Positive Quote For Today

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."— Maya Angelou

Book Review: "Encounters from Africa"

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This is me in my den holding "Encounters from Africa". More about the book in the story below.

I love breaking spines! Book spines, that is. Just this week, I finished rereading Encounters from Africa, an anthology of short stories by several African writers. Some of the stories have kept reverberating in my mind over the years. That's why I had to buy and reread the book.

The first time I devoured Encounters from Africa was in November 2003 when I was in Form 2 at Starehe Boys' Centre. And I devoured it simply because it was one of the set books we were expected to study when we transitioned to senior high school the following year.

Although my motive for devouring the book was to excel in academics, I actually enjoyed it. I read the book over and over again in the next two years. My favorite stories in it were, and still are, "A Handful of Dates", "The Man", "Innocent Terror", "Africa Kills Her Sun" and "Amnesty".

Allow me, my beloved reader, to briefly tell you more about those favorite stories of mine. If I become boring, stop me.
  • "A Handful of Dates" by Tayeb Salih: Charming in its simplicity and refreshing in its narration, this story is about a bright boy who loves reading the Holy Koran. As he associates with his rich grandfather, he finds himself feeling compassion for a poor man named Masood who owes the boy's grandfather a substantial amount of money.

    In the couple of times I have reread the story over the past thirteen years, I have wished to have a voice like that of the boy narrating the story. And I believe I have finally found that voice, my voice!
  • "The Man" by E.B. Dongala: This was the story that gripped me most when I first read the book in November 2003. Its flow of words lingered in my mind for years. About a decade ago, I googled the story and shared some of its parts with my high school classmates in a Facebook group of ours.

    The story is about a villager who goes to the city, enters a tightly guarded palace and assassinates the president. He does so in order to free his people from oppressive rule. And he is never found out.

    Exaggerated though the story sounds, it sheds light on the nature of leadership in the African nations that have experienced political upheavals after they gained independence from their European masters. A riveting read it is.
  • "Innocent Terror" by Tijan Sallah: This story is about a simple, humble cook who is shot down by the son of a rich merchant. When the younger brother of the cook sues the merchant's son, he loses the case due to his lack of means and connections.

    The story is brought to life by its vivid imagery and interesting vocabulary. Another riveting read that was worth my while.
  • "Africa Kills Her Sun" by Ken Saro-Wiwa: This captivating story is a letter written by a man to his childhood girlfriend. The man pens the letter on the night before he is to be shot dead by a firing squad for engaging in crime. He discloses to his girlfriend that he chose to go into crime after he was unable to stop the massive looting in his nation's treasury.

    When I was studying the story during my days in senior high school, I was touched by the following words of the narrator:
    In the love we then shared have I found happiness, a true resting place, a shelter from the many storms that have buffeted my brief life. Whenever I've been most alone, whenever I've been torn by conflict and pain, I've turned to that love for the resolution which has sustained and seen me through.
    So much did those words touch me that I plagiarized them when writing a note in the valedictory booklet of my classmate Lawrence Sikuku as we were finishing our high school classes in October 2005. The words still touch me.
  • "Amnesty" by Nadine Gordimer: Obviously inspired by Mandela's fight for the freedom of South African black people, this story is about a woman who becomes engaged to a man. The man is eventually imprisoned for his involvement in a struggle to free his people from oppressive rule.

    Even though I liked the story well enough to remember it for years, I never knew its author, Nadine Gordimer, was a white woman till I heard about her death in July 2014. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
All told, the stories in Encounters from Africa are spellbinding. The book is a must-read for lovers of good literature. So if you ever get the chance to buy it, don't let the opportunity pass you by. Its stories will keep you turning the page like they did to me. Ciao!

RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed my review of Encounters from Africa, you might also enjoy a story titled "Books I'd Love to Read Again" which I wrote a couple of years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.


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Listening to the Heart

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With permission, I have extracted this picture-quote from Goalcast.com. All rights reserved worldwide.

Attention, please! God still speaks to people as He did to Moses in biblical times. But He doesn't speak in a loud voice. He speaks in the still small voice in our hearts. And we can tune in to that voice by being conscious of our feelings.

It has dawned on me that the feelings in our hearts can offer sound guidance on whether what we are about to embark on is right for us. That's after remembering how I have set a goal only to wake up in a nasty frame of mind when the day of accomplishing the goal dawns.

