Monkey See, Monkey Do Syndrome

When i heard of this idiom, i never actually appreciated what it  implied. Actually it holds much water for us who are still growing and finding our footing in life.

So the story goes that a group of pupils organised for a trip to a zoo and on the way, they each bought hats. When they arrived at the zoo, they were amazed at the different animals on display. One stand fascinated them – monkeys upon a tree. And they were so engrossed at enjoying their presence with them that a slight wind came and blew away their hats which the monkeys grabbed. They wore them on their heads just as they saw the kids do!

The kids got mad. They beckoned to the monkeys to go to where they were and the monkeys did exactly that. Whenever they did anything in an attempt to get their hats, the monkeys did the same. They realized there was a way to trick the monkeys, by making them ape them: they took their scarfs and tied them on their heads to look like hats. The monkeys did not copy that since the way they looked was alike to them – as if they wore hats. Then in tandem, they removed the scarfs from their heads and threw them into the air. The foolish monkeys, as was their character, did the same and pulled the hats from their heads and threw them into the air. The hats flew down to the ground and the kids took them back and ran away, laughing in joy.
Funny as the story is, it holds great lessons for us and is a clear mirage of how most of us live. How many of us have a clear vision of what we want in life? It is said almost 92% of people in the world today die before realizing their potential in life. It is therefore not a surprise that the richest place in the world is the graveyard as in it lies ideas that were never fulfilled.

I know of friends who purpose to do stuff but along the way, out of external pressure, they bulge and start aping their fellow men’s ideas. Of particular instance is  a pal whose passion was doing marketing. When a fellow came into town and he held an event, he chose to shift to doing events management. Well, he organised his and it never went down well. He lost a lot of cash and when i met him, he chose to go into environmental consultancy, saying that that was his forte. Well, i just sat back and analysed his adventure at self discovery and i pitied him. I have never heard of him since.

Like the monkeys in our analogy above, many of us never have confidence in what we put our minds to do, and get derailed when challenges come in. We are uniquely created with individual and specific strengths that make us to be who we are. No two people can therefore do the same thing likewise. If i was to write down my speech, and gave it to you to go present at a conference, trust me you would not deliver it as perfectly as i would even without the write up. Because we are totally different. That is the reason why anyone who apes fails in execution.
I always admire Thomas Edison, the great  American inventor. He tried 999 times to invent the light bulb. And every time he failed, he said he learnt one way not to do it. Were he to start letting his eyes wander off his purpose, someone else would have come along and did exactly that and take all the glory, plus the rewards!

They say the grass is always greener across the fence. But then, if you water yours, it would also be green. It is just a matter of effort and skill. Or better still, be greener and more attractive than the one across the fence. So, why cross the fence? Tend to yours!

 It is time we stopped seeing what people do and ape and start living our lives as we were created to, in business and in the workplace. You can only be the best version of yourself and not the other person! If you want to have a fulfilling business or work quality, just choose to be the best you can be of yourself. Because it is your passion that would power your life dream!

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

SECRETS OF DOMINANT ENTERPRISES

This week, Facebook announced that they had hit 2 billion subscribers. Facebook is urguably the world’s biggest media content provider inasmuch as it does not create any content of its own! 

Uber, the world’s largest taxi hailing company, also does not own a single cab of its own. Neither is Alibaba, the biggest online retailer as far as business inventory is concerned. Airbnb follows the same fashion, with no real estate of its own, despite being the world’s largest accommodation provider. 

Coming closer home, Safaricom Kenya Limited is the biggest telco in East and Central Africa. With its profitability hitting Kes. 45 Billion ($ 442 Million) this year, the amount alone is enough to finance Kenya’s Health Ministry for an entire year, going by the country’s 2016/2017 budget. 

However, Safaricom is not known for being a communication company alone. Its flagship product is MPesa, a mobile wallet value addition which enables subscribers to undertake financial transactions. Banks have in effect, rode on the platform to offer lending products. So far, it is estimated that over 27 million Kenyans are subscribers of this mobile money service making Safaricom to be Kenya’s and East Africa’s biggest bank, quite literally! Mark you it does not own a single brick and mortar vault! 

Peter Drucker, the infamous management guru, said that the main function of business is marketing and innovation. This therefore implies that the main purpose of enterprise is to create customers. And hence, it follows that a successful business is only one if it creates and builds its customer base. It is therefore be logical to conclude that a business’ growth is only measured by the number of its clientele. 
This is the secret that has alluded many  businesses that exist in this day and age. Most startups are established to churn out revenues and monetary payouts to their owners. But then, it also explains why a huge percentage of startups fail – due to lack of focus on growing customers. Jim Collins, another guru in management, postulated the Hedgehog concept in which passion, ability to perform and cash cows are factored to create dominance by a firm in a sector. A firm can never generate sustainable cash flows unless it has the numbers in terms of customer numbers. If you study all dominating firms, they have invested heavily on acquiring and maintaining their customers to realise the returns they have.

It therefore calls for the entrepreneur to study his intended clientele well enough to keep up with their tastes and preferences and in addition, changes if any. Firms that withstand the test of time are those that are able to mutate in tandem with the changes in their market niches. This is exactly what cost Kodak and Nokia brands  – rigidity in their product innovation in conformity to customer tastes. New entities came, adopted to the client preferences and took over their markets. 

It again demands that the core corporate values of a business entity have to be in tandem with values of the populations they target. Safaricom Kenya Limited, as mentioned, was not the pioneer telco in Kenya. Kencell was. It later changed ownership and became Zain and currently is branded Airtel. However, despite being the pioneer mobile telecommunications company in the country, it is still struggling to capture the majority share of the available market. Safaricom commands slightly more than 70% market share thanks to its Mpesa value addition on its service. Mark you it is not the cheapest hence the price factor is out of question!

Now for one to understand Mpesa, one has to appreciate the culture of the Kenyan people. Kenyans are a closely knit society which values sharing and blood relationships. As such, more able members of the family travel out in search of job opportunities and whenever they land a job, they would remit some of their earnings to their homes as a way to assist others. This sharing philosophy is what Mpesa was built on – to remit funds, albeit in small quantities. At the time of its launch, most banks had locked out most of the population by their stringent account opening conditions. For one to subscribe to Mpesa, one just needed an ID and a Safaricom line. And that is how the revolution started in 2007 with the launch of the service. Through MPesa, Kenyans could send cash, buy airtime, pay for goods, even borrow on short term basis through the click of their button. And that is how Safaricom wormed its way into the hearts of Kenyans, and assured its place into the Kenyan culture. Its value tag was “Get connected”, in consonance with the social connectedness of the Kenyan people.

