Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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20 Years Later and Death Still Hurts As Much

It was August 27th 1995; we were in school for remedial tuition. I was called from class by Mrs. Wang’ombe. This was not strange since I was the class prefect and it was common for teachers especially my favorite (Miss Carol), to call and send me out of school over lunch.

Guess who that sweet baby is...

Guess who that sweet baby is…

Something was different though. I could feel it. Mrs. Wang’ombe told me I needed to go see Mrs. Mathenge who lived near the school. She asked me to make sure everything was in order before leaving. As I walked to Mrs.Mathenge’s   I thought about many childish things but I never anticipated what I was about to be told.

I found Mrs. Mathenge waiting for me at her house. She started with some chit chat about how big my dog had become (a German shepherd I gave her since my mum would not let me keep it). Her eyes were blood shot red. I could tell she had been crying for a very long time. After trying to make me as comfortable as possible she finally gathered the courage to say it.

The entire world sunk. I became numb and every second seemed like a hundred years. I stared blankly at Mrs. Mathenge as she moved closer to where I was seated. She started crying and that’s when everything sped back to normal. I wailed heavily and from the heart. “You are a man Githaiga and you need to be strong for your sisters,” she said. At that point my tears dried up instantly and I never shed another tear until the day of the burial.

Mrs Njuguna back in the day

Mrs Njuguna back in the day

The last time I saw her, I was out playing with my friends. I saw my uncles walking her to the car and I dashed to say hi. “I am fine,” she said. “Go back and play, I will be back in no time. Please behave yourself. OK?” and she got into the car and they drove off. I went on to play. Everything would be OK. I was so wrong.

Mrs. Margaret Waihuni Njuguna was a woman I loved deeply. Even though I denounced her as my mother a million times, I loved her. Mrs. Waihuini was unpredictable. She was the love and terror in equal measure. She would switch between both characters anywhere and in a second. I seemed to provoke the terror side more than anyone else.

Mrs. Waihuini loved her family and especially her mother. Mrs. Waruguru Githaiga was the world to my mother and when she passed on my mother evidently lost her zeal and vigor. She was never the same again.  She had lost her source of inspiration. It’s like all she wanted was to go be with her mum. God granted her wish a few months later.

The Njugunahs. See those socks that boy is wearing?

The Njugunahs. See those socks that boy is wearing?

I lost the two most important women in my life at that time. My mother gave me over to my grandmother when I was a young boy. My grandmother ceasing the chance tried to take me to a local school but I couldn’t learn in the language they were using and so I refused to go back. I got my stubbornness from these two women.

My mother’s death was not painful until four years later when I finally cracked. It soon dawned on me that I was always too busy trying to be a man that I forgot to mourn her. I became bitter at the world for robbing me of my mother; my life, my everything. I was even more bitter at God because of not doing everything in His power to stop death from taking my mother.

What kind of a God can’t stop death? What kind of good God allows bad things to happen good people? Why would He take both of my parents when they world had billions of people he could take. What made it even worse was that “His people” said the wrong things in an attempt to console my sister and I. “She is in a better place”, “We loved her but God loved her more”, “She is watching over you from up there. “Though meaning well, these statements came back to haunt me four years later and I was furious because God seemed to have told everyone else about my mother’s departure apart from me.

Mrs Waihuni Njuguna. Quite Fashionable

Mrs Waihuni Njuguna. Quite Fashionable

When my mum died, my world ended. I was convinced that life wouldn’t go on. I believed that was the end of time as I understood it. I stopped dreaming unless the dream was about being with my mother. I hid my heart from hope and from faith. Nothing was worth holding on to. Moving to Nairobi made things worse because I was constantly reminded that I am in Nairobi because my mother was not around.

It’s been 20 years since my mother passed on. I have lived longer without her, something I never thought possible. Even though every now and then I miss her, I have learnt to live with the scars of her absence. Death of a loved one is a language that is unique to an individual but it’s the most painful experience anyone can ever go through. It only gets worse with the unanswered questions, the missed opportunities, and the ‘if onlys’ continue to haunt us long after the world has moved on.

Mr and Mrs Njuguna on their wedding.

Mr and Mrs Njuguna on their wedding.

I scoff at people who demand that we “move on.” Yes our lives must go on and they eventually do but if we are honest enough we will admit that we left a huge part of us “back there.” All the same the longer we live; the pain becomes part of us enough to be bearable. We learn to see the benefits of being alive. God grants us “better moments” every now and then like finding love, fulfilling our dreams, having our own family, being a source of hope to someone else or making a difference in other people’s lives.

