A Brother & a Friend
A True Story
on Aug 13, 2021
During one of my senior brother's marriage arrangement ceremonies in 2012, I chatted with my younger brother Symo on issues I can't remember. But I must have conversed with him a lot and in an affectionate manner because later on, an aunt of mine named Mama Mambo told me that she had noted Symo and I are very close. Mama Mambo was right in her observation, for Symo and I have always been as close together as the way an alcoholic is to beer.
Back in the '90s when we were growing up here in Kiserian, Symo and I did a lot of things together. We grazed cattle together, tilled our farm together, harvested maize together, prepared meals together, walked to school together, attended church on Sundays together and exchanged banter about our experiences at school. We were that close.
About the only thing we didn't do together was watching movies in Kiserian. You see, there was a time in the mid '90s when Symo got to know of a studio in Kiserian Town that showed movies. On knowing about it, he would after church service head to the studio to watch movies instead of taking tea in a certain food cafe. He would use the money given to him by Mum for buying tea to pay for his entrance into the studio.
The movies must have captivated Symo given the way he requested me to join him in the studio. I declined his requests, so he went to the studio without my company until one Sunday when our Dad discovered he was spending his Sunday afternoons watching movies. Dad castigated him and commanded him to desist going to the studio.
Besides watching movies, Symo also enjoyed watching the telly here at home. His favorite TV shows were Robocop, Sinbird and Conan the Adventurer. He watched the shows on the black & white television set called "Greatwall" that we owned and which I am sure some of my agemates are familiar with.
Symo and I grew so close together that in 2005 when he failed to make it to Starehe Boys' Centre, I deeply sympathized with him. Starehe was then one of the best high schools in Kenya where I was pursuing my secondary school education. Having failed to make it to Starehe, Symo was admitted at Murang'a High School - a lesser known school in those days.
While Symo was a first-former at Murang'a High School in 2005, he mailed me a letter exhorting me to work hard in my studies. The letter moved me immensely. I am sure it bolstered me to study more diligently, which I did and scored an 'A' in my final high school exams. How I wish I had kept the letter for future reference!
Then sometime in 2008 when Symo was in his final year at Murang'a High School, he coaxed me to visit him at school. He enticed me into visiting him by telling me his classmates would treat me with awe and respect. I was touched by his pleas but for some strange reasons, I never paid him a visit at his school. To this day, I have never had an idea of what Murang'a High School looks like.
I noted that after Symo finished his high school career in November 2008, he developed a negative attitude towards me. There was, for instance, a time I asked him why butchers put bones in our meat yet we don't eat bones. Instead of answering my question politely, he rudely retorted in Kikuyu, "Why are you reasoning like someone who never went to high school? Don't you know that bones add flavour to soup?"
Symo's negative attitude towards me intensified when we stayed together here at home in 2014 after he cleared his university studies. He would sometimes be tough on me when I displeased him. And he would sometimes put me down when I did things my own way. His negative attitude towards me made me dislike him so much that I was somewhat glad when he landed a job in 2015 and left home to live alone.
But guess what! In the last five years, Symo has turned over a new leaf by treating me with kindness, generosity and understanding. Last year, he gave me his Samsung Galaxy smartphone at a time when I needed a new phone since my old tablet had become too outdated to run some social media apps. With the ability to be unlocked using fingerprints, the Samsung Galaxy smartphone is the most advanced phone I have ever possessed.
Then this year, Symo sent me Ksh. 7,500 to pay for a new set of clothes I had taken at one of my uncle's shop in downtown Nairobi. The new clothes - two shirts and two pairs of trousers - were a godsend because my old clothes had become too big for me following my successful weight loss last year. Oh, how grateful I am to Symo for the generous gesture!
Apart from gifting me with a smartphone and sending me money, Symo has also encouraged me to keep blogging by giving me positive feedback on the stories I share on this blog. A few weeks ago, he described one of my stories as "beautifully written and completely relatable" - the kind of feedback that keeps writers inspired to write more.
Because of his generosity and encouraging attitude, Symo is now more than a brother to me; he is a friend I can confidently turn to when I am in need. My love for him has bubbled up and spilled over like the foam of root beer sliding down the side of a glass. It is that love for him that has compelled me to write this story. May God bless him abundantly for being such an encouraging friend to me.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media updates two 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 hymn.