Well, do you desire your business to live beyond you and post better returns? Then you have to think about your value system and match it to your clients’. That way, like Safaricom, Facebook and all the others mentioned, you will be assured of longevity of business. 

Customers feel their needs are met by firms whose values fulfil their needs. It is upon the business to craft its strategies around values that will give the potential clients assurance that their needs and preferences would be fully met. That way, one is guaranteed long term loyalty and growth. 
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Overcoming ‘The Square Pegs in Round Holes’ Syndrome

​In modern times, it is a common fallacy to insinuate that for one to flourish in business or otherwise, one has to conform to a given set of traits and mannerisms that have been assumed to guarantee success. These stereotypical domains have created two classes of people in any entity  the able and the unable. As a result, many of the people in the world have lived to consign their life to chance in conformity to these stereotypes. But then, does it mean that if one is not ably gifted as per their prescribed mannerism then they cannot make it?
Maybe it is time we review the history of past world changers. Starting with the most famous of all – Honest Abe. Abraham Lincoln was not known to be an achiever of any sort. He failed in his entire life a record thirteen times.  After twelve unsuccessful attempts at love, doing business, politics in various levels, he finally clinched the highest office in the land. The sixteenth President of the United States of America is the most popular of the American Presidents and renown for the execution of the Declaration of the Emancipation, the document that abolished slavery in the United States of America. 

The only billionaire writer of our times, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, famously known as J.K. Rowling, was a depressed pauper by any standards, living on social benefits from the government. Actually, out of her frustrations in life, she chose to do her first Harry Potter novel based on real life characters. She then took the manuscript to twelve established publishers who all declined to publish her book. The thirteenth one accepted, albeit unwillingly. He even pointed out that there was no way should would be able to live on her writings and children books for that matter. Well, the rest is history. She is the owner of the Harry Potter brand that includes multiple books, movies and screenplays. She was declared by Forbes magazine as the worlds first dollar billionaire writer in 2004 with gross earnings exceeding USD 25 Billionaire. She also has numerous international awards to her name.

Michael Jordan is a famed sports personality especially in basketball circles. It is said that when he was starting out, his coach could not see potential in him because he was of a lesser height. Actually, when the time for selection of his schools senior team came, he was left out and his friend, Leroy Smith was picked. He never gave up. He purposed to work more than norm, waking up early to go to the basketball court to practice his dunking even before the other teammates would call for morning practice.  He later perfected his play to the extent that the senior players would come watch him play and admire his style. Consequently, he was enrolled to the senior team from which he grew to be a superstar.  As we speak, it is said that Michael earns much more than all the workers who spend their entire week working at the Nikes factory in Malaysia, yet he has never spent more than eight hours on any day at the factory. How does he do this? Out of his stardom, Nike, the famous apparel company, manufactured a branded attire kit in his name and through his performances, popularized their uptake among his fans. And such, the young boy who could not qualify for the basketball team for deficiency in talent, is a now a Basketball Hall of Famer. Apart from this, he was also Forbes’ 20th most effective celebrity for the year 2010. 

Take the story of Jack Ma for instance, mainland Chinas wealthiest man alive today. Out of his love for the English language, he would cycle for over 45 minutes to Hangzhou Hotel to practice his dictum while translating for Western Tourists. With time, he developed a desire for the language and studied teaching as an occupation. It was during these encounters that he met a foreign girl who could not pronounce his Chinese name well and hence the nickname “Jack Ma” was coined. It is told that he failed in his Primary School exams twice. He again experienced failure in his Middle School exams where he flopped thrice before eventually passing. His desire to pursue English studies made him apply for admission to Hangzhou Normal University. He once again failed in his three attempts before finally being admitted for a Bachelor in English degree. Before graduating, his desire to master the English language made him seek employment as an English teacher.

Jack Ma’s life is punctuated with rejection. He made a record thirty unsuccessful job application attempts.   He thereafter chose to pursue a teaching career path after graduation, working as a teacher at Dianzi University on a monthly pay of US $ 12 a month. When the KFC franchise went to China to set up shop, he and 23 others applied for jobs. The 23 were employed and his application declined. He also applied for a Police Force job. Other three applicants were taken on board. His application was declined, once again. His reason for being left out was he “was no good”. 

After getting frustrated at getting formally employed, he chose to entirely rely on his English language skills to earn a living. He then started a translation service business to serve the Chinese when they needed to interact with foreign companies from the west on business matters. This offered him the chance to visit the USA in 1995 on a government project on the building of highways. At that time, China was heavily communist and Internet penetration was low if not nonexistent.

The story goes that when he landed in Seattle USA, he visited a friend who had this seemingly funny looking box in his study. On inquiry, he was told its called a “computer”. His first action was search “beer” on its search engine. The browser brought up many results and none was from China. On searching “china”, he realized no information came up. 

On return to China, he purposed to introduce the Internet to China. His initial two ventures failed, including one, China Yellow Pages that made him exit due to bureaucracy associated with government agencies at the time since he co-owned it with the government. On launching China Yellow Pages, he received numerous emails from interested people around the world that sought partnerships. Later on, he started Alibaba.  At the moment, Alibaba is one of the biggest electronic commerce networks in the world. It is only second to Walmart, the world’s biggest distribution business entity. Its worth is higher than Facebook, the world’s largest social network. It is on record that the platform processes more goods on a daily basis than eBay and Amazon combined!

All these and many others just drive home the point that one does not need to fit into any system of thoughts to make it in business. They are classic cases of square pegs fitting into round holes. They are people out to solve societys problems in a different way and deliver value due to the ultimate consumer. They choose to overlook their limitations and unfitting geometry in psychology or otherwise, to ensure common problems in society are solved in the best way they know how. What would we talk of Albert Einstein who was written off in his younger days as one who would not amount to anything, but lived to become a genius of repute? How about Walt Disney, who was dismissed as one who lacked creativity, but lived to build an entertainment company with its own brands of films and cartoon characters in addition to a fun themed park?

The secret lies in how they dealt with their lack of conformance to the hole. It all started with appreciating their squareness and need to fit into the hole.  I have had such an experience before, with many wondering how a First Class Biomedical Science and Technology graduate would deem it fit to pursue and excel in a banking and financial services career, and even perform exceptionally well! If we are to study the above personalities, including myself, several common denominating character traits are common.

As pointed out, square pegs are deemed unfit for certain roles in society, business and work related areas included. It therefore means that society has a mindset and behaviour set that if one has, they are assumed to be ones to excel in such areas. However, history has proven otherwise  the world changers are them that are considered misfits, as elucidated above.

