A True Story
on Dec 22, 2019
As I wrote in my previous story on this blog, I have so far not succeeded in growing rich enough to afford a car. That I don't know how to drive has made me feel left behind because I am sure some of my classmates in high school and university own cars at the moment. Even my younger brother Symo, who works for a blue-chip auditing firm, has been fortunate enough to spin his own vehicle.
I sometimes visualize myself driving while listening to audio books and my favourite music in my car's sound system. Also, I occasionally imagine myself taking my Mum for a drive around my home area. And since knowing how to drive is one of my heart's desires, I regularly petition God to bless me with enough wealth to buy a car. Oh, how I desire to own an automobile!
A few weeks ago as I was taking a walk in my hometown of Kiserian, I spotted a man without one leg. He was walking with the aid of two crutches. Seeing the disabled man made me realize how blessed I am. Imagine I have been feeling left behind for not knowing how to drive and here was a man without one leg. It reminded me of an ancient proverb that says, "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet."
That has led me to take inventory of my life and be grateful for what I have now. And it has dawned on me that I currently own such precious possessions as books, a laptop, a smartphone and a piano keyboard as well as live in a mansion with electricity and running water. There was a time when I didn't have those possessions, I tell you.
Like when I was at the university in JKUAT, I didn't own a laptop. Can you imagine a university student without a laptop in this day and age? It's like a doctor without a stethoscope. Yet that's what I was. Because I didn't own a laptop in those days, I would sometimes move from room to room in the dormitories of the university looking for a computer on which to do my work or listen to music. And at times, I would find my friends busy with their computers, leaving me stranded.
Then there was a time when I didn't have access to internet in my room. In those days, I would commute to cyber cafes whenever I needed to check my email or do something on the internet. That made me spend a lot of time and money which I would have better used in other activities.
And then there was a time when I used to live in a room with wooden walls that used to let in rain water and a pot-holed floor that used to make it tedious to clean the room. Because I shared the room with other family members, I had no privacy. When I needed to bathe, I had to warm water in the fire before putting it in a basin. And when it came to relieving myself, I had to walk a distance of about sixty metres to the pit latrine of our home.
These days, I am blessed to live in a brick mansion with a ceiling, running water as well as an indoor toilet and a shower. I have a room in the mansion which I can lock either to do something private or keep my possessions safe. Whenever I need to shower, I just switch on an electrical socket, turn on the tap and bingo! Hot water sprays from the shower head for me to wash my body. Am I not blessed?
While taking a trip down memory lane, I have remembered the times I used to long for all those blessings I have now. Yet instead of being thankful for those blessings, I now feel left behind for not knowing how to drive. We humans have a weakness of never being contented. There is always something left to desire, and the last thing longed for seems to be the most necessary for happiness.
As for me, I have resolved to be contented with what I have now, even as I work on achieving more. I will heed the advice of Eddie Rickenbacker, an American who drifted with this companions in life rafts and got hopelessly lost in the Pacific Ocean for 21 days. When asked what was the biggest lesson he learnt from that ordeal of terrible suffering, Eddie Rickenbacker replied, "If you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat, you ought never complain about anything."
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story about contentment, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Choosing Gratitude". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Wealth & Honour
A True Story
on Dec 20, 2019
When I was leaving Starehe Institute in April 2007, I became intensely ambitious. I wanted to start a business and grow rich while still a young man. At that time, I remember engaging Evans Ogari, a bright schoolmate of mine at Starehe, in a conversation on how businesses are founded.
During the April 2007 holiday that followed after I left Starehe, I began to mentally note the names of car manufacturers. As a result of that effort, I got to know the logos of BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen and other vehicle-making companies. Given how ambitious I was, I must have been thinking that I would own a car by one of those companies in a few years time.
While walking on the streets of Nairobi during that same April holiday, I started to envy people having a meeting on tables of aristocratic restaurants along the streets. That envy led me to dream that I would also join the league of businessmen meeting in such restaurants. And I shared that dream with my senior brothers Joe and Paddy on one night that April as we were having a lively discussion here at home.
Also during that April holiday, I read a few books on how to get rich. One of them was about how its author became a dollar millionaire by the age of 26. Unfortunately, I have long since forgotten the title of that book as well as the name of its author. The other book I recall reading during that holiday was Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich which added fuel to the flames of my ambition to be a rich man.
Fuelled by that ambition, I soon began to harbour in my mind an idea of founding a company that would operate a chain of cyber cafes in cities and towns in Kenya, much in the same way some companies run a chain of supermarkets. And to make the cyber cafes operated by my company a cut above the rest, I envisioned the company to offer refreshments in the cyber cafes as well as tutorials on how to use computers effectively. It was an idea that I perceived would make me rich. And the name I christened the company I intended to found was Mtandao Super-cyber.
I went ahead to write a business plan for the Mtandao Super-cyber company that I intended to found. Actually, I didn't write the business plan; I just plagiarized it from an example given in a certain website that I came across on the internet. A classmate of mine at Starehe Institute called Stephen Mutevu complimented me for the well written business plan. Little did he know that it was a product of plagiarism.
After intelligently plagiarizing the business plan to make it appear my own work, I emailed several prominent people in Kenya and shared my idea with them in the hope that they would contribute the start-up capital. The prominent people I contacted were businessmen Chris Kirubi and Manu Chandaria as well as Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the then Kenya's Trade Minister. All of them didn't bother to reply to my email but Manu Chandaria was kind enough to forward my email to one Mr. Kevit Detsei who invited me to his office in Nairobi to discuss my idea.
The evening before the day I was to meet Mr. Detsei, I felt very happy and confident about my idea. And I became even more enthusiastic when I read that same evening a motivational book that encouraged me to act on my ideas.
But alas! The following morning while commuting to Mr. Detsei's office, my moods began to change as I became dull and confused. By the time I was meeting Mr. Detsei, I was a complete wretch. Well, I tried to sell my idea to Mr. Detsei by pointing out to him how the printing press revolutionized the world and saying computers were having the same effect, so my company was destined to be a big hit. But probably because I was confused, Mr. Detsei listened to me for a few minutes and then called an employee in his company named Rocky Mbithi to deal with me. (Rocky Mbithi was a classmate of mine in high school and I hadn't known he was an employee in Mr. Detsei's company till Mr. Detsei called him to deal with me. That was a surprise for me.)
Those frustrations of prominent people not responding to my emails and of Mr. Detsei not listening to me made me give up on my idea. And when I matriculated at the university in JKUAT the following month, the challenges I underwent through killed my ambitious spirit. Challenges such as of being told how confused I was, of having poor social skills, of having trouble understanding engineering concepts that we were being taught at the university and of being forcefully admitted to hospital after going astray. Those challenges killed my ambitious spirit for shizzle. To this day, more than a decade later, I have never grown rich enough to afford a car.
Today, I have resolved to resurrect in me that ambitious spirit that I once had of growing rich. This time, I want to gain not only wealth but also honour like King David, my hero in the Bible. And now that I understand life better, I will just continue developing my talents while praying for breakthroughs. Hopefully when I die, it will be said of me, as it was said of King David, that Thuita "died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honour". Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story about wealth and honour, you might also enjoy another I wrote sometimes back on "What I Didn't Understand at the University". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.