But the more “better moments” we get, the more we wish our departed ones were here to be part of the stories they inspired. It’s been 20 years since I got to the end of the road. God has been gracious to give me many “better moments” including surviving a snake bite and life continues to surprise me every day. My mother’s corrections and affirmations continue to influence the kind of person I am today.

For everyone who is still asking the questions. There is nothing wrong with you. There is no expiry date to missing someone who passed on. One day, twenty or so years from now your “better moments” will creep up on you and warm your once frozen heart.

The Njugunahs representing about 25 years or so years ago

The Njugunahs representing about 25 years or so years ago. Do not look at the feet.

Hope.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru

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Get In the Kitchen

I often consider myself a good cook. I don’t know how to make fancy food but I can put together a burnt offering that tastes better than my friend Dj Soxxy. If you grew up as the only boy in your family you will agree with me that there are a few “traits” that you pick up either by force or willingly both of which are for your own piece of mind. Soxxy and I grew up as the only boys in our families. This meant that we had to learn a lot more than just kitchen stuff.

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Briefing from the professional.

In our home the kitchen and dining were “holy places”. We learnt early enough to take our plates to the kitchen after eating. Actually, you were not supposed to leave the dining table until you had swallowed your food. Talking with food in your mouth would easily land you a slap heavy enough to make you choke. No matter how late you were or what you needed to do urgently, my mother always operated on the principle “No balloons” which meant bite only what you could chew.

Beyond the kitchen, proper toilet use proved to be a difficult lesson for me. My mother made me clean the toilet every time I “missed the mark.” If by mistake I did not “shake well after use” especially because I was in a hurry to go out and play, I had to wash my shorts – an activity that was often accompanied by tears. Like most boys the first stop when you got back to the house had to be the bathroom. Sometimes you had to remove everything and still tip toe to the bathroom. If you never went through these critical steps of growth you need a refund because you never maximized your childhood.

There were two things that I was ordered never to play with. You need to understand that back then when your mother told you not do something she was not testing your knowledge of your rights as a human being. “My mother said No” was the most valid reason you could give and not have a re-battle. It was ultimate. So my mother in reasons best known to her as a mother declared from the roof top, “Thou in thine right mind or otherwise shalt not play with fire or a knife, for if you do you shall surely die and it’s not because you will hurt yourself. Far be it from you oh ye foolish son that I bore to be tempted to play with fire and/or knives.”

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Take 1!

So for a long time the kitchen was a place I was sent to wash dishes (I must have washed our knives with fear and trembling lest they tempt my curious mind). It goes without saying that the devil (who else) managed to tempt me to play with both and death has never seemed so real. The first aid I got was not medical. Eventually all these don’ts about the kitchen made me curious and so today there are few Kenyan meals I cannot cook. If that feels like a brag it very well could be. Top on my ‘to learn’ list was Chapati, until recently when the doctor banned wheat products from my diet.

I therefore don’t understand what got into Dj Soxxy to nominate me to compete with him on the popular K24 TV show Get in the Kitchen. I will not spoil the surprise for you. Watch the show on Tuesday at 8pm to find out who won. Let me also put it out there that Soxxy isn’t as fat friendly as I am. We can deduce a lot from just that. I highly advise against pitying him because of not being fat friendly. While at it, please remember the adage that says, ‘Never trust a skinny chef.’

That said, being on Get in the Kitchen was an awesome experience for all of us. It made me appreciate the effort that goes into that room every day. It is sad that we seldom appreciate the process (cooking) as much as we do the product (food). We have been told that kitchen is no place for men; I beg to differ. From the time we started to prepare what we would cook, it was obvious how many utensils we used to make a single meal. Luckily for us, we were having fun so we enjoyed ourselves as we cooked.

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Take 45!

Get in the Kitchen made me realize why my mother would get so offended when I said I did not feel like eating after she had worked tirelessly in the kitchen to put something together for me. Being a single mum, she must have worked hard to make enough to buy the food. She then had to make sure she was home in time to prepare the food for me. Regardless of how bad her day was, it never reflected on her food. My sisters learnt to cook early in their lives but when they were in school my mother made sure I had a great home cooked meal every day.