One Sunday in 2007 when I was 19 for instance, I was psyched up to meet Mr. Kevit Detsei, a businessman in Nairobi, the following day to pitch a business idea I had. But alas! When Monday dawned, I felt timid and confused on my way to Mr. Detsei's office. No wonder Mr. Detsei listened to me for a minute or so and then called a junior employee in his company to deal with me.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, I just didn't have the interpersonal skills and communication ability to run a successful enterprise. I still needed more education. But my heart must have been aware of my shortcomings. For how else can you explain the timidity and confusion I felt on my way to Mr. Detsei's office?

Another time I set a goal that my heart didn't approve of was in 2012. That year, I made it known to my friends on Facebook that I would run for a senatorial seat in the 2013 Kenya's general elections. Oh my! Deciding to run for such a big political seat made me feel guilty, especially when turning up for meetings of my high school's old boys.

There was a Sunday in 2012, for example, when a friend of mine named Alfonce Nzioka started introducing me as a senatorial aspirant to an old boy during a function held in my former high school. I felt so embarrassed of the introduction that I wished Nzioka could just shut up.

Even after scaling down my political ambition by registering to vie for an MCA (Member of County Assembly) seat, the lowest elective post in Kenya's general elections, I still wasn't enthusiastic about getting into politics. I found myself lacking the spirit to campaign with the charisma of my heroes: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

When election day reached, I was feeling so low in spirits that I didn't go to vote despite my name being on the ballot as an MCA candidate. I also didn't bother to find out how many votes I garnered in the elections because I hadn't put forth a spirited campaign.

By feeling guilty and embarrassed in my heart when I attempted to venture into politics, God was speaking to me that I wasn't doing the right thing. If only I had listened to my heart!

What God probably wanted me to do with my life is to inspire people through blogging. I had been toying with the idea of running a blog for a number of years and a few days after the 2013 elections, I worked on the idea. Sooner rather than later, my blog was up and running.

The day I launched my blog was a real red-letter day for me. I became so excited that I didn't know whether I was coming or going. You should have seen me that day. I was beaming with joy, a feeling that I believe was God's way of telling me I had discovered my path.

Such kind of feelings we have in our hearts, which I believe is God's way of speaking to us, must be what Prophet Isaiah had in mind when he wrote, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21)

As a Christian growing conscious of the feelings in my heart, I have come to draw inspiration from the following third verse of the wonderful hymn of faith, "Fight the Good Fight":
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;
His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove,
Christ is its life, and Christ its love.
I am firmly convinced that if we can form the habit of listening to our hearts, we will be saved from much of the stress and trouble that plague many people out there. Let us therefore strive to be conscious of how we feel in our hearts. Have a blessed Sunday!

RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on listening to the heart, you might also enjoy another one on "Doing What We Were Born to Do" which I wrote a few years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.


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Bible Quote

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do... Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."

~Phillipians 4:4-7 (TLB)

About the Author

Name: Thuita J. Maina
Nationality: Kenyan
Lives in: Kiserian, Rift Valley, Kenya
Mission: To inspire the world to godly living, one person at a time.

Just For Laughs

There was this drunkard named Azoge who loved drinking at Josiah's Bar. On being told a certain Hon. Nanga was flying to America to be conferred a law degree so that he could be admitted to the bar, Azoge replied, "Why fly all the way to America to be admitted to the bar while you can get into Josiah's Bar any time?"

The 7 Deadly Sins

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Gluttony
  4. Lust
  5. Anger
  6. Greed
  7. Sloth

Author's Note

I am learning to treat life as a journey, not a destination. So I am trying to enjoy each day as I anticipate to fulfill my dreams especially meeting my soulmate and traveling abroad. Tomorrow may never be mine.

Fun Facts

  1. The fear of having no cell-phone service, running out of battery, or losing sight of your phone is called Nomophobia, reportedly affecting 66% of people.
  2. A single Google search needs more computing power than it took to send Apollo 11 to the moon. The Apollo computer was less equipped than a modern toaster.
  3. Besides being some of the biggest names in the tech industry, HP, Apple, Google and Microsoft share another commonality. They all started in garages.
~Extracted from Codingforums.com

Health Tip

So many of us take for granted the wonderful construction of the human body and the workings of its various parts. Some of us even expect it to function efficiently with less than the minimum care and attention. Learn the much you can about your body and how the care of it can help to give you that greatest blessing of all - good health.

