PLATTE-LAND 003: STALEMATE

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For the last two months, there has been a series of demonstrations marked by every spirit and breath of a typical street demo. From whistles blowing to boda boda hooting and placards bellowing #JusticeforAnastashia, men and women venting their anger out, with some rolling on the road with all gist of theatrics, some waving twigs and branches all in an attempt to protest on the alleged raping of the campus student Anastashia. Kahuruko Township which is arguably the nerve center and heartbeat of the nearby villages has had its lucrative bustle and hustle of throngs of humans get interrupted by the street protests taking place every Monday and Friday.

The participants have loyally turned up with hardly any inducement, marching all the way from Komothai Catholic Parish at one end of the town, meandering through Kajinga market bringing business to a standstill especially on Fridays which is usually a market day, crisscrossing through Mung’etho Cattle dip – the biggest in the entire Kimahure Division, snailing across Karumaindo plaza a 5 storey skyscraper which is under construction and finally setting base at the Chief’s camp demanding an address from him. Speaking of Chief Kiahuthu, he has had a hard time pleading for more patience before the investigations are concluded.

5 storey is only a skyscraper in this part of the world! And while at it, what’s with Kenyans and waving tree branches during demos? Please let trees be!

The relationship between Shush Damaris an ardent Catholic faithful and the Parish Priest has rather been strained during this period. In actual fact, Father Gichuki a fitness enthusiast is a personal friend to Njagi and his grandma hence the reason why their interaction has been gravely affected by Anastasia’s scandal. He has found himself between a rock and a hard place. He is among hundreds if not thousands of humans who are closely following this developing story which has sharply divided the entire division between those who bought the rape story and went ahead to demand justice for Anastasia and the group that is alleging no rape took place and in fact it was consensual sex between two adults and not the 10 boys. Actually, some say one of the suspects is a renown gay crusader who can’t place his eyes on a lady.

Speaking of which, Father Gichuki always does regular morning races weekly, running about 10 kilometers up the Nduduri hills, down the Tigithi bridge that seasonally hosts River Tigithi which drains its contents in Lake Ol bolosat, and taking a turn across the Kahuho plains where a family of white settlers by the name Dyer and Diana own hundreds of land acreage running a flower firm and wheat farm that are highly depended upon by thousands of families. He (Father Gichuki) has this balding head that compels him to naturally clean-shave. His face is unusually flawless with no mustache nor drooping hair, making him stand out in a gang of men. He has an impressive command of spoken English that is deservedly aided by his rich vocabulary range that gets showcased through his excellent communication skills.

That aside, Syokimau TV and FM radio have for the last two weeks not spared any day to air live talk shows about the degrading moral compass among teenagers, with some of its audience apportioning the blame to parents and the general society for lack of credible role models. Listeners would call in claiming it’s not the teenagers to blame since they look up to the deeds of the adults around them who can’t help much as they too are engaging in all manner of ignominious behaviors. Parents called in saying working hard for their children is inevitable even if it meant sacrificing the hours they’d ostensibly share with their kids. One thing was clear though, that technology had totally messed the society by providing so much information at a click of a button. It emerged, the current generation is over-informed and that it was abusing social media platforms.

Finally, the day was here. The moment was palpable. The courtroom was heavily pregnant with eagerness. The air inside was hot, stuffy and dreadful. Most faces were lost to other worlds, deep in thoughts and with anxiety taking a toll on them. Sharply dressed lawyers affectionately exchanged pleasantries. Some walked in and out carrying heavy loads of files. Outside the courtroom were dotted hordes of people each trying to sell their arguments about the infamous back to school night.

Sly was in the room with Mitch, Harrison and a couple of other classmates to Njagi. They had boarded a 6 am matatu to make it on time for the hearing and determination of the case, some 200 kilometers from the City. The case would go either way pouring fortune or mishap to the future of their boy Njagi and their friendship. Everything was at stake, at least for now. Interestingly, Shiku was in attendance too, to emphasize her loyalty and solidarity to a man that was her heartthrob even if the feeling was apparently not mutual.

She had an above-the-knee radiant dress that not only flattered her hips and bum but greatly brought in a level of optimism to Njagi’s case. She was light skinned, growing short locs on her hair, donning long elegant cardigan trendy jacket and in brown fancy leather boots that one couldn’t demystify from her already yellow legs. The icing on the cake however, was the stylish, woolen neck scarf that was calmly taking a nap on her peeping cleavage and a red beret hat crowning her ever ravishing demeanor.

Every now and then, a lad would walk in from a back door and test the public address system and ensure everything was alive and ready for the day.

There was a stir in the courtroom and necks wagging when Anastasia the plaintiff in this case walked in the courtroom, head up, in sunglasses hinged on her long refined braids, holding a brave face sandwiched by her dad on the right – a middle-aged man with a decent pot belly and of average height and two of her lawyers on the left, in dark intimidating suits that seemed to have just arrived from the dry cleaner. They smelled fresh and intelligent. Njagi and his bad boys being the respondents in this case, were nowhere to be seen. Sly had numerously tried calling him but his phone was dead off since the crack of dawn. She had called him at 4:30 am after a prayer session beside her bed praying for his all-time BFF. She cried in the midst of the sentimental prayer session. Njagi’s scandal was too overwhelming for her to absorb but she just hoped the day will turn out just well for his special friend.

Speaking of prayers, Kui had been fasting and praying day and night for the two months. She was camping in church, crying and pleading to have her son pardoned and vindicated. Her pastor, Apostle Muraguri was praying with her many a times.

Seemingly, due to the magnitude of this case, pending the hearing and determination, Njagi had kept a very low profile in school. Sly and his close friends had noted that he had actually dropped weight and always appeared paranoid.

Unknown to many Shiku, Mwau and Mapanya would testify on behalf of Njagi that he didn’t engage in any rape act or even come into contact with Anastasia the entire night. Njagi and his boys expect for Mongoose, were being represented in court by a top-notch female lawyer from the city hired by his classmates with vast experience in sexual offenses litigation.

Previously on Platte-Land Series

Image Credit: nakedconvos.com

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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

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