Reflections of a Young Man™ - True Stories by Thuita J. Maina

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The FOTs

Seated and second from right in the photo above is me together with several friends I made in my high school days at Starehe Boys' Centre. Three of the friends in the photo (Eric Kibet, Taita Towett & Collins Biwott) have made it into my list of FOTs (Friends of Thuita).


In his best-selling autobiography, Bill Clinton narrates that when he was a young man fresh out of law school, he set a goal to make great friends. He did with time succeed in making great friends, the now legendary FOBs (Friends of Bill) who helped him ascend to the presidency.

I have noted that Raila Odinga, a prominent politician in Kenya, has emulated Bill Clinton by coming up with FORA (Friends of Raila). As to whether FORA will ever succeed in helping Raila ascend to presidency is something only time will tell. And time is running out for Raila who has already ran for the presidency three times.

Anyway, I have also borrowed a leaf from Raila Odinga by emulating Bill Clinton's goal of making friends who in my case, I have nicknamed FOTs (Friends of Thuita). That sounds cool, doesn't it?

Of the numerous people I have tried to befriend over the past couple of years since I became inspired by Bill Clinton's autobiography, only 24 people have made it into my list of FOTs so far. Before I list them, allow me to expound on the criteria I have used to come up with the list of FOTs.

First, I have examined a person's willingness to help me. It dawned on me recently that some people have advised and criticized me a lot but they have never gone out of their way to help me at my hour of need.

Secondly, I have looked at a person's willingness to listen to me. The best friends, I tell you, are not those who offer much advice but rather, those who are there to listen, who can tolerate not knowing and who can grant you the peace to mature at your own pace.

Don't get me wrong - I don't mean to say that you always have to listen and compliment me for you to make it into my list of FOTs. I also value criticism. Like there is an 82-year old Canadian named Norman Brown who once sent me 500 Canadian dollars (approx. Ksh. 38,000) for starting a farming business which failed for reasons I have explained before in a story accessible by clicking here. Norman never shies from telling me things I don't want to hear. He regularly inquires from me whether I am still living with my parents. For his support and unending concern for me, Norman has made it into my list of FOTs despite the criticism he hurls at me once in a while.

Thirdly, another criterion I have used in coming up with my list of FOTs is a person's character. Let me give two examples of acquaintances who have failed to make it into my list of FOTs because of unquestionable character.

There is Onyango X [not his real name] who used to compliment me once in a while in the emails I used to share with him. He even donated to me a quality winter coat he bought in England. But imagine Onyango X advised me last year to have sex with as many women as possible before getting married. For giving me that advice that encourages me to be immoral, Onyango X has failed to make it into my list of FOTs.

Then there is Onyango Y [not his real name] who has always been a good friend of mine. He was among the few people who contributed financially to my unsuccessful campaign for a political seat in Kenya's 2013 General Elections. But imagine Onyango Y advised me a few years ago to visit brothels as a way of relieving sexual pressure. Can you imagine I, Thuita J. Maina, having an affair with a prostitute?

Or let us reason it this way: a prostitute sleeps with thieves, tricksters, drunkards as well as with drug addicts, and then I sleep with her - aaiiiiii, no! I have been stupid many times in my life but my stupidity has never shot to such stratospheric levels as of me sleeping with a prostitute. So for advising me to visit a brothel, Onyango Y has failed to make it into my list of FOTs.

Now that you know the criteria I have used in coming up with my list of FOTs, here are the members as of today:
  1. Jesus Christ
  2. Mum & Dad
  3. My siblings Joe, Bob, Paddy & Symo
  4. Uncle Gibson Mwangi
  5. Norman Brown
  6. Prof. Charles Nyamiti
  7. Mrs. Susan Moore
  8. Fr. Peter Assenga
  9. David Mwakima
  10. Moses Mutoko
  11. Agnes Sabata
  12. Lawrence Sikuku
  13. Boniface Muia
  14. Prof. Paul Njoroge
  15. Wilson Chira
  16. Fr. Anthony Vadakara
  17. Samuel Njathi
  18. David Munene
  19. Stephen Okoth
  20. Michael Njeru
  21. Prof. Martin Njoroge
  22. Eric Kibet
  23. Taita Towett
  24. Collins Biwott
There you have it; my list of FOTs, that is. As you can see, as of today, the list has only 24 members but I hope the number will continue to grow as I strive to make loyal friends across the globe.