Wonders of the Modern World

  1. The Simplon Tunnel
  2. The Sky-scrapers of New York
  3. The Boulder Dam of Colorado
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Golden Gate Bridge
  6. The Taj Mahal at Agra in India
  7. The North Sea Oil Drilling Rigs

Great Example for Politicians

"My life in politics was a joy. I loved campaigns and I loved governing. I always tried to keep things moving in the right direction, to give more people a chance to live their dreams, to lift people's spirits, and to bring them together. That's the way I kept score."

~Bill Clinton

Scientific Marvels

  1. Space travel
  2. Heart surgery
  3. Fibre-optics communication
  4. Concorde
  5. Computers & Radios
  6. Anesthetics
  7. The atom bomb

My Supreme Desire

Although I'd like to be rich and famous, my supreme desire is to be radiant: to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and goodwill. I wish to live without hate, guilt, worry, jealousy, cynicism and envy. I wish to be honest, natural, confident, clean in mind and body - ready to say "I do not know" if it be so and to treat all men with kindness - to meet any loss, failure, criticism and rejection unabashed and unafraid.

Greatest American Presidents

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Franklin Roosevelt
  5. Theodore Roosevelt
  6. Woodrow Wilson
  7. Andrew Jackson

Making Peace With the Past

"Dwell not on your past. Use it to illustrate a point, then leave it behind. Nothing really matters except what you do now in this instant of time. From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought and deed."

~Eileen Caddy

Toughest Colleges to Get Into

  1. MIT
  2. Princeton
  3. Harvard
  4. Yale
  5. Stanford
  6. Brown
  7. Columbia

Why You Should Trust God

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities and pour out peace."

~Ezra Taft Benson

The 7 Greatest Scientists

  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Isaac Newton
  3. Galileo Galilei
  4. Nikola Tesla
  5. Aristotle
  6. Archimedes
  7. Charles Darwin

You Matter

"Always be yourself. Never try to hide who you are. The only shame is to have shame. Always stand up for what you believe in. Always question what other people tell you. Never regret the past; it's a waste of time. There's a reason for everything. Every mistake, every moment of weakness, every terrible thing that has happened to you, grow from it. The only way you can ever get the respect of others is when you show them that you respect yourself and most importantly, do your thing and never apologize for being you."


The Most Industrialized Nations

  1. The United States
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Italy
  7. Canada

Keys to Success

"...in his effort to withstand temptation, to economize, to exercise thrift, to disregard the superficial for the real - the shadow for the substance; to be great yet small, in his effort to be patient in the laying of a firm foundation; to so grow in skill and knowledge that he shall place his services in demand by reason of his intrinsic and superior worth. This is the key that unlocks every door of opportunity, and all others fail."

~Booker T. Washington

The 7 Social Sins

  1. Politics without principle
  2. Wealth without work
  3. Pleasure without conscience
  4. Knowledge without character
  5. Commerce without morality
  6. Worship without sacrifice
  7. Science without humanity

Cherish What You Love

"Cherish your visions, cherish your ideals, cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts - for out of them will grow all heavenly environment, of these if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built."~James Allen

The World's Largest Cities

  1. London in England
  2. New York in the United States
  3. Tokyo in Japan
  4. Berlin in Germany
  5. Chicago in the United States
  6. Shanghai in China
  7. Paris in France

Benefits of Optimism

"In terms of success, optimistic people out perform their pessimistic colleagues. Research shows that they are consistently promoted higher and make more money while working fewer hours than those who think pessimistically. Optimists also contribute more significantly to social progress. It is the optimists who start and run successful companies, who win elections and carry out reforms, and who make breakthroughs in the realms of science and technology."

~Pepe Minambo

The World's Greatest Lakes

  1. Caspian Sea in the Commonwealth of Independent States, C.I.S. (formerly U.S.S.R)
  2. Lake Superior in North America
  3. Victoria Nyanza in Central Africa
  4. Aral Sea in C.I.S.
  5. Lake Huron in North America
  6. Lake Michigan in North America

Demonstrating His Love

"Take your communication for instance - the way you address others. It ought to be with loving, gracious and edifying words. Never talk people down. Never use words that hurt and demean people. Communicate excellently with others without destroying their self-image or making them feel sorry for themselves. Talk to people in a way that they never forget the excellence of your words, the love and grace of Christ that you communicated. It's how God wants us to love."

~Dr. Chris Oyakhilome

World's Longest Rivers

  1. Missouri-Mississipi (U.S.)
  2. Amazon (Brazil)
  3. Nile (Egypt)
  4. Yangtse (China)
  5. Lena (Russia)
  6. Zaire (Central Africa)
  7. Niger (West Africa)