Cooking isn’t just about preparing food, it’s about planning and cleaning after. It’s about knowing way ahead what you want to achieve even before you start. You also have to factor in how to balance your meal. . When preparing the food itself you have to think about timing and when to add the ingredients. You consider the heat, the amount of water, the time, the portions and how best to present the food.

Cheering Squad!

Cheering Squad!

There are many injuries that occur in the kitchen as Soxxy found out. There are times when the food does not turn out how you wanted it to. Sometimes you are not even in the mood to cook while other times all you want is a well prepared meal by someone else. I know our culture emphasizes that there is no space for the man in kitchen but until you get into the kitchen, you will always take food preparation for granted.

As men, there is a lot that we can do in the kitchen beyond tasting if the meat is ready. If we never do anything else, we can at least get into the kitchen to keep our mothers, sisters, wives and Daughters Company. We can beat our chest as much as we want, we can complain about eating bad food or the same food for years but until you get into the kitchen we may never really understand what it means to have a good meal.

Guess who prepared this meal!

Guess who prepared this meal!

So before you complain about that meal, take time to appreciate the effort the person who prepared it for you put in. Even the simplest of foods takes effort and time to prepare so once in a while, it would be nice if you and I actually got in the kitchen whether as tourists, first aiders, motivational speakers, casual workers, chefs, messengers, spies, investigative journalists, plumbers, friends or simply as fathers, husbands brothers or sons who want to give the ones we love a hand. Gentlemen, let’s Get In The Kitchen!

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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In Your Dreams!

I am such a dreamer. I believe in extra ordinary possibilities. Yes, the line between faith and dreaming is probably very thin but what if there is a place for both? Of course I would like to be more of a faith person, it’s socially (and religiously) acceptable but I have to admit I am a dreamer.

dreamer

Being a dreamer is often looked at in bad light. If you walk up to a lady, (forget all the courage us guys need to muster before doing so,) and propose something you consider “extra ordinary.” Wouldn’t her most likely response to your foolish courage be “dream on” or “in your dreams”? Oh, and don’t forget that if you don’t approach her she will consider you a coward. We have to choose which title to live with when it comes to the ladies and most of the time it’s both a dreamer and a coward in equal measure.

I love dreaming. My mind is so animated that at times I feel like a young boy who still believes anything is possible. I thought this would stop once I hit my “thates” but every now and then in broad daylight I will catch myself dreaming. My dreams are so random that I cannot indulge you in such childish thoughts. I have however always thought of dreams as a precursor to faith which leads to action.

Do you dream? Have you ever dreamt of something very silly like having super powers? Powers that would make you uproot the corruption and poverty in this country? Have you ever dreamt that you had super powers to expose injustices and those behind it? Have you ever dreamt of being able to see people’s intentions and thoughts (especially our leaders?) Don’t you ever dream of being able to make “deserving” people’s lives better? Being able to pay school fees and hospital bills and take entire families for holiday? Am sure you have dreamt of sinking boreholes and discovering precious stones that would make Kenya a self-sufficient, wealthy nation.

Well, if you have ever dreamt of free, excellent education and health care, access to clean water and better sanitation for all Kenyans, better roads, no traffic, safe (not safer) neighborhoods, an efficient judicial system that defends the rights of all Kenyans and punishes all crimes evenly regardless of who commits the crime, if you have ever dreamt of better living conditions and low cost of living for every one including yourself, you are not alone and it’s not unusual. Far from it.

Dream until

What if destiny uses these “silly dreams” as a way of reminding us when we are settling for less? What if what we so quickly brush off as stupid dreams are seeds of faith germinating in us? What if our hearts and minds have a way of showing us the possibilities available for us if only we can dream? What if dreams are the future’s way of cheering us on to want and desire better than what we are getting now? What if dreams are our true voices speaking back at us, affirming what we believe but are fearful to reach out?

Imagine if we were crazy enough to dream. Imagine if you and I dreamt of better services from our government and the leaders we vote for. Imagine if we dreamt that our leaders in any capacity would do whatever it takes to be the best they can to deliver services to those under them. Imagine if we dreamt of refusing to pay bribes and being heroes enough to admit and pay the price for our mistakes. Imagine if we dreamt of standing up for what is right at whatever cost.

Imagine if we dreamt of ourselves being the change we want to see in our country. Imagine if we dreamt of ourselves being good citizens who are so proud of their country and each other that they defend it with everything they have. Imagine if we dreamt of leaving behind a dreaming legacy for our children and their children. Imagine if we dreamt of ourselves seeing our dreams come true.

