How an African proverb changed my life

A man cannot get a baby in one month by impregnating nine women.

The first time I read this African proverb, I laughed pretty hard then wrote it down. I sometimes tend to have an overactive imagination and somehow I ended up picturing one of those John Kiarie caricatures running around dipping his fingers in nine cookie jars, expecting to hit jackpot in just one month; figuratively speaking of course. I am still not sure why I wrote it down but I suspect it’s because I knew that I’d need to use that life-lesson somewhere along the way.

Often, many of us do not take time to sit back and appreciate the important things, however big or small. Some say that the fast-lane holds us hostage, and we have no option but to give in to its unyielding demands. But then begs the question; will we ever have enough? After getting a basic secondary school education, I’m I ready to start my career? Or perhaps I should do a degree or two. Okay, okay, let me just focus on completing this PhD then I can finally get that promotion I’ve been eyeing for the past ten years. See the pattern? It never ends.

It’s like working hard all your life so you can buy a really expensive car- so that you can be able to travel the world. Does this really make sense? Fancy cars are nice to have, but won’t you need more than just a car if you plan travel the world? If it was about acquiring a means of transport, you might as well work extra hard so that you can afford to buy a plane and a yacht too. Studies have shown that one can cover more distance through these means within a shorter time!

When should one stop chasing fancy titles in the name of further studies and settle down to build the career/empire that they have been dreaming of? I don’t dispute the fact that going back to school has a great deal of advantages but when should we stop and realize that school (diploma or doctorate) is barely the tip of the iceberg?

From personal experience, I have learnt that purpose is primarily what drives any form of growth. Academic, spiritual, emotional, artistic or even just basic skill development. Consistency then goes a step further to determine one’s level of expertise that one reaches in whichever of these avenues one decides to pursue. It really doesn’t matter what it is you are doing, but be dedicated and do it consistently for an unlimited period of time and you will surely become an expert on the same. Playing sports is a good example. Even if we consider the fact that some people are more athletic than others, at the end of the day, it’s all about finding a sport that suits you best. I am a firm believer of the notion that when anyone truly focuses, and trains consistently, putting in the hard work and long hours, everyone can be immensely successful. Please note my use of the word immensely instead of equally.

I remember when I was growing up, there used to be a popular show called ‘the pretender’. Basically a show about a kid who was a genius and also happened to be born with such an abundance of talent that he could be anyone he wanted to be. He traveled around the country, fitting seamlessly into each and every career that he ventured into. The only downside is that he didn’t do this for fun, but rather it was all aimed at finding the truth about his past. But that’s beyond the point. I know I’d do it just for the thrill of finding out what it feels like to be an expert in so many diverse fields! I know it sounds a bit silly, but what if you had the choice of living your life like the pretender? Would you still stick to your regular full-time job shuffling papers from 9-5 then return promptly on each day after that to do exactly the same thing? I think that most of us would choose to stick to the 9-5; conforming to the norm even when there are no limitations whatsoever holding us back.

Why? Security, our love of routine and fear of the uncertain. It’s just how most of us were brought up. Once again please allow me to mention a lesson that I learnt from Robert Kiyosaki. Why do we get stuck in the rat race? Some of us are so used to the basic survival routine that we hardly see any reason to push beyond the norm, create a dream and pursue it. The biggest challenge I’ve experienced so far that I have encountered is patience. Like the man at the beginning of this article, I am currently in a relationship with more than nine women. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to get just one child but I haven’t managed to see the fruits of my labor. Pun intended. It might be because I didn’t focus and put in enough effort on my goals at the time, or perhaps I decided to let go at the most inopportune time. I’ll probably never know.

However, instead of living in the past, I have decided to make my goals a bit more realistic by creating mini-milestones that I must achieve within certain timelines. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, right? In the spirit of keeping this analogy going, I will continue trying to get these nine women pregnant albeit taking a more structured approach to the same. Oh, and this time, I will be patient enough to wait the full nine months. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it?

