Another Opportunity I Wasted
A True Story
on Jun 27, 2020
When I was in my final year in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre back in 2005, I developed a burning desire to learn computer-programming. I remember telling my siblings on one night that year of how I would immerse myself into the world of computer-programming once I was done with my high school career. And that's exactly what I did.
Even before reporting to Starehe Institute in January 2006 to pursue a diploma in Information Technology, I had already begun reading books on how to program computers. At first, I found it difficult to comprehend the logic behind computer-programming. But through persistence and determination, I eventually rose to the occasion and began to enjoy designing and coding computer programs which I would show off to my fellow schoolmates in Starehe Institute.
Among the computer programs I coded when I was in Starehe Institute was one for cracking passwords. Although I didn't get to crack the administrator password using the computer program, I succeeded in unravelling the passwords of two of my classmates. It was such an exhilarating experience just to create the program and see it work.
Then as I progressed with learning computer-programming in 2006, I developed another desire to understand how a computer works; the hardware part of it, that is. I wanted to know in depth how electric current is made to pass through circuits so as to perform the magic we see in computers.
A Starehe computer lab technician took an initiative one day in 2006 to explain to us - institute students - how the hardware of a computer works. I attended his lecture, eager to gain insight from him. Unfortunately, I didn't understand a thing he said. And when he opened a system unit of a desktop computer while lecturing to us how it operates, all I saw was a ganglion of wires that made little sense to me.
Still determined to understand how a computer works, I later on that year tried to assemble a desktop computer from disused components that were in one of the institute computer labs. My efforts were unsuccessful due to my limited knowledge.
A wonderful opportunity for learning how a computer works opened up for me in 2007 when I was accepted at JKUAT to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. What even made the opportunity more wonderful were the facts that I was young and in robust health, my parents were both well and working, and the engineering course was affordable for my family because it was government subsidized. All that was required of me was to concentrate on my studies at JKUAT.
And JKUAT was a great university, at least during my time there. Its students were brilliant, its environment was serene, its food was palatable and its learning resources were fairly good.
But guess what! Instead of taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity by focussing on my engineering course at JKUAT, I became consumed with a craving to earn more money and study in America. That craving made me spend my weekends teaching piano in Nairobi and much of my free time in applying to elite colleges in the United States. And when my efforts to achieve those cravings backfired, I lost interest in my studies at JKUAT. That made me repeat my second year at the university. Eventually, I dropped out of JKUAT in 2009.
Looking back, I am thinking it was foolish of me to try to accomplish several big goals instead of concentrating on my studies at JKUAT. Had I focussed on my engineering course like a laser beam cutting through metal, I would by now have not only comprehended how a computer works but also probably invented, discovered, explored or expressed in depth something in the field of electronics engineering.
I really wasted a wonderful opportunity by not focussing on my engineering course at JKUAT. To this day, I am yet to understand how electrons are manipulated in order to perform the tasks we see computers do. How, for instance, an icon is clicked on a computer screen to open a folder remains magic to me.
Over the past one decade, we have had here at home several electronic gadgets malfunction. Gadgets such as TV, radio, wrist watches, mobile phones and computer components. But you know what? I have had no clue what their faults could have been, let alone sit down to repair them. All because of my lack of understanding.
So from my experiences, I advise all youngsters at the university to stay in school and apply their time in growing their minds with knowledge, wisdom, insight and understanding. Otherwise they might end up realizing too late what a great opportunity they squandered by misusing time meant for studying. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on an opportunity I wasted, you might also enjoy another one I wrote some time back on "A Great Opportunity I Once Lost". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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A True Story
on Jun 21, 2020
The great American president Abraham Lincoln once said, "All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." As for me, if I ever become the gifted writer and best-selling musician I am aspiring to be, I will owe my success to my beloved father.
Born in 1950, my father is a humble, polite, hard-working and worldly-wise gentleman. He has always been an early-riser, a trait of his that I have found difficult to emulate. And he has worn glasses for as long as I have known him.
I recall vividly one Sunday morning in the early '90s of my brother Paddy spotting a man from a distance as we were walking to church. When Paddy informed me the man was the father of a schoolmate of ours called Gathogo, I asked him in Kikuyu, "Then why is the man not wearing glasses?" Apparently, I had been accustomed to seeing my Dad in spectacles that I had come to think that every father wears glasses.
As his spectacled face would suggest, my father does a white-collar job as a freelance accountant. But he has hands as rough as those of a manual labourer - the sign of a man who has worked hard all his life to provide for his family. Because of his diligence, my family has always not only had the basic necessities of life but also enjoyed such luxuries as TV, radio, electricity and a postal address.
I will never forget one time in 1997 when my father provided for me something I badly craved to possess. That was a pair of gumboots. But he didn't buy them for me on my first time of asking. Instead, I had to keep requesting him to bring me home gumboots of my size. And I did so for several weeks, perhaps even months, till he finally relented and bought them for me.
Although I can't recall how I felt when Dad handed me my first pair of gumboots back in 1997, I am sure I must have been as happy as a king given the way I treasured those gumboots. Imagine I would put them on almost every day, even on sunny days, till they got worn out. And I noted wearing those gumboots made cracks on my heels disappear.
Besides providing for my family, my father also inculcated a learning spirit in my siblings and I - something I will forever remain grateful for. He used to give us home lessons in Maths and in writing when we were in primary school. And he encouraged us to be avid readers by buying for us plenty of novels, magazines and newspapers.
What I find wise about Dad is the way he took interest in our studies right from when we were in lower primary school to when we were at the university. I distinctly recollect him teaching me basic arithmetic one lovely Sunday in 1994 when I was in Standard One. And when I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering at JKUAT in 2007, he would inquire from me what subjects we were learning in class so that he could purchase for me books on those subjects.
With all the interest that Dad took in my studies, I have sometimes felt I let him down when I dropped out of JKUAT in 2009. How proud he would have been to see me graduate with a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering! Too unfortunate I dropped out.
All has not been lost though because in the past few years, I have grown close to Dad here at home. He always banks on me to help him on the computer when he gets stuck and in taking care of Mum who was crippled by stroke. I find helping Dad out here at home to be my way of paying back for all he has done for me.
Today as the world celebrates Father's Day, I thank God for giving me a mature and responsible Dad because I am sure my Mum would alone not have succeeded in raising us well. And if I ever become the successful writer and best-selling musician I am aspiring to be, I will always speak out for the important role fathers play in child-rearing so long as I have the sense to remember all that my Dad has done for me. Happy Father's Day!
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