How then can a square peg personality fit itself into a round hole, one may ask. The first step is to appreciate the weaknesses they have. The limitations are what makes the external environment fail to appreciate their relevance in society. Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and the others mentioned above realized that they had limitations and embraced whatever deficiencies they had. I have a firm belief that each and everyone has a drop of greatness in them and if harnessed, it can create long lasting and life changing value to humanity. Allowing the world to shape us would in effect, restrict us from achieving our life dreams. The world is the circular hole. We are the square pegs. It is upon us either to shape up and fit into the round holes or force ourselves to go through the holes and fit! It is all about going out there and kicking ass! And that forms the second step in customizing the square peg that we are  shaping up. Shaping up demands effort and time investment. It demands that we develop shock absorbers for pain for it is no easy task to train yourself to fit or adopt to a new environment or condition.

That is the spirit of achievers. Be it in business or at the work place, leave nothing to chance. Thomas Edison, the famous entrepreneur and inventor, failed more than nine hundred and ninety-nine times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. When he was asked why he never gave up, he responded that every time he failed, he realized he had learnt one more way not to do it! Which brings us to the last thing to do passion. Develop passion around whatever you want to achieve. Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, said that one can never do anything well unless they loved it. Passion is a core component of any undertaking. I always say, when currency fails in business transactions, gold becomes the standard for trading. And so is passion to success! For long it has always been believed that for one to succeed, their competencies and abilities were the determining factors. But the new order in the world is all about passion. Choose to start to develop a liking for what you aspire to be in future. develop a desire fruition of your objectives or ultimate dream.

All in all, the world needs people who would challenge the established system of thinking and doing things to help solve its problems. It wants entrepreneurs whose business is to provide solutions. It would be imperative to appreciate that business disruptors are not the ordinary, but the misfits, those considered unworthy but in them they harbor potential unexplored. These are the square pegs that need to fit into the round holes! The world is not waiting for your business idea to cheer you on. It waits to see if you will deliver on your promise. It is upon you to go out there and prove them wrong, by being the square peg that fits in the round hole.

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or professional a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Why That Business Plan May Prove Useless for Your Startup.

It is the norm for any business advisor speaking to newbies starting on the journey of entrepreneurship, to suggest that they start their business by doing a business plan. In fact, for many financial institutions, this is a core requirement for financing. But then, do business plans really work?
We have to accept that natural law of success: failing to plan is automatically the recipe to fail. Hence, failing to plan is planning to fail, so goes the adage. It therefore goes that planning in itself is a critical component in starting out as a business. It just cannot be wished away. Studies done to evaluate the relationship of business planning and success rate of the same give a direct correlation between the success of business and planning. This has been the theory that has been peddled all along by conservative business trainers, coaches and tutors.

But doing a business plan in itself is tedious. It requires input of many hours and abstract thinking, of where the entrepreneur needs to see his business in the foreseeable future. in actual sense, for one to do a practically applicable business plan, it would require technical expertise and this is not only discouraging, but expensive in the course of time. Its implementation too is another issue altogether. Business plans are rigid and structured that are almost always not flexible to the constantly changing conditions on the ground. This in effect implies that the conditions at the time of formulation of the entire plan are not guaranteed to be similar at the time of implementation. 

Business markets change almost on an hourly basis and hence, relying on a plan drawn up in the past for the present situation would almost always result into failure. Hence a fluid, more adaptable system of business planning especially for startups is needed. Its implementation is even hampered by its cumbersomeness. No plan is less than a page and hence it requires that one has to ruffle through the numerous sheets of paper to get a point. 

Faced with these challenges, Alexander Oxerwalder developed a simpler, fluid and highly adaptable business planning tool, which he aptly named the business model canvas. The model was planar and hence visualization of the business was simpler and less tasking as opposed to the conventional business plan. 

The model has nine critical components: value proposition, key activities, channels, customer segments, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key partnerships and cost structures. It defines clearly and in a diagrammatic, planar form, how a business is going to create value for its target clients, what activities it will involve itself in in achieving this, how it will deliver this value and through which means, what strategic partners it would create linkages with, cost factors associated with its activities for maximum revenues, in a simple structure. 

It is aptly called a model because it is fashioned to adapt to the conditions on the ground. Hence, if the cost factors change, or the taste and preferences of the target market niche change, the model is adjusted to ensure that the maximum returns are obtained at the tail end. It therefore ensures the concerns of the business stakeholders are taken care of at all times.

The Business Model Canvas (Picture: Courtesy)

On the contrary, a business plan cannot adapt to conditions on the ground. Therefore, any shift destabilizes the entire plan and hence, it is considered rigid. The business model canvas is based on experiential operationalization and hence, concepts and theories are tested before full implementation. Ideas are tested using the model. For the plan, this is not possible. The input to output process flow is fixated on the process major, with the theorized output quality and quantity realized at the terminal end of the entire process chain. The thought process is also exclusively applied on paper rather than testing on the ground.

The business model canvas also is more result oriented with a special emphasis on the how to component of achieving results and returns to the shareholder. The business plan is deficient on this. It only dwells on the final result or outcomes rather on the techniques and strategies to attain that. On another front, the business model canvas is more visual. As said before, it is planar as opposed to the business plan which is voluminous and made of several pages.  It is more of hypothesis and theory than being practical. Hence, it is nearly impossible to visualize the business from the initial stage of idea conceptualization, through to implementation and finally, delivery of the final product to the desired market. The business plan therefore falls short in representing the business as a vision which the business model perfectly does.

Startups in their humble beginnings require fluid and agile tools that would perfectly fit into the business system and enable the outfit adopt to the ever changing business external environment. A business plan would not be able. It is a known fact  most who draw up business plans eventually discard them since their implementation is near improbable. If you are currently operating a young enterprise, or in the threshold of starting one, it is time you change with the times and draw up a business model canvas. That is assured to work out fine!
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or professional a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Businessman or An Entrepreneur – Which One Are You?


There is no better way to command the market and payout than to command the demand for your products and services. An enterprise that has a firm hold of a market niche will always live true to the moniker “going concern” – its life will be unending into the future. Businesses that we admire today like Coca Cola, Nike, etc, have mastered the art of commanding the market by doing this.

Once you target a segment of the market you intend to capture, it would be important you undertake a need analysis and see what the consumer really wants and how best to satisfy that need. A business that satisfies no demand is not in business.
Many are the times we sell products to the market raw without any processing which in a way, creates a middle link between the producers and the end consumer. What it therefore means is there is some value we forego or transfer to the middle man which they exploit and maximize. Literally speaking, a producer the raw material is working to enrich the middle man. Take chicken for example.

