Servant Leadership - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Servant Leadership

This is the 2013 Starehe Boys' prefectorial force team of captains of which I shall talk about in the story of mine below. I have extracted the photo from Starehe Boys' website. Copyright © all rights reserved worldwide.


The architects of the American Revolution in the 18th Century - that brilliant combo of such great minds as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin - must have understood the corrupting nature of power when they designed the constitution of the United States, the world's first democracy. I can attest from my observations in my time at Starehe Boys' Centre that indeed power corrupts, and as political scientist David Easton put it, "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Please allow me to give an example.

There was this house-mate of mine at Starehe who was just a year ahead of me. Let me call him Mpasua Msonobari for the time being. He used to be kind to me in his year as a second former as when he borrowed from me a colourful prospectus of the Kenya School of Flying. But the fellow morphed into a bully when he was promoted to the prefectorial force.

Like we were moving out of the assembly hall one evening when I chickened out by skipping a row so that I could get out of the hall faster. Mpasua Msonobari caught me in my mischief, took down my particulars and decided to crucify me for a punishment we called "contracts". Humbled as a rat cornered by a cat, I pleaded with Mpasua Msonobari to forgive me for my mischief but my pleas turned deaf to his ears.

I still don't understand why Mpasua Msonobari couldn't forgive me when I pleaded for mercy. He defied the laws of natural justice. Didn't Jesus Christ advise Christians to forgive others just like our heavenly father is forgiving? And Mpasua Msonobari was not an atheist; he was a Christian.

But I think Mpasua Msonobari's motive for crucifying me for "contracts" was to show off to his superiors that he was a performing prefect so that he could get promoted to the higher echelons of leadership in the prefectorial force. He succeeded in his show-offs because he was eventually promoted in 2004 to be a red-lion as the Starehe's top three head-honchos of the prefectorial force were called.

And Mpasua Msonobari persisted with his arrogance towards me in his time as a red-lion. Like I once went to the red-lions study to borrow rubber bands for holding my socks up only for him to start interrogating me as if I were a captured criminal. I can't recall what he exactly said to me but it had something to do with me not dressing like a Form 3 student at Starehe Boys' Centre. Remember this Mpasua Msonobari was the same character who used to be kind to me before he was promoted to be a prefect. Indeed power corrupts, and as for Mpasua Msonobari, absolute power corrupted him absolutely.

By the way, Mpasua Msonobari was awarded a scholarship to study a post-high school diploma in Switzerland together with George Waithaka, the brilliant house-mate of mine I mentioned in my previous story in this website. As for Mpasua Msonobari, he was accepted at Stanford University - the reputable institution that has been the birthplace of such ground-breaking scientific marvels as gene splicing and global positioning systems.

Mpasua Msonobari is now running for a political seat in his home-area in Nairobi of which I wish him well especially for him having typed an uplifting comment in one of my Facebook posts a few years back. If you happen to know who I am referring to as Mpasua Msonobari, please tell him not to get corrupted by power when he clinches a political seat like he did when he was promoted to the Starehe prefectorial force. He should be kind, humorous, forgiving and understanding. That's what I call servant leadership.

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Binge-eating Disorder

The youngest boy in a black pair of trousers is me at the magnificent residence of Prof. Charles Nyamiti (in a hat), my piano mentor, during one of our visits in the late '90s. More on those visits in the story below.


Perhaps for having been brought up with a poverty-stricken mind, I have struggled all my life with a binge-eating disorder that began early in my childhood at our rural home in Kiserian where I used to compete with my siblings on who would eat the most number of chapatis whenever we cooked that favourite meal of mine at least once every week. I still love chapatis especially when I eat them with lentils stew.

Then I carried that binge-eating disorder together with two of my brothers to our then neighbour called Mrs. Memia by begging chapatis from her when out there grazing cattle. She used to regularly sympathize with our pleas for food by handing us a few delicious chapatis over the fence until our Mum intervened one day by castigating us for spoiling our family reputation. Mrs. Memia has long since emigrated to Great Britain and I was happy to reconnect with her recently via Whatsapp.

And then I carried further my binge-eating disorder in our visits in the late '90s to Prof. Charles Nyamiti, my piano mentor, at his magnificent residence in the main campus of Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi where I would gormandize sumptuous dishes as if possessed by greedy-guts demons. Oh, how I miss those good old days!

As if that were not enough, I carried still further my binge-eating disorder to Starehe Boys' Centre where I used to "combine" food in many meals at the dining hall in my junior high school days. "Combining" was Starehians' code name for eating extra food on the table.

I would probably have persisted with my love for "combining" throughout my Starehe years had my poor eating habits not been brought to my attention by those who observed my manners in the dining hall. My house-mate Leon Osumba, who played a part in orienting me to the Starehe way of life, was the first to point it out this way, "This Thuita doesn't chew his food. He swallows it directly into his stomach."