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Developing a Strong Work Ethic
A True Story
on Aug 8, 2021
A couple of years ago, I realized that we all want quality goods and services. We want sleek cars, high-speed internet, nice-looking shoes, long-lasting laptops and well-functioning phones. At the barbershop, we want our hair nicely done. And at our homes, we want uninterrupted power and water supply. Oh, how we sulk when electricity goes out and when taps run dry!
After realizing that, I asked myself: Do we offer goods and services of the same quality that we demand from others? Unfortunately, most of us don't. Dr. Geoffrey W. Griffin, the founder of Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school as well as college education, observed that this world is full of people who do their duty half-heartedly, grudgingly and poorly.
As for me, I have always endeavoured to offer the best possible service in all that I do. I have often taken to heart the advice in the Bible that "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
The first job I was ever employed to do was working as an office assistant at a small firm in downtown Nairobi in December 2006. I was 18 at the time and on a school holiday. My work entailed cleaning the firm's office, keeping an account of how money was being spent and delivering goods and messages to various places in Nairobi. Even though the job was deadly-dull and low-paying, I gave it my all. I dutifully reported to work as early as 6.00am and left at around 5.00pm in the evening, a strong work ethic that impressed my boss.
Then in April 2007 as I was preparing to matriculate at the university in JKUAT, I landed a piano-teaching job at a small music school in Nairobi called Wynton House of Music. It being the second job I was employed to do, I lacked the necessary work experience to do it well. I taught small kids advanced knowledge beyond the scope of their understanding, was a bit afraid of asking for payment and found myself feeling shy when interacting with my fellow workmates. But I gave the job my best anyway for the few months I was at Wynton.
Due to the circumstances that befell on me at JKUAT, I was out of work for a number of years. But in January 2015, due to pressure from a few friends to find work as well as due to a personal need to have money in my wallet, I decided to scout for a job. As luck would have it, I was again employed at Wynton House of Music to teach piano and music theory. As always, I gave the job my best. I ensured my lessons lasted for the duration they were meant to be. And this time round, I interacted well with my fellow workmates and was confident enough to ask for payment.
While at Wynton in 2015, I noted some of my fellow teachers didn't have a strong work ethic. There were two teachers who would skip teaching pupils on some lessons and still demand payment for the lessons. And one of them would photocopy music textbooks and sell them to clients at Wynton - misdeeds that aggrieved me since I have come to find it unethical to photocopy copyrighted materials.
In January 2016, I left Wynton House of Music to venture into writing - one of my passions. As a writer, I have applied the same strong work ethic I had at Wynton into my writing hobby by consistently penning stories that are entertaining, enlightening and inspiring. And I think my efforts have bore fruits given the positive feedback I have received from some of my readers. But I am still upping my writing skills to reach the standards of my literary heroes.
Come to think of it, I owe the strong work ethic I have always possessed to what I had a Starehe teacher say of me in a recommendation letter when I unsuccessfully applied to MIT and three other top American colleges in 2006. This is what I had the teacher say of me:
I have known Thuita for four years as his Physics and class teacher at Starehe Boys' Centre. Given those years of experience with him, I feel well qualified to address his candidacy to your prestigious institution. He excels in everything he does - academics, music, sports, personal relationships - but more importantly, he brings a real spirit and vitality to his endeavours which comes from having a true passion for all that he does. I think this is what distinguishes Thuita from other "all-rounders" who are successful at many things. Thuita does not just go through the motions; he invests his soul into his studies and work.Those words spoken of me have always been my guiding light in all that I do. I have striven to invest my soul into my work and studies, what one author calls the habit of excellence. My role model in excellence these days is God who, as it is written in the book of Genesis, paused every time He created something to see whether it was good.
My dear reader, I beseech you to also develop a strong work ethic. Aspire to offer the same quality services that you demand from others. If your work is to repair an aircraft engine, do it so well that the aircraft can't malfunction when air-borne. And always remember, as the book of Proverbs says, one who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a strong work ethic, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "The Careers I Will Pursue". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.