Chicken farmers usually go into pains of raising their stock and input a lot of money to sell off their matured birds to middle men. The middle man would acquire the birds, slaughter and sell off as processed wings, or even fillet or maybe process chicken burgers. The offal is sold to pig farmers as food also. At the end of the day, if you undertake a cost benefit analysis of being the farmer vis a vis being the middle man, the value is higher for the middle man who buys the raw material from the farmer. All the middle man does is sit back and get down to the farmer at the bottom of the chain to negotiate for prices, buy the raw materials, process and sell it off. The actual increase in value that a business creates by undertaking the production process is what is referred to as value addition.
Value addition makes the processor command the market. He commands even the prices of the entire industry. Agricultural based industries that learnt this secret went full stream into value addition and have outlasted their competitors. An example is the Delamaire Dairies and Egerton University Dairies which are big milk producers. Rather than sell milk, they chose to dwell on value addition and over the years, despite turmoil in the dairy industries, they have been doing sustainable business producing their hallmark yoghurt brands. KCC initially was purely a milk reseller and went down since they could not command the market with the entry of new players. What happened afterwards? They now produce Yoghurt, ghee and cheese amongst other milk products.
As a small scale entrepreneur you can also choose to command your market. What uniqueness can you introduce into your product offering to hold onto your consumer? If you are that estate kales seller, do you sell your vegetables as you bought them from the farmer or do you add value to it by maybe cut them into pieces to be sold as buy-and-cook portions in smaller packages for the working community? Maybe you package your vegetables and sell them a bundle of kales, onions and tomatoes, etc? Maybe brand them exquisitely? As a service provider, what extra thing are you offering beyond the usual service that any other player in your industry is offering? I love going for a weekly shave at a local kinyozi where apart from doing my hair as I like it, they do massage and even do a facial for me for the price of a normal shave. And trust me I have never gone to any other kinyozi apart from that.
The beauty about value addition is the client is ready to pay for it even if its premium priced. Once one sees they are getting a benefit beyond what others normally offer, they would be ready to pay, alongside building product loyalty for your firm and establish your brand as a market player.
Smart enterprising demands that you look at the big picture rather than just concentrating on the immediate activity, which may be tilted with changes in the external environment. Value addition is a great way to hedge it from such shocks and guarantee business sustainability. To be smart, always look at your business from the big picture.
The writer is the author of “Passionpreneurship Demystified”, a practical book on how to exploit passion for actualizing dreams. He is also the convenor of ‘House of Passion‘, and online coaching platform for entrepreneurs and professionals.

Walking In the Leopards’ Lair (A story)

If you should take my child Lord

Give my hands strength to dig his grave

Cover him with earth

Lord send a little rain

For grass will grow

If my house should burn down

So that the ashes sting the nostrils

Making the eyes weep

Then Lord send a little rain

For grass will grow.

( Jonathan Kariara)

A-typical-leopards-lair-if-ever-we-saw-one.-BLOG

The climate was cool in Nanyuki Town.  The sun’s rays pierced the skin in a soothing, refreshing manner. There is nothing as rejuvenating as a sun burn after an almost whole day spent indoors, lurched in an office chair.

The afternoon breeze did not disappoint, cooling the hot rays resulting into a welcome sensation on the skin. It was a Saturday. I was happy that the day was over, ostensibly at noon when we usually closed for the day. The thought of being free and having the weekend at hand was welcome! After leaving the office at close of business, I went home to my home to have a change of clothes into the weekend casual wear.

I chose to put on my favorite blue denim pair of trousers and casual brown t-shirt to set the weekend mood on. I had hosted my girlfriend, Sarah for the entire week. After the normal clean up and packing, we left the house since I had to go away for the weekend in Nairobi.

Down the hill, a boda boda motorcycle rider sped towards us from their stage, a few hundred yards away. As we approached him, I noticed my leg was not functioning as usual. Some form of hardness prodded my left foot ankle bone making me to limb. I assumed it to be a side effect of sitting for too long, being the end of the week.

My love, Sarah was pensive. She would not let her eyes off my feet, as I struggled to walk. I begged silently for the ever growing pain would go away as I got on the boda boda seat behind her and requested the driver to deliver us to the Nairobi Stage.

For those who have commuted through a growing, highly populated Kenyan urban centre, people mill all over the roads oblivious of the dangers lurking. Nevertheless, they cannot be entirely blamed. Years of mismanagement and ineptitude have worked their way on the basic infrastructure and rendered it useless.  However, since there was no alternative, men and women lumbered their produce through it in an attempt to get the early buyers and return home early and done.

After tortuous meandering through the throngs of people, we eventually were dropped at the Nairobi stage. Actually, the public service vehicle stage was on the extreme end of the market with a narrow passage made onto the perimeter wall to act as the entrance into the terminus. It had a flight of stairs constructed on it to aid in convenient movement of people especially when it is rainy and muddy to reduce slippage.

As we reached the steep incline to the entrance into the bus terminus, the pain became unbearable. I could feel a sharp excruciating pain on my left ankle that shot up my leg like a bee sting piercing from below into my upper leg. Strength was failing with time.  By the time I was mounting the third stair in the ramp, I became frail and tagged at Sarah’s arm and beckoned her to go to book us boarding tickets.

Meanwhile, the conductor ushering in passengers into the matatu helped me with the back pack and boarding the vehicle. As I settled into my seat, I felt relieved. The weather had been a bit favorable, going by the indoor temperature. The vehicle was almost full and by the time Sarah had rejoined me in the front seat, the last passenger was boarding. The driver, after exchanging pleasantries with his fellow stage operators, went to the booking kiosk and came around and took his seat and roared the old battered engine to life.

I did not realize how long it took to reach the cool but noisy city of Nairobi. I was woken up by the acrid smell of vehicle exhaust fumes coupled by the noisy commotion of matatu conductors in the public service vehicles’ terminal. It usually takes at least an hour and a half to get to the city. Nonetheless the journey seemed shorter most probably due to the slumber in the afternoon heat.

The walk from the terminus through the throngs of people competing for space with matatus was maddening at best. With my limping leg, I could not keep up pace with Sarah, who then had two bags slung on her shoulder and tagged at my arm for stability. I felt like I was going to fall the next minute. I realized it would hurt more to go to queue at our connecting bus stage. I thereafter asked Sarah to take me to an off the road café for a rest. She had decided to go to her sister’s place in Kitengela where she resided. I had hosted her for a whole week and the chance for her to reconnect with her siblings was welcome. I could not resist calming my insides with a warm cup of Café Deli’s chocolate. Indeed, it had been long since I left to Nanyuki to have a taste of this cherished beverage! As they say, chocolate was for long been a preserve of royals. It fit that exclusivity perfectly!

