A True Story
on Jul 19, 2021
One Sunday in 2013 as I was heading for a certain meeting in Nairobi, I dropped by All Saints' Cathedral and attended the cathedral's youth service of that day. I was glad to hear during the service that the following Saturday, there would be a free-of-charge trip to a place called Yatta where the cathedral's youths could learn how to make money through farming. The trip was organized by Rev. John Mark Oduor, a pastor at the cathedral who happens to be a good friend of mine.
Delighted by the opportunity, I quickly registered to attend the trip to Yatta. And in the course of the week that followed, I looked forward to going to Yatta where I hoped to learn valuable farming tips because I was at the time interested in doing some agribusiness on my father's piece of land which was lying idle. When Saturday reached, I woke up earlier than usual and headed to All Saints' Cathedral where we boarded buses bound for Yatta.
Well, the farms we toured in Yatta turned out to be dull and uninviting - not the kind of place that would inspire someone to take up farming. But what impressed me during the trip was to see one homestead cooking meals using bio-gas extracted from farm manure. I was impressed by the use of bio-gas fuel because I grew up in a poverty-stricken home where I used to fetch firewood for cooking.
Fetching firewood was such a boring and tedious duty which the senior members of my family often asked me to do. There were times Mum would get mad at me for collecting firewood that was not completely dry. And it was not only the fetching of firewood that was boring and tedious but also cooking meals with it. Many times, I would struggle to sustain a fire while cooking meals in our home's sooty kitchen. Also, I had to put up with the eye-choking smoke that billowed from the fire.
I particularly remember one night in 1998 when my younger brother Symo and I were tasked with the duty of cooking that day's supper, young as we were. Guess what! As we were preparing supper, our cat snatched the meat we were to cook. It took the meat without us realizing. We only noticed the cat had been eating the meat when it only had a few more pieces of meat left.
Symo and I took those remaining pieces of meat and cooked them. Afraid that the senior members of our family would berate us if they learnt what had transpired, we put the few pieces of cooked meat on the plates of Mum and Uncle Ndonga - the two members of our family who were most strict with us. The ploy worked since nobody in the family realized much of the meat we were to savor that supper had been eaten by the cat.
Besides fetching firewood and preparing meals in a sooty kitchen, the other things I went through that makes me label the home I grew up in as poverty-stricken were getting ring-worms, walking around home barefooted and sharing beds with my siblings. The ring-worms, which I came to associate with poverty, would form a round coin-like patch on the skin. I recollect being advised to apply shoe polish on the ring-worms to get rid of them.
And yes, I did walk around barefooted, exposing my feet to acacia thorns which would sometimes prick me. During the rainy season, I would at times feel queasy whenever I imagined myself stepping on dog excrement with my bare feet.
Such was the kind of poverty-stricken environment that I was brought up in. My siblings have worked hard to escape that poverty. They have worked hard, gotten jobs and bought their own cars, including my younger brother Symo. And they have built for our parents a brick-mansion where I am currently staying.
Like my siblings, I also want to overcome the poverty-stricken mindset I grew up with and become a self-reliant gentleman. I want to own a car and build my own home where I envision myself cooking with bio-gas, the way I saw one homestead do when I went on a trip to Yatta in 2013 with the All Saints' Cathedral youths.
In an effort to achieve those dreams, I have been reading avidly as I want my wealth to come from music and writing. I am borrowing a leaf from James Baldwin, the great black American writer who read himself out of poverty. After he escaped from poverty, James Baldwin had this to say, "Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor."
Along with reading avidly, I am also asking God to help me escape poverty and achieve my dreams. This is what I have told Him, "God, I am going to love You with all my heart. I will also honor my parents as well as refrain from anger, lying, stealing and gossiping. Now that I have resolved to adhere to Your commandments, please never make me so poor as to go around scavenging for firewood."
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update three days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn which 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 song.
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Is Faith in God a Superstition?
A True Story
on Jul 14, 2021
When I was growing up in the '90s during the old days of landline telephone booths, I occasionally heard superstitious tales from my peers at school. The tales were sometimes bizarre, sometimes frightening, often hilarious, always entertaining. They riveted my imagination so much that I would at times prod my peers into telling me more of those tales during our free time at school.
I vividly remember gathering from those tales that when we hear the sound of thunder, it means that the angels in heaven are engaged in a fight; that when we see a crescent moon in a night sky, it means the angels are feasting on bananas; and that when we trip and fall down, it is because somebody somewhere has mentioned us in a conversation.
But the tales that stuck most in my memory were those that frightened me out of my wits. Like some peers had us believe that when we point at someone's grave with a finger, the finger will stiffen and we would never be able to bend it again. I can't quite recall if I ever bought into that belief but it did make me extra-cautious when it came to pointing at things.
Then there was this tale I heard from my peers that when an owl hoots at night in someone's home, it means somebody in that home is going to die. I must have believed in that tale given the way it made me terrified at night especially after my youngest brother Stephen Ndonga was found dead on one morning in 1996. Imagine I would sometimes live in dread of hearing an owl hoot at night in our compound. It really was scary.
And then there were the tales I heard about people living near the ocean encountering the Devil in their day-to-day living. The Devil would come in the form of a cat, a fish or a beautiful woman. As the tales went, male drivers would offer lift to a beautiful woman stranded by the roadside, only for the woman to turn out to be the Devil himself.
Those tales had such an impression on my young mind that they affected how I thought and felt. Now that I have matured mentally and intellectually, I no longer believe they were true. They were nothing less than superstitions. I mean, there is no way the hooting of an owl at night can spell disaster for somebody's family.
That got me thinking whether believing in God could also be a superstition. Because none of us in the modern world has ever seen or heard from God, sometimes believing in God can seem like a superstition when our prayers go unanswered, or when something catastrophic happens to us, or when we see unbelievers prosper more than believers.
Coming to think of it more deeply, I don't think believing in God is superstitious. For one, the fact that we were created means there is a Creator. And then, a diligent and careful study of the Bible makes it apparent to us that there exists a God in heaven who not only created us but is also privy to all the sins and suffering we witness in our daily lives.
I am of the opinion that God purposely chooses to remain hidden from our senses so that we can labor to grow our faith in Him, just like the way we have to labor for our daily bread. Think of it this way: If God spoke to us in an audible voice as He did to Noah before the flood, we would easily believe in Him, we would know the answers to all our pressing questions and life would lose the aura of mystery that makes it interesting.
My dear reader, I believe God is real. I take it as gospel that He watches over us every day. And while I don't know why He allows bad things to happen to good people, I do believe He rewards those who diligently seek Him. I have therefore resolved to keep working on growing my faith in Him by reading the Bible regularly, singing hymns to Him and marveling at the creation of His mighty hands. I beseech you to do likewise. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on whether believing in God is superstitious, you might also enjoy another one I wrote about three years ago on "Proof that God Exists". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.