I know what you are thinking “dream on” and “yeah, in your dreams.” But what if dreams are the future’s way of reminding us that everything is possible, if only we believe in our dreams? Dream on!

Eleanor Roosevelt’s once said “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Edits by Wanjiku Kimaru


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The Heart Ruin Run

I had not planned to attend the Mater Heart Run this year but Mr and Mrs Soxxy “coerced” me to sign up and buy the tshirt. After that there was no turning back. I had a week or so to get in shape and if you are like me and your CBD (tummy) has not been devolved yet, then you know walking or running can be quite a task. (Children, stay away from bacon it’s not from heaven.) I also managed to drag along my girlfriend Ciku hoping she would offer the much needed moral support.

Photo courtesy of @DjSoxxy

Photo courtesy of @DjSoxxy

The “run” (herein forthwith referred to as “walk”) started at around 9am. The turnout was great as the entire Nyayo stadium was painted green. In fact you couldn’t get into the stadium without having bought the t-shirt. I had an issue with that especially because you cannot force people to give to a worthy cause. That is a story for another day. To mark the beginning of our worthwhile venture we took a selfie.

Photo courest of @DjSoxxy

Photo courest of @DjSoxxy

It always feels nice and sort of rebellious to walk in the middle of road. I know that seems vain in comparison to what others do in the name of rebellion but I admit I was very tempted to start yelling “Haki yetu”! At the Uhuru Highway and Haile Selassie Avenue roundabout you could only see hundreds of green t-shirts. Most of us may have misread the objectives of the event because we never saw a single person running.

It was a beautiful sight to see children as small as three years walking hand in hand with their parents obviously distracted by the presence of many ice cream vendors. The youngest of them all was a few months old being pushed in a pram with not even a care in the world. Some parents seemed to give in to the tantrums of their children quite early while others managed to control their children’s thirst. They were not the only ones, Soxxy’s wife Anne and Ciku were beginning to rationalize the temptation as well. But not Soxxy and I. We knew why we were there. We were focused.

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The first water point was a few meters after the Kenya Railways Club. We decided it was not yet time to start drinking water. We were of course thinking like the professional walkers we had become. This water point however changed our conversation for the better part of the walk. It’s not just our conversations that changed, our mood and perception did too.

One or two bottles littered here and there didn’t raise much alarm at first but when the entire road was covered in hundreds of plastic water bottles and plastic seals then there was reason for concern. We initially rationalized the littering saying that there was a cleaning company whose contribution to the event was to collect the litter during and after the run. But soon even that thought became unsettling.

The first thing we noticed was that most of the bottles that had been thrown away still had a lot of water. We began to ask ourselves why anyone would take a sip or two and then throw away the rest. Was it because water was readily available or was it because the 300ml bottle of water was too heavy for them carry? Was it because most of us took two or more bottles only to realize later that we weren’t that thirsty after all? Whatever the reasoning, it was very inconsiderate and wasteful of us.

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The other thing we noticed, was that at all the water points, there were huge dustbins availed for obvious reasons. Most of us did not even notice them. We grabbed the water, broke the seal, dumped it, drunk the water and disposed the bottles wherever we deemed fit. Why would we leave garbage bins behind only to go litter a few meters away? How much time would it have taken us to open the seal and dispose it appropriately in the provided bins? How long would it have taken us to drink up the 300ml water and then disposed the bottles in the bins before proceeding with the walk? How heavy were the bottles that we couldn’t carry them to the next water point and dispose them properly?

Our conclusion was, there is a huge problem. We are not a responsible people. The run helps to raise funds to cover expenses for heart operations for deserving children. This is by all means a noble and worthwhile cause and everyone should support it. While we are engaged in changing the lives of these young ones, we also need to think about their future and ours too. What will become of our home if we don’t take care of the environment?

Someone once said we only have one earth and there is no planet B. There were many parents who by littering in the presence of their children unknowingly taught them a lesson that will probably take years to unlearn. Indeed, children learn what they live. The same applies for the parents who saw their children litter and never reprimanded them carefully explaining to them the need to conserve our environment.

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For the rest of us who knew what we were doing and still went ahead and littered, our case is sad. It’s even sadder for those of us who thought that there was a cleaning company whose sole responsibility was to clean up after we had intentionally littered. When will we realize that this is our home? When will we wake up to the fact that there is no backup environment “saved” somewhere that we can revert to?