I whiled away the time sipping my drink with bitings of the black forest cake. I thought of my new pal, Lizah, whom we had met online a few weeks ago. I invited her over for some chit chat. She did not disappoint.  Chatting her up established she was interested in having a relationship. For a man like me, a little opportunity for adventure would not cost much, I supposed.

She walked tall, her artificial hair wig showing prominently above her tiny head. I realized her bosom was not as she had shown on her Facebook pages. Additionally, I noticed she was not as chocolate – skinned as the social media page picture had shown. Indeed, online content sometimes misleads!

I was seated on the far end of the room.

She lifted her fabulously decorated mobile phone and dialed the keypad randomly, swinging her hair to one side and placed the set against the exposed ear.

Almost by instinct, my phone keypad flashed up and the glow attracted her attention to the table I was seated. As I picked up the phone to speak, she replaced the phone into her sling bag and made for my table, a visible wide grin on her face.

“Hi John!” She said extending her right hand to me for a handshake.

I labored to stand up and a shot of pain pierced my left leg as I struggled to clutch at the table top and stood.

“Liz I presume,” I said responding to her greeting.

“Yeah, I am Liz. How have you been?” She responded as she offered a warm hug. I could smell the heavy perfume she had put on as she settled on the seat directly opposite me. I mused over the feel of her warm, rather wet palm on mine. Smiling, I beckoned at the waiter to come to our table.

“What will you take Liz?” I asked on settling down.

She said, “Uhmm…” pretending to think.

“I think I will take….maybe chocolate like him.” She said with finality facing her heavily powdered face to the waiter. The male waiter sauntered away into an adjacent room which doubled as the kitchenette of the hotel.

We then went ahead and engaged in a conversation, starting off with the generalities like weather and politics just to break the ice that was noticeable from the body language of both of us. By the time we were sharing on our personal life experiences, her order had been delivered. I later gathered that she was from western Province of Kenya. Her yellow skin and voluminous legs gave her away!

At the end I sought to know what she was doing for a living. She confessed she was just a wheeler dealer for politicians in town who wanted to run errands in town. In actual sense, she hob knobbed around political figures to get handouts as she mobilized hooligans on their behalf. Not a bad idea, I thought.

“Well,” she said as she took a gulp and leaned over.

“Mike”, she said, “I would want you to know that it’s not my wish that I be single at my age.”

I leaned closer to get every word she muttered.

“Why is this so?” I prodded.

“Most of girls of my age are already having families…” she went on.

“Hmm?’ I urged her on.

“Yeah..! You know, I am a musician.” This startled me.

“I sing.” She retorted with some form of finality to reinforce her point.

“So have you recorded any songs?” I inquired.

“Yeah, I have been in studio trying to do my album.”

“How many songs so far?”

“No I have several but I have not released them yet.”

“Okay. The best thing to do is to do a single and release it through our numerous radio FM stations and test the waters to see how it fares.”

“Yeah, I agree. But let me finish…”

“Ok,” I   said.

“I have been recording at Ding Studios and do you know Zax?”

I shook my head in affirmation as I swallowed a mouthful. Ding Studios was owned by Maxwell. He was a prominent Nairobi City music producer who specialized in recording popular Kenyan artistes. He was among the leading music producers in the City with many upcoming musicians under his stable. He provided a platform for launching of many artistes’ careers, most probably due to his easy going nature and cost conveniences which favored the struggling stars.

I first came to know Zax back in my days when I used to dwell in Kawangware[3] slums. He was a fellow Church youth who at times helped with worship sessions. He was good at playing the piano. Later on, as is the norm with gifted adolescents, he felt too ambitious and shifted to secular music to cash in on his popularity. A few years back, I had noticed a few posters for his shows in the neighborhood and I had hoped he had made the big break into commercial music performances. For disenfranchised slum youth, talent exploitation seemed the only way to earn some decent incomes. Zax was no exception.

“We used to work with him there”, she continued.

“Okay I see”, I said.

Many upcoming artistes like to associate with big names in the industry as a way of gaining mileage and popularity. My younger brother, after failing in his O level exams, walked the same path trying to copy his idols but to no avail. It is a fact of life that no two lives are similar and as such, attempts to ape another always ends up disastrous.

“So, as I was saying…..we used to record with Zax in the same studio in Umoja Estate. And we would go practice even when the producer was away in readiness for recording.”

“One day I was left alone and Zax came along and asked where the producer was. I told him he was not in till later that day since he was running some errands in town. He then suggested we practice a few of his lines as we waited for him to come.”

“In the process he started to act funny and got close. He indicated that he had a liking for me. Of course I refused his advances just as is normal with mafisi[4].”

“With time, he persisted until I couldn’t sing anymore since he had become more physical.”

“Oh my God! What did you do?” I asked.

“I couldn’t do anything. Here was an overbearing man, literally pinning me into a chair begging for me and restricting my movements with his huge frame. You know how Zax is big and muscled?” she said, eyes wetting.

“Yeah I know.” I quipped.

“He then went ahead and raped me. I couldn’t scream since he said if heard got out about it, he would use his influences to shut me out of this life.”

I heaved in astonishment.

“Am sorry Liz,” I said. She pulled out some cream coloured handkerchief, blew out her nose and finished off with wiping her teary cheeks.

“Yeah, so after that I left for my aunt’s place and left him in the studio. From then on, I have developed a hatred for men. That was the ultimate end of my singing career.

“Did Producer Maxwell ask about your whereabouts and the unfinished project?”

“Yeah he did. Just the other day.”

“And what did you do?” I retorted.

“Well, he required more cash to facilitate the recording and that’s when we met on that dating page on Facebook.”

Gotcha! So this was it? I thought.

“I see. So how much did he request you pay him?”

“Twenty thousand shillings and I didn’t have it.” she ended on a low note.

‘Twenty grand,’ I thought…..and the pain in the leg shot up into my calf muscles and I grimaced.

“What’s it?” She asked, diverting attention from the topic.

“Am sorry but I have a bad leg. I need to go have some rest in my place. Maybe you escort me to the bus stop I board my matatu as we part?” I requested.

“It’s okay dear”, she said as she offered to help with my back pack holding my right arm. I paid on our way out.

As I boarded the Kasarani Estate bound matatu, I saw her wave at me from across the bus stand. I pressed a grin on my face, not from the joy of meeting her, but from the pain that now had made residence in my left leg.

The ride home was comforting. At least, the madness of the past years cramping in box like automobile structures had been replaced with relatively decent, comfortable passenger coaches. The matatus had indeed undergone a revolution!

It was a relief to alight and struggle my way up the eight flights of stairs up to my fourth floor one bedroom abode. I was so exhausted and the dusty film all over the furniture surfaces could not escape notice. The air smelt of dust.  The heat buildup in my body system warranted a warm bath and a short stint in the bathroom was therefore necessary. I could not resist the temptation and undressed and rushed into the warm, calming flow of water under the shower.

