Commentary: #MyDressMyChoice

Yes. This is a good read indeed. I’ve reposted a blog post from a friend’s blog: Miss Independent…you can check it out at: http://missindependent.co.ke/mydressmychoice/. What is outlined on the blog is what I’d call the true spirit of a blogger…people out there need to know that commenting on an event/situation through a blog post should never be about aggressive incitement. One should just give an honest, objective opinion…like what this blogger, and a very good friend of mine at that, has done 🙂

Much has been said about the unfortunate event Kenya witnessed last week. Campaigns. Hash Tags. Profile pictures and so on. To be honest, I was not going to air my view on it. The issue terrified me beyond belief I didn’t want to share an opinion before understanding its impact. I also didn’t want to upload a picture like the one below before I understood how to deal with such a crisis. They say there are 9 ways to kill a cat and until now am not sure what would do the trick. From my observation on Facebook and Instagram, uploading a #MyDressMyChoice picture illustrated your conclusive opinion on the matter.I wasn’t sure of anything really. I was simply in disbelief and sad that women’s dress code will now be influenced by fear as opposed to trends . So I kept quiet and didn’t upload this picture.

WE

However, I have received couple of requests to share my opinion on the matter. It’s quite a challenge for me to give a conclusive and objective opinion because in reality, I don’t have all the facts. I don’t want to say much before knowing much. You get what I mean? Without a doubt, no woman should ever experience what most of us witnessed. I mean, I don’t even want to imagine what that lady is going through right now . Much as a number of Kenyans were not passive about the situation, it will take her a lot of time, counseling and courage to really heal. May God be with her.
One I would like to say that I truly appreciate the effort Kenyans have taken thus far. We are used to crazy things happening, trending and suddenly sent to the recycle bin. But this was not the case this time round and credit must be given where it’s due.
By the time men are undressing a woman in public, in my opinion, is a pathological case. What’s the logic anyway? If you feel someone is under dressed, why not offer a “leso?” I feel like counsellors and psychiatrists should be at the fore front suggesting ideas on how to deal with this crisis. If by virtue of it being sexual harassment did not stop this ordeal from happening, I am not sure a Social Media Campaign is one of the 9 ways I talked about earlier. While some argue that it’s pointless because the men that committed the crime are not online, I still feel that a Social Media Campaign has its space in combating this issue. But it’s definitely not sufficient! We are all being subjective, which expands the gap between those men and the activists.

Punchline…

First of all, in my opinion, this shouldn’t be a campaign addressed by women only. The moment we feminize the project, the men will immediately feel they have no business joining a #MyDressMyChoice campaign. By virtue of it being a women’s campaign only, we unconsciously accept that this is a situation that can ONLY happen to women. Why should the men be excluded? They might as well be undressed by other women who feel they have under dressed? You get what I mean? Men too should feel that this is a possible situation for them for the country to deal with this issue from a national perspective as opposed to an issue facing women only. If all women come together, the men capable of committing such a crime will perceive it as a bitter movement against men. However if both men and women joined hands to push this campaign, they will think twice as their fellow men are against their actions as well. I’m really tired of all these double standards we have in this country. Both men and women need to start dealing with issues from the same level because you know what, it can happen to anyone regardless of gender.

MEN

Personally, I am not fully equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to deal with such a crisis. My opinion is that both men and women should work on this together! Moreover, much has been said, but what has been done for that lady? Have people tried to take her for counseling? My point is, is the noise sustainable and does it have quantifiable impact?

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A Must-Read on Gratitude:: K’s Trike

Thought I should share what a fellow blogger recently posted. Originally from: K's Trike.

gift

Last week Thursday, my daughter turned two. Apart from the glaring fact that two years of my life have passed and I need to substantiate what I have done with my life, I was very excited. Looking back at the photos we took on day one and seeing her running around now, fills my heart with joy. A joy one can only experience with parenthood.
Since we were not holding a party, I decided to get her something nice to mark her birthday. A few months back, on a shopping trip, she noticed a trike- (3 wheeled cycle) and we had a hard time leaving the supermarket without it. Naturally, I figured this would be an exciting gift for her and boy was I right!

