Audience-Centred Stories!

Yippee! This blog of mine is back online with better stories - now written for people, not for profit. From now henceforth, God-willing, I will be telling you stories here that will tickle your fancy, deepen your faith, offer you hope, improve your outlook on life, inspire you in one way or another, or simply add to your wealth of knowledge and wisdom. How about that?



Celebrating JKUAT: Kenya's MIT

These are the enduring students of JKUAT's Electronics & Computer Engineering Class of '11 in their fifth and final year of the degree course. I would have been in this photo had I also endured the course but I ignominiously dropped out in my second year. Photo courtesy of my friend Peter Karanja.


At the time I was matriculating at JKUAT in May 2007 to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, I also landed a part-time job to teach piano to a daughter of an affluent couple who lived in a leafy suburb of Nairobi. I didn't perform well in the job because I was young and inexperienced but some remarks I heard while teaching there impressed me.

"This young man is an engineering student at JKUAT.," remarked the daughter's mother while talking of me to a lady with whom she was having tea.

"JKUAT!" the lady exclaimed, "That's a university for brilliant guys unlike XY University [name withheld] which is for jokers."

That lady must have been right in saying JKUAT is for brilliant guys given the experiences I had at the university. Okay, let me narrate the story.

I enrolled at JKUAT with the intention of transferring to MIT in my second year. But then, I scored the following grades in my first semester at JKUAT:

SubjectGrade
Workshop Processes and Practice IB
Chemistry ID
Workshop Practice IIC
Communication SkillsA
AlgebraB
GeometryA
Calculus IB
Physics IC

Having scored all A's in my high school KCSE exams, I became disturbed by those JKUAT first semester grades, especially the D in Chemistry. And I think that D was well-deserved given the trouble I had in understanding the subject which we were taught by an abrasive and commanding lecturer named Oyaro. Like Oyaro taught us a structure of the atom that was radically different from the simple one I had learnt in high school. For me, understanding the structure of the atom that Oyaro taught us felt like I was learning Greek.

Those first semester results were a rude awakening that I wasn't as brilliant as I had perceived myself. And they forced me to change my plans of applying to MIT as a transfer student and instead chose to re-apply as a freshman.

My second semester results at JKUAT were even worse because I failed in Material Science. And I am thinking I failed in the subject because its comprehension required that I had understood the structure of the atom that Oyaro had taught us the previous semester. Given the trouble with which I have said I had in understanding Chemistry, little wonder that I failed in Material Science which I failed again when the university asked me to repeat the exam - a further proof that JKUAT is for brilliant guys. See?

Those results notwithstanding, I treasure the experiences I had during my two-year stint at JKUAT. First, I had the opportunity to study with seven former students of Alliance High School in the Eletronics & Computer Engineering Class of '11. I had read that Alliance sent a larger number of students to top American colleges than any other high school in Kenya did, which I still think is the case. That's why I felt honoured to school side-by-side with those seven former students of Alliance High School.

Secondly, I loved JKUAT because it was close to such big urban areas as Thika and Nairobi yet it was pristine enough to offer a rural environment that made me stay in touch with nature. As I wrote in my previous story in this lovely website of mine, I enjoyed roaming in JKUAT's bucolic fields to read and reflect.

Lastly, I came to love JKUAT hospital, a spacious well-protected one-storey building, where I was admitted twice after I went bonkers due to the hard times I underwent while trying to cope with poor grades in class, failure to get accepted at MIT among other issues. So much did I love JKUAT hospital because of its cleanliness and the friendliness of its staff that I later on sometimes wished I could get sick again so that I could get admitted back to the hospital where I had been looked after like an infant baby.

Before I end this story, allow me to mention two shortcomings I observed at JKUAT which put the university reputation at stake. It's main campus neighbouring communities have dusty roads as well as shanty houses infested with petty thieves. A lot of dust stirred by vehicles cruising in those dusty roads usually ends up in JKUAT. And the petty thieves sometimes get into the university to pilfer such stuff as garments on clothes lines.

Given an opportunity to meet the current JKUAT vice-chancellor, I would advise her to partner with the university's neighbouring communities (like the way Yale University does with New Haven) to seek solutions for those two shortcomings because the university's reputation is inextricably intertwined with the wellness of its neighbouring communities. That's all I am saying.

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Salvation is Free Folks!

This is me with my friend Michuki after we were ordained to be receiving the Holy Sacrament circa April 2000. I haven't seen or heard from Michuki in more than a decade but I shall forever remain grateful to the Catholic Church for instilling me with a spirit of morality, discipline and knowledge that have served me well in my life so far.


Back in the '90s, there was this anecdote which made rounds in the impoverished Naru-moru Primary School near my home in Kiserian where I began my kindergarten education in 1993. I stayed in the school till the last term of my Standard 7 education in 2000.

The anecdote was of a boy in the school who attended a Catholic mass one Sunday during which he saw people receive the Holy Sacrament: a small, round and white substance that looks more like a biscuit baked without any additional ingredients apart from wheat flour. Curious to know how the sacrament tastes, the boy resolved he would have to taste it the following Sunday.

According to Catholic Church customs, the sacrament is a symbol for a bread for the soul. It is a freebie because Jesus Christ came to save souls for free. All you need to receive the sacrament as per Catholic customs is to attend catechism classes in the church where you will be taught Biblical values after which you will be ordained in a special mass to be receiving the sacrament.

But the boy who resolved to taste the sacrament didn't know all that stuff. He thought that the tithes offered during mass (which come before Holy Communion) was a payment for the sacrament just like the way you hand out a few coins to a shopkeeper in order to receive a biscuit. So the boy went to look for a few coins and went back to the church the following Sunday.

Now, the Catholic priests usually say "The Body of Christ" before giving out the sacrament. And when the priests say so, you are supposed to reply "Amen", bow your head slightly and then open your mouth with the tongue sticking out in readiness to receive the sacrament. But the boy didn't know that either.

Armed with a few coins, the boy turned up for mass the following Sunday. He tithed during the offertory session. He then lined up during Holy Communion session to receive the sacrament. And when his turn to receive the sacrament reached and the priest said to him "The Body of Christ", the boy looked at the priest straight in the eye and replied, "I have paid!"

That anecdote usually sets me laughing when I think about it because the sacrament is a symbol of salvation which is free. All you need to get saved is surrender your pride and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. Let no pastor ever hoodwink you into parting with your money in order to get saved. Salvation is free for shizzle.

So to make salvation more freely available in a modernized way, just click the button below if you would like to get saved:


Haha! Indeed, you are now saved. Let no more sins and sorrows grow in you. Be reading the Bible everyday. Be meditating on its message regularly. Be forgiving of yourself and others. Be beautiful. Be grateful. Be loving. Be honest. Be humble. Be bold. Be you!

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