A Homage to Friends - Reflections of a Young Man™

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A Homage to Friends



When I re-read the autobiography of Bill Clinton when we broke for the long holidays after my first year at JKUAT, I was touched by his life goals that he mentioned in the following paragraph in his autobiography's prologue:
"When I was a young man just out of law school and eager to get on with my life, on a whim I briefly put aside my reading preference for fiction and history and bought one of those how-to-books: How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, by Alan Lakein. The book's main point was the necessity of listing short-, medium-, and long-term life goals, then categorizing them in order of their importance, with the A group being the most important, the B group next, and the C the last, and then listing under each goal specific activities designed to achieve them. I still have that paperback book, now almost thirty years old. And I'm sure I have that old list somewhere buried in my papers, though I can't find it. However, I do remember the A list. I wanted to be a good man, have a good marriage and children, have good friends, make a successful political life, and write a great book." [1]
What touched me about Bill Clinton's life goals was the way he listed them in order of importance. He prioritized being a good man which I thought was wise because at the end of our lives, what really matters is whether we were good men.

And his next life goal was to have good friends which I found wise because friends improve the quality of our lives. It's possible to be rich but still feel an emptiness in the heart; that's why it is important to cultivate good friends.

Inspired by Bill Clinton, I also wrote down my life goals sometimes in 2013 in an exercise book which I christened "Dream Book". They read as follows:
  • To be a good man
  • To have great friends
  • To have a wonderful family
  • To be a motivating teacher
  • To write great articles/books
  • To produce inspirational songs
  • To be a compelling speaker
  • To start a business/organization
  • To have a successful political career
  • To travel around the world
  • To drive a classy car
  • To own a resplendent home
Over the last few years, I have pursued those goals with the zeal of a he-goat on heat punctuated by occasional depression when things fail to work out. While I admit that I am yet to accomplish most of them, at least I have succeeded in being a good man especially as pertains being forgiving, honest, discerning and cheerful.

As for having great friends, I have tried to keep in touch with old ones right from Nursery school to the two primary schools I attended and onwards. In my correspondence with those friends mostly through email and social media, I have been honest and lively so as to build the trust upon which every genuine friendship is founded. Whether I have succeeded in making great friends is, of course, for time to tell. But I believe I have made some true friends of whom I'd like to mention.

First is the Almighty God whom I have come to know not only as a heavenly Father but also as a friend. I involve Him in all my daily undertakings. And whenever I find myself talking about a problem, I usually ask myself, "Have you prayed about it as much as you have talked about it?"

Then there are my family members who comprise of my mother and father as well as five sons. To be honest, I somehow loathed my family when I was growing up because they were harsh on me and made me do household chores that I deplored. Like they would force me to go scavenging for firewood on bitingly cold mornings while my neighbors' children were either still asleep or watching TV. But looking back, I have discovered God blessed me with the best family in the world which inculcated me with a spirit of hard-work and honesty. And the family has granted me the freedom to be the person God intended me to be. Oh, how I appreciate my family these days!

Then there are my relatives, especially from my mother's side of whom I am close. I'd especially like to single out Uncle Gibson Mwangi who has been very supportive. He once bought me a pair of shoes when I told him mine were aging. Whenever he visits home, he always leaves me with some money. What might surprise you is to learn that Uncle Mwangi is not such a rich man. He runs a grocery store, has a wife to take of and three children to look after. It is his concern for me that impresses me about him.

Then there are the schoolmates and teachers I met at Starehe Boys' Centre during my stay in the school for my high school and college education. I would especially like to single out my housemates in the mighty Chaka House, team-mates in the legendary Starehe volleyball team, classmates in the mercurial 4F class of '05, and collegemates in the eclectic Starehe Institute class of '07.

Then there are members of the 2006-07 Kiserian Catholic Church Youth Group whom I used to join every Sunday after sneaking from Starehe. Those guys used to rock as we spent our time debating on issues, helping me develop intellectual vitality. I would tell them that the Bible was a mythical book of the Jews and that Jesus was a fictional legend. But despite my heretical beliefs and my refusal to receive the Holy Sacrament, the youth group members still allowed me to play the piano during masses and conduct the choir. They even appointed me a choirmaster!

Then there are the members of All Saints Cathedral Church in Nairobi. I joined the church when I was matriculating at the university just to find a place to earn some extra cash from piano playing. When the cathedral leaders discerned I was a confused unbeliever, they disciplined me with love and concern. And they ended up converting me to a Christian, albeit a weak one. But I want to let them know I am still maturing as a Christian. I still miss being part of All Saints Cathedral; my wedding will be in that church, God willing.

Then there are my engineering classmates at JKUAT. Most of them were tougher than me, at least because they finished the engineering course. I didn't.

