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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.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Mluhya Pwani - Episode 3


Yeeeah, you're probably wondering where the first two installments of ‘Mluhya Pwani’ are. Who am I kidding, you’re definitely not. You've probably just randomly clicked on another link on the internet and found yourself here. Anyway, there's this play by David Ives called Sure Thing, off his All in the Timing collection, that you really need to read. It basically examines the endless variations of boy meets girl and the ensuing pick-up lines. 

The play begins with a Bill approaching a Betty in a café, then asking "Is this chair taken?" To which she replies "Yes." A bell rings and Bill repeats his question to which Betty says, "No, but I'm expecting somebody in a minute." The bell rings again, and Bill poses his question again. This process continues until Bill is finally allowed to take a seat. The bell acts as a buffer against all topics of conversation that are potentially negative to building their relationship, allowing them to try another line. By the end of the play, their initial differences in opinion (they reeeeally had differing opinions on literature, movie tastes, romance etc etc...) So their differences have reversed making the two perfect companions. Both of them finally agree to fall in love and cherish the other forever.

The central theme throughout the play displays a few varieties of a possible conversation that end with a ringing bell that symbolizes a fresh start and a second chance to make a good impression. Okay enough with the literature lesson. So I've been in The Coast for the past two months on assignment...
…and just recently got a chance to take a break. So I walked into a restaurant in Mombasa earlier today and ordered some fish. As I'm waiting for the waiter to bring me my plate, this pretty girl walks into the restaurant and, since the place is full, sits on the only vacant seat - directly opposite mine.

She was not all that. I mean, I've seen much prettier ladi...who am I kidding, that girl was a goddess! So the girl sits down just when the waiter is setting down my food. I forgot to mention, the girl and I locked eyes for like two hours as she was slow walking into the restaurant with the wind flailing her hair and stuff, so I figured the planets had aligned and zapped us into this one big beautiful celestial body of love. I was wrong.

I'm the worst when it comes to ice breaking. One time, I let this girl sat beside me on a bus ride's umbrella drill a hole in my stomach just to avoid speaking to her. I hate starting conversations with people I don't know. It's hard! But I always have this urge to at least say a thing whenever I sit next to a pretty girl. I mean, that could be how I’m destined to meet my wife... 

Anyway, so I'm there sipping my juice, five minutes had gone by since miss world had sat opposite me. All that time, I was kicking myself to say something to her. Anything! I wanted to tell her about a Hemingway (nudge nudge, wink wink ;-) story I'm reading. Or of how I type pretty much everything that I need to do. Then I figured she would think I'm creepy. So I decided to tell her about my recent obsession with world history (by the way, I am one of those people that obsesses, that is, learns everything about a subject, and then moves on). 

I breathed in, then looked squarely at the girl. She was doing something on her phone. Probably tweeting about how she's sat next to this really handsome lad... I cleared my throat gently then parted my lips.

"Hi! It's pretty hot out here..."

Shut up Xavy, SHUT UP!!!!

"...you look pretty smart. What would you say if I told you there are ordinary people out there who will make more money in a year than you’ll make in a deca..."

The last bits of my phenomenal speech were muffled by the roaring fan mounted on the wall beside our table. Needless to say, the girl gave me the female version of this...
...before doing this... 


 Generally, there is an old saying that claims one never has a second chance to make a first impression. I haven't shaved my hair in a while – both facial, and head hair. I look a mess. Coast's heat isn't kind on me either. Ives play came to mind the instant the girl looked back at her phone. The girl stood up and moved to a seat that had just been vacated. My black face burned red.

I'm in a bus headed for Nairobi. My face still burns.