Changes

Cue Tupac – Changes

It’s been about two years since I was here. Wait, that can’t be right… My last post says January 2014. CRAP! That’s almost 3 years. I got married, became a father, a professor, and an outstanding role model in society among many other things. Well, at least most of this is true.

However, that is not what this post is about.
I wish I could say that I had carefully planned for the long hiatus but to be honest, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was just too lazy to log in and write. That and the fact that I lost my confidence in writing somewhere along the way. Not entirely sure what caused this but I’m overcoming it one page at a time after reading this awesome article.

Personally, I do not believe in being ‘too busy’ for something. If it’s important to me, I will make time for it. If not, I will most probably dig deep to find an excuse or two – a bad habit I know but I’m making amends. I think that learning to out rightly say no to plans that I do not want to be part of is very important, but that’s a story for another day. Nevertheless, I have had a whole lot of time to think about a lot over these past three years. I’ll try capture it all in less than 500 words.

Changes, changes, changes. If you have a relative/friend who has just given birth, try make an appointment to see them at least every 6 months. For me, nothing hits home like watching a child grow. If you’re ballsy enough, have a child of your own, sit back and watch time fly! lol! It often appears that things remain the same year-in-year out until a life is involved. Don’t believe me? Dig up your childhood photos or call up a friend you haven’t seen in years and I’m sure you will notice a physical change in them. Other changes may also be apparent but physical may be the most outstanding. Not convincing enough? Pay a visit to the schools you went to. Still in doubt? Attend a high school/primary school/ university reunion and then tell me if you still think that things/people do not change. Finally look up the ‘On this day’ feature on your Facebook page and you’ll most probably laugh your head off or wander into a silent flashback wondering who kidnapped this young, vibrant, carefree person that always spoke their mind. Give anything enough time and you might just be fortunate to see changes happening in real time. I’ve been kicking myself all the time every time I realize that if I had made a decision to do something routinely back when I first thought about it. I kind of wish I had the patience to commit to long term projects, keeping the (rewarding) end in mind; again a work in progress.

GIF of a plant growing

GIF of a plant growing

 

Start. Most of us wait for the stars to align so that we can execute our plans or simply just take a leap. The truth is that this hardly ever happens for anyone. That’s the reason why many people live routine lives promising themselves that the next year will be different as soon as they start achieving their new year resolutions. If you’ve had a chance to speak to any successful person, they will most likely tell you that in order to become successful, they had to first had to start. Which means that they must have had to get uncomfortable before reaping the fruits. A word of advise – simply get off your butt and start working on your dreams. If it helps, start with the end in mind. Where do you want to be in one day, one week, one month, one year, five years, ten years? People often underestimate the power of spoken and written word. Put pen to paper and speak it to yourself every chance you get, sooner rather than later, it will come to pass.

Habits become you. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to realize that what you do routinely ends up becoming the core of your person. It may be something as simple as smoking one cigarette a day, watching TV when you get home, drinking a cup of coffee a day or even reading one chapter of a book each day. The mind is like a baby- and we all know how quickly children pick up every single thing you say around them whether good or bad. Just as you would eliminate curse words from your vocabulary as soon as you get a baby, make sure you also eliminate laziness, poor money habits and any other vice your may want to do away with. In most cases, it is easier to pick up a guilty pleasure rather than constructive habits. Always be aware of what you allow yourself to do routinely as this will ultimately affect the person you become both in the short term and in the long term.

I wanted to keep this post short so I might do a part 2 later. I knoe I said the same thing about the previous post 3 years ago, but this time I’m here to stay so have some faith won’t you 🙂

In the corridors of justice! Part 1

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The events in this post are all factual even though I cannot promise that a little hyperbole will not be applied.

We (ol’ man and I) woke up nice and early every Tuesday as we always do. Being harvest day, I was particularly in a good mood, already calculating how much heavier our pockets would be as we returned home later that day.

The day's stock!

The day’s stock!

Abundant harvest indeed!

Abundant harvest indeed!

Let me explain how it all works. The tomatoes we grow, once mature, usually avail a lump sum of fruits every week for harvesting. Sometimes the farm manager does the plucking alone, other times we do it together. On this morning, we were glad to find that he had already done the plucking so all we needed to do was package them in handy plastic bags ready for sale. And that’s exactly what we did. A little over an hour and we were done. So we went back to the house and prepared to head to the market.