So off we went. I must admit I was feeling like an accomplished mother seeing the surprise I had planned. From the moment she her eyes landed on that trike to the moment we got home, I had a most challenging experience on how I show appreciation for gifts and the giver.

Several things struck me as I observed my daughter’s reaction;
After buying the trike, we had to pay for it and carry it home. My daughter was not very enthusiastic about that. She wanted her gift there and then. On the ride home, she sulked and kept pointing at the boot for me to get her trike. Never mind that the supermarket is less than 2KM from home. This got me thinking. Sometimes God gives us a gift but there is that waiting time before we can put the gift into use. Often, just like my daughter we confuse this period as a denial period. We wonder why God would give us something then take it away. This could simply be a period when God is directing you to the right place and time to use your gift. Be patient.
When we got home, she couldn’t wait to get her gift and start riding. How many times have you shown such enthusiasm to use the gifts God has given to you? Do you wake up and slam the alarm and wonder why it is Monday again or do you wake up ready to make a change in someone’s life because you have another present- life? How about gifts from loved ones? Do you get excited and show heartfelt gratitude once you get them?
I bought this trike knowing very well that my daughter has no past experience riding. But I know very well that she has the potential to learn and probably even become a competitive biker. It is the same with God. We very often disqualify ourselves for assignments that God picks us for. We sometimes even think that we are not good enough to receive the gifts he gives us. He knew us before we were formed. He knows your potential; He knows how far you can go. He knows you can do it. What is that calling that you don’t feel qualified for? Have you checked with the maker? Does He think you’re qualified?
Once she sat on her trike, she kept tugging at me to push her, help her ride- she became dependent. She relied on me to teach her. She trusted that I knew how to ride. (I can’t ride a bike to save my life) God has given us various gifts. We can never experience the fullness of those gifts unless we are totally dependent on Him. Depend on Him to fund that dream, depend on Him to teach you how to love your spouse, trust him with your career, with that difficult boss. He knows it all. He knows the end from the beginning and He will teach you without getting tired. You need only ask. What gift do you have that you feel did not come with instructions? Ask the giver, He will direct you.
Lastly, I mentioned that we had earlier seen the trike on sale but I did not buy it. But I knew that she wanted it, so it was always at the back of my mind. I was just waiting for the right opportunity. Think about it, isn’t this often the case with us and God as well?! There’s that thing you so badly want and you ask for it and He says wait. “Wait my child, I have not forgotten; never for a moment have you left my mind. Be calm and wait for my time, I will make everything beautiful in its time. “Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t it wonderful that God knows your needs and knows just the right time to meet them? And when He shows up, it’s a surprise! His surprises are exceedingly, abundantly, above all we could ever think or IMAGINE. How’s that for a reward for waiting? Be encouraged, He has not forgotten you, He’s probably just waiting for your birthday! 😀

This whole experience has challenged me on how I show appreciation for gifts. Not just from God but also from friends and relatives. Her reaction has made me want to just keep giving her. Adding on what she already has and what for? Just for that appreciation and smile on her face. Just for that satisfaction that comes with knowing you got someone something really cool and they love it!

I challenge you too to show more gratitude for the things that you deem routine. Life, sight, good health, friends, parents. Maybe the secret to experiencing more from God and from our relationships lies in how we express our gratitude.

Join me as I dedicate each day this August to finding something to be grateful for. Let’s fill up our #gratitudediary!

Cheers!

Of Things Unspoken

It was one of those dull days of the “ever-dry” January. After catching up with a few colleagues over morning tea, I decided to check my emails; and whoa! The first thing that popped up was the reminder of a meeting with the new Talent & Engagement Officer of the company (henceforth referred to as T & E)…in the next 2 hours! Casting a glance at the clock widget on my laptop only increased the excitement within me. That was another pastime to spice up the seemingly boring day.

