Bright & Brilliant
A True Story
on Jun 24, 2021
A prestigious institution in Nairobi called Starehe Boys' Centre prides itself on educating bright but needy boys in Kenya. Well, I was in Starehe for close to six years for my high school as well as college education but I don't think I was one of those bright boys. Given the way I was often accused of being mentally mixed up during my days at Starehe, a better description of me was "confused, timid but determined needy boy".
Yes, I was often accused of being confused during my days at Starehe. Those accusations took a heavy toll on my confidence and self-esteem. They also affected my social skills as I could hardly make eye-contact with the people I interacted with. And due to my poor social skills, I was unable to forge meaningful relationships with the girls I admired.
I tend to think I became timid and confused as a result of the way I was brought up. Growing up in the '90s, I was often criticized for the way I did menial tasks at home and for not excelling in school the way some of my brothers did. My family may not have known that by subjecting me to constant criticism, they planted in me seeds of confusion and timidity that I struggled with well into adulthood.
During my university days at JKUAT where I matriculated to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, some of my classmates accused me of being confused just like schoolmates at Starehe used to do. Like during one lesson in 2007 while we were having a practical laboratory session, an engineering classmate named Leonard Waithaka bluntly asked me, "Why are you confused? Are you a [Form 1 student]?"
Then when I was on university holiday in 2008, a farmhand employed here at home pointed out to me that he had observed I had difficulty remembering where I kept things. Imagine the farmhand had never been to high school and here he was correcting me who was pursuing an engineering course at the university, a further proof that I was indeed timid and confused.
My timidity and confusion must have played part in the way I ignominiously went astray at JKUAT in August 2008 by hanging around the university without attending classes and communicating home. If I had been bright and brilliant, I wouldn't have behaved that way. Don't you think so too?
Because I wasn't bright and brilliant, I eventually dropped out of JKUAT in 2009 and went back home. I find it interesting to note that in the years 2009 and 2010 as I stayed here at home fetching firewood, cooking meals in a sooty kitchen and milking cows in a muddy cowshed, some of my Starehe schoolmates were receiving quality education at Ivy League universities in America.
It was also due to my lack of brilliance that I dropped out of the University of Nairobi in 2011. If I had been bright and brilliant, I wouldn't have enrolled at the university without considering where I would get tuition fees. I also wouldn't have sent my family text messages that I wouldn't go back home when I was unable to raise tuition fees for my second semester at the university.
After I dropped out of the University of Nairobi in 2011, I repeatedly made choices that now make me believe I wasn't that bright and brilliant. Choices such as keeping company with the good-for-nothings that the book of Proverbs warns us not to associate with and setting very high goals which would depress me when I failed to attain them.
Over the past five years, I have worked hard at improving myself socially, emotionally and intellectually. As a result of that effort, I can honestly say I have grown into a bright and brilliant person. I have become better at making good decisions, at discerning people's motives and at choosing wisely the people I associate with. And I can now think, write and express myself like any Ivy League graduate.
Although I have become a better person, I do sometimes wallow in guilt instead of delighting in the fact that I am bright and brilliant. That makes me agree with the author Marianne Williamson when she observed:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually who are you not to be?My dear reader, to sell yourself to yourself - that is, to convince yourself that you are bright and brilliant - can be more difficult than selling yourself to others. Which is why I have resolved to be regularly pumping myself up with positive affirmations of how bright and brilliant I am. Hopefully by so doing, I will develop the confidence and the good self-esteem that I have always desired to possess.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on being bright and brilliant, you might also enjoy another one I wrote four years ago on "Celebrating JKUAT: Kenya's MIT". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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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.