Amazing Grace - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Amazing Grace

As I write this story, I am listening to Amazing Grace hymn which I have played and recorded on my Yamaha piano keyboard. I have played the enlightening hymn with a harmony I was taught by my friend Francis Kariuki during our teenage days. Somehow, I have managed to remember the harmony over the years.

Now, Amazing Grace is an old hymn. It was composed in 1779 by John Newton. A very old hymn indeed. Very old. Yet ever new.

Let's look at its first verse which goes as follows:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
I used to sing that verse when I was a young man of 19 years. That was ten years ago. Back then, I thought I had found the right way of living after getting inspired to be reading the Bible at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, a wonderful church I joined after I left Starehe Boys' Centre in 2007.

But imagine it is now dawning on me on how lost I have been for the last ten years! I have been timid on many occasions, made poor decisions, associated with the wrong people, offered free services while languishing in want and wasted time by idling and oversleeping.

And each successive day, I am realizing other ways in which I have been lost. Can you now see why I am saying Amazing Grace is an old hymn yet ever new?


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The Careers I Will Pursue

Malcolm Gladwell in his enlightening book - Outliers: The Story of Success - says that we only succeed at something we have practised for 10,000 hours. As to how Gladwell came up with that figure of 10,000 hours is something I don't understand. But I tend to believe him nonetheless.

Ask anyone who has genuinely succeeded in any career and he will confide in you that he did spend considerable amount of time honing his skills. Like you can't start playing football at age 21 and expect to play in a FIFA World Cup. That's next to impossibility as Chinua Achebe would put it. All successful footballers start playing the game at least when they are 8 - 12 years.

Actually, in addition to the two reasons I gave in my previous story in this website, Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule is another reason I have bowed out of politics. You see, I have never had any experience in politics since I was young at school.

After reflecting on my life so far, I have figured out that I have spent much of my time developing my talents in music, farming, writing and public-speaking. Let me narrate briefly how I have honed those talents.

As of music, I started playing the piano when I was nine under the tutelage of a brilliant and dedicated seminarian named Br. Peter Assenga. Then I continued honing my skills on the piano when I was Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school and college education. I still do play the piano.

As of farming, I grew up in a family in which I was expected to take part in such farming activities as weeding, planting and harvesting beans, maize and vegetables as well as grazing, feeding and milking cows. Now that I have fallen in love with nature, I am looking forward to doing some farming when I own a piece of land.

As of writing, I began penning articles for my father to read when I was eight. But it's only until recent years that I have taken up writing seriously as a tool of developing mental clarity. This lovely website of mine is a proof of that effort.

As of public-speaking, I first gave a speech when I was ten - not to a real audience but to columns of desk in an empty classroom. I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. Then I had the luck of speaking to a real audience at Starehe Boys' Centre where I gave speeches right from when I was in Form 1 to when I was in my final year in college at the school. I haven't had many opportunities to hone my public-speaking skills since I left Starehe but I am looking forward to becoming a renowned charismatic and eloquent speaker.

Yes, those are the talents I have developed over the years. I am therefore now firmly convinced that God intended me for the tranquil pursuit of a career in music, farming, writing and public-speaking by availing for me opportunities to develop those talents and by making them my supreme delight.


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Bowing Out of Politics

This is the front cover-page of Bill Clinton's autobiography, an inspiring tome I loved carrying around when I was at the university in JKUAT. It inspired me to venture into politics but eventually, I have decided to bow out of politics for reasons I will explain in the story of mine below.

As the 2007 Kenya's General Elections were nearing and getting riveting, I was having a conversation with a friend at JKUAT when I remarked, "These politics of Kenya are very tribal." To which the friend agreed, then sagely added, "And very local."

It must have been around then that I set a dream of becoming president of our nation someday. And I have nurtured that dream for the past ten years with an aim of being a different kind of politician that Kenya has never had before. As in, a charismatic and eloquent politician with a national appeal.

I have found myself reading biographies of my models in politics - who are all Americans - as well as listened to their speeches on Youtube. Like I have particularly come to love Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural address and Barack Obama's 2004 US Democratic National Convention keynote speech. Those two speeches are in a word, inspiring.

Finally though, it has dawned on me that the observations my friend and I made ten years ago about Kenya's politics - that they are tribal and local - were right and spot-on. Unlike America, Kenya is not a mature democracy. Still, it has a long way to go if the current state of affairs is anything to go by.

So given the immaturity of our politics as well as the high levels of disorder and corruption that are often too much in evidence in our governmental affairs and bearing in mind that I am a good-natured person, I have finally decided to bow out of politics. Expecting me to thrive as a politician in Kenya is both cruel and unrealistic.

I sincerely don't know why I have stuck for over yen years with this ambition of getting into politics. Maybe it's partly because I am always inspired by the school song of Starehe Boys' Centre, my Alma Mater, in which we pledged to serve diligently when our time in government reached.

Or maybe it's because politicians seem to attract all the attention. You see, newspapers' front-page headlines are almost always about politics. And when you eavesdrop on people talking idly in pubs and cafes, their talks are usually about politics, if not football.

Coming to think of it though, I don't have to be a politician to leave a lasting legacy. History is replete with heroes who have made contribution in various fields of endeavour other than politics. William Shakespeare in literature. Albert Einstein in Physics. Alexander Fleming in Medicine. George F. Handel in music. Charles Lindbergh in aviation. Henry Ford in entrepreneurship. Isaac Newton in Mathematics. I could go on and on to list more examples but I beg to stop there in the interest of time.

So I really don't need to get into politics to attain wealth and honour. See?

But just because I have bowed out of politics doesn't mean I will become disinterested in the affairs of my Motherland. I will always wish for peace and stability to prevail in Kenya so that I don't get displaced from my beloved home-town of Kiserian as a result of tribal violence or civil war. And I have vowed that should Kenya ever get a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama, I will support his election, morally and financially.

You may ask - now that I have finally bowed out of politics, what career will I pursue? Well, I will tell you in my next story, God-willing. So stay tuned to this lovely website of mine.


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