The 8th Commandment
Unlike Karl Marx (the father of socialism), I am a great believer in the marvels of Science as well as in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. Like I can spend some time reflecting on how computers have impacted the world and on how obeying the Ten Commandments changes our lives for the better.
I have discovered that God came up with the Ten Commandments for our own good just like the way man comes up with traffic laws for our benefit. Or would you love to be hit by an over-speeding driver under the influence of excessive alcohol?
Take for instance the 8th Commandment ("Thou shalt not steal") which, as you already know, is the subject of this story of mine. God must have made that law so that every man could get rewarded for his efforts and so that we could prosper as a society. And boy, wouldn't you love to live in a prosperous nation that has plenty within its borders?
To make things clearer, let me give an example of a farmer who decides to plant a garden of paw-paw plants. (I understand they call them papayas in America, right?)
Well, the farmer prepares his land, buys seedlings of paw-paws and plants them. And then as they grow, he weeds the garden and adds manures to it while watering the paw-paw plants because, as all fools know, water is life.
Then after a year of such diligent labour when the paw-paw fruits begin to ripen, I stealthily pluck some of them for eating and others for selling without permission from the farmer. What have I done? Of course, I have stolen the paw-paws.
And by stealing, I have failed to reward the farmer for his efforts. I have also impoverished the society in several ways: and one of them is discouraging the farmer from planting more fruit trees on his garden, at least not until he fences the garden and hires guards.
I have given that example from experience because I used to break the 8th Commandment by doing all sorts of stealing before I became a true Christian (or, as a Jew would say, a godly man) in mid 2016. Okay, let me tell you how I used to steal.
When I was a first-year student at JKUAT in 2007, I got into the habit of taking books from the library without permission by simply tucking them inside my clothes while moving out of the library. Back then, as must be the case with all thieves, I didn't think I was stealing as such. I thought that was a cool way of growing my mind by reading the books outside of the library.
And on several occasions, I went unnoticed until one fateful afternoon in 2009 when the alarm at the entrance of the library went off. Wa! I had finally been caught thanks to technology. Or as the Swahili people would put it, my forty days as a JKUAT library thief were over.
Luckily, the librarians who handled me that afternoon were very understanding after they learnt I had escaped from JKUAT hospital where I had been admitted a few days earlier. I wonder what would have happened had I been caught at an earlier time when I wasn't in the hospital. Probably I would have been remanded in a police cell and arraigned in court because a university student is an adult.
By the way, later on in this decade in a fit of righteousness, I returned all the books I had stolen from JKUAT library from 2007 to 2009 and hadn't returned by then. They weren't that many. I think they were two.
The second theft I committed was against a neighbour we used to call Mmeru who has long since moved to a more posh estate in Nairobi. That was back in 2010 when I noted during my strolling that she had a garden of guava trees that had succulent fruits.
I got into the habit of getting into the garden to have four or five guavas until a small boy named Denno caught me one fateful day. Big as I was back then, I felt timid when Denno confronted me by threatening to report me to Mmeru.
Denno didn't report me to Mmeru but when he noted how timid I was when he confronted me, he morphed into a bully. Later on, he would often call me a thief in presence of people. And he once coshed me with a stick on a Sunday afternoon as I was coming from church. What a canny, hell-raising rascal Denno was!
But perhaps the worst theft I have committed was plagiarizing other people's writings. You see, beginning in late 2010, I developed the habit of editing brilliant stories and mailing them to my friends as if they were my own, some of whom would compliment my writing prowess.
How I wish everyone would now know all the stories I wrote before mid 2016 were full of lies, exaggeration and plagiarism. That's before I became a true Christian.
And yes, plagiarism is is a form of theft - a violation of the 8th Commandment. My Roget's Thesaurus classifies plagiarism under stealing together with burglary, poaching, pirating and cattle-rustling.
Coming to think of it, plagiarism is stealing for shizzle. Take for instance the stories I post in this lovely blog of mine. They are a product of years of learning, thinking and experience. So don't you think someone who copies one of these stories to present as his own has committed the same offence as someone who plucks a paw-paw fruit from a garden without permission from the farmer who planted them?
As for me, I have now resolved to continue obeying the 8th Commandment to the letter by not even photo-copying books and pirating software. I will be buying genuine materials because I now believe in an all-knowing God who will reward me with wisdom, knowledge and happiness for obeying His commandments as the philosophical Book of Ecclesiastes says in verse 26 of Chapter 2.
How about you? Will you join me in this journey of obeying the 8th Commandment? Please do. Thank you.
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Life's Like That
Have you ever carried something in your hands, then suddenly fear it might explode? It happened to me last year. Or was it 2016? Not sure.
Well, there was this refrigerator my brother Joe Kagigite brought at our now beautifully lush-green home here in Kiserian where I live. Afterwards, I read its manual which contained such messages of caution as this:
This symbol indicates the possibility of death or serious injury.Then later on after the refrigerator was brought, I decided to check whether it had adjustable stands of its own. That meant placing it on a platform where I could see its bottom clearly.
And wa! As I was placing the refrigerator on the platform, I was filled with fear that it might explode in my hands. I am sure those messages of caution in the refrigerator's manual played part in triggering in me the premonition that it might explode.
By the way, it's not only objects we fear might explode but also people, especially the so-called tough guys. You see, some folks are like balloons in that they burst into temper at slight provocation.
That probably happened because some people tend to bear some resemblance with one another even though our finger-prints are all different. Like you may find a certain celeb smiles like one of your high-school class-mates.
By the way, it's not only people that bear resemblance to one another but also places. A good example is the hills of Hollywood where I have seen four of my friends photographed; the Hollywood hills look so similar to the Ngong Hills that form the Western horizon of my home-area.
