The Church Where I Belong
A True Story
on Jul 12, 2020
Sometimes when I listen to hymns on my laptop, I find myself remembering the times I used to worship at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi. I became a member of the cathedral around April 2007, about a month before I matriculated at the university in JKUAT. What glued me to the cathedral were its friendly congregation as well as its modern facilities such as TV cameras and a majestic organ.
I particularly enjoyed being part of the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir which used to meet on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons for practice. So much did I enjoy being part of the choir that on some weekdays in 2007 while I was at JKUAT, I would look forward to the weekends when I would be reunited with the choir for singing practice and fellowship sessions.
And I must have been a handsome young man back in 2007 because of the way some ladies in the choir were gaga over me. Like there was a chorister called Betty who once escorted me to a matatu station in Nairobi on a rainy Thursday evening during my first days in the choir. Then there was Janet Hazlehurst who invited me to performances of the Nairobi Orchestra on two occasions. And then there was Ruth Wangire who sent me text messages about upcoming fellowship activities of a cell group of which she was the leader.
But being part of the choir was not all fun, though. There were some choristers who, out of hatred and jealousy for me, were suspicious that I was pilfering things from the cathedral. In the past few years, there have been times I have felt resentful at the way those choristers treated me with contempt and suspicion. But I am now consoling myself with the truth that they were just reacting to the kind of person I was. Back in 2007, I was painfully shy, socially inept and sometimes confused.
Owing to my shyness, I stayed on probation in the choir for quite a long time - something that seemed to bother some choristers. Imagine after I became part of the choir in April 2007, I didn't robe and sing in the pews until late December of that year. So I stayed on probation for more than seven months. I didn't mind staying on probation for such a long time because I wasn't such a great tenor singer. And that wasn't the first or last time when something which seemed to bother others didn't concern me at all.
When I started robing and singing in the pews on Sundays in December 2007, some choristers were quick to encourage me to play the organ. I did accompany the choir on the organ during several Sunday services in 2008 - an experience that deepened my love for hymns. And I am sure I would have played more hymns had I had a piano keyboard on which to practise the hymns in the comfort of my room.
As the year 2008 wore on, I appeared to be on the right track to becoming one of the cathedral's organists after my name started appearing on an organists' roster. What's more, I was given a key to the cathedral's majestic organ by a church cleaner named Mutua. I vividly recall Mutua advising me to work hard as an organist while he handed me the key, citing that the cathedral's organists are very much respected.
But guess what! Come August 2008 after I went astray at the university in JKUAT, I lost interest in attending church at All Saints' Cathedral. A few choristers tried reaching me via phone to find out what was happening to me. When I informed them that I had been taken ill, they were sympathetic with me. But I did not disclose to them what exactly had happened to me.
After I went astray at JKUAT, I never managed again to be a consistent church attender. But the All Saints' Cathedral 9.30am English service choir came to occupy a big space in my heart. There were times in 2009 when I feared the choristers would go to JKUAT to find out what had transpired to me. Of course they never did.
Then beginning the year 2011, I started sending emails to the choristers in the course of which I opened up to them on the circumstances that had befell me in JKUAT. I enjoyed sending them those emails. And what I find impressive about the choristers is the way they tolerated my many emails, some of which were silly and vulgar.
Though I no longer go to All Saints' Cathedral or send its choristers emails, the cathedral's 9.30am choir still occupies a big space in my heart. These days, hardly a day ever passes without me thinking about the choristers. That's why I consider All Saints' Cathedral to be the church where I belong.
Over the past ten years, I have received several invitations to join other churches. I have also been approached to adopt Islam as my religion. But I have declined all those invitations. Joining other churches and religions now feels to me like committing adultery against All Saints' Cathedral, the church that accepted me when I was a naive, shy and self-conscious young man.
Because All Saints' Cathedral is the church where I truly belong, I look forward to resuming attending services there once I get lucky enough to own a car. And if I ever get married, I want my wedding to be held in the cathedral. So help me God.
