The Mighty Chaka House
A True Story
on Nov 3, 2023
Starehe Boys' Centre, a prestigious institution in Nairobi where I had my high school and college education, has a residential housing system similar to that of Yale University. Once a student is admitted at Starehe, he is assigned to board in a house that he stays in throughout his years at Starehe.
The housing system of Starehe makes life interesting for its students. Houses compete for various awards in music, sports, academics and cleanliness. And students get to form lasting friendships in the houses they reside in.
I very well remember the day I reported at Starehe to begin my high school education. It was on the afternoon of Thursday, 17th January 2002. Accompanied by my mother, I felt somewhat joyful to be joining the school that had been ranked the best high school in Kenya the previous year.
Because newly admitted students reported to Starehe on different days, we didn't find a long line of boys waiting to be attended. In fact, the only boy I recall reporting with at the same time on that afternoon was Robert Mugo, a bright and adorable lad who grew up to be a doctor.
I must have been eager to don the famous Starehe uniform of red and blue given the way I got irritated by Mum when she delayed taking me to the admissions office to be cleared. As I chatted with Robert Mugo, I felt like yelling at Mum to stop dawdling and have me admitted. If my memory serves me well, Robert Mugo was cleared before me.
Mum's delay in taking me to the admissions office made me get assigned to Chaka House, a dormitory that was named after the Zulu chief who founded South Africa's Zulu Empire in the 19th century. Being taken to Chaka House turned out to be a great blessing, for I ended up making friends in the house who impacted my life positively.
Among the friends I made was Michael Mwangale who served as Chaka captain in 2002. On my first evening in Starehe, Mwangale had me address my fellow housemates. And he once remarked to my brother Paddy, who was also in Starehe, that I was such a good boy.
But what I recollect most about Mwangale were the meetings he held with us first-formers during our first weeks in Chaka. He would give us pieces of advice and share with us his future plans of studying overseas for university education, a dream of his that I have never bothered to find out if he attained.
Another friend I made in Chaka was Jesse Nyoro who was six years my senior. Nyoro was exceptionally kind to me during my first weeks in Starehe in 2002. And three years later, after he had left Starehe, he taught me the traditional Agikuyu folk song that I presented for my KCSE Music exam.
Then there was 'Sir' Emmanuel Karanja, a brilliant housemate a year ahead of me who inspired me to learn computer-programming. Karanja used to carry around hefty books on C++. And he was not even a computer student. Programming was just a part-time hobby of his.
Karanja inspired me to learn computer-programming to an extent that when I was preparing to join the institute division of Starehe in 2006, I was determined to pursue a diploma in Information Technology. Not even my brother Paddy could convince me that studying accounting was better than pursuing a course in information technology.
And then there was Stephen Lenai, a lanky classmate who rose through the leadership ranks to become the Chaka captain in 2005 and 2006. I will always remain indebted to Lenai for making my time at Starehe Institute enjoyable by allowing me to sneak out of school on Sundays to be with my hometown Catholic church youth group.
As a Chaka member, I got to participate in a number of inter-house competitions. Chief among them were the music and volleyball contests. I tutored by house choir in 2004 as well as in 2006 and managed to take it past the preliminary stages in both of those two years.
All those friendships I formed in Chaka and the competitions I took part in made my years in Chaka worthwhile and memorable. Had Mum not delayed in taking me to the admissions office on that unforgettable afternoon I reported at Starehe, I wouldn't have boarded in the mighty Chaka House. It's interesting, isn't it, how small turns of fate can have a profound impact on our lives.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed reading the above story on the Mighty Chaka House, you might also enjoy another one on "Forswearing Foolish Ways" which I wrote more than six years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Refraining From Showing Off
A True Story
on Oct 29, 2023
Here at my desk, I have with me Cambridge international dictionaries of idioms and phrasal verbs. I love dipping into those two dictionaries in search of interesting words and phrases. The dictionaries have moulded me into a better thinker with their lucid explanations of each idiom and phrasal verb.
But what I like most about those two dictionaries are the example sentences that help me understand idioms and phrasal verbs better. The example sentences are always relevant and insightful. My favorite is this one: "Nobody likes a show-off, Andrew."
That example sentence has made me think about the habit of showing off. It's a habit I have observed in people on social media. Every so often, I come across posts on social media of friends boasting about the exotic places they have visited, the famous celebrities they have met and the milestones they have achieved.
During my evening walks to my hometown of Kiserian - the only time I get to interact with people outside my home - I also see some folks showing off their skating, cycling and driving skills on the road. Motorbike riders, locally known as bodaboda, are especially fond of flaunting their riding skills.
A couple of times, I have seen some bodaboda men ride their motorbikes while standing. Recently, I saw one lying flat on his moving motorbike. He left me wondering what he would do in case he needed to brake his motorbike to a halt in an emergency.
The most bizarre bodaboda show-offs, though, are those of riders who drive very noisy motorbikes, often at high speeds. And those riders are very popular with teenagers, probably because teens are attracted to fashionable things.
I am not an automotive engineer but from my little scientific knowledge, I understand a substantial amount of energy is wasted in converting chemical energy in petrol to sound energy, not forgetting the danger the bodaboda riders pose to their ears by riding on very noisy motorbikes. Seriously, are such show-offs wise?
To be honest, I have also been guilty of showing off. Earlier in the previous decade for instance, whenever I felt elated on weekends, I would dash off to All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi to show off my happy, handsome face to the choir I used to sing with during my university years.
Since the choir was more of a family to me, I had resolved that if I ever met the woman of my dreams, I would introduce her to the choir. I would visualize myself serenading the woman in a boastful manner in the presence of the choristers.
When I became detached from the choir, I shifted my focus to showing off my dream woman on social media and on this blog. But on second thought, I have come to think such show-offs to be as unwise as riding very noisy motorbikes. It's better to remain humble and understanding.
I have therefore decided that should God connect me to the woman of my dreams - that smart, funny and vivacious lass - I won't show her off on the internet. Instead, I will continue posting on this blog stories and videos that meet the interests of my readers.
If there is anything I have learnt about life, it is that most people are facing such challenges as theft, divorce, conflicts, anxiety, sickness, rejection, criticism and depression. I'd like to help people overcome such challenges through the stories and videos I share on this blog.
My role model will be Joel Osteen, an American preacher who motivates me with messages that speak to my heart. Joel Osteen uses the lessons he has learnt on his way to success to inspire others. Let's emulate him because nobody likes a show-off, my beloved reader!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on refraining from showing off, you might also enjoy another one on "The Virtue of Long-suffering" which I wrote more than two years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.