Part 2: Blooming Where Planted
A True Story
on Nov 18, 2023
My brother Paddy, as I have narrated before on this blog, was admitted at the University of Nairobi in September 2005 to pursue a degree in Medicine & Surgery. He so distinguished himself in his medical studies during his first year that he was selected to study an accelerated degree in Anatomy which he graduated with first class honors in December 2008.
A few years ago, I came across here at home the thesis that Paddy wrote for his Anatomy degree. And wa! The thesis was larded with a lot of medical jargon, rendering it incomprehensible to a layman like me. I'd consider Paddy a genius if he still remembers a fraction of the jargon he used in the thesis.
Now, Paddy used to have a high regard for the University of Nairobi (UoN). He once informed us during a family meeting in 2008 that schooling at UoN is the same as schooling at Harvard. And when I was a freshman at UoN in 2010, he warned me the university's exams are usually not easy.
Paddy's high regard for UoN must be the reason he bloomed at the university even though his high school desire was to pursue his undergraduate education overseas. He really wanted to attend such elite universities as MIT and John Hopkins.
Come to think of it, I somewhat agree with Paddy that schooling at UoN is the same as schooling at Harvard. And not just UoN but almost every other university in Kenya.
I know of some people who graduated from local universities and won scholarships to pursue post-graduate courses at such renowned universities as Oxford and Harvard. And some local undergraduates have emerged winners in global contests, trouncing competitors from more globally recognized universities.
Recently, I was leafing through a colorful prospectus of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the finest institutions of higher learning in America. And guess what! I noted that the same companies that seek graduates from that prestigious university are the same companies that seek graduates from local universities. Companies like PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and CitiGroup.
That makes me wonder why I was obsessed with the dream of studying in America when I was an engineering student at a local university called JKUAT. The dream eventually made me drop out of JKUAT in 2009. And when I failed to attain it, I had no option but to matriculate at UoN in September 2010.
JKUAT was actually a splendid university. It had adequate learning resources and some of its graduates have been employed by reputable firms. My younger brother Symo attended JKUAT where he studied Financial Engineering and after graduating, he landed a job at KPMG.
Equally splendid was the institute division of Starehe Boys' Centre, my high school. Although the institute teachers were lackadaisical, the school had such excellent facilities as pianos, playing fields, a swimming pool, a well-stocked library and computers wired to the internet.
I'd rate schooling at Starehe Institute to be the same as schooling at MIT. Yet during my time in Starehe, most high school students in the school didn't want to join the institute. Maybe they were put off by the stringent school rules. Or maybe they just needed a change in lifestyle after finishing their high school education.
The point I am trying to make is that we can all bloom regardless of where we find ourselves planted. Malcolm X, the great civil rights leader, never went to high school yet he educated himself so well that he became one of the most after-sought speakers in America. Universities like Cornell and Harvard were clamoring to have him visit their campuses to address their students.
Thomas Edison (and who hasn't heard of Thomas Edison?) had little formal schooling yet through grit and determination, he became one of the most prolific inventors in American history. He invented life-changing gadgets like the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera.
Such success stories have encouraged me that I, too, can succeed in my endeavors through diligence, discipline and consistency. I will therefore continue honing my writing, speaking and musical talents so that I become the successful blogger I desire to be.
My beloved reader, you can also bloom wherever you are planted. If you are an undergraduate student in a little-known community college, you can still become a best-selling author, a charismatic politician or a budding entrepreneur. All that is required of you is hard work. That 's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this part 2 story of blooming where planted, you might also enjoy part 1 of the story. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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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.