A Wonderful Church
A True Story
on Nov 13, 2023
As I pointed out in my previous story on this blog, I would have matriculated at the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in Actuarial Science had I scored eight 'A's in my KCSE exams. Since I missed qualifying for that course by one point, I enrolled at a local university called JKUAT to pursue an engineering degree.
Before enrolling at JKUAT in May 2007, I scouted for a church in Nairobi I could be worshipping in while at the university. That's how I ended up at All Saints' Cathedral where I became a church member. Becoming a member of the cathedral turned out to be one of the best things that have ever happened to me.
I will never forget the Sunday I first set foot in the cathedral. It was a Sunday like any other. But what made it unforgettable was the warm reception I received at the cathedral. A speaker requested all first-time visitors to stand up. And when I rose from my seat, an usher sidled up to me and gave me a form to fill.
In the form, I was asked to write my name and contacts as well as the talents I had that could benefit the cathedral. I filled the form and happily wrote that I could play the piano and then handed the form back to the usher. One event led to another and soon I was introduced to the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir which I joined.
The choir was tight-knit and very professional. It sang such sophisticated songs as Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". (When I was a boy, I heard one friend remark that any choir which sings the "Hallelujah Chorus" is great. So you can imagine how professional the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir was.)
Not only was the choir tight-knit and very professional, it was also very organized and disciplined. Each chorister had two or three hymn books and a file for arranging music pieces. And everyone was required to record in a book the time they arrived for choir practice.
I got to learn a number of soulful hymns while singing with the choir. Among the hymns I learnt was "Be Still and Know That I Am Lord", a simple hymn that I practised playing on the cathedral's majestic organ after I was eventually allowed to play the organ.
That hymn still moves me to this day, simple though it is. It inspires me to put my trust in God. I have vowed to remember it the next time my world seems to be falling apart.
Besides singing with the choir and playing the organ during church services, I also attended a six-month evangelism course at the cathedral in 2008. My evangelism classmates were kind and friendly. I enjoyed their company, the meals we had together and the biblical principles we drank in.
Although I have never gone on field missions to preach the gospel as required of evangelists, I did glean some lasting lessons from the evangelism course. The main lesson I gleaned is the fact that God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. I am beginning to believe in that fact, more than thirteen years after I graduated from the course.
All Saints' Cathedral was a wonderful church for me. I still miss some of the friends I made in the cathedral. Had it not been for their godly company, I would most likely have been corrupted by the perverse lifestyle of some of my JKUAT classmates.
My beloved reader, if you ever get a chance to fellowship with Anglicans, don't let the opportunity pass you by. You will be impressed by their welcoming nature, the beauty of their hymns and their love for refreshments after fellowship sessions. Anglicans are simply great!
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 titled "This is the Day". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the hymn.
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JKUAT: A Splendid University
A True Story
on Nov 8, 2023
For quite a long time, my biggest high school disappointment was not scoring eight 'A's in my KCSE exams. I got six 'A's and two 'A-'s, which made me miss appearing in the list of "Highest Academic Honors" that was printed on a board in the assembly hall of Starehe Boys' Centre, my alma mater. (Only those Starehe students who scored eight 'A's had their names on that list.)
Robert Mugo, the bright and adorable lad with whom I reported to Starehe on the same day, made it into that list of "Highest Academic Honors". So did Kennedy Munene, another bright chap. It is worth noting that Kennedy and I got the same average marks in KCSE exams but Kennedy had the merit of scoring 'A's in all his eight subjects.
Had I appeared on that list of "Highest Academic Honors", I'd have been very proud of it. I'd have gone back to Starehe to boast about it to current students. And I'd have taken a photo of the list for sharing on social media. If you were my friend, you'd have heard no end of it.
Interestingly, I have never seen or heard Robert Mugo and Kennedy Munene flaunt about their names appearing on that Starehe list of "Highest Academic Honors". Maybe they have been more modest and level-headed than me.
Looking back, I am now glad that I didn't make it to that list because if I had scored eight 'A's in my KCSE exams, I'd have matriculated at the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in Actuarial Science, a course I missed qualifying for by one point. As it happened, I ended up enrolling at a local university called JKUAT.
The degree course I chose to pursue at JKUAT was Electronics & Computer Engineering. It had a nice ring to it but it wasn't just the name that attracted me to the degree course; I also had a desire to understand how computers work.
On the day I reported at JKUAT in May 2007, I was assigned to stay in a hall of residence called Hall 6. Later on, I learnt that back in 2007, Hall 6 was not for government-sponsored students like me. How I ended up there remains a mystery to me.
I lived in Hall 6 for the three years I was in JKUAT. During my first semester, I stayed with a suave, peaceable and fun-loving roommate named Mikhail Mbelase. I would sometimes criticize Mbelase for some of the things he did in our room but he would take my criticism in good faith.
Then in 2009 before I dropped out of JKUAT, I stayed with a roommate called Zachariah Mokua. Even though Mokua was a humble fellow, he would sometimes offend me by hiding the starter for lighting the fluorescent bulb of our room. Apparently, he didn't want me staying up late into the night as he tried to catch some sleep.
Those conflicts with my roommates notwithstanding, JKUAT was a splendid university during my time there. Besides its praiseworthy learning facilities, its brilliant student body and its delectable food, it also had a rigorous engineering curriculum that forced students to study a lot. That's why I am glad I ended up at JKUAT.
Splendid as JKUAT was, it didn't appeal to me that much. My desire was to study in a more prestigious university in America. So, in my first year at JKUAT, I spent a considerable amount of time applying to four top American colleges.
The wonderful thing was that the subjects I was learning at JKUAT in my first year helped me ace SAT 2, an exam whose results were required by the American colleges I was applying for admission. Even Joseph Mugisha, a friend of mine then at MIT, remarked that my SAT 2 scores were excellent.
And the JKUAT academic calendar dovetailed well with the application time of American colleges. I took my SAT exams on Saturdays when we didn't have classes at JKUAT and sent my applications to the four American colleges shortly after we broke for long holidays at JKUAT in December 2007. Had I been accepted at any of the four American colleges in March and April 2008, I would simply not have reported back to JKUAT in May 2008 for my second year.
Although I didn't finish my engineering degree at JKUAT, I somewhat enjoyed the three years I was there. I made some friends who have remained close buddies to this day. And I got to experience how campus life is like. If you are a Kenyan student looking for a university with a strong background in science, technology, engineering and math, I'd recommend JKUAT!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed reading the above story on JKUAT, you might also enjoy another one titled "JKUAT: Kenya's MIT" which I wrote more than six years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.