Then the Starehe school magazine took my poor reputation as a binge-eater a notch higher when it named me something like "Combiner of the Year" in a 2004 magazine edition. 'Sir' Emmanuel Karanja, a bright house-mate who inspired me to learn computer-programming, intervened to save my reputation by advising me while eating one meal in the dining hall, "Thuita, refrain from eating too much. Wise and intelligent people don't do that. Look at a person like George Waithaka - do you ever see him eating a lot like you do?"

George Waithaka, if you wish to know, was another brilliant house-mate of mine who was among the four students selected in 2003 to represent Starehe Boys' at a conference in South Africa. He emerged as the fourth best candidate countrywide in the '04 KCSE exams. His exemplary character and brilliance must be the reasons he was awarded a scholarship to study a post-high school diploma at Aiglon College in Switzerland from where he was accepted at the highly-esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Those negative observations on my binge-eating disorder, as shameful as they were, helped me to change my eating habits so much that I stopped "combining" during my last years at Starehe. And that didn't affect my energy levels. In fact, I grew healthier because I never had regular coughs in my days as a senior high schooler like I used to do in my days as a junior high schooler - meaning the notion that "the more we eat the stronger we become" is a fallacy. So Abduba Dida, a presidential candidate in the '13 Kenya's General Elections who once took me to his office in downtown Nairobi, was on point when he advised Kenyans not to stuff their stomachs with solid food; they should spare some space for water and air.

But guess what again? My binge-eating disorder grew in me again when I was hospitalized at JKUAT and University of Nairobi for reasons I have narrated in some of my previous stories in this lovely website of mine. And that binge-eating disorder has this time reared its ugly head on my weight and self-esteem. As I write this story now, I am not at my desired body shape.

I am therefore back to square one of correcting my binge-eating disorder. My prayer is to soon reclaim myself from this jumbo body size of mine to a lean, youthful figure like that of David Beckham, the legendary player of the England national team as well as Manchester United and Real Madrid. So help me God.

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On Losing



It has in recent months dawned on me that life is not all about gaining and winning. Sometimes we lose - something professional footballers know very well. Like Ronaldinho was part of the legendary Brazilian team that won the '02 FIFA World Cup. Four years later, he was part of the same team that lost to France in the quarter-finals of the '06 FIFA World Cup which Brazil was widely predicted to win.

I have also had my own fair share of losses on which I found myself reflecting about yesterday evening. Allow me to list them here.

First, I recently lost my friend Clement Langat who was killed in a road accident. He was a house-mate at Starehe Boys' Centre, five years my junior, who had in recent years forged himself into a good friend of mine with his positive comments about me and his inquiry last December on how I was fairing in life. He once commented on a Facebook post of mine, "This is Thuita J. Maina - a straight A student I used to admire at Starehe." It was a bit saddening to lose Clement this early in life.

Secondly, I lost most of my stories that I used to write in my old website I used to call Polly after they got deleted by my web-hosting company after the website became inactive for several months. So I ended up losing more than 300 stories which I would have loved to re-read just to realize the kind of moron I was at the time I wrote them. Too bad to lose them.

Thirdly, I lost an album of mine I made from an exercise book during my first year at Starehe Boys'. It had such valuable photos as of me playing a piano duet with my friend Wilson Chira back in '02 when we were in Form 1, of me crawling on ropes during Starehe Boys' Survival Club camps back in the days, and of me giving public speeches at Starehe while still a first former. I really wanted to reconnect with those photos just to brighten up my life with beautiful memories but my efforts to trace the album were futile.

Fourthly, I have lost a number of books, magazines and newspapers that I would have loved to re-read. Some I lost in my carelessness. Others in theft. And others in mysterious circumstances. Like I lost a copy of the 2001 Daily Nation December newspaper that listed the top candidates in that year's KCPE exams which I would have loved to leaf through just for fun of realizing the kind of bright minds I was studying with at Starehe Boys'.

As I reflected on some of those losses yesterday evening, I felt my spirit grow weary with distress. But then I remembered a story I read in Jack Canfield's remarkable book, The Success Principles™, about a man who appeared serene even after he had his entire library and research files razed down by fire. On being asked why he appeared serene despite the heavy loss, the man replied, "What I have become is more valuable than what I have lost. The skills and self-confidence I gained in that library and research files are still inside me and can never be burned up in a fire."

To borrow a leaf from that wise man, I would also like to comfort myself that what I have become is more valuable than what I have lost in my life so far. I am now a wiser, braver and more grateful young man than I would have been without writing those stories I lost or interacting with such friends as the late Clement Langat. Alleluia!

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