The Starehe Parting Advice
Like my friend Eric Kuria, I am so much attached to Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school as well as college education. Located on the outskirts of Nairobi City, the school is a First-World institution. It is so well endowed with such modern facilities as pianos, tarmacked roads, automatic generators, computer laboratories, a school band, a music centre, a stately library, a swimming pool, a magnificent chapel, a space-age clinic, flat playing fields and boarding houses that foster brotherhood.
During my time at Starehe, the school was managed skilfully. Nowhere on its compound was there a building that showed neglect or decay or poverty. It truly was a First-World institution.
I formed many lasting friendships at Starehe. Among the many friends I made were my classmates in 4F class of '05. (We like calling ourselves The Mighty 4F.) I became a better person by learning alongside those 4F classmates who made me read a lot just so that I could catch up with their bright minds. And that led me to be the avid reader that I am today.
For some strange reasons, I used to feel horribly nervous when reading to my classmates in 4F as some of our teachers demanded. Sometimes my nervousness would make my voice quiver which I thought betrayed my trembling but thankfully, no 4F classmate ever teased me about it.
The teachers I had at Starehe were devoted, and superbly qualified, I might add. Especially those in the high school division. Some of them have evolved into good friends of mine over the years thanks to this awesome technology called internet.
Yes, I did form many lasting friendships at Starehe. These days whenever I see someone on Facebook with whom I have more than 50 mutual friends, I instantly know that's an old student of Starehe.
Besides the friends I made in the school, the other thing that makes me so much attached to Starehe is the quality education I received there. It is at Starehe where I developed the confidence to play the piano in front of an audience. It is at Starehe where I learnt how to play volleyball. And it is also at Starehe where I learnt to navigate through the Windows Operating System; or to put it simply, it is at Starehe where I learnt how to use a computer.
After attending the school for five and a half years, I was lucky to be released into the world in peace on April 2007 by Prof. Jesse Mugambi, the then director of the school, in a church service during which I was charged never to forget the great benefits I had received in Starehe, and in time to come, according to my means, I do all I can to enable others enjoy the same advantage; and to remember that I carried with me wherever I went, the good name of Starehe.
I was also advised to be of good courage; to hold fast that which is good; to listen for the voice of truth; to think fairly; to love widely; to witness humbly; to render to no man evil for evil; to strengthen the faint-hearted; to support the weak; to help the afflicted; to honour all men; to love brotherhood; to build bravely; and to serve God.
In an uplifting prayer, I was prayed for that God's loving-kindness and mercy may follow me all the days of my life; that He may succour me in temptation; that He may preserve me in danger; that He may assist me in every good work; that He may bless me in all my ways; that He may keep me in the knowledge of His love; that He may prosper me in all things good; and that He may keep me in the way that leads to eternal life.
That parting advice sounds great but guess what! I can't remember being touched by it during that church service in April 2007 when I was being released into the world by Prof. Jesse Mugambi. My mind was pre-occupied with other things that time. And my failure to heed that advice cost me dearly when I messed up at the university in JKUAT in 2008 and again at the University of Nairobi in 2011.
Over the past several years, I have re-read that parting advice, and I have come to find it wise. I plan to continue re-reading it in the days to come in the hope that it will bring me peace in moments of difficulty and uncertainty. That Starehe parting advice was not available online but it was on-point.
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When Bad Things Happen
Back in the mid '90s when I was growing up, I once complained that I had never seen accidents happen and instead watched them on TV during news time after they had already taken place. In the many years that followed, the situation remained the same because I don't ever recall witnessing an accident happen on the road. But today, I had a chance to observe one at close-range in my hometown of Kiserian.
Well, I was taking my usual morning walk in Kiserian today morning when my attention was suddenly drawn to a tuktuk that was driving onto the main road as a motorbike was speeding towards it. The tuktuk driver seemed unaware of the approaching motorbike because he continued driving onto the main road. I could tell that the two were going to collide. Luckily, the motorbike rider veered away from the tuktuk to avoid a head-on collision but still, his motorbike hit the tuktuk on the front, breaking a metal rim off the tuktuk.
The motorbike rider didn't stop and apologize for hitting the tuktuk; he just drove on, leaving the tuktuk driver to ponder on the consequences of his vehicle's broken metal rim. And there was a policeman nearby who appeared to not want to be involved in resolving the minor accident in which nobody was hurt. I also didn't bother to hang around to observe the reaction of the tuktuk driver; I just continued with my walk, the minor accident having reminded me that I am not the only one to whom bad things happen to.
Yes, bad things happen to all of us once in a while as we journey through this crazy adventure called life. Some of the bad things include theft, injuries, mistakes, conflicts, criticism, rejections, sicknesses, career failures, rude remarks, financial constraints, technological problems and loss of loved ones. I am sure you've faced such bad things at one time or another in your life, haven't you?
Personally, I have not only faced some of those bad things but also witnessed them in the lives of others. I particularly remember one case of theft that took place at Starehe Boys' Centre in 2004 when I was in Form 3 at the school. Okay, let me tell you the story.
That time in 2004, we entered our classroom one morning only to find it in chaos. And what's more, someone had defecated on the floor. It turned out that some thieves had entered into the classroom the previous night and walked off with our textbooks. When the school administration was informed of the theft, investigations were swiftly carried out. The school officials searched our lockers and some other buildings for any leads that could shed more light on who had raided our classroom, stolen our books and defecated on the floor before fleeing.
Whether the school administration succeeded in tracking down the thieves, I have never known. But I remember Dr. Geoffrey Griffin, the then director of the school, claiming that his administration had recovered some of the stolen books. And I heard through the grapevine that the head of the gang of thieves that had raided our classroom was an old boy of Starehe.
Several of my classmates had their books stolen in that theft. And I have always suspected that a Biology textbook I lost in Form 3 was also stolen in that raid but I never reported it, something I came to regret in the ensuing years when I had to account for the lost book. Such are the kind of bad things that happen to us in life.
And because such bad things happen to us, I have reflected on the steps we can take to help us cope with negative situations. Foremost in my reflections is turning to God in prayer and pouring out our worries to Him. And if you are a Christian like me, you can open the Bible and read verses that can help put your problems into perspective.
Secondly, I have thought of releasing our frustrations caused by the bad things as another way of helping us cope with negative situations. How? By talking to a friend and writing in a journal. That can save us from exploding into rebellion or imploding into a depression.
And lastly, I have thought of trying to identify the lesson learned from the bad thing that has happened to us. I believe there is always a lesson hidden in every adversity. And who knows? That lesson could be the gateway to achieving some of our fondest dreams. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on what we should do when bad things happen, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Soaring Like an Eagle". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.