and the management will be whipped to the directors to report your shoddy work and dealings. This does not happen literally but through emails copied to like a dozen people of individuals who call the shots in your organisation. This may also happen through boardroom meetings that go ahead to strip out any integrity in you, leaving behind a mere skeleton of you. If all this does not yield much and probably due to you not co-operating much, auditors still have one last bullet of releasing a damning report in what they call in the financial world, Qualified Report. This alone can cost the future of your company.

Any lady that commits her life to an accountant must be made to understand of the consequences. That, as women have their time of the month, so do accountants though annually. When hell breaks loose and come crumbling down on their lives. When anger, resentment, pain, fear and anxiety converge in one place to hold their annual AGM, in your life!. These are the days that accountants struggle to tie a tie, leave a well prepared cup of tea halfway done, and hit a a motorist’s side mirror before making their way to the office. In and around this time, they will drag their office work to their bedroom away from the TV and playful kids. These poor things will gaze at their laptops, exporting reports and dissecting them further just before dinner gets ready. The least the likes of Kageshi and her fellow partners committed to chaps in the accounting field can do, is to have a health insurance for their families. You are never too sure.

Auditors are called to be objective in their course of work. Not to be compromised or seen to cut deals with their clients. They are key instruments towards ensuring integrity and professionalism in the fiscal world is cultivated. Incredible accountants on the other hand, combined with sound management do not have much push and pull with auditors. In the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Check out my Facebook Page; andrewismme.com for regular, half serious stuff that will help you unwind and recover from a day’s harsh torrents.

JANET KANINI IKUA AND HER INCREDIBLE HUSBAND

Janet Ikua Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. “First things first. If you haven’t navigated your phone to the M-pesa section and selected pay bill and dialed 895790. Account Name: JanetKaniniIkua and donated whatever amount you are comfortable with, you better do so now. Otherwise I will assume you were among legions of whom flocked Carnivore Grounds last Sunday to show solidarity to the TV personality by purchasing I stand With Janet T-shirt for 1,000/-. I just hope so.

I have been following Janet’s story on her Facebook page about her excruciating battle with lung cancer. Amazingly, out of every post she has been jotting down of late, have left trace of a highly motivated person armed to the teeth with unmatched resilience. Janet even affords to make humour in her situation. She has defied all odds and hurdles brought by an illness that oozes stigma and threatens life. Surprisingly, we have come to appreciate how strong a woman she is. Indeed she has been a blessing in disguise to many a people who are struggling with a myriad of challenges in their lives let alone lung cancer. She has consistently sold the idea that one can come out of the woods all smiling and stronger. She has been educative, encouraging and inspiring all at a go. Janet whispers to us the importance of taking a day at a time and NEVER questioning God even when we feel bombarded by life’s hiccups. In actual sense she knows there is a reason God chooses us to go through some ordeals. They nurture our inner strength, help us improve our relationships with Him and make us better human beings.

In her own wisdom, she has taken upon herself to demystify many myths associated with cancer. She has gone out her way to do a detailed comparison about the state of health infrastructure in both Kenya and India. She has retold to the readers, the way of life in India from foods, hotel industry, transport system and so on. She has zoomed and brought to the fore the million dollar Medical Tourism sector in India which has won accolades all around the globe. She has even given incredible lessons to anyone who cares to listen including the Kenya Government on how the Health Sector in Kenya can be immensely improved to cater for the growing number of cancer patients in the country. She has painted a picture in our minds and psychologically prepared us just in case one of us is diagnosed with cancer. God forbid.

Armed with invaluable information which we didn’t even expect her to share, all we can do is to be grateful. Her cancer illness has proved she is a tough conqueror reinforced by a solid foundation of strong belief in God. To prove this, she refers to herself as a cancer victor and not a cancer patient. Personally she has preached to me through her posts. They have somewhat been a blessing to my life. As somebody said; motivation doesn’t last. It needs to be renewed as often as possible. Many of us find ourselves with scary pasts or intimidating life situations. According to Janet, everything falls to place once we are in an equilibrium state. Meaning; balancing our emotions, spiritual life and physical fitness. We are beings that require synergy in the running of our systems. With that, we can confront every odd. Appreciating that our happiness rests solely with us and that positive attitude comes from being our biggest fan and learning to forgive oneself, we can dare to confront the world. More importantly, Janet comes out as a woman of faith, a prayerful person who boasts of much wealth and wisdom of the Bible.

Seemingly, behind Janet’s ever available smile, warm face and the highly motivated persona is a man made of steel and coated with profoundness. A man with unequal measure of compassion, love and awesomeness. Ikua has boldly depicted that yes he loves by words and deeds. And Yes he can fight for the life of the woman of his life. He is the uncelebrated hero in Janet’s medical journey. He does his things quietly and diligently without bothering to bask in the limelight thereby offering the much needed support Janet would need. Ikua reminds me of an article I wrote early this year named Contemporary Men Deserve A Pat On The Back. He has single handedly saved our name. The man’s name. You’ll agree with me, the male gender has come under sharp scrutiny in the recent past, deeply cornered by a million vices.

Ikua has shown the world that indeed Kenya is not lost on the number of Incredible Husbands. He has continued to stand tall, risking all he has to save his woman. You can imagine faced with a situation of looking after your modern day kids when their mother is thousands of miles away not sure when she will come back. Her current home being in a hospital that has an atmosphere filled with shattered dreams, worried eyes and corridors used by feeble patients covered in oversize garments. A place with such nerve-racking operations that in fact scare hairs out of your head. Picture dealing with inquisitive kids asking now and then when their Mama will come back. Besides, trying to rise over a staggering medical bill amid harsh economic times only left to hang on hope and God. Now, going through that and emerging as joyous and hopeful is no mean achievement.