It is presumptuous and wrong for us to think that it is someone else’s work to take care of our environment. It is my responsibility and yours to make sure that as far as we are concerned we have done our bit to take care of our environment. Only then can we point a finger on our leaders when they don’t do their bit. So we did save a child through the run on Saturday, but by ruining the environment that child will grow up in we ruined the same heart we ran to save.

We set out to be part of a big vision and we ended up being part of an even bigger vision. The Mater Heart run taught us what really matters. Now it’s up to you and I to run with the vision of saving as many children as we possibly can be also taking care of the environment that will be their home and that of their children’s children.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Noah Floods; Kenya Edition

This past week got me worried on many levels. I was in traffic longer than I was in the office due to the heavy downpour. None of my leaders, from the president, governor or any of my leaders apologized for holding me hostage. None of them even went to see the damage the rain caused residents in South C (sea). Many people slept in their cars, had their property destroyed, kids traumatized and still had to go to work and school the following morning.

Almost a week gone by, have we seen anything done to ensure such a mess never recurs? Has the County Government written or produced a Public Service Announcement on which routes to avoid or general movement order if it rains that heavily again? Has the County and the country been sensitized on possible disease outbreaks? Have we considered the most at risk populations if the floods persist? Do we have an evacuation or resettlement plan for people in these risk areas that also includes people with disability?

Does my government only respond to mass deaths and huge catastrophes? Why wasn’t a helpdesk set-up to assist those who lost lives, those who were traumatized or those seeking affirmation and reassurance about their next move? Why were there no appeals for clothes, blankets and food stuff for the affected? Why was there no #WeAreOne hashtags trending that night? What about the visits to the affected homes by politician albeit for PR?

Why was there no declaration of a public holiday to allow Kenya’s workforce time to rest? Why were there no free ambulances sent out around Nairobi or better yet choppers to make sure that anyone who needed emergency medical assistance or evacuation was not stranded? What message did we tell all those Kenyans who were affected in one way or the other about their value to this country?

I am very fortunate and blessed to work for an organization that values me. I was getting calls as late as 3am from my line managers asking me if I am safe and if I needed assistance. We were actually advised to work from the house the following day and to avoid unnecessary movement until “normalcy” returned in the city. Am I not lucky? (Asking with the tone of the girl who recited a poem for the Dep. President)

Photo courtesy of www.hekaheka.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.hekaheka.com

How many others were unlucky that evening? How many Kenyans only got home to shower, dress up and go back to work after spending the entire night in traffic? How many Kenyans went to work for fear of losing their jobs but their minds were at home wondering where they would sleep that night? How many home owners went to work to please their bosses but deep within they were crumbling because of the millions they had invested in the now “sewage infested” homes or the trauma the little ones underwent inside their submerged school bus

What would we have lost as country had we paused to show solidarity with the affected families? Imagine the sense of patriotism Kenyans would have because they felt valued enough by their country. We don’t have to wait for terrorists to attack and lives to be lost for us to show each other that we care. At that moment a mother needed time to compensate the time she was away from her children. Some children needed to recover from the trauma of being trapped for more than 10 hours the middle of nowhere.

Workers needed time to rest and rejuvenate their strength so that they can deliver at work as expected instead of going to work the same morning they got home. The greatest investment a nation has is its people and the greatest investment the people have is their bodies. Many of us were cold, hungry, tired, frustrated and anxious for hours on end. Surely I must mean something to my country. Am not a robot!

God forbid but had there been a terror attack on those congested roads at 3a.m we would have heard from the President and our leaders. But we were alone like sheep without a shepherd in the forest. None of our leaders found a way to reaffirm and console us. We all huddled together in the rain, at petrol stations and food joints yawning and shivering at the same time.

Your silence, my leaders was the loudest statement you have ever made. You missed an opportunity to unite us. You missed a chance to validate our choice when we voted for you. You broke most us. The Next time it rains that heavily we will follow your leadership. Every one of us will run to save themselves not caring about their neighbor or anyone else.

All I wanted to hear that night (and morning) from my president and his leaders was that I would be fine and that you Mr. President were doing everything in your power to ensure my safety regardless of where I was. The County Governor’s statement came in a tad too late, in the morning. A friend joked that Nguata Francis’ job was in danger since the Governor’s statement read like it was from the Weatherman.

These are the seemingly small things that build or break a nation.

The bigger question however remains, “Have we both the government and the citizens learnt our lesson, are we better prepared for next time”? Only time (and rain) will tell.