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Wearing Decent, Clean Shoes
A True Story
on Jul 7, 2020
There was an evening in 2013 when I went for a leisurely walk to my hometown of Kiserian. I was clad in old, black leather shoes that hadn't been polished for ages. And I didn't mind wearing those shoes because Kiserian was a place I felt free to be myself.
While heading back home that very evening, I passed by the home of a church-mate of mine called Mr. Kivuti who was having a graduation party for his first-born daughter. I decided to walk into Mr. Kivuti's palatial home where I found quite a number of people on the compound. They were feasting and socializing. I joined them and helped myself to a sumptuous meal while interacting with the people.
As I went about talking to folks in Mr. Kivuti's home, one young man noted the old, unpolished black leather shoes I was clad in. He advised me in a very polite manner to wear decent shoes. Though his advice stuck in my memory, it didn't embarrass me at all. Neither did I take it seriously. For a very long time since I was young, I had never been keen on the kind of shoes I wore. Imagine I can't recall a time in my teens when I ever bothered whether my shoes were dusty or muddy.
It wasn't until the year 2015 after I landed a piano teaching job at Wynton House of Music that I began to mind the kind of shoes I wore. Wynton House of Music is located in an upscale mall on the outskirts of Nairobi City. Working at Wynton made me conscious of the nature of my shoes because walking on the mall's elegant decor in muddy shoes made me feel out of place.
One afternoon in 2015 when I entered the mall in shoes caked with mud, I headed to the washroom and begged one of the mall cleaners to help me with a rag for wiping my shoes. After the cleaner adamantly refused to lend me a rag, I went inside one of the toilets and used pieces of tissue paper to wipe my shoes. And alas! As I walked out of the toilet leaving a trail of mud on the floor, I found the cleaner waiting for me. It was as if he had known what I had gone inside the toilet to do.
The cleaner sternly alerted me to a notice in the washroom which warned visitors that tissue papers were not for any other use besides their intended purpose. Realizing that I had broken the mall's rules, I humbled myself and beseeched the cleaner to forgive me. I also offered to clean up the trail of mud I had left on the toilet floor. Fortunately, I succeeded in appeasing him. After I had mopped the toilet floor to his satisfaction, he let me go free.
Because I hadn't known what to do with my shoes when it rained, I also turned up at Wynton House of Music in muddy shoes on another afternoon. This time, a fellow teacher named Vincent commanded me to go clean my shoes.
Vincent was a big, burly mountain of a man who was always strict with me during my time at Wynton. Earlier on in 2015, there was a morning he took me to task for wearing dusty shoes. When I told him the dust on my shoes was as a result of walking a lot, he instructed me to be carrying a brush for polishing them.
The importance of wearing decent, clean shoes hit home in me one time in 2015 as I was having a chat with fellow Wynton teachers named Chris and Greg. During the chat, Chris enlightened me that smart women look at shoes when judging men. Just by looking at shoes, Chris said, some women can tell whether a man is worthy of their time and attention.
Enlightened by Chris as well as by the experiences I had had of turning up in muddy and dusty shoes at Wynton House of Music, I bought two pairs of shoes later on in 2015. Imagine I bought one of the two pairs of shoes at Ksh. 4,000 which is a lot of money. That I could spend such a colossal sum of money on just one pair of shoes shows how keen I had become on wearing decent shoes.
Around that time I bought those two pairs of shoes, I devised a trick of turning up in clean shoes at Wynton House of Music. That was by leaving home in my old shoes and then changing to my new shoes just before entering into the upscale mall that houses Wynton House of Music. And the trick worked because a student of mine at the school commented one morning that my shoes were very clean. A few days later, a newly employed teacher in the school uttered a similar remark.
The importance of wearing decent, clean shoes did hit home in me for shizzle. These days when I go jogging and walking to my hometown of Kiserian, I always ensure I wear a presentable pair of sneakers that match my jogging attire. Truly, a lot can be told about a guy based on his shoes.
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