Get me outta here!

Monday, December 25, 2017

White Elephants Prt 2


To read part one of this story click here :-)

The lawn behind the Presidential Palace teemed with guests when Mustafa finally pulled into the crowded driveway, an hour after checking into the gates. Security had been heightened in and around the premises, with numerous checkpoints being set up on the road that led to the palace. Jazz music emanating from a band playing under a pavilion softly accompanied the guests’ din. A man in a crisp red coat yanked Anisa’s door open and effortlessly flashed her a smile. It was clearly practiced. Mustafa was already at her side by the time she had stood upright beside the already pulling away car. White gloves extending to her elbows now covered her forearms and Mustafa hastily held a stylish bisque jacket behind her. She slid her arms into it before he gently pulled it over her shoulders and then adjusted a paisley tie that throttled his thick neck. His bespoke black suit was equally immaculate, befitting the elegance that the surroundings reeked.

“Are you okay?”

Anisa nodded at her brother.

They made their way into the foyer and on emerging on the lawn, Anisa’s coat and gloves had yet again given way to her lanky arms and slightly visible back.

“I see Zu,” she said looking toward the performing band. A black woman next to the pavilion was speaking to a group of people whose faces were wreathed in smiles. She coincidentally tilted her head and met their glance. Smiling, she slumped her head sideways and winked. Anisa smiled back then sneakily waved at her.

“Your children will be so beautiful Mumu! If they take after their mother. You? You’re just plain ugly.”

Mustafa chortled and softly prodded her ribs.

“At least I’ll have children, cat lady.”

Zuria curled her arms around Anisa’s torso then darted backward to take in her appearance.

“You are so beautiful Isa!” she crowed.

“Not as you, Zu.”

Mustafa stood mutely, awkwardly taking in the female ritual unfolding in front of him. He cleared his throat.

“Yes, you too are beautiful Mustafa,” Zuria quipped as Mustafa pecked her cheek. “Aww, you wore the tie!”

“It’s hideous Zee!”

“I know!”

Anisa chortled.

“I’m glad you’re here! The Gambian ambassador, with his awful fake accent, has been all over me.”

“He still wants to buy you lunch?”

“He wants to get into my pants, that’s what!”

“If only he knew what I know…” Mustafa jested. Zuria covered her face with her hands in mock mortification.

“I love that band,” Anisa cut in, gently bobbing her head to the music’s lilt, her eyes firmly shut.

“Wanna join them?”

“Oh no no no! My father would kill me.”

“He’s not here though.”

“The cameras are,” Mustafa chimed in.

“I want to Mumu!” Anisa pleaded.

Musa was protective of his daughter. Overbearing at times even, but always let his guard down whenever she was around Mustafa. Mustafa was a toned down version of Musa. He was still his son though. One could tell. His indrawn disposition, firmness at times and jolie-laide warped nose.

“I’ll ask them not to take any photos.”

“I don’t know…” Anisa vacillated, casting Mustafa an imploring look.

“Okay. One song.”

“You are the bomb Mustafa.”

An excitement suddenly engulfed the room. Everyone’s attention was shifted to the palace’s well-lit patio. A short black man in a red cap, with a tall white man who clearly knew how to wear suits well in tow, walked towards a furnished green tent set up besides the pavilion. Two women on either side of the men followed slightly behind. The atmosphere around the garden abruptly filled with the sound of handclaps.

“Gotta go,” Zuria blurted before squeezing Mustafa’s hand.

The crowd grew quite suddenly. The two men sunk into the leather seats modishly arranged in the tent. A waiter stood rooted in front of Anisa and Mustafa, tray held out and fake smile riveted on his face. Anisa returned an equally fake smile and picked a glass of champagne. The fizzing bubbles popped as she took a generous sip of the yellow drink. Mustafa had picked a tumbler filled with vermouth. He supped at it, his tongue lapping against his lower lip every time the tumbler left his mouth.  

“You really want to sing?” Mustafa inquired nonchalantly. It was more of a statement than a question.

“It could be my big break.”

