Wishing Others Well
A True Story
on Nov 15, 2018
My dear reader, suppose God asked you, as He used to do in Biblical times, a question that went like this, "What is it that you want me to do for you and do the same thing twice as much to your neighbour?"
It is said that some people are so hateful and jealous that when asked such a question by God, they would have Him remove one of their eyes so that He can gouge out their neighbours' both eyes. Interesting, isn't it?
Will Smith, the Hollywood movie star, aptly captured how people are so hateful and jealous in the following quote of his:
Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.As for me, I have always strived to rejoice in the success of others even though I have to admit feeling jealous at times, especially when things haven't been going well on my end. Like there is this lovely friend of mine called Wilson Chira who got accepted at a top American college ... okay, let me tell you the full story.
Wilson Chira and I were classmates in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre. We both participated in piano-playing competitions at the Kenya Music Festival in our high school days during which we won a number of certificates including on the piano-duets we played together. It is interesting to note that in 2003, I won an award as the best Music student in junior high school while in 2005, he won an award as the best Music student in senior high school.
Overall though, Chira was brighter than me in the first three years in high school because he outperformed me in all end-term class rankings in academics. But when we got into Fourth Form, I trounced him in "Index" exams and after that, he never managed to catch up with me in all the exams that followed.
When our high school days came to an end in 2005, I chose to return to Starehe to pursue a Diploma in Information Technology in the institute division of the school while Chira was selected for a gap-year at Armidale School in New South Wales, Australia. That year in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute and Chira was in Australia, we both applied for admission to colleges in the United States.
Back then, I thought I stood a better chance of getting accepted into the American colleges than Chira because of the free access I had to Starehe teachers who gave out recommendation letters required by American colleges. Imagine while I could walk into a teachers' staff-room at any time of the day, Chira had to send someone to Starehe to organize on how he could get recommendation letters and a high school transcript. How unfortunate he was! Or so I thought.
Come March and April 2007, I was rejected by all the four American colleges where I had applied for admission: MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth and Stanford. For a few days, I thought the same fate had also befallen on Chira but I didn't dare ask him if that was so.
Then one morning in April 2007 as I was walking on a highway in Starehe, I saw Chira approaching in the opposite direction. And some spirit inside me expected him to share with me the agony of getting rejected by the colleges he had applied for admission. But alas! When we met and began talking, he apprised me that he had been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) - an Ivy-league institution! And here had been me thinking I stood a better chance of getting accepted into top American colleges than him - how surprising!
To be honest, I felt an inkling of jealousy at Chira's success but I tried as much as possible to rejoice in his achievement. As a matter of fact, I sent him congratulatory text messages later on and even advised him to organize a farewell party before leaving for UPenn. Such is the kind of spirit that I am cultivating in myself these days: one of being enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own. Adieu!
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Books I'd Love to Read Again
A True Story
on Nov 13, 2018
I have always been an avid reader ever since I was a child. Indeed, a strong case can be made that I passed both my KCPE and KCSE exams not out of natural brilliance but by dint of reading a lot.
As a child, my favourite readings were cartoon books and magazines which my father used to buy for us at home. My favourite cartoons were those published by the Standard newspaper every Sunday in a pull-out magazine. I also loved Tin Tin comics which a classmate of mine at Noru-Moru Primary School owned.
In high school, my favourite books were those in the African Writers' Series which I think were published when African nations were gaining independence in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Among the writers in the series whose books I enjoyed were Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Amu Djoleto and Waruhiu Itote (General China).
Then when I was in Starehe Institute beginning from 2006, I switched my reading focus to computer-programming and inspirational materials. I read books on C++, Java and Visual Basic as well as motivational classics like Jeff Keller's Attitude is Everything and Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich.
And then when I was at the university in JKUAT, I broadened my reading by including memoirs and biographies in my reading repertoire as well as books on American History. I read so much about American history that today, I can rattle off the names of all 20th century American presidents and in the order in which they served.
I still do read a lot. And I find reading richly rewarding. Currently, I am planning to acquire the following books that inspired me in the past but which I either lost along the way or weren't mine at the time I read them:
- Reagan's Journey: Lessons From a Remarkable Career by Margot Morrell - I borrowed this book from the American Reference Centre in Nairobi but had to return it after three weeks.
- The 1999 Person of the Century Time Magazine - I bought this magazine when I was in Fourth Form at Starehe Boys' Centre with my pocket money but some wretched rascal stole it from me.
- Economics by David Colander - I borrowed this book from the University of Nairobi library and I was very impressed with the author's passion for Economics. I returned the voluminous book after two weeks, so I never had enough time to digest its message.
- Calculus & Analytic Geometry by Thomas & Finney - I enjoyed leafing through this good-sized book when I was studying engineering at JKUAT but some wretched rascal stole it from me.
- Conquering an Enemy Called Average by John Mason - I found this uplifting book while ransacking my father's property. Unfortunately, I placed it in a matatu's dashboard and forgot to pick it when I alighted.
- Encounters From Africa: An Anthology of Short Stories - I read this book in high school as a KCSE set book and I really loved its stories. But the copy I had belonged to Starehe Boys' Centre, so I had to return it after I cleared my KCSE exams.
- How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie - I used to own this enlightening book. But one day in 2011 when I was at the University of Nairobi library, I left the book on a table. And lo! When I went back to the table to continue reading, I found it missing - someone had taken it. Maybe the guy who took the book thought it belonged to the library.
- Siku Njema by Ken Walibora - For me, this is the best Swahili novel ever written since God created the universe. I read it in Form 2 but the copy I had belonged to Starehe Boys' Centre, so I had to return it.
- A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong'o - I loved this book but it was chewed by ants in our old wooden house. The ants ate all the pages of the book but left the cover for me; that's funny, isn't it?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on the books I'd love to read again, you might also enjoy another one I wrote on "Lessons I learnt From Books." Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.