Dealing With Bullies
A True Story
on Mar 28, 2023
On the evening of last Wednesday as I was heading home from my hometown of Kiserian, I spotted a man near a certain T-junction not far from Kiserian. The man was clad in torn, dirty and filthy clothes. And he had put on three pairs of trousers, one which he had worn up to the knee. His style of dressing clearly showed he was mad.
While the mad-man was crossing to the other side of the T-junction, there emerged a young man of my age who began bullying him. The young man commanded the mad-man to go back to wherever he had come from. Even though I didn't say anything, I didn't like the way the young man was lording it over the mad-man. I thought to myself, "Why can't people sit down and read books and be nice to each other?"
Seeing the young man bully the mad-man has reminded me of another bullying incident involving dogs that I witnessed at one time in 2008 when I was heading to church at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi. During that incident, several dogs were barking menacingly at a timid dog. Given the intensity with which they were barking, they seemed poised to maul the timid dog to death.
I was curious to see whether the barking dogs would harm the timid dog. So I paused to observe what would happen next in the riveting dog drama. Guess what! The timid dog stayed put. It didn't run away. It didn't bark at the furious dogs. Instead, it silently stayed where it was until the charging dogs got tired of their barking and melted away from the scene one by one.
As I reflect on those two incidents (of the dogs that barked at a timid dog and of the young man I saw bully a mad-man last Wednesday), I now fully realize that this world is full of bullies, both in the animal kingdom and in the human race. I don't know what motivates animals to bully each other. But for humans, I know it's because bullies get satisfaction from seeing those weaker than themselves suffer.
I have personally been a victim of bullying a number of times. Back in 2005 when I was in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre for instance, a schoolmate once punched me on my face as we were heading for a morning parade. And he punched me for no reason at all. Being the timid boy I was back then, I didn't retaliate. I just walked on as if nothing had happened.
Then in 2015 when I was teaching piano at a certain music school in Nairobi, I worked alongside a teacher who treated me in a manner that bordered on bullying. He would silence me when I was talking, command me to go clean my shoes and accuse me of taking the school's music books.
During one lunch break, the teacher called me to the room he was in. He asked me to sit down. And when I took my seat, he said to me matter-of-factly, "There is a complaint about you."
To be honest, I had done nothing wrong to the best of my knowledge. So I wasn't worried in the slightest about what the complaint could be. And when I inquired from the teacher what others were complaining about me, he kept mum. I think he was just trying to scare and intimidate me.
Later on, I pointed out to the teacher that he was routinely acting too tough on me, something I didn't see him do to other teachers in the music school. In his response to my comment, he said that he was just straightening me out to make me a better person. I didn't respond to his reply.
But a few weeks later when I got fed up with his bullying, I called him aside on one afternoon and informed him that I would no longer tolerate his never-ending commands. While admitting I was imperfect, I told him I didn't like the way 90% of his words to me were commands. So I asked him to share stories with me instead of issuing me with commands all the time. I finished my talk by warning him that I could erupt like a volcano if he continued treating me in an overbearing manner.
As it happened, I quit teaching at the music school a week after my heart-to-heart talk with the teacher. I therefore didn't stay long enough to observe if his attitude towards me had changed. He however seemed humbled by the bold and gentle manner in which I had confronted him. Truly, Abraham Lincoln had it right when he quipped that bullies are the easiest to lick.
By the way, a month before I quit teaching piano at the music school, I had heard complaints that that teacher who was fond of bullying me was not tutoring some primary school pupils. It therefore turned out that he, too, was imperfect. He was just looking at the speck of sawdust in my eye and not paying attention to the plank in his own eye.