**************************

I woke u and realized I was in a grey walled and ceilinged room. There was an eerie silence. I noticed some hazy movements in the background. I thought there was a grey cloud over my face and eyes.

I could hear murmurings in the background. I could not get the words but most definitely they were human sounds.

I tried to turn over and sleep on my sideways but could not make it. I stretched out my arms and tried to feel my chest and I realized I was okay. I moved my palm down to the stomach, the hips and beyond. I could not feel my hips. I made an attempt to sit upright but some strong arms held me down.

“He is up! He has woken up!” Someone was shouting. It was an unfamiliar kind of scream.

I rubbed my eyes and stared even more. The light shone brightly into my eyes and I got even more blinded by it.

“John! John!” A familiar voice pleaded.

“Eeh….!” I muttered. The voice then became familiar.

“Where am I?’

“You are in hospital…..the Nairobi Hospital.”

“What happened? Why am I here?” I asked trying to get up. I had not noticed that my arm was bandaged with a drip line attached to it and it pulled me back. The drip line restricted my arm.

“Be careful you can injure yourself,” the female voice of a nurse cautioned as she restrained my arm back to my body’s side.

“Ooh thank goodness you are back!’ My brother said, “Maybe you should help him up?”

They both approached the bed and attempted to heave me up to a sitting position with my head resting on the raised head rest. I attempted to find balance but I could not again. Something was definitely wrong.  It then flashed on my mind that I had not come to the hospital on my own accord. I was brought!

*******************************************

So there I was in the hospital, with no knowledge of how I came to be admitted. My upper appendages and lower limbs would not bulge, however much I tried to move. No wonder I was being assisted to sit upright on the bed!

“John, you should rest”, insisted the nurse.

“Yes, pumzika”, my brother reinforced. Pumzika is Swahili word for ‘rest’.

Now what the people in the room had not realized was that I was fighting a battle of my own, an incessant fiery, battle of wits within my soul.

After separation from my girlfriend Betty several years back, I had made a decision never to trust any other woman again. Betty was all a woman a man would have dreamt to have: with beauty, and the height. She was however, not as educated as I was. To her, I was an elitist and a figure to look up to, giving her an assurance of a better life.

We had dated for quite some time, after meeting in her elder brother’s funeral in their rural home. It was love at first sight. My pal, her brother, could not help notice the fatal erotic attraction. He eventually helped us link up before the three day mourning and burial period was over.

After a few months of seeing each other on over – the –fence dates, we were tight and her mother could not help notice. We were in love. Mothers always have a way of reading their children’s conscience. When her mother sat her down and demanded she confesses what was going on, she spilt the beans: we were indeed in love!

It was therefore joy to me to receive her missive that her mama had approved our emotional attachment.  From then on, I could not spare a weekend without cycling the over 35 kilometers journey to her home just to sit down with her and chat, even if it was for five minutes! Love makes people do crazy things, they say!

The amorousness bloomed on until I got admitted into university as she pursued her Ordinary Level studies. After she graduated she went to live at her brother’s place in Nairobi City as she pre-occupied herself with computer literacy courses. In between the short holidays, she would come and stay at my house that I had rented after securing an accountant’s job in a multinational. Indeed, nothing was as gratifying as having a beautiful girl for a love partner and a wonderful job. By any standards in Kenya, I was doing excellently in life at my age.

The romance yielded into a commitment. In the course of time, it came to my realization that she had not been faithful. Apparently, Betty had involved herself with another man while I was away in college. The realization hit me so hard. The pain was akin to a cold stake through my heart. It was beyond imagination that my six years of keeping myself in college, devoid of any luxuries and denial, would be treated as casually as she had done.

I had to confront her. I chose an opportune moment and faced her with my discovery.

That night, we quarreled. She vowed to leave at the crack of dawn the following morning. To me, it was not an issue. She had betrayed my love anyway. However, it had never hit me that we had had unprotected intercourse a few days before. True to her words, she packed all her belongings and left.

I resigned my fate to drowning my sorrows in taking alcohol, and throwing caution to the wind. Actually, people close to me were not aware that I was a drunkard. Being drunk provided an escape of sorts from work pressure and the sorrows of being unappreciated by the person I loved most. To some extent, it offered some relief. The only limitation was that I had to go drinking under the cover of darkness, almost always buying a bottle of alcohol and gulping it as I walked home. By the time I reached my rented abode, I was completely done! My dependence on alcohol progressed with time from beer to more hard alcoholic drinks like brandy and vodka.

In some instances, I would be sent on relief duties in our remote branches. Nothing felt better than being sent for these extra duties – what with the allure of additional allowances and fully paid up accommodation! The outstations were remote, with few elite employees of my caliber. My favorite past time was to go lazy in the bar lounge at a local inn. The village gossip formed a worthwhile engagement, amid gulps of bitter stout. The bartender, Maggy, a young girl, noticed my prowess in taking the much avoided stout beer. We hit out and she became an acquaintance of sorts, in most cases letting me go sleep with the bill and settling it the following day. Once in a while, I wouldn’t refuse the urge to go sleep with Maggy. It was an adventure of sorts.

******************************

One day, just before I slept, I noticed a missed call on my cell phone. I could not decipher whose number it was since I was deep in a stupor. I shrugged it off and slept away the cold night.

The following morning, after struggling through a cold bath and an unpalatable breakfast, I noted a text message on my mobile phone:

“We need to talk”, it said.

I shook my head and raised the cell phone screen closer to my face for a better view.

I re-read it again. It then became clear to me: She was seeking for a chance for us to converse – Betty!

Anger welled up in me. I could feel the acidic taste of bile from the stomach rise up as I remembered how a few months back she had broken my heart.

I hit the reply button and started typing….’what do you…’ but then stopped.

I deleted the text and locked the screen pad and shoved the gadget into my side pocket and walked out of the house. I walked fast to the office in time for a morning briefing.

While in the meeting, I again heard the chime of the cellphone as notification signifying reception of another incoming text.

I slipped the phone out of my trouser pocket and checked. It was another text from Betty.

“I said we need to talk”, she wrote.

“Okay, I will call you in a moment”, I texted back and locked it before replacing it into my trouser pocket.

It was unusual for Betty to request for something twice. And this time round, it was an exception. Something was definitely amiss.

After the conclusion of the brief I went out into the open and dialed her number.

“John, I had wanted us to talk.”

“Yes, I am listening.” I responded casually.

“I think I am pregnant!”

“What? You cannot be serious.” I was thrown aback.