The four lines (or so) of notes I had jotted down plus a few occasional comments were what would have comprised my contribution during the meeting, had the T & E not introduced a person that would actually change my outlook on life.

His name is Wilson. “A jovial personality he has,” I thought to myself, as was evident from the ear-to-ear grin on his lips and the firm handshake he gave when greeting us. Then it dawned on me that he could only see and smile at us. He couldn’t hear anything we said. That was it. The T & E informed us then that the company had put in place plans to employ people with disabilities. Wilson had come this far despite the hearing impairment; yea, a Cisco trainee.

Fast forward to the 3rd day of February, 2014. After work, I went to Immanuel Church for the Deaf (ICD) within the Nairobi CBD, a Sign Language Center that Wilson had already introduced me to. All I wanted to do was to learn how to communicate with these people. It was within my plans to find out about Sign Language training, but I would later pick up a registration for and attend my first Sign Language class.

Standard Alphabet in Sign Language

Standard Alphabet in Sign Language

At the end of Day One, the two questions that kept ringing in my mind were: Who am I to complain to God every time I think I lack? What about them (the deaf)? I reflected on the many times I fail to use courteous words when addressing both friends and family; every time I complain and ask God “Why me?”; plus all the occasions in which I choose to listen to things (music, gossip, name them all) that do not really add value to my life. The experience made me realize that beyond all the things we say and do, there’s beauty in silence. Well, the deaf have learnt to embrace that and move on with their lives.

So the next time you want to utter those harsh words to someone, or to selectively listen to destructive words or music; just remember our brothers and sisters from the deaf community who have none.

The Best of 2013

A review of 2013. Another look into the musings, blunders and lessons of life. More so, a year that has the number 13 in it! It’s quite unfortunate that I fall within the caliber of people that just don’t like these two digits together. Not because anything bad has ever befallen me for using the number 13, but because I grew up with and stayed around people who’ve always stereotyped the number. So here’s a flashback of my 2013.

Ever began a year without drafting any resolutions? Well, I did just that. “Enough is enough,” I had decided, since I hardly ever achieved any of the ones I set. My monotonous answer to anyone who dared ask me about “new year resolutions” was, “I’m living one day at a time and counting my blessings!”

Then it dawned on me that I was growing older: I celebrated my 23rd birthday in 2013…I witnessed the weddings and engagements of many of my peers…I attended majority of these too. In fact, I was part of the bridal party at a friend’s wedding.

AT GLO_WEDDING

On social media e.g. Facebook, some tagged me in photos of their significant others and their lovely babies…that’s when it hit me that either I’m the one who’s late, OR they’re the ones who have hastened their lifetime events 🙂

The heroic moment was when I GRADUATED from a reputable university: Strathmore Uni. Guess I was (and still I’m) another heroine within my village – just for graduating minus scandals, and from a campus in Nairobi. Recall those scandals that our reserved parents, especially mothers, always scorn? Drug addiction, pregnancy out of wedlock and the most disastrous one being contracting HIV/AIDS?

Yes, I felt like I had conquered. My entire campus life flashed in my mind as my family and I celebrated my graduation. I recalled how some copied my assignments (and still got the marks fit enough for graduation); how we often studied for exams like a week prior; how group work was always individual research and later group presentation;and my, that lecturer who was a secret crush 🙂 . Even though I had narrowly missed a First Class Honors (got 69.22 while a First Class starts at 70.00), my life had been so positively transformed throughout the period I was at campus.

So as I held a Thanksgiving Mass to God in December, I couldn’t help but thank God for all the happenings. Some parents brought their teenagers to me for advice. Even the Parish Priest at the Church at home asked me to be a mentor to the youth around.

That’s when I learnt that no matter how bad I had felt about my shortcomings and failures at campus, some people out there look up to me. And that’s what has made all the difference. I’m now ready to rise again in 2014, to bring to fulfillment the dreams I’ve always had, and to utilize the God-given talents in me for the betterment of the human society. No more regrets!