Editing by Wanjiku Kimaru


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In God’s Name

A lot has been done in Kenya in the name of God. The other day, a pastor in Machakos is said to have been caught praying for naked women in the middle of the night, as if clothes have been known to hinder answers to prayers. In the name of God, a group of gun blazing youths recently left an entire nation wounded and 148 promising Kenyans dead.

This is not the first time “shameful” activities are done in the name of God.These days, the miracles promised in the Holy Books to anyone who believes, are now on sale on the pulpit, in parks and in buses. In pursuit of these seemingly elusive and expensive miracles, many a people have sold their shambas and other possessions only to be robbed of the hope that put them on that journey. Others have in the name of God refused to take their children to school for education or to hospital for treatment. The list is endless.

Christianity isn’t the only religion that has had its fair share of challenges in the name of God. Our Muslim friends are now looking for ways to deal with the radicalization of the younger Muslim generation into religious militias that have seen Kenya lose many lives, the recent Garissa attacks still fresh in our minds. We have seen Mosques turn into battle grounds as the police raid and disband suspects hiding inside the mosque.

Religion is personal maybe that explains why most people are very defensive when it comes to matters religion. But does that mean we ought to turn the other way when religious injustices are going on unchecked? Where do we draw the line? Do we have to wait for lives to be lost for us to act? Do we have to wait until an entire generation has been radicalized before we say its needs to stop? Or an adherent who will not take his children for immunization and chases away health officers? What must happen for us to start talking about the danger of “unchecked religion?”

What can you and I do anyway? I believe the answer lies in very uncomfortable quarters -cleaning up our places of worship. Christians already have a perfect example on how to clean their places of worship. Jesus once went into the temple and chased out the people who were doing the wrong business in the temple. Our places of worship, just like during Jesus’ days, have become “A den of thieves.”

Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass. (Photo: www.huffingtonpost.com)

Pakistani Muslims Form Human Chain To Protect Christians During Mass. (Photo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com)

The government has intimated that they want to start regulating religious institutions. My suggestion is we do it ourselves; if we don’t and the government authorities do so, I guarantee you there will be an uproar. We will feel as though our holy places are being intruded by outsiders and most likely we will be up in arms.

I believe the religious umbrella bodies like the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and Supreme Council of Muslims (SUPKEM) need to be empowered especially by the religious groups they represent to play a more active role-in monitoring what happens in their respective groups. These umbrella bodies also need to have powers to shut down religious institutions that do not adhere to their code of conduct.

There should be registration procedure put in place before one is allowed to start a church. All activities happening in the Churches, temples and Mosques should be privy to their umbrella bodies. If any doctrine is being taught in any religious institution that is not in line with the Holy Books, action should be taken against that institution. This way, the government authorities will only need to deal with the religious bodies as they do with unions.

Religious leaders will need to do what they preach and be humble enough to submit to their umbrella bodies just as the congregants submit to them. Their finances need to be audited by an independent professional auditing company. This way, if any activity is noted in a religious institution that is questionable, the umbrella body will be asked to account for them. If that institution is not registered then the government can close down the institution and take legal action against them. If it is registered then the government deals with umbrella body who in turn takes action against the individual institution that is “out of line”.

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them in Nigeria's capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotund

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotund

Sadly (and God forbid), if status quo remains and we don’t put some controls to our religious institutions. Religious intolerance will soon soar and cause religious institutions to form militia groups to “protect” themselves from the other religion or fellow religious institutions. Worse still, religious leaders might start aligning themselves with political leaders who promise them “protection” once they are in power.

Pirelli, the world’s fifth largest tyre manufacturer have a slogan, “Power is nothing without control” and a common phrase from the Spiderman movie is “With great power comes great responsibility.” Friends, our religion and our faith need to be checked for our own good. The latter (faith) is personal responsibility. You and I have the great responsibility (are mandated) to live our lives as the Holy Books we subscribe to dictate.

Libraries are a great resource to help us add knowledge and complement our education. Spending time in the library reading is beneficial to our education but it does not guarantee passing exams. In the same way, Churches, Mosques and other religious facilities are just aids to complement our faith. Regular attendance helps us increase our spiritual knowledge but these institutions should never replace personal devotion and effort required to grow our own faith.

Power is nothing without control and with great power comes great responsibility.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru


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Kenya Bowed.