I have been a victim of such mistakes on several occasions. The most comical was when I applied to Cornell College in 2006/07 round during which I put in great effort in submitting a strong application: writing essays, filling out forms, sitting for the SATs, getting recommendation letters and coming up with a high school transcript as well as mailing cassette recordings of me playing the piano and CD samples of an educational website I had created with my friends.
But imagine after mailing them to Cornell, it dawned on me later on that I sent some of those application components to Cornell College in Iowa and the others to Cornell University in New York - two completely separate schools in the United States. Interesting, isn't it?
And coming to think of it, such kind of change of conditions applies to our emotions as well. Like you might wake up one morning feeling gloomy only to feel happy and rejuvenated with energy later on in the day. Does that ring true to you?
And that's because of getting side-tracked by other thoughts. Like you might find as soon as I decide to go to the kitchen to pick sugar, I start thinking on how to overcome an emotion of hatred I have towards a particular person.
Because of that reason, I have made it a habit to jot down ideas as soon as they pop up in my mind. I never trust my memory, so I always carry a pen and a small notebook with me whenever going for my walks that are good for health.
I also didn't know the subject of sleep, which has attracted my interest given the way I have struggled with insomnia and oversleeping for the last ten years, has been dealt with in the Word of God which basically says the Lord always rewards us with sound sleep for a day well-spent. Life's like that for shizzle.
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Grace in the Morning
I can still remember that memorable day last year as if it were yesterday. It was the 13th of April, 2017. Of course I have recalled that date because I recorded all that transpired the morning of that day in an exercise book I still have to this day.
Well, I woke up earlier than usual that day: at about 3a.m. But because I wasn't psyched up to do anything at that wee hour of the morning?, I chose to stay in between the sheets - safe from the mosquitoes that milling around my bed. And from in between those sheets I have long since replaced, I could hear the mosquitoes buzzing with vigour and vitality.
And later on that morning at about 3.35a.m. I over-heard my slightly-crippled Mum asking Dad whether he had left the milk and sugar we needed for breakfast. After he said 'yes', Mum bid him farewell. Then Dad dashed off to a nearby tarmac road to catch a matatu to Nairobi where he plies his trade as a freelance accountant and auditor.
You see, Dad always prefers commuting at wee hours of the morning to avoid exorbitant fares when traffic reaches it peak at about 7 and 9 in the morning.
About an hour after Dad left, Mum received a call from our neighbour, Mama Mwangi, informing her someone was at our home's gate. And when she asked me to go check who was at the gate, I refused for a reason I won't disclose. Just know I refused to go. Period.
Later on that morning at about 7a.m. when our then house-girl woke up, Mum asked her to go confirm if there was still someone at the gate. The house-girl came to heel and went.
After staying for a period longer than I'd expect, she returned with news that someone had been killed near our gate. Wa! Alarmed like a deer that has spotted an approaching predator, I sprang out of bed and sprinted towards the gate.
And when I opened the gate, I saw - at about 100metres on the left side of the dusty road bypassing our home - a crowd of people obviously milling around the murdered man our house-girl had reported. I turned on my heel and headed toward the scene. And oh my!
As I neared the dead body stretched on the ground and covered with a red sheet, I saw from the protruding arms that the deceased wore a pull-over that resembles one that Dad wears. And that made my heart pound faster in my chest as I worried, "Could my father have been killed when he left home early in the morning today?"
My fears were relieved when I neared the dead body close enough to see the deceased wore blue jeans. And since my father doesn't wear jeans of any kind, I was certain beyond doubt that it wasn't him lying dead on the ground.
After feeling relieved and now at the nucleus of the murder scene, I asked one of the women milling around the scene, "Have you known who the deceased is?"
"Yes!" she replied, "He's my son."
Woooi! Slightly embarrassed for brazenly asking such a sensitive question, I conveyed my sincere condolences to her and then joined the men in the scene who looked less traumatized.
Since I was at the university in JKUAT a decade ago, I have always tried to resist the urge to mill around accident scenes like flies on excrements of human waste matter. But that morning, I couldn't resist the urge because I was curious to know who had been killed in a neighbourhood I know so well.
I longed to uncover the red-sheet to see the face of the deceased but I feared angering the already shocked crowd of people milling around the scene. So I chose to asked for his name.
Those around informed me his name was Kinyajui but I couldn't connect knowing such a man from the area I was told he hailed from. But I figured out I probably knew him by face, if not by the name Kinyajui. I therefore chose to stick around till the police arrived.
The police however seemed to be taking light years to come. Luckily, two confident men showed up in the scene. From their rolling gait, I could tell they were going to fearlessly uncover the dead body and find out for themselves who was that lying dead on the dusty road. Being the quick-witted young man that I am, I followed them with interest.
Uncovering the dead body, they did. And I was somewhat gratified that I didn't know the deceased by face either. He looked like an ordinary folk whose favourite way of passing time was drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
After failing to identify his face, I left the scene while trying to conceal the joy in my heart which sprang - not from mockery over what had happened - but from realizing the grace of God. As far as I could tell, I was alive and kicking - so was my family and friends.
For what is grace? It is a gift from God to enjoy life's most important blessings - that's health and peace of mind as well as love from family and friends - without having paid Him for it. Realizing the grace of God that morning brightened what would have otherwise been a dull day on the 13th of April, 2017.
And today, thanks to that memorable morning, I have found myself reflecting on the grace of God as a result of which I have much to be happy and grateful for. How about you? Are you enjoying health, love and peace of mind to their fullest measure?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the story above, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back titled Forswearing Thy Foolish ways and which I edited several weeks ago. Just click on that link in blue to jump straight into the story.