“Yes, I am pregnant. And it is your baby.”

I was thunderstruck and dumfounded. It seemed the world stood still for a few moments if not minutes.

Strength oozed from my body. I could feel the knees giving way. Even the hunger I had nursed all the morning ebbed away. From the head, I could feel butterflies flapping in my belly.

“So you say I made you pregnant? I thought we mutually agreed to part ways?” I recovered and started my defense in a matter –of-fact way.

“No, this baby is yours John. And it would not help you denying it.”

“No it is not mine. It is five months since I saw you, and you know that!” I retorted.

“The pregnancy is exactly five months old….!” she answered with an empathetic voice.

“Now what have you brought me into, Betty! You know I was not prepared!”

“But when you insisted we do it you knew of the consequences.” She said.

“Oh my God…..does James know?” I inquired. James was her elder brother who was hosting her in his Nairobi residence.

“I don’t know. But his wife knows. I informed her last night and she suggested I inform you so that we plan on how best to raise our kid.”

“Okay, let me figure out what to do, okay?”

“It is fine. But it has to be fast before James knows this. He will kill me since I am now in my third month in the Computer College he helped me get admitted to.”

“Okay, I will call you back.” I answered with finality before signing off.

Making the decision to call her back really worked me up. My peers advised me to deny responsibility. But then, all her relatives knew I was involved with her. There was no way I could escape that responsibility.

**************************************************

As a man thrown into an unknown territory, I had to grapple with the reality of being a parent. Killian was born on a late Sunday afternoon at a nearby hospital with a weight of 2.4kgs, by any standards, low. It was a joy to see my first born son in my arms, at least, a different experience from the lonely home environment I was used to.

With the new baby came a renewed lifestyle. I changed my friends and started going home early. I reduced on drinking considerably. I tried by all means to be a good father, almost every evening going home carrying something, as my good old father taught me. They say the fruit doesn’t fall away from the tree!

The boy grew up in well in his first months of babyhood. However, he was unusually silent most of the times. He was particularly alert and responsive to moving objects in his environment. He would stare into the television screen whenever the set was put on, rarely crying especially when he was fully fed.

If you asked me how my baby was, I would gladly and happily respond in the affirmative.

Killian grew to be a light skinned, averagely built baby until he was five months old. At that age, we noticed his feeding behavior was abnormal. I noticed one night he was crying loudly, a sign of having not been adequately fed. I inquired from the mother what the problem was but the mother insisted she had fed him with milk.

A week later, the boy fell sick. He was passing loose stool and had lost appetite. We chose to rush him to the nearby pubic hospital and he was treated and we were discharged. By all means, the hopeful words of the doctors gave us assurance that all will be fine.

A few days later, we noticed he had reduced his eating and his condition had deteriorated. By then, he was losing weight fast. We rushed him back to the hospital but after being put under a drip, we were referred to a private hospital in town.

Killian fought hard. He attempted to eat to fight out the hunger pangs to no avail. He later died a few days later.

Actually Betty was with him that particular morning and intended to change his soiled clothes when she noticed he was not moving. On calling the doctor on duty, they tried to resuscitate him but realized he had passed on. I had gone with the morning change clothes for him when I found her crest fallen in the waiting bay, his shawl in her hand, looking pale.

I sat beside her and she confessed his passing on, amid sobs of pain.

I had never felt so sad. I stood up, loosened my tie and walked to the nurses’ station. I met the nurse in charge walking out and I prodded her for an answer.

“What happened sister?” I asked.

“Am sorry. He passed on during the night.” She responded.

“…..What?” I stammered.

Almost immediately a bespectacled doctor in a white apron approached Betty and took her hand. He led her to an enclosure and I followed, just to be sure.

“Oh here he is.” Betty said, gesturing at me.

“Mr. John, I am Doctor Wambora. Was Killian was your son?” He asked.

“Yes he was.” I responded, hoping to be given a different version of events.

“Yeah, I believe you have been notified of what has transpired?”

“I shook my head in affirmation.”

“Yeah, unfortunately he lost the fight early in the morning today.”

Betty couldn’t hide her grief. Tears welled out of her eyes freely. I placed my arm on her shoulders to comfort her, fighting back heartache in my chest.

“Killian had died from complications coming from foods taken,” the doctor added. “Unfortunately he couldn’t keep up with the poisoning since his immunity was greatly compromised. Killian died from AIDs related complications.”

“What are you saying?” I asked.

“Yeah, am sorry. He was infected with HIV virus. Have you been tested for the same?”

I did not wait to answer the query. I felt the clouds descend down as I fought off the haze in front of my eyes. I felt strength ooze from my body slowly….my life instantly ebbed away into oblivion.

The reality struck me like a thunderbolt in a cold, dark night: I had killed my baby. And I hated myself for that.

*********************************************************

I woke up to a rather unusual emptiness in my belly. I lay on the hospital bed, with the usual grey walls and ceiling glaring blankly back at me. I tried to recollect what had happened.

After what seemed like an eternity, the curtain surrounding my bed was pulled aside and a young lady came up to me.

She was smiling.

“Hi John!  How are you feeling?” She asked in a melodious voice.

“I am feeling fine. Just a little bit grouchy.”

“Oh that’s good. You are in Nairobi Hospital. I hope you are aware of that?”

“Uhmm….” I started murmuring, scratching my temple.

“Yeah, you were brought in yesterday by your brother,” she retorted.

“Oh….!” The realization hit me as I recalled the previous day’s events.

“Yeah, can you feel your legs?” she said as she reached her gloved hands towards the soles of my feet.

I tried to lift my right leg by bending my knee but I could not.

“Just try lift it up slowly…” she said as she leaned closer to help me uncover my partially sheet covered legs.

I made an attempt but could not manage to lift them up again. I heaved and even tried seat upright on the bed but it was practically impossible. It seemed like I just could not command my limbs altogether.

She reached out and helped prop up the bed head rest recliner to enable me sit up and pulled me up to a sitting position.

“I know you may be surprised but it seems you have lost functionality of your lower limbs. We are not yet sure how much damage is done but your doctor will be coming in to explain….” I couldn’t register the rest of her talk as my mind waded away into emptiness.

I couldn’t imagine that I was paralyzed. It was not to be!

I had been sick before. But I have never been down to the point of being admitted. Actually I am regarded as Mtu Saba (A man of seven lives) by my siblings, a name for being known to overcome challenges.  The sickness had indeed hit me hard.

After the death of our child, we opted to go for post trauma counseling and the counselor motivated us to undergo treatment under anti-retroviral drugs.  For us who are regarded as elite, it was unimaginable to ever think of ourselves to suffer from the same illness as the common man. HIV/AIDs was a disease for the immoral, the lost, the reckless, or so we thought.