My beloved reader, this world is full of bullies for shizzle. And they are everywhere: in church, at school, in the workplace and even in the streets. I therefore strongly advise you to stand up for yourself and speak against those trying to intimidate you. Don't let anyone get too comfortable in disrespecting you. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story about dealing with bullies, you might also enjoy another one on "Part 1: Appreciating Mothers" in which I narrated how my mother saved me from a certain bully when I was a boy. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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The Value of Friendships
A True Story
on Mar 23, 2023
Earlier last week, I overheard my parents discuss about some visitors who were to come to our home. At first, I kept silent about what my parents were discussing. But when I couldn't contain my curiosity any more, I asked them which visitors were coming and when. They informed me that the visitors were friends of my eldest brother Joe Kagigite and they would be coming on Saturday morning.
My parents looked forward to hosting the visitors at home. A day before the visit, they hired a woman to clean the living room of our mansion. And when Saturday reached, they rose before the crack of dawn to cook and have everything ready.
As for me, I feared the visitors might interfere with my work as a blogger. Because I had scheduled to write a blog story on Saturday morning, I thought it unwise to lock myself in my room to pen my story while we had visitors in the mansion. I therefore decided to start writing my blog story as soon as I woke up at 5.30am on Saturday so that I would be done with it by the time the visitors arrived. And that's what I did when Saturday reached.
The visitors, four gentlemen, together with Joe and his wife Alice, arrived home at around 9.50am, a few minutes after I had shared on social media the blog story I had finished writing. No sooner had the visitors taken their seats in the living room than I went to greet and socialize with them. They turned out to be a gregarious lot.
Before the visitors began eating the food that had been prepared for them, Alice requested me to say grace, a responsibility I accepted gladly. I prayed, "God, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful. Amen."
After I was done praying, one of the visitors uttered a joke about the brevity of my prayer. The joke had us shrieking with laughter, thus setting a good tone for the interactions we were to have.
We had a wonderful time swapping stories while feasting on tea and ndoma (arrowroots), the taste which seemed to me superior to even brown bread. Well, I didn't eat anything since I am always watching my weight these days. But I did take part in the conversations we had.
Joe reminisced about our boyhood years when our farm had orange trees that produced plenty of fruits. I told them that I used to sell some of the orange fruits. And I would have divulged into details about how I sold the oranges without Mum's knowledge had not a feeling of self-consciousness swept over me.
At around 11.00am, another visitor joined us. He was even more gregarious than the rest. Soon after he entered the living room, he enlivened our conversations with his hearty laughter and engaging discussions. He, for instance, had us contrast how a number of Kenyan tribes are different from one another.
I had carried with me a newspaper to read in case any idle moments arose during my interactions with the visitors. But as our conversations gathered pace, I put the newspaper aside and kept my eyes focussed on who was talking to avoid creating the impression that I wasn't interested in what they were saying.
At the end of our lively conversations, the visitors went to their cars and came back with cartons of foodstuffs. When Mum thanked them for the foodstuffs in these times of famine in Kenya, I wisecracked that that was relief food. One of the visitors giggled at my joke and then handed to my parents wads of money enclosed in envelopes.
My parents expressed their gratitude to the visitors for their visit and generosity. Mum, in particular, encouraged them to maintain the spirit of friendship that was apparent in them, and then implored them to be coming home more often.
The visitors left us in good spirits. And their visit made me reflect on the value of friendships. In the course of my reflections, it dawned on me that true friends - the ones who bring out the best in us - provide us with companionship. And their companionship increases our joy and decreases our sorrow. It also keeps us from feeling lonely, afraid and hopeless.
Having admired the spirit of friendship that Joe had forged with the visitors, I wished my other three brothers also enjoyed similar friendships wherever they live, work and worship. And I was inspired to continue working on the friendships I have formed over the years and to keep creating new ones as I journey through this crazy adventure called life.
My beloved reader, I beseech you to also nurture the friendships you have created so far. Be there for your friends, encourage them in their endeavors, comfort them in their sorrows and they will come through for you in your time of need. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men of our time, had it right when he recently quipped that good friendships make us happier and healthier. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on the value of friendships, you might also enjoy another one on "A True Friend" that I wrote four years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.