Irresistibly Rejuvenating

Life can sometimes take an interesting twist when you least expect, like being invited as a distinguished alumnus of your former high school, and later travelling in a Matatu full of faithfuls praying for you, for example. Well, last weekend I had a better taste of it all. A journey I impulsively arranged for turned out to be an exciting experience! Let me just fill you in on what occurred…

I had a seemingly “planless” weekend; so when I got an invite by my former Kiswahili teacher to the opening of my high school’s newly constructed Administration Block (on Facebook, mind you), I never hesitated. In fact, that was another opportunity for reunion with old friends, as well as a chance to pick my almost-forgotten KCSE Certificate. Hence, I set off as early as I could for Molo on the morning of 8th June, 2013. I actually recalled the Swahili saying that goes,”Siku njema huonekana asubuhi.” The day seemed quite promising.

But my morning psyche was soon to be done away with when I encountered some heavy traffic jam along Juja Road. I arrived at the Mololine Booking Office at around 8am and was just in time to catch an almost full matatu. Thank God the driver seemed to be disobeying the “Michuki Rules” as I got to Nakuru Town in less than 2 hours. Hard to believe? My next step was to get into a matatu heading to Molo, which I did. All that rang in my mind then was the fact that the event was scheduled to commence at exactly 10am. Again this wasn’t to last for long, as the matatu kept picking passengers along the way, and stopped for a couple of minutes at Njoro and Elburgon.

I finally got to MM (as was the famous name of my high school, Mary Mount), and behold, the sight of the spectacular Administration Block, now a conspicuous feature from the school gate.

ADMIN BLOCK_MM

And true to my initial thoughts, I met lots of old pals; some now married (!?) and others even studying abroad e.g. at Harvard University. What stood out most is that I got a bear hug from the Headmistress, Sister Catherine Thuku and the Deputy HT, Mr. Gatuna! Those were as rare as cattle egg back then in high school. There were also lots of food and entertainment, as is with such fetes. However, I got so engrossed with conversations that I left without picking the KCSE Certificate!

And just when I thought that I would be in Nairobi by around 7pm, I got into a matatu full of the “Wakorino” faithfuls. They sang all sorts of Gospel songs continuously. As though to make the situation almost unbearable for me, the gentleman seated next to me happily drummed using a stick, so you can imagine how my eardrums suffered the whole episode. The fellowship continued till we reached Nakuru Town. A whole hour of non-stop hymns and instrumentals! Despite all these, I found some sort of solace in the experience, as they seemed to truly worship God. I even chanted along as they sang songs I knew.

When I retired to bed that evening, I think I must have slept like a sack of potatoes, as I woke up at around 8am the following morning (a Sunday), just an hour before the morning Mass I intended to attend.

What Does It Take To Be A Good Leader?

I wrote this article for a weekly edition of the youth “magazine” of my local Church, Don Bosco (Upperhill), popularly known as Jambo Youth … Thought I should share it with you:

A Vicar was retiring after 25 years of leadership and service in a certain parish. As he came to clear out his bedroom, he found a small bowl with 7 eggs and KShs. 84,000 in it.Baffled, he called Kidete, one of his most trusted servants in the parish premises, and asked,“Do you know anything about this little bowl under the bed?It has seven eggs and quite a substantial amount of money.” “Oh,” he said,“I must confess that every time you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the basket.” Deep inside, the Vicar was pleased.“Not bad.Seven bad sermons in 25 years!” He thought. “And what about the KShs. 84,000?”The Vicar curiously asked. “Well, every time the bowl fills with a dozen of eggs, I sell them!”

