I have always wondered how my eulogy will read. Isn’t that suicidal though? Shouldn’t I book an appointment with Madam Grace the lean bodied, tall woman, with crops of grey hair who on this day will be donning one of those flowery dresses worn on a sunny wedding day which will seem to flatter her waistline and make her not seem a day older after 28. I’ll pop to her Counseling office and find her reading “How Women Decide” by Therese Huston. I’ll not miss the sparkling glass of water, half filled. She is one of those that takes water religiously and from look of things; I will be left to conclude she is ageing gracefully. She will sag her specs, hold my right hand and be like;
Young man, what’s your name again?
Andrew, you don’t look an inch closer to having a troubled life. Why do you bother about your eulogy, really? By the way what do you do for a living?
I’m a practising accountant, writer but they call it blogging, business man, student, and child of God.
You said child of God
Wow, you are incredible.
Hold that for a minute…
Last weekend I found myself inside an over speeding Matatu being shoved from side to side from careless overtaking and outliving screeching breaks. That was me agonising if I’d make it to my destination, only comforted by faint hopes from a loosely fitting and dirty safety belt. I tried in vain to Toa Sauti backed by an elderly man seated next to me while the rest of the younger generation remained stitched to their addictive phones with their older counterparts seemingly struggling with sleepy faces perhaps not agitated by the unbecoming driver, after going through scarier stuff in life than being in a speeding matatu. The fact that my very dear life hanged precariously at the mercy of a driver who seemed not excited by life anymore was nerve racking enough to make my heart jump out my juvenile chest. Interestingly I had this to think in that one hour’s journey;
Just what if the worst happened and we crashed? You know in Africa, a son of the soil never dies before siring at least an offspring. It’s catastrophic, a worse tragedy than death and daunting period for the family. They just can seat next to that boggling reality. They will perform sacrifices at 3am under an aged Mugumo Tree that has stories to tell of how it made it to this day oblivious of the growing threat from timber enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. They will skin a he-goat without blemish, smear themselves with raw stuff from the intestines while facing Mt.Kenya, half naked, each holding a fly-whisk singing to Mulungu traditional songs and pleading with him to pardon me for not leaving behind a son or daughter to bequeath and keep our family name alive.
But who said we shouldn’t write about death? I know it’s still considered a taboo equaled to haunting one’s death in many African societies but this is 2016 Andreaders! It’s through writing about death that should help us audit our lives. Was it last year that I read on the gracious column by Carol Mandi of Sunday Nation about eulogies. She talked of how a group of people were tasked with writing about their deaths assuming they died that particular day (Today). They were asked whether they were proud of their lives, their achievements or lack of them and whether God would be proud of them. They were then tasked to write another set of eulogies this time round having achieved all they hoped to, in their days here on earth.
As expected, the second set of eulogies was way different from the initial one. They were enviable and conquering. But who knows if they will live to have such eulogies? It’s through such conversations that should help us cut the slack and the baggage that clogs our daily lives and align them to our goals. And goals shouldn’t necessarily be about, incredible homes, intimidating cars, plum jobs and beautiful kids and traversing the world. That’s too obvious and cosmetic. We should have bigger dreams and more inspiring like;
Resolving to be better human beings – Kind, honest, prayerful, who speak less and listen more, who look after the elderly, who give time for the less fortunate just to be with them and appreciate them, who mentor boys and girls from marginalised parts of the country without asking for a fee, people who donate to the poor and vulnerable amongst us, who resolve not to bribe or to accept bribes, people who promise not to litter while driving along highways, or drive while drunk. Souls who don’t grab land or fail to pay taxes or brood a bevy of sidekicks from all walks of life just because they are powerful and influential.
Promising ourselves that we won’t leave our families under the mercy of being undressed by shame and undignifying life kept in top secret when we are long gone. Imagine that’s part of what matters, like being good role models to our kids, nephews and nieces and instilling in them the spirit of hard work, diligence and of being responsible fathers and mothers. It’s not about your bank balance, or where you travelled before you hit 40 or how a party animal you were in your 20s. It won’t matter. And people will definitely forget that, as they attend your burial. But the vulnerable lives you touched, and thousands that you inspired in your own unique and small way will be remembered for decades. It will affirm young dreams, rejuvenate emaciated hopes and usher positive energy to souls across the nation(s).
Come to think of Mohammad Ali. Rest in peace legend. Have you heard or read of a more decorated human being? Classified in the same level with great icons like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, William Shakespeare and many others. What an incredible persona this guy was. A brewer of positive energy, liberal, conqueror, phenomenal and greatest of them all. This reminds me of a function I attended whose chief guest of honour was the celebrated CEO Julius Kipng’etich. He talked of how, many rich and successful people aren’t free. They are slaves of money, entitlement and fine things life has to offer. Mohammad Ali was not only free of mind, but more importantly never a sycophant of anybody. Many of us are sycophants of our jobs, bosses, families, spouses, friends ……never speaking up our minds or being true to ourselves.
Every month I get to interact with souls that earn 9k, who work in below 5 degrees temperature levels, nine and a half hours a day, 7 days a week plucking export flowers or arranging and packing them meticulously for overseas markets. They spend their days standing or bending depending on the department they are in, all in green overalls and white gumboots, and warm gloves and with like two -three sweaters if they work in the Pack – House as is referred in the Flower industry. They take cold food since there are no luxuries like staff rations or a kitchen for that matter, not even canteens. At 1pm, a horde of them will walk in droves, speaking loudly and excitedly making their way out to take numb food that can’t be warmed and that will sink to cold stomachs and be expected to warm cold bodies that have been standing for hours in ice low temperatures. But one thing stands out, every time I mingle with them: The hope in the rays of their eyes is touchable. They live a day at a time in peace with reality but aggressively doing their best with what they have, all along supporting their needful families. A good number of them are single mothers living in shattered houses that ask for a rent of sh.1,500 and who ensure their kids attend school and have a meal in the evening. What of you? Where does your heft salary end up at the end of the month? Are you investing or expensing it in entirety?
Will your eulogy lie between the lines that you were an above average, industrious, incredible and awesome human being. Note that above average has nothing to do with education papers but the whole package of your existence. How you interacted with people, the legacy your friends, close relatives and maybe your kids will write about, 30 years from now. Fundamentals and life principles you instilled in them that will be too deep rooted and relevant, decades after you’re gone. That’s the benchmarking we should all set for ourselves, not living empty lives and borrowing heavily to support a lifestyle that has nothing to do with our goals apart from disorienting us from the very same goals. We should die trying, refusing to bow down to life challenges. Our lives should be themed with aphorisms like – Lose unrelentingly…I’m a consequence of my choices…I take full responsibility of my mistakes…I didn’t live somebody else’s life…Lord I repent my sins and those of my parents and generation…I’m sorry to whoever I wronged intentionally or otherwise…I’m the greatest of them all in my Kingdom…No word or action will ever distract me from my goals…I lived to conquer my worst fears…I tasted freedom when I ceased being a captive of my imagination…It’s been real being alive, time for the next phase…My transition won’t not only be televised but experienced by many!
That’s the spirit. Let’s create the best from our potentials as it lasts. You just never know! And to whom much is given, much is expected.