“Kenya Unbowed!” “We Are One” and “#147NotJustANumber” were some of the headlines during the Easter weekend after the terror attack in Garissa that led to the loss of over 147 lives. Yes, one hundred and forty seven young and promising lives. This was the saddest Easter season in the history of this country.

weareone.co.ke

Photo courtesy of http://www.weareone.co.ke

The same disaster that brought this nation to its knees also made Kenyans and the world over take a stand in solidarity with the victims. I am sure that is a card the selfish terrorist had not thought about. Kenyans donated blood, gave foodstuffs and offered counseling to the victims and their families for days. The social media went viral as the world over condemned the attacks. In anger, images of the slain terrorists went viral and so did the photos of Kenya’s security elite squad, Recce as they put to an end the standoff at the university.

The Garissa attack is still a very sensitive issue to the affected families and Kenyans at large, however there is need to pause and reflect on how we are handling the entire situation. I love the fact that we are very resilient as a nation. We have an extra ordinary drive to pick ourselves up and continue with our lives. This is a good thing but only if we learn from our mistakes.

So, was Kenya really unbowed that weekend? Are we unbowed today? Who said we are unbowed? Is it the victims of the attack, their families or the rest of the country? Who wasn’t on their knees that weekend? Whose heart wasn’t shattered as the number of deaths increased every hour? Who did not pray that terrorists would burn alive without the option of death? Who did not wish that they had certain supernatural powers to rescue the innocent university students? Then how is it that our headlines were “Kenya Unbowed?”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.cctv-africa.com

I cringed at the thought of what the students experienced that early morning; terror, panic and confusion with nowhere to run for hours!Calling your parents and hearing their voices for the last time, soaking yourself in a pool of blood so that you can appear dead when the terrorist walk on your throat, hiding in the closet and under the bed for hours and hours on end, kneeling waiting for your turn to be shot as bodies drop one by one next to you, gathering the courage to save yourself and running because your life depended on it. Unbowed? We are One?

Parents must have been looking forward to see their children during the Easter season or at least hear from them. Some parents had taken loans to take their children to the university; a sacrifice worth making. Some parents had exhausted their lifetime savings so that their kids would have a chance of a better life. Their children were full of dreams and vigor to change their lives and that of their country. A phone call from the terrorist as they mercilessly shot the students is not human in anyway. Those parents will never forget the screams of their children or the voice of the terrorists. Some will forever blame themselves for taking their children to the institution. Kenya Unbowed?

How dare you and I say how unbowed we are? What do we know about pain and terror?  Many parents would not even identify their own children’s bodies because they were disfigured while others will have to live with a traumatized child without an idea of what they can do end the misery. How many of the victims have contemplated suicide maybe that would stop the nightmares they have in broad day light? Do we still think Kenya is Unbowed?

Let’s not forget that the terrorists had families too. They were born and nurtured by a mother and father somewhere. They grew up within a family of brothers and sisters who will forever suffer for the selfish actions of their siblings. Their parents are hurting too. We all probably think it’s their fault that their children turned out to be terrorist but they too are in as much pain probably even more because the flesh of their flesh went against everything they sacrificed for them to take innocent lives. They too need comforting and validation that it’s not their fault. Imagine what the look on people’s eyes and their whispers are doing the terrorists families? No one is telling their story, they too are victims but do we think they are unbowed?

behance.net

Photo Courtesy of http://www.behance.net

What about the leadership of the country? Are they unbowed? I am sure our leaders are all too familiar with the security situation in the country but none of them ever thought it would cost the country so much. Neither did you and I. We are a nation in pain. A nation with so many questions. A helpless nation not hopeless but helpless. Helpless that we cannot turn back the hands of time and save the young lives that we lost that morning. Helpless that no matter what we say or do even though important, will never bring back the lost lives. Nothing we can ever offer compares to the loss these families experienced. The lives of the survivors will never be the same again. They will forever bear wounds and scars that only eternity can heal, if it is meant to.

So dear brothers and sisters, we are not unbowed. Far from it. We are crippled by pain and questions. We are on our knees. Our hearts are full of anger, hate and we cry for vengeance. We are bowed. But just for now. Tomorrow beckons. Even though we are wounded and have lost so much, tomorrow brings hope. This hope however needs not to be a false sense of calm. This hope should be a promise to our country that never again will we (citizens and the government alike) leave our posts unattended. This hope dictates that You and I become vigilant to secure our own future by securing our country.

We are bowed. Yet we rise. We rise.

Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru