Wisdom From a Departed Billionaire
A True Story
on Jun 19, 2021
Chris Kirubi was born way back in 1941 in the central highlands of Kenya. His parents died when he was young. And because he had no providers, he had to work while still in school to support himself. Despite growing up as a poor orphan, he overcame his humble background to become one of the most successful businessmen in our country. He was at one time listed by Forbes magazine as Kenya's second richest man.
I first got to know Chris Kirubi during my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre when he visited us in the school one day. Well, I have long since forgotten the exact year he came to our school. I also can't recall much of what he said when he addressed us during the evening assembly of that day. The little I remember is him boasting to us the companies he had invested in. Boy, weren't we astounded by his business acumen!
By inviting Chris Kirubi to Starehe, the school administration must have been striving to have him donate money to Starehe, a charitable institution that is known in Kenya for educating bright but needy boys. I didn't get to find out if the school administration succeeded in having him sponsor a boy at Starehe or contribute towards the school endowment fund. But I am sure beyond doubt that Chris Kirubi was a generous man because in 2006, he paid airfare for a schoolmate of mine who had been admitted at MIT, the world's premier institute in science, technology, engineering and math.
Perhaps inspired by Chris Kirubi's entrepreneurial success and generosity, I tried contacting him in April 2007 to see whether he could contribute the capital I needed to start a chain of cyber cafes in Kenya. When my email to Chris Kirubi went unreplied, I headed to his office in International House, a tall building in downtown Nairobi which I understand was his. The watchmen on the ground floor of the building didn't permit me to get into his office. They stopped me dead in my tracks. And sooner rather than later, I gave up founding the cyber cafes.
A few years ago, I followed Chris Kirubi on Twitter and Linkedin. And wow! I was pleasantly surprised to find him sharing inspirational advice on those two social media platforms. Drawing from his illustrious career as an entreprenuer, he advised his readers to keep smiling, stay positive and embrace where they are. But the advice that stuck in my memory most is the following one he posted on Twitter on September 1st last year:
Success requires hard work, patience, resilience, talent, teamwork and yes, hard work again. Any "opportunity" promising to circumvent any of the latter is most likely scam. Overnight success is a misconception and planning your life around it is plain senseless.So much did I like the advice that I added it to my list of quotes that appear on the pop-up window of this lovely blog of mine. And the advice has motivated me to continue working hard in developing my talents and to ignore those get-rich-quick schemes that I keep coming across on the internet every now and them.
Last Monday while going through news feed on Twitter at around 7.00pm, I read another piece of advice that Chris Kirubi had shared earlier on that day. Finding it wise, I liked the advice. Then guess what! When I logged into Linkedin about ten minutes later, I was taken aback to learn that Chris Kirubi was dead.
At first, I could hardly believe that Chris Kirubi was gone because of the inspiring advice he had shared on Twitter on the Monday he was reported dead. I had to turn to Google to confirm whether Chris Kirubi had passed on. He had indeed died at age 80 after a long battle with cancer. So he had been unwell for all those months he had been sharing inspirational advice on social media. How surprising!
I am usually saddened to hear someone I know has died. And Chris Kirubi's demise was no exception. His death has reminded me of the ephemeral nature of life. I have therefore resolved to continue developing my talents with renewed vigor and to value my family, friends as well as relatives. And hopefully when my turn to die comes, I will have left an enduring legacy like Chris Kirubi did. Fare thee well billionaire Chris Kirubi!
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you who missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn that is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the hymn.
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The Clear-headedness I Desired
A True Story
on Jun 14, 2021
When I joined the 9.30am English service choir of All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi in April 2007, I was immediately hooked to the choir. The choristers were welcoming, they had high standards of discipline and music presentation, and there existed among them a camaraderie that gave me a wonderful sense of belonging. What even made me enjoy being in the choir more were the tea and buns we partook after choir practice on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
Now, the choir had a policy that every new member had to stay on probation for one month before being permitted to robe and sing in the pews during Sunday services. I did stay on probation for about one month and during that period, I looked forward to donning the choir uniform on Sundays and singing in the pews.
Once my one month of probation was over, I was on one Sunday summoned for an interview by a committee of four senior choristers. If my memory serves me well, the choristers began the interview by asking me how I was faring in the choir. I informed them that I was enjoying being part of the choir and then suggested that we be having tea and buns on Sundays after church service, just like we did on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons after choir practice.
Guess what! One of the interviewing choristers cut me short and told me they were concerned about my spiritual growth. They then proceeded to grill me on spiritual matters. When one of them inquired whether I ever read the Bible, I lied that I did. And when he insisted on knowing which version of the Bible I read, I again lied that I read the King James Version. The truth was, I didn't believe in the Bible back then.
The interviewing choristers discerned I was an unbeliever from the way I appeared. And when they continued grilling me, I became defensive. I asked them what good it would do them if I told them I was saved just to please them and then behaved differently when I was out of the cathedral. Then I beseeched them to allow me to sing with the choir and grow with it. But the choristers would have none of my pleas. They mocked me and one of them suggested I needed a good spanking. Another one, having observed how confused I often was, brazenly told me I had to learn to think clearly.
What the interviewing choristers didn't know was that the confusion they saw in me had nothing to do with my unbelief in the Bible. It was a weakness I had always had since my days at Starehe Boys' Centre, a prestigious institution where I had my high school as well as college education. And telling them I was saved just to please them would not have made me clearheaded.
Yes, I had always been confused since my days at Starehe Boys' Centre. And I tend to think that I was also confused during my primary school years; it was just that Starehians were the only students bright enough to discern the confusion in me and bring it to my attention.
When Starehians began pointing out to me how confused I was back in 2002 while I was in Form 1, I was perturbed by their comments. And when they persisted in doing so, I was in denial that I was confused because I wasn't conscious of that confusion and I was as orderly as other students. I even outperformed in academics some of the clearheaded classmates who commented on my confusion.
But when I was in Form Four in 2005, I began noticing there were days I would feel fuzzy in my thinking. On some days, the fuzziness would get even worse to a point I would feel like there were some rocks in my mind. I remember telling some of my classmates that how well I would do in my KCSE Mathematics papers would depend on how clearheaded I'd be during the exams. So it was kind of true that I was a confused person.
Interestingly, Starehians kept commenting on how mixed up I often was well into my college days at Starehe. I particularly recall the Sunday evening in 2007 when a housemate who was in junior high school remarked to another housemate that Starehians knew me as a confused guy. His remarks stung me deeply, a proof that the Bible is right when it says in the book of Proverbs that thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword.
I tend to think I was as confused on my last day in Starehe as I was on my first day in the school. That's a history of mine that the choristers who interviewed me at All Saints' Cathedral didn't know. After I botched up the choir interview on that miserable Sunday in 2007, I strived to be clear-headed as time went on. I believed in the Bible and in Christ. And there were times I would sit down to meditate on the knowledge I had gained - all in an effort to be clear-headed. From those efforts to attain mental clarity, I learnt that it hurts to struggle to attain something which seems to occur so naturally in others.
With a profound sense of gratitude, I can now say I have attained the clear-headedness I once desired to have. That feels to me like an achievement as great as winning a Nobel Prize. Having known how demoralizing it is to be known as a confused person, I have resolved not rest on my laurels. I will continue endeavoring to know what I know clearly and definitely. And when I die, I would rather have it said of me that I thought clearly than I died rich.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the clear-headedness I desired, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "Developing Mental Clarity." Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.