“Zuria is a bad influence on you.”

“She encourages my abilities,” Anisa softly protested.

Zuria got back to them just when everybody was moving to the tables set up in front of the green tent. The red tube dress she was in earlier had given way to an arresting blue blouson dress whose hem enthrallingly embraced her thickset hips. Mustafa coughed.

“What?” Zuria asked simpering.

“I chocked on sight of you.”

“I look that bad?” she quipped planting her lips on Mustafa’s.

“Far from it,” he answered as Zuria rubbed out a red lipstick smirch off his lower lip.

“The president must have an extra room available for his niece and her boyfriend,” Anisa hissed at them, her face slightly contorted.

“Sorry Isa,” Zuria apologized. “You’re on next by the way. Before the food is served.”

“Whoa! It’s that easy to get a gig?!”

“I know a friend,” Zuria smiled back.

The jazz band had long been replaced by a group of oddly dressed young men with bizarre hairstyles.

Kalimba, kalimbayooo…

“Do you know how much your president hates those guys?” Zuria asked.

“What! No way! They sing in every national function the president graces!”

“He hates them. My father said the president told him he only has them sing because they sang to his wife once, and she thought he had asked them to. So she has always had them invited to state functions.”

The young men were now dancing on the pavilion, their lead singer gyrating his waist uncivilly. The black man in the green tent clapped his hands and laughed as he pointed out the lead singer’s evocative movements to the tall white man. The white man apathetically nodded his head.

“There’s the Gambian fool,” Zuria pointed at a table as he tapped Mustafa’s thigh.

A fat bald man was laughing as he grasped a woman’s waist. He shook as he laughed, as though he was having a series of convulsions.

“That’s not even his wife.”

A young man approached Zuria and whispered in her ear before leaving.

“It’s time Isa.”

Anisa sighed profoundly. She was used to singing in front of people. However, singing in front of the president was clearly an uncharted ocean. She trailed Zuria as they snaked their way between the tables onto the pavilion. The crowds chattering grew. The members of the jazz band ambled onto the stage. Anisa sat on a wooden stool and adjusted a silver microphone that had been thrust into her hand.
Then she started humming, her fingers snapping steadily. A wave of silence slowly descended upon the guests. Her lips parted. She sounded off-key. She kept singing. The murmurs arose once more. The band member with the red tie’s upright bass’ hollow plunks suddenly rend the air. The notes looped around Anisa’s now silvery voice before the saxophones timbres’, mellow yet bubbly, joined in ripping the air around with their reminiscent harmonies. Anisa closed her eyes and cranked up her voice an octave higher. The bass’ atonal strums intensified, the red-tied man now tugging on its strings wildly. Her voice remained stout and firm, her numerous vocal exercises coming off much to the awe of all around. The ensemble suddenly all together went mum, letting Anisa’s voice dance among the crowd. The saxophone player in a trilby then gently joined in, his instrument sounding like a man begging. The second saxophonist joined in the act, his instrument sounding kind of squeaky. Anisa opened her eyes, winked at the bassist and then suddenly stopped singing. The saxophones went dumb too, before the bassist started pinching on his strings and then swiftly damping their vibrations using his palms bringing the act to an end. The entire congregation was up on its feet. Anisa stood up and grinned. Mustafa was smiling and clapping too.

She walked down the set of stairs fixed beside the pavilion into Zuria’s embrace.

“Yeah, about pictures not being taken, the president kinda wants to award you a head of state commendation.”

“Wait, what?!” Anisa shrieked.

“The French embassy could also perhaps ask you to perform at an event next month.”
                                                                                     *
Anisa looked into the mirror in front of her. A card with her name lay next to her set of combs. It was an invite to attend a state banquet following Independence Day celebrations. Numerous luminaries would be in attendance, and several exceptional achievers would also be awarded state commendations. It was twenty years since she had gotten hers. As usual, her attendance was imperative. Her skin was a little wrinkled, time’s cruel hand starting to show. A five year old girl barged into the room.

“Mama, dad says we have to leave.”