I challenge you to also come up with your list of friends. Give it whatever name you may deem fit. We surely need friends to succeed in this turbulent world. Over to you!

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The Preaching Style I Like



While revising for the SAT exams a decade ago, I came across in Barron's SAT revision book a passage that aroused my interest. It was actually an excerpt from Jane Austen's The Watsons in which an elderly Mr. Watson discusses a visit to church. The passage read as follows:
"I do not know when I have heard a discourse more to my mind," continued Mr. Watson, "or one better delivered. He reads extremely well, with great propriety and in a very impressive manner; and at the same time without any theatrical grimace or violence. I own, I do not like the studied air and artificial inflections of voice, which your very popular preachers have. A simple delivery is much better calculated to inspire devotion, and shows a much better taste. Mr. Howard read like a scholar and a gentleman."[1]
The above passage aroused my interest because it seemed to explain the preaching style I like in a way I can't express better. As in, like the character Mr. Watson, I also prefer preachers who appear natural, honest and humorous. That's all I am saying.

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[1] I extracted this passage from page 637 of Barron's How to Prepare for the SAT by Sharon Weiner Green and Ira K. Wolf, published in 2006 by Barron's Educational Series Inc.

If you've enjoyed reading this short story of mine, you might also enjoy a story in which I wrote that salvation is free and another one in which I proved God exists. Just click those links in blue to jump straight into the stories.

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I Like Mischievous People



Awhile back, I was having a haircut in my home-town at a barbershop owned by my friend Goldine when I spotted a quote in Agikuyu language which was glued on one of the barbershop mirrors. The quote read: "Nie nyedete ciana; wana niguo itedaga."

In Swahili, that quote translates as, "Mimi napenda watoto; utoto ndio sipendi." And in English, it translates as, "I like children; it is childishness that I don't like."

Though that quote tickles my fancy when I think of it, I don't agree with it because I like childishness to some extent. Or rather, I like mischief and I tend to admire mischievous people.

Like there is this friend of mine I met at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi who I call Jack the Jackal. I came to like him during one Bible Study session we were having in the church when he started calling some of the attendants with his phone and then ending the call just as the receivers were about the receive the call - what is popularly known here in Kenya as "flashing" but my dictionary has no such definition of the word "flash".

To paint a clear picture of how mischievous Jack the Jackal was, imagine you are in a Bible study when your phone rings. And when you take it out of one of your pockets, you discover that the caller is Jack the Jackal who is seated just opposite of where you are. Haha, how I liked Jack the Jackal for that mischief!

By the way, when I first befriended Jack the Jackal, he used to tell me that he was from Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae music and the Motherland of Bob Marley. I came to believe him given the pride with which he said he was from that country. And he promised me that he would one day take me to Jamaica.

But then, I at one time asked Jack the Jackal, "What is the capital city of Jamaica?" He didn't know.

Another mischief I liked was when I visited JKUAT in 2012 to reconnect with my classmates who were then finishing the degree course I had pursued but dropped out in 2009 in my second year. I was impressed with how beautiful the university had become which made me regret for having dropped out.

And as I was strolling around campus that night I visited the university, I was taken aback on seeing a neon-lighted signboard that read "FAR HO TEL". The signboard was pointing to a hostel which was for girls during my days in the university.

Surprised to the core, I paused and asked one of the guys passing by, "You mean they converted this women's hostel into a hotel?"

And the guy was like, "O man, where has this dude been?"

But I think he sensed my sincere ignorance because after a few seconds of pause, he replied, "No sir. The university authorities named this hostel FARASI HOSTEL. And then some JKUAT students removed some of the characters on the signboard; that is why it is reading FAR HO TEL."

As to how the JKUAT students could remove some of the characters from the signboard without fear of being caught by authorities or getting an electric shock is something I have never understood. All I know is that I liked the mischief.

Yes, I like mischief and I tend to admire mischievous people. That's why I am a big fan of April Fools' Day. And should I ever get lucky to have children, I will encourage them to be a little mischievous. So help me God.

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