Then there are my Political Science, History, Economics & Public Administration classmates at the University of Nairobi. I used to love dazzling them with my knowledge. It's unfortunate I had to drop out of that university for financial reasons.

My list of friends would be incomplete without mentioning my wonderful neighbors here in Kiserian, those I have met along the way in my travels and those I have met through the internet including through this website.

As you can see, I do have friends. And because I have succeeded in making great friends, I can't help but believe I will also accomplish my other life goals. If I ever accomplish my life goals and become the honoured leader I desire to be, I promise to conduct myself in a dignified manner so that I never shame my friends. So help me God.

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[1] Prologue opening paragraph in page 3 of My Life (paperback edition) by William Jefferson Clinton, published in the United Kingdom by Arrow Books in 2005.

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Mental Clarity



While browsing the internet for inspiring quotes about nine years ago, I came across one by Edward Sisson about mental clarity which mentioned that Abraham Lincoln was always thrown into a rage when he encountered an obscure or ambiguous sentence in his reading. Sisson concluded that was simply a form of instinct for clear thinking which is found in every child and manifests itself abundantly to the perception of the good teacher.

On reading that conclusion, I remembered my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre where I was always accused of being confused. Even after high school, the accusations never ceased. At Jomo Kenyatta University, my first-year roommate remarked to a friend that I was the most confused fellow he had ever encountered. The ironic side of the story is that I was never conscious of the confusion that people saw in me and I never understood its cause.

Retrospectively, I have realized that the confusion never affected my academic performance because I outperformed many normal students; normal in the sense that they could think clearly. But it affected my self-esteem and social life. When I joined a choir at All Saints Cathedral after my Starehe years, the director of the choir described me as a very timid fellow.

After first reading the Sisson quote on mental clarity nine years ago, it dawned on me that the confusion that characterized my life at Starehe and afterwards was caused by excessive reading without clear grasp of the text. And I am proud to proclaim that I am a clear thinker these days and I lead a healthy social life.

That's after coming to understand that far more important than any piece of knowledge, be it Calculus or Computer Programming or Accounting, is this love in every human being of clearness in his mental life and instinctive hatred for confusion and obscurity. A mere knowledge of facts, important as it is, is no safeguard against confusion; a conscious desire and resolve to think clearly is the true remedy.

So I usually strive to learn knowing what I know clearly and definitely. There is so much philosophy in this humorist's remark, "It was never ignorance that done me up, but the things I know'd that weren't so."

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Benefits of Music

The youngest boy in a black pair of trousers is me at the magnificent residence of Fr. Charles Nyamiti (in a hat), one of my music mentors, after we visited him circa 1999. I shall forever remain grateful to the Catholic Church for introducing me to the piano.


I don't know about you but for me, the genres of music that really move me are hymns, classical music and traditional Agikuyu folk songs. But generally speaking, any piece of music that has a wonderful melody and inspiring lyrics moves me. So I do love some other pieces of music from other genres such as The Power of a Dream that was performed by Celine Dion at the opening ceremony of the '96 Olympic Games.

And oh! I almost forgot to tell you that I also love any pieces of music that have a nice beat because they tend to make me want to dance.

My interest in music blossomed back in 1997 when I first started learning piano at the age of nine in my hometown Catholic Church under the tutelage of a brilliant and dedicated seminarian named Br. Peter Assenga. I was fortunate to advance my skills on the piano at Starehe Boys' Centre where I developed confidence in playing it before an audience. And after I left Starehe, I was even more fortunate to join All Saints Cathedral where I was exposed to music that refined my character.

But guess what? I became foolish sometimes in 2008 at the university where I was studying engineering by ditching music to concentrate on "serious" stuff like Calculus. What a big blunder! It eventually led to poor decisions, loss of vitality and depression.

After undergoing a psychotherapy for some years that made me more sick than well, I decided to reconnect with my passion for music in 2012 - one of the best decisions I made in my life. But I was at first in a dilemma on how to acquire a piano at home after my friends failed to help me when I approached them for assistance.

Then out of the blues, I got a job to teach piano to kids of an affluent company manager who was about to emigrate to England with her family. I taught her kids for three weeks after which I was able to buy a piano keyboard which made me so happy.

The piano keyboard reignited my childlike passion for music which led me to present songs in my home church. I became so much hooked to music that I eventually produced two songs which a number of people commented that they were good, including Mr. Atigala Luvai - the Director of Music at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. And given the joy I felt in producing the two songs, I look forward to producing many more in the future.

In summary, reconnecting with my passion for music has made my life interesting, improved my imagination and made me more human. That's why I have resolved to keep aflame my interests in music even if I got elected President.

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