A True Story
on May 16, 2018
Ever since I was a boy, I have always had a proclivity for gluttony. I vividly remember competing with my brothers (Joe, Bob, Paddy & Symo) in 1993 on who would gormandize the most number of chapattis - my favourite meal which we cooked once in a week. (By the way, I still love chapattis especially when I take them with lentils stew.)
When we went grazing cattle, Paddy, Symo and I would beg for chapattis from our neighbour named Mrs. Memia - a kind and generous lady who has long since emigrated to Great Britain - whenever we smelled the sweet aroma of chapattis drifting from her house. And we would probably have continued begging her for chapattis had our mother not intervened by scolding us for spoiling our family's reputation.
Then I carried that kind of gluttony to Fr. Nyamiti's residence when we visited him once in a while in the late '90s. (See photo above.) Though we visited Fr. Nyamiti to listen and gain an appreciation of classical music, my best part of the visits were the self-service mid-morning tea and lunch we had at his residence. I would greedily feast on a wide variety of meals and hot-drinks with no one to stop me. Like for the mid-morning tea, I would first take instant coffee, then chocolate on my second-helping.
And then I carried that kind of gluttony to Starehe Boys' Centre where I was fortunate to be admitted in 2002 for my high school education. During my first years at Starehe, I developed the habit of "combining" food in the dining hall. ("Combining" was Starehe's code-name for eating extra food on the table.)
I would probably have continued with that "combining" had my poor eating habits not been brought to my attention by my housemates. Leon Osumba, who oriented me to the Starehe way of life when I joined the school in January 2002, was the first one to point it out by remarking to my housemates with whom we were seated with in the dining hall, "This Thuita doesn't chew his food!"
Then the school magazine raised the issue a notch higher when it named me something like "Combiner of the Year" in a 2004 edition of the magazine.
'Sir' Emmanuel Karanja, a brilliant housemate who inspired me to learn computer-programming, moved in to save my reputation by advising me during one meal in the dining hall, "Thuita, resist the urge to over-eat, especially in front of people. 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 housemate of mine who was among the four students selected in 2003 to represent Starehe at a conference in South Africa. He emerged as the fourth best student countrywide in '04 KCSE exams. His exemplary character and brilliance must be the reasons he was awarded a scholarship to pursue 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 incidences in which my housemates brought my gluttony to my attention, embarrassing though they seem, compelled me to overcome my gluttony in the Starehe Boys' dining hall. I eventually ceased "combining" food in the dining hall during my senior years at Starehe. And that didn't affect my vigour and vitality. In fact, I grew healthier because I didn't get frequent colds and coughs in my senior years at Starehe like I used to do in my junior years. So the notion that "the more you eat, the healthier you become" is a fallacy.
Abduba Dida, a presidential candidate in 2013 Kenya's General Elections who once took me to an office in downtown Nairobi, was therefore on point when he counselled Kenyans not to stuff their stomachs with solid food and instead spare some space for water and air. He was on point for shizzle.
But you know what? Over the past few months, I have again become gluttonous by putting too much sugar in my tea and by waking up in the middle of the night to gobble on whatever meal that was left over after supper - the kind of lupine behaviour I would hate to carry into marriage life. As a result, I have gained weight.
Since I have never liked being plump, I have resolved to put my gluttony to a stop. I have therefore instructed my prefrontal cortex (PFC) - the decision-making part of the brain - to stop the bad habit I have of putting too much sugar in my tea and of waking up in the middle of the night to gobble on food. Adieu!
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Lessons From Ben Carson
A True Story
on May 15, 2018
Back in 2005 when I was in my final year in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre, I was having a group conversation with my classmates when my friend John Njiru mentioned Ben Carson in our talk. I can't recall what Njiru said of Ben Carson but there was something in that name that made it stick in my memory.
So much did the name stick in my memory that later on during a school function when a girl asked me which book I was carrying in my hands, I lied to her that it was a Ben Carson's book. To which she disagreed, "No, Ben Carson's books aren't that size!"
The girl must have been right because I didn't know who Ben Carson was back then in 2005. I had just heard his name from my friend John Njiru, you know!
It wasn't until more than a dozen months later that I got to learn more about Ben Carson when I purchased his inspiring best-seller, Think BIg: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence, from a book-stand at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi. Now that I know something about Ben Carson, let me tell you his story and the lessons it holds for us.
Ben Carson is a retired paediatrician who became an overnight success in 1987 after leading a 70-member team in separating Siamese twins conjoined in the head. He is currently serving in the Donald Trump administration as the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development.
But Ben Carson rise to fame and fortune wasn't a walk in the park. His parents separated when he was eight after which he moved in with his mother who sometimes had to work on more than two low-paying jobs to sustain her family of two sons.
Perhaps as a result of that separation, Ben Carson started out poorly in school. He also had a terrible temper in his teenage years which made him almost commit murder on one occasion when a friend of his angered him. Ben Carson lunged a pen-knife at the friend but luckily, it hit him on the buckle of his belt, so no bodily harm was done.
Ben Carson life changed for the better when he was in 5th Grade after he, under instructions from his mother, reduced the time he spent watching television and instead started reading books borrowed from a local library. That effort paid off handsomely, for he bubbled from the bottom to the top of his class in academic rankings, an improvement that greatly boosted his self-esteem.
But when Ben Carson got into high school, his academic performance went on a tailspin as he tried to keep up with peer pressure. He managed to recover from that backsliding in time to earn acceptance letters from Yale and Harvard colleges. He chose to matriculate at Yale.
Then at Yale, he found himself struggling in academics as he endeavoured to keep up with Yale's demanding curriculum and its bright students, some of whom were in the genius category. Thanks to God, he survived and then thrived at Yale as a result of which he was accepted at the University of Michigan Medical School where he earned the papers that set him on his way to becoming a world-renowned paediatrician.
I just like the way President George W. Bush summarized the life of Ben Carson when he was awarding him the Medal of Freedom in 2008 (see photo above). President Bush said:
The story of our first recipient begins in a poor neighbourhood in the heart of Detroit. This was an environment where many young people lost themselves to poverty and crime and violence. For a time, young Ben Carson was headed down that same path. Yet through his reliance on faith and family, he turned his life into a sharply different direction. Today Dr. Carson is one of the world's leading neurosurgeons. He is renowned for his successful efforts to separate conjoined twins and his expertise in controlling brain seizures. He has worked to be a motivating influence on young people. He and his wife Candy have started an organization that offers college scholarships to students across America. The child of Detroit who once saw a grim future became a scholar, a healer, and a leader.And how did Ben Carson overcome a humble background and rise to a position of fame and fortune? He says he thought big. And he has come up with the following acrostic of what it means to think big:
T - Talents/time: Recognize them as giftsThere you have it! The story of Ben Carson, that is, and the lessons it holds for us. I don't know about you but as for me, it has inspired me to be grateful for the gift of life and to continue honing my talents. It has also inspired me to keep using my talents on a regular basis. That's all I am saying.
H - Hope for good things and be honest
I - Insight from people and good books
N - Be nice to all people
K - Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living
B - Books: Read them actively
I - In-depth learning skills: Develop them
G - God: Never get too big for Him