“I’m done,” Anisa said smiling at the child. She ran out of the room.
Anisa picked up a lapel pin with the country’s flag and her name embroidered in its center. She pinned it on her coat and ran a hand through her cropped hair. She sighed and got up.

“Remember to carry your jacket Madison.”







Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mind Your Language


Hi people! How are all of you doing? This is me cleaning some cobwebs, as it has been eons since I last put up content here. I like to believe that I have valid reasons as to why, one being I got a job! Yippee? Anyway, frankly, I just have become lazy. Enough about that. Today, I would like to engage us in thinking about something that I feel is a massive misnomer, especially among us Kenyan users of English.
"...measure your height and weight..."

Every time I walk around the streets of our urban centers, I constantly run into people with machines that measure peoples ‘weight’. Weighing machines. However, today, during my lazy hour – a time when I just sit and seriously mull about important issues such as the meaning of the word ‘the’, life, yawning, why left is left and not right, death and myriad other beautiful complexities – I thought about something.

Physicists define weight as the force generated by gravitational pull on a body. They go ahead and classify it as a vector quantity. That is, a quantity that has both a magnitude and a direction. Quantities without direction are referred to as scalar quantities; quantities such as speed, volume and temperature. Weight is a vector because of the direction of gravitational force on a body, therefore it is the magnitude of force acting directionally on an object.  

Whenever we step on a scale somewhere along Tom Mboya Street, we actually want to know the amount of matter in us. Our mass. Has it increased, decreased or remained constant? Mass is not affected by directional force and remains the same no matter where you are in the universe. Physics measures mass in grams, while the S.I. unit of weight is the newton. So all this raises the questions: Is it right to refer to the contraptions we step on as weighing machines/scales and also, should we say we are getting weighed/weighing ourselves? Technically, I think it’s incorrect.

I remember a question that I got wrong once in primary school that went along the lines of: Which, between a kilogram of cotton and a kilogram of rocks, weighs more? I once shamelessly told Mr. Mangala the kilogram of rocks does. Needless to say, I was caned. I thereafter always said the two weigh the same. But is it really true? Does a kilogram of rocks on the moon weigh the same as a kilogram of cotton on earth? Definitely not! Their mass is the same but their weight isn’t.

Grammar is not exempt from this either. It is commonplace to hear someone say, “Weigh that bag of maize,” or hear a medical expert encourage someone to regularly weigh themselves. The nominal form ‘weight’ has birthed the verbal form ‘weigh’. Is it right, having agreed that what the enquirers actually mean is for one to find out the mass of something or oneself? I think grammarians should come up with a verb form of the word ‘mass’ for this precise instant. I have seen a verb form of the word, but its meaning is not remotely connected to the activity of stepping on top of a scale. The dictionary I consulted from defines the verb form of the word mass as: The action of joining together into a one body, as in:

The crowd will mass outside the palace.

The other  mass
Should we come up with a second meaning of the verb form?

Mass /mœs/ (verb): To determine the mass of something. (I find this funny because I remember joking around with one of my undergrad friends about how hard it’d be to get a doctorate in Linguistics without inventing a new word, as we believed all aspects of language had already been covered.)

And then we can construct sentences such as: ‘I am going to mass myself’ and ‘Make sure you mass yourself every three months’.

I think we should. And while we are at it, we should also change the names of our machines and how we word our Mathematics questions. We should call them massing scales/machines and ask unwitting class six pupils which masses more between a kilogram of meat and a kilogram of leaves. Am I thinking too much? Did someone else beat me to this? If not, I reques…nay, I DEMAND to be recognized as the inventor of the second definition of the verb ‘mass’. Let me know what you think :-)


Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Beauty of Grace

I recently caught a sermon on TV by Dr. Mamusha Fenta that really got my mental juices flowing. He was generally speaking about the duties of ministers of the gospel and leaders in the church, but, towards the end of his teaching, spoke of quite an interesting observation.
A study conducted by some organization had found that the number of people professing Christianity around the world, and especially in Africa, was at the highest it had ever been, and even was rising. What this suggests is that the number of individuals who have resolved to live upright lives as influenced by the work of Christ in them is actually on the rise. Dr. Mamusha however added an interesting twist to this discovery. Corruption, tribalism and decadence, he noted, are equally at an all-time high in the society we live in. Basically, we have a society of BELIEVERS who practice sin! Now this is unsettling.
This got me thinking. Why do Christians still engage in such vices despite submitting to the authority of Christ? Is it because of the hold of sin on us? Is the church to blame? Or is it that we do not truly embrace the faith we claim to profess?
God has of late been repeatedly speaking to my heart on the subject of grace, and I feel that we believers need to be resolutely reminded about the splendor that is God’s grace. A number of us fall short of the mark despite our candid relationships with Christ. If you are like me, after you sin, a feeling of guilt tends to sop your heart. I remember a while back, while still struggling with sin in an area of my life, the guilt of failing would at times become so much that I would even be ashamed to think about salvation or Christ. I always felt so filthy and far fallen, that I would even at times doubt the capability of God to forgive me at that point. So I always ended up getting into more sin, leaving myself stuck in this frustrating cycle that I seemingly couldn't break free from.
The bible speaks of the things an individual experiences when he/she sins. In 2nd Corinthians 7:9&10, Paul, when addressing the church in Corinth, speaks of how his letter reproaching their corrupt conduct affected them.
***2nd Corinthians 7:9 & 10***
Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death.
Each time we sin, we experience sorrow and sadness. How we react to this sorrow determines a lot though. When we feel sad after we falter, but still go back to our sin, we essentially are wooing death and distraction. Knowledge of our sin can however also push us to repentance. This, Paul refers to as godly sorrow. He actually advocated for it. He encouraged the church to repent whenever they came to the realization of their inadequacies. No sin is too great for God’s grace to cover. As believers, we have to remember that it is not our actions that earn us a chance to relate to God. We need not be perfect. Our own excellence He regards a filthy rag. We therefore should never despair when we fail, but instead should always run to God’s feet and make use of grace.
***1st John 2:1 & 2***
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the whole world.
I know a number of us cringe at this idea, as Paul in Romans 6 clearly admonishes those who sin because grace is readily available. I wholly agree with him. We should never choose to sin. What if I am really weak? I would rather run to the feet of Christ with my weakness every time I fall than stay far away and miss out on heaven just because I wouldn't want to ‘misuse’ grace. John clearly says that while the law was given through Moses, Christ brought grace and truth. Friends, we sin at times, but Christ’s death and resurrection were enough to cover all our faults, past present and future. We need to acknowledge God’s grace.
***Romans 3:21-24***
But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
What acknowledging grace does is set us free from sin’s grip. You see, if we do not repent when we fall, we allow sin to become our master. Grace ensures that sin lacks mastery over us.
***Romans 6:14***
For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
This enables us to walk freely towards sanctification in turn enslaving us to righteousness which changes and transforms us into individuals truly pure before God.
***1st John 1:9***
But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
Friends, let us be real with God. We tend to pretend in our relationships with each other that we forget and extend the same to Christ. Ernest, the writer of the beautiful blog Penstrokes recently spoke of how marriage reveals a person’s true nature. In marriage, the fake masks that we usually wear during the dating and courtship phases of our relationships are usually stripped off leaving our true selves to be seen by our partners. All the flaws and insecurities we oh so well hide, splay themselves in marriage. That is why it is good to be as real as we can with our partners from the very start. We should remember that we are Christ’s bride. We need to be real with Him.
***1st John 1:6 & 7***                                       
If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
See, God knows our true selves, and loves us just as we are. He saw us in our sin and filth, and still out of deep love for us, still agreed to give up His glory and came to die as a man. What He desires of us is not perfection of our own. He makes us perfect Himself. All He wants is for us to be humble and repentant whenever we fall short. Embrace grace.
***2nd Corinthians 12:9***

But He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.