From such an anecdote, we can conclude two things about leadership. The first is that leadership is a great responsibility bestowed upon an individual, towards others. Initially, the Vicar must have thought that no one minded his actions; however, the truth is that people were actually watching, Kidete being one of them. For a leader, any slight step out of the right way is soon magnified by the followers, and could end up blowing out of proportion. In Luke 12:48, The Bible talks about the fact that to anyone whom much is given, much is expected,“and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” So then, a good leader is a responsible leader, fulfilling the obligations entrusted to him/her.

The second issue is that leadership involves responsibility to oneself. It is in just the same way that whenever a wave rises, we expect it to fall and rise back again, that a good leader should be able to learn from mistakes; not point fingers.A good leader is able to work well with team members, and continuously account for projects planned for, whether they succeeded or failed.Even as we prepare for the General Elections come March, this year, let us reflect on the kind of leaders we want as the youth. To help us in this, let us reflect on some of the attributes that some of the world’s greatest leaders have – the likes of Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson – and see whether any local political aspirants have some of the qualities possessed by the iconic leaders.

Finally, I allude to the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Having an obligation to oneself and to the society that one serves, to the extent that one is truly seen as a good role model and a servant, is what I can sum up as being a good leader.

Just When I Think I’m Done With New Year Resolutions…

Whoever came up with the idea that for each dawning year, a focused person should draw up resolutions for that new year, must have been greatly misunderstood. To a larger extent, the word “resolutions” is quite ambiguous to many people. And I’m very serious about this. HERE’S WHY…

I carried out an informal survey among some friends, and here are some of the interesting responses I got:

(Name Withheld): “I never set resolutions. I don’t know why!”
Mercy Kimalat: “I do set new year resolutions…but I never get to really achieve them. May be it’s because they’re many e.g. 10!”
Mburu: (You should read this one) I make new resolutions not in a new year starting on the 1st of January, but around March. Do you know why? That’s when my birthday falls due. If I set those resolutions in January, that means I have two sets of resolutions within that year before March reaches.”
Benson Smart: “I set resolutions and I strive to achieve them. I set them with an end in mind, and that gives me the determination to endeavor to achieve them.”
Ruth: (Showing me a pocket book) “You see this book? It’s been bought specifically for writing down new year resolutions. I never set resolutions at the beginning of the year. (Laughing) You never know where you’ll get money from and a lot of unpredictable things may happen along the way!”

As I reflected on these answers, I examined myself and realized that I’m quite a victim! In 2012, I put down some serious resolutions in what has now become one of my favorite diaries; not only because I filled in nearly all the pages with diversified encounters, but also because some of those encounters were more of goals that were not yet met, with countable achievements. Just to give you a gist of what exactly happened and when/where, I’ll simply narrate to you tit bits of the different distractions I got in my quest to really achieve my resolutions.

I set out to have a savings plan; but alas! Each time I thought I’d just made enough savings for my planned out investments, an emergency always cropped up (You know; those that won’t refund you any money and are, logically speaking, in dire need of assistance). And it actually hit me that I kept saying to myself, “I’ll save next month,” till it reached December and I hadn’t saved much.

I set out to improve my grades (Yea, I’m studying). Well, I achieved this. I didn’t specify my improvement margin. I felt proud of myself at any margin of improvement. However, my folks at home could not contend with the above average performance. All they wanted was excellent grades (you know how they like insisting on being the best of the best).

I set out to grow spiritually.

I set out to visit home every month (very pocket-unfriendly to a student like me).

I set out to follow a certain career path and do certifications in line with that particular career.

I set out to network with entrepreneurs (I’d like to be one very soon).

I set out to celebrate my birthday in a very special way, and invite others to share in the joy as well. At least I achieved this one. A one-day event is more precise.

And the list goes on and on… The bottom line is that I hardly ever achieved all these resolutions. Look at how broad they are; they even have no time limits.

But I came up with a new SOLUTION for this new year 2013 (Seems to be working so far)

resolutions

I propose that instead of ambiguously calling these (whatever they are) “resolutions”, we call them “GOALS”, which can be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Otherwise, we all risk wallowing in the miasma of confusion, lack of direction and regrets with every unachieved target.