Now here is where the drama begins. Our ‘market’ is not really this kind of market.

Open-air market place

Open air market place

Let me refer to them as a selection of ‘uptown’ clients who appreciate our product. Acquintances and old friends of my father. They call him whenever they need the product delivered. Normally we do it in bulk, either on tuesday or Thursday.

To operate in such a set up (the one illustrated above) one needs to fulfill a number of requirements and obtain a of business licence failure to which you shall need to regularly lubricate the pockets of the ever-present city council askaris. Expenses that we were not ready to consider just yet. The little business I learnt in high school taught me that for one to make maximum profits, any activity that involved money leaving the business account destined for someone elses pocket should be the final thing to be dealt with. Besides, the farming project was still taking baby steps so we were waiting it out first to see if all went well before we went legit 😀

So my father and I we arrive in good time; mid-morning just when the post breakfast hunger pangs kick in. The time most employees look for ‘mathee wa kuuza food’ to sell them chapatis or mandazis to wash down with 11 o’clock tea. Sure enough we found that other vendors had already made way to our ‘market’ and grabbed the best spots. Some even had the audacity to tell me ‘kijana songesha gari huko mbele usitufichie customers’. Since I was sort of new at this,I decided to honor their request. I have in the past heard that it is best if the vendor next to you has your back and you will soon see the reason for this. So I ended up finding a spot where I would not be barricading anyone’s potential clientele.

No sooner had I opened the trunk to display the merchandise than customers started trickling in. Of course the usual posers were there, asking kama bei ya  nyanya imeshukishwa hadi twenty bob so that they can finally buy. I figured it was too early to start paying attention to these fools. The kikuyu in me was ready to make millions from just this one batch of stock :’-D

It was approximately 10 minutes into my shift when an elderly-looking man walked up to my ‘shop’. I noticed that he was awkwardly upset when he did not respond to my cheerful morning salutations. “Unauza nyanya?” This guy asked, completely ignoring the fact that he was really testing my sarcasm! I responded in the affirmative, even going the extra mile, cheerfully informing him of our ‘big harvest’ discounted price. (I realized that Kenyans respond to anything with the prefix ‘discount’ or ‘sale’.) To which he replied “Eh? Na wapi koti na license?” (Is that so? And so where is your overall and business permit?” I froze! I can’t really remember what I mumbled back to him but from the corner of my eye, I saw the one thing I did not want to see- The dreaded city council van that I had on many occasions seen in town nabbing those who broke the city’s bylaws.

long arm of the law

This is the police version of the dreaded van. Those who have been on these seats will always have interesting tales to tell.

I looked around to try find my ol’ man as he was much better at this deliberation sh*t, but it was too late! To make matters worse, there was a lady, a potential buyer, who was standing next to the city council askari. She raised her voice at him, going on about how the geezer should just let me be and that it was my first time. Hurling a few insults in the process. The so called ‘geezer’ was not amused by her outburst and since the guy could not arrest her, I was lucky enough to get harassed on her account! As the guy reached out to grab the back of my trousers in the typical city-council-askari-fashion I smacked his hand and shoved him away, but not too hard. “Eh, mbona unanivuruga boss?” I asked! You should have seen the look of surprise he had on his face as his eyeballs almost bulged out of their sockets. ” Ala, so kijana unajaribu kunichallenge?” Clearly, he was not impressed by my antics and I suspect by the sturdiness of the shove I gave him, better judgement prevailed and the guy opted to use brains as opposed to brawn. “Kijana usinipotezee wakati. Enda uongee na mkubwa pale!” He pointed at the dreaded city council van ushering me to go speak with the fat-cats sitting at the front. Quickly, I glanced at him and decided that it would be better if I locked the car, in case the guy decides to impound my merchandise as well. I turned away and started the longest walk of my life! I took a deep breath and swallowed hard knowing that I had no story in mind that was going to save my skin! Part 2 coming up soon…