Unknowingly he has inspired many young men and underlined that nothing can’t be conquered despite the challenges, including when a scary disease comes in between two lovebirds. Janet and Ikua have saved the image of the marriage institution in this country. They are among the many not talked about successful marriages that have weathered all odds to remain a piece and intact.

In her words Janet quips; Cancer is not a death sentence. God can turn your mess into a message. Dear readers how I wish we copy paste such tremendous optimism to our lives. How far could we stride? How much could we achieve? You have nothing to lose by investing more on optimism.

AND SHE REACHED FOR A CIGAR!

Female smokers Nairobi CBD has five designated smoking zones which typically are not women friendly. (Hahaha sounds funny). Yes smoking rarely pays homage to gender or financial muscles. Not even to that slim lady in dripping dreadlocks in the heart of Majengo Slums to the swanky and sophisticated corporate woman who chairs boardroom meetings where her gender is normally outnumbered by her male counterparts in dark suits and well-trimmed beards.

Nairobi’s public smoking zones are perforated, congested and stuffy. No woman who spends her money in the spa would swing her hips inside a smoking zone filled beyond capacity with all the usual suspects who walk in unbuttoned shirts revealing their over-hairy chests. These female smokers park their cars in the middle of nowhere and puff, if not from balconies of their homes or from open air areas of pricey restaurants, where they cross their high healed legs, wearing dark leggings and skirts flagging up at their waistline and smoke as they view Nairobi’s beautiful landscape. And they never forget their menthol chewing gums meant to kill the smell.

With that in mind, I asked myself; who dates these women. I decided to do a simple research by asking eleven guys via my Whatsapp if they would consider dating a lady who smokes and that said if they would also opt for a marriage with her. Nine of them responded with an affirmative NO, emphasizing how they would not stand such a girlfriend while two said that was not an issue that would affect their relationship. I wasn’t surprised by the nature of the responses. We are still a reserved society that treats female smoking as an extreme taboo. It’s sort of ‘unfair’ to the female gender because the same apprehension is not replicated to their male counterparts. I personally detest the whole idea of smoking. In fact I can’t think of any of my close friends who smoke, male or female.

Having said that, the two gentlemen who were of the view that smoking for ladies is not such a bad idea represent a crop of society that is gradually accepting that female smoking is cool and trendy. Making it to the infamous list that has many of our borrowed Western cultures. Our grandmothers didn’t smoke. At least not for the two I know of. It was a man’s affair. But the Y generation will have none of that. They will colour their addiction with words like it’s just a shisha escapade, which is still smoking at the end of the day.

Why I’m also writing about female smoking this week is out of an encounter with a lady who walked to the office and happened to speak to me. At least I could smell her breath. It was very confusing. For a lady to be smelling cigar is a big deal to me. In fact it’s unacceptable. It’s simply not right. This lady was smelling cigar at 10am on a dull Monday. That tells me she is an addict. After further digging here and there I found out she is married to a white guy. Again I wasn’t surprised. Some women will do anything to appear ‘cool’ and to appease the mzungu guy.

I remember formerly working with a colleague who used to smoke. She carried this demeanor of a very innocent lady. She was a Muslim by faith. She was petite in size, very young, with a flawless skin and sweet eyes. She had eyes that could easily lure you to fall in love and ‘forget your people’. Anyway, she would sneak out of the office at 11am, walk down stairs hide somewhere and puff. She would then comeback looking pale, chewing and putting on a naughty smile heading straight to the dispenser to get some water. She would smoke at least thrice between 8am – 5pm. It happened for so long until we came to a point of accepting it was no more of a big deal. Initially, she used to keep it as a top secret. But anytime you would go to her desk, you’d smell cigar and ignore it not imagining such a beautiful lass would smoke. Not even her lips would leak anything to imply she smokes. By the way, how do ladies manage not to have those dry and dark lips smokers usually have? Overtime, she gave up on the baggage and decided to let the cat out of the bag. That smoking was part of her life.

The first time I had a close shave with a female smoker happened back in 2009 when I convinced my very good friend Kelvin Muteru to accompany me to downtown Nairobi to meet a former primary school desk mate whom I hadn’t met in like 10 years. I didn’t like the idea of meeting her alone. I was new in Nairobi and quite naive as well, then in my maiden days in college. It was an emotional encounter meeting a desk mate after 10 long and eventful years. Surprisingly, she hadn’t changed much. She still had the same complexion, personality, smile and laughter. But she had dreadlocks and her eyes were unusually red. Her lips didn’t say a thing about her smoking addiction, neither were her teeth.

Kelvin and I were dead broke only surviving through our parents pocket money which was not much especially for me. After exchanging pleasantries and the usual talk of how have you been , she reached to her pocket and unleashed a cigar. She called the waiter and asked for a lighter. She lit her cigar, pulled a humongous puff and let it on our faces. Burying Kelvin and I with a bluish, toxic flame that lazily wafted in the air. We both looked at each other, confused and in awe. Our eyes wide open and our foreheads full of visible blood veins. Have you ever heard of baptism with fire! That was one. Nobody saw it coming. That she smokes!!!

The conversation was never the same again. If my mum would only imagine where I was and in accompany of whom! God bless our parents I do not recall what we discussed post the ‘baptismal’ but I fondly remember her saying smoking was a normal thing that shouldn’t raise our hairs. We were very brief with her for obvious reasons. The more we hanged on at the joint the more costly it became. Soon after we got back to school, all my friends had gotten wind of my ‘smoky friends’ courtesy of one, Kelvin.

Bottom line: Smoking is extremely hazardous for either gender. Let it go if it’s a hobby before it develops to a habit.