"...anywhere you are, it's never too far away. There's freedom from your scars, the mistakes that you made, forgiven. The memories erased, baby that's the beauty of grace..."
 - The Beauty of Grace, Krystal Meyers.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Waiting


Growing up, I always looked forward to the day when I would have a wife of my own. I longed for the nights we’d spend watching corny movies together while snickering till we snorted. I hankered for the beautiful dates we’d go on and the times we’d spend together cooking and washing dishes. This desire stuck throughout my life in college, and was even increased by the high rate of relationship forming I witnessed among my friends.

My social life in college was awfully bland. I never liked going out, so I spent most of my free time playing computer games and swimming. I however always wished to meet that girl who I knew was destined to sweep me of my feet, but the few female friends I managed to make in college eventually got repelled by my odd interests. And I wouldn’t blame them either. I was the socially awkward twenty year old guy with a terrible fashion sense who never spoke to anyone. I’m quite sure I graduated college with a number of my classmates even thinking I was mute. When I did speak, it was mostly about uninteresting topics. I mean, who wants to talk about absurdism and the Napoleonic wars? It didn’t help either that I liked cartoons, Christian rock and metal music, or that I was miserably shy. I however still yearned for a relationship.

I was recently reading the story of Jacob and Esau in the book of Genesis, when I felt God placing in my heart something to do with waiting on Him.

The story goes that Esau, one day came back from one of his hunting trips famished, and found his brother Jacob preparing some stew. He asked his brother to serve him some of the stew, but Jacob said that he would only trade it for his brother’s birthright. Being hungry, Esau figured that the birthright wasn’t that big a deal compared to the immediate feeling of quenching his hunger. He traded his place as his father’s first born son for a plate of soup.

Most of us young people have this desire that God has placed in our hearts. The desire to have and enjoy family life. The desire to be intimate with another human being. It however becomes a bit hard to keep on trusting that the God who placed the desire in our hearts has an intention of actually fulfilling them. We therefore become impatient and get ourselves into positions that God would ideally not want us to be in. The number of young believers experiencing hurt from failed relationships is quite alarming, and most of it can be attributed to us giving up on the promise that God intends to fulfill the relationship desires He planted in our lives.

For most of us young men and women, the relationships we involve ourselves in have pushed us into engaging in things that have left us scarred, with sexual purity among us as young believers being seriously threatened. Like Esau, our hunger pushes us into trading the beautiful gifts God has in store for us for fleeting feelings of pleasure.

Firstborn children throughout history have always enjoyed some sort of privilege, and it is not any different in the bible:

***Deuteronomy 21:17***
Rather, he must acknowledge the son of the less loved wife as firstborn and give him the double portion of all he has, for that son is the beginning of his father's procreative power - to him should go the right of the firstborn.

Being a firstborn comes with its perks. As believers, the bible says that we have been glorified in Christ, who God repeatedly refers to as His firstborn:

***Colossians 1:15***
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Being saved in Christ, we qualify to partake of firstborn privileges.

***Romans 8:29***
Because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Whenever we lose focus and falter, we give up this birthright. In this light, losing sight and going for quick fixes threatens our inheritances as God’s children. The wife or husband God has in store for us probably hasn’t come yet because you still have a number of things to learn so that you will complement each other as you’ll be glorifying God together. God in his word says He is not a debtor of anyone, and therefore intends to fulfill all the promises He made to us, even those concerning our relationship desires as young people.

The beautiful thing is that Christ’s grace still abounds for those of us who have tripped. The bible says that while we have all sinned, Christ’s death redeemed and justified us before The Father.

***Romans 3:24, 25***
But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.

We, through Christ, have been made rightful heirs to all the beautiful things God has in store.

***Galatians 4:7***
So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God.

Despite all these pulls and trials coming our way, I would like to encourage us to remain steadfast in our hope and keep on praying and waiting on God regarding our emotional longings, as He still has in His hands the blueprints of our lives.

***Hebrews 6:20***
In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath, so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf, since he became a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

“…there is hope for me yet,
Because God won’t forget,
All the plans He’s made for me,
I have to wait and see,
He’s not finished with me yet…”
-Brandon Heath, Wait and See.