Part 3: High School Memories
A True Story
on Aug 10, 2020
A friend of mine called Kamau once told me that there are only two good high schools in Kenya: that is Alliance and Starehe. While I don't agree with Kamau's supposition, I do remember my immediate elder brother Paddy wanted to go to Alliance High School when he was selecting high schools in February 1999 while he was in Class Eight. But my parents prevailed on him to choose Starehe Boys' Centre as his first choice high school.
As for me, I knew I wanted to attend Starehe even before I got into Class Eight because of the way the school featured prominently in the media thanks to its consistent stellar performance in KCSE exams and to the high-profile visitors it occasionally received. When Paddy was accepted at Starehe in January 2000, I felt a bit jealous of his success since I wanted Starehe to be "my" school.
I am sure Paddy is now eternally grateful to my parents for having made him choose Starehe becaused he went on to have a spectacular high school career in the school. He persistently did well in academics right from Form 1 to KCSE, was appointed a prefect while in Form 2, became a leader of a few clubs in the school, was selected to attend a conference in Germany while he was in Form 3, and joined the Starehe Boys' Fire-fighting squad when he was in Form 4. And after he was through with his studies at Starehe, he landed an opportunity to go for a gap-year internship at Armidale School in New South Wales, Australia.
Well, I did also make it to Starehe as it was my dream when I was in primary school. I was admitted at the school on 17th January 2002, a date I will remember to my grave. And even though I didn't have such a spectacular high school career as did my brother Paddy, at least I won several certificates in piano-playing during the Kenya Music Festival (KMF) competitions. I also learnt how to play volleyball during my high school years at Starehe.
But the high school achievement I have been enormously proud of was my improvement in academics; I rose from the bottom rung in my class to score an 'A' in the mighty KCSE exams. It was probably due to my improved academic prowess that Mr. Geoffrey Karumba, our class teacher in Form Four, appointed me as a leader of one of the study groups he split us into in 2005 when we were in our final year in high school. I must have been a good leader because my group scored the highest marks in an assignment Mr. Karumba gave us just before our KCSE exams commenced.
Looking back, I surmise I did well in my KCSE exams as a result of the way I enjoyed my Fourth-Form year at Starehe. I loved interacting with some of my fellow fourth-formers at two clubrooms in the school. And I was also thrilled by an inter-class soccer competition that was held during the long April holiday that we had in 2005 during which we Fourth-formers remained in school for extra tuition. My classmate Wilson Chira ably acted as our class coach during the inter-class soccer competition.
What impresses me most about Chira was the way he tried to involve most of my classmates in the soccer competition. He would sometimes stay on the sidelines so that some of us could have a chance to play. I did take part in the competition matches as a defender. And I defended very well in some of the matches just like soccer star Rio Ferdinand did when he was playing for Manchester United at that time.
Although I can't recall which fourth-form class won the inter-class soccer competitions that we had in the 2005 April holiday, I will never forget the stunning free-kick that my classmate Innocent Shimenga lobbed from midfield to the goal. It really was a stunning free-kick which would have been worthy of being put on Youtube had it been captured on video camera.
So much did I find the inter-class soccer competition enthralling that I wished a similar one could be held during the long 2005 August holiday that we Fourth-formers again remained in school for extra tuition. Unfortunately, for some reasons best known to the organizers, no such competition was held over that August holiday. Oh, how I miss those golden bygone days!
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Trusting in God Completely
A True Story
on Aug 5, 2020
As I have narrated before on this blog, I first read the autobiography of Bill Clinton in 2007 when I was a first-year student at the university in JKUAT. That was after our Communication Skills lecturer - an amiable professor named Paul Njoroge - lent it to me. I read the 969-page autobiography with the zeal of a he-goat on heat. And I read it because I wanted to understand how Clinton overcame a modest background to get elected twice as the President of the United States.
One JKUAT library employee advised me to stop reading about Bill Clinton when he spotted me carrying the autobiography. I didn't heed his advice. Instead, I continued devouring the autobiography till it got worn out. Thankfully, Prof. Njoroge never reprimanded me for returning to him the autobiography in a worn-out state.
Although I did really mess the autobiography by reading it till it got worn out, my efforts were not in vain because I gleaned a number of valuable lessons from it. Among the lessons were to develop a liking for people, books, music, sports and movies as well as carve out some time for solitude.
I was also moved by a short essay that Bill Clinton wrote when he was a boy in primary school. The essay resonated with the kind of person that I was. Later on in 2012, I modified the short essay [with apologies to Bill Clinton] to make it fully reflect the kind of person I was and what I aspired to be. Here's how my modified version of the essay read like:
I am a person motivated and influenced by so many diverse forces that I sometimes question the sanity of my existence. I am a living paradox - deeply religious yet not as convinced of my exact beliefs as I ought to be; wanting responsibility yet shirking it; loving the truth but often at times giving way to falsity; believing in moral rectitude but at times viewing obscene materials. I pity those, some of whom are very dear to me, who have never learnt how to live; I desire and struggle to be different from them but more often, I am almost an exact likeness. I detest selfishness, hatred, jealousy, envy and cynicism but I feel them in myself every day.After modifying the short essay to what it reads like above, I drilled it into my memory with relative ease. And by striving to live upto what I mentioned in the essay, I have ended up becoming a more truthful, authentic and discerning person. These days, I always tell the truth in all that I say and write. My faith in God has also increased thanks to the Bible study that I indulge in once in a while.
What a little boring word - I! I, me, my, mine, myself - the only attributes that enable worthwhile uses of these words are the universal good qualities which we are not too often able to place with them: love, faith, trust, regret, responsibility and knowledge. But the acronyms to those good qualities which enable life to be worth the trouble cannot be escaped. So I, in my attempts to be honest, will not be the hypocrite I hate, and will own up to their ominous presence in this young man, endeavouring in such earnest to be a gentleman.
Even though I have indeed grown in faith, I still feel deep in my bones that I am yet to trust in God completely. There is still a spirit in me that is clinging to doubt, worry, guilt, hatred and some other vices that the Bible condemns.
So as to fully trust in God, I have resolved to continue studying the Bible and reflecting on its message. The other day, I subscribed to daily devotionals which I will be receiving daily on my email. I believe the devotionals will help me grow in faith.
Apart from reading the Bible, I will also be listening to great hymns. Hymns such as "Fight the Good Fight" which beseeches us to "cast care aside and lean on His guide". Not only will I savour the music of the hymns but also reflect on their lyrics.
And why do I want to trust in God completely? So that I can experience the never-fading sense of inner peace that I desire. In a world full of suffering and broken dreams, I believe a relationship with God is the best choice a person can make. That's all I am saying.
 I have modified this passage from an essay on page 58 in My Life (paperback edition) by William Jefferson Clinton, published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Arrow Books.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on trusting in God completely, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Growing Our Faith in God". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.