Accepting to go back to hospital and be admitted into the medication program was a big challenge in itself. For a long time, I denied ever being infected. However, with Betty’s encouragement, I was able to accompany her to an out of town hospital clinic to be supplied with the essential drugs.

We later decided to sire another child as a way of filling the emotional and psychological gap left by Killian.  Our post – trauma counsellor had advised us so. But that time round, Betty opted to go raise the kid from their home.

*************************

A dedicated team of four specialists diagnosed my case. Three of them were medical professors. They did all forms of tests but nothing was forthcoming. My samples were extracted and sent to South Africa and later to Italy laboratories. No result was forthcoming.

The wait was slowly eating me up. I was losing weight and fast. My muscles wasted away, ostensibly due to disuse and physical malaise. I looked thin. At least, the few friends who came for visitations to confess that way.

I remember once when my friends came to see me, they tagged along my ex-girlfriend and our son. My boy could not withstand the sight of his father in a sick bed looking fray. He was visibly startled. I could feel that. I tried to show face by smiling back at him but in vain. I stretched out my hand and reached out to him to pat him so that he could feel assured.

Well, those were the times I saw the real colours of people who constituted my social circle. Friends avoided me. It was not because they knew what I was ailing from, but from being associated with the shame of me being invalid. I felt I was a burden to them. I was no longer the John they used to run to when in need of cash bailouts. I was no longer the John they came to whenever they needed to be entertained. However, some good hearted acquaintances who heard of my predicament came in droves. And it was a relief from the monotonous grey walls and ceilings of the ward coupled with the sick smell of medicine in the air.

My boss was very supportive. She came to visit me in my hospital bed and offered prayers to console me. She even brought me some fruits and an accompanying get well –card.

Through social media, I would reconnect with long lost friends who found their way to the Nairobi Hospital to come for my hospital visitations. Actually, one was a fellow undergraduate course mate I had seen last in ten years during our graduation ceremony.

I also developed a sense of closeness to my Maker. I would use my online bible app to read the Holy Scriptures and pray daily that He may come through for me. Indeed, I was at the lowest point of my life.

This point in my life time made me realise money could not solve life’s challenges conclusively. Neither did doctors or physicians. I only held onto hope. In three and a half months, I had lost quite a considerable amount of my body mass. I looked frail. Still, half of my body was paralysed.

In the long run, the Doctors’ Team decided that I had to be discharged. It had become clear that neither money nor doctors could save me from death. I felt depressed.  It was unimaginable that I was then to adapt to the new lifestyle. I saw it next to impossible to adapt to using a wheel chair or crutches for that matter. Up and until then, I was not able to sit upright. But I had an unwavering faith in God that all would pass. This, despite the fact that everything had worked against me.

It was not long before the day came when I was finally wheeled out of the ward I had resided in for three and a half months. The feel of the sun’s rays on my skin was welcome. The light blinded me momentarily. I appreciated the sweet outdoors. It was a different experience altogether. Those were the times I appreciated the simple pleasures of life that we took for granted like the fresh air and sunshine in the outdoor outdoors.

On our way back, my brothers assisted in purchasing a wheel chair and ensured I was taken to my house from where I started the painful, almost impossible task of recuperating.

It never occurred to me that I could walk again. Doing simple exercises like lifting my lower limbs required an extra hand. I had to be nursed to undertake simple tasks like shifting in the bed. I couldn’t even at times eat well and had to rely on fluid supplements to survive.

Learning to sit up was a big struggle. Learning to stand was another bigger huddle. Many a times, I would fall as I firmed up myself to attempt stand against supporting objects. But I will forever be grateful to my sister who is a trained beauty therapist. She would offer me massage exercises at a subsidized fee.

A pal, Tina, would always stay at my place to ensure am properly fed and cleaned whenever I messed myself up.

The struggle was real. But the biggest battle was in my mind – the thought of disclosing what was really eating me up. At least, only two people in the world knew what I was suffering from – my doctor and myself. It was a struggle to find relevance in a familiar world. A walk in a jungle too familiar yet punctuated with hounds out to chase you into oblivion through stigma.

It was therefore a surprise when three and a half months later, I was miraculously cured of the paralysis. The day I was able to walk albeit with the assistance of a crutch into the day light remains etched in mind like a black spot on a white washed wall. Indeed, positive focus and determination pays. I am still on life sustaining drugs. I stopped taking alcohol and a peer counsellor for many who are suffering out of fear of stigmatization.

A day will come that we will comfortably walk with confidence in this human jungle who least understand the battles raging in our souls. That day is coming, soon when we will walk with leopards in the lair!

[1] Bodaboda – A motorcycle used as a taxi for moving goods and people. Used mostly in East African countries

[2] Matatu – A public service vehicle used in Kenya, usually minivans that operate between towns and are boarded at designated termini

[3] Kawangware – A popular slum dwelling in North Eastern side of Nairobi City, Kenya.

[4] Mafisi – Kenyan slang term for hyenas. A derogatory term for boys who go about looking for girls to exploit sexually. Usually used for any young man with wandering eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

Be A Phenom

I love watching wrestling.

I know some may write me off as childish but i just love the game and its intrigues. Wrestling is a contest of strength, fights are done and the one with wit and style, emerges the winner. Many are the times brains conquer brawn in the game. So it wouldn’t be a surprise that WWE Wrestling is my favourite past time!

But that’s besides the point. In the show, there is one contestant who has the personality of ‘The Phenom’. The Phenom is a dominant force. In each of the premier show of the year, Wrestlemania, he has to be featured. The indomitable spirit of the Phenom is what makes this event more popular than even the Superbowl, the world’s most watched sports event.
In life, we have been brought up and taught to have personalities.  In school and elsewhere, we are drilled to have an impact through having personalities. It is therefore no wonder that most of us live to be seen to be like the socialites, going to the extent of doing unimaginable stuff just to be outstanding.  But going through the life stories of achievers and history makers the world over, you realise its not the people with personalities that make a mark. It is them who are phenomenal.
Even in the Bible, no person was used by God because he or she had a personality. It is those who choose to be different, them that purposed to be phenomenal.
Nothing gratifies in life as living a life thats phenomenal. History has proven that them that make it in life are the ones who choose to be different. It has never helped to just conform to world standards. Choose to stand out from the crowd. Discover your life purpose. Set out a course for your life. Work towards it and achieve. Choose to make a mark in this life. I always say, the worst tragedy one can have in this life is to live and pass on without leaving a mark. What mark are you making? Do you choose to go on just living a life or are you going to make your mark?

Stand out from the crowd. It is just a matter of choice to be phenomenal!