Friday, December 2, 2011

Growing up, Valentine’s was always a very special day. I looked forward to receiving candy from teachers and anonymous cards from class mates. We were too young to understand its worth. It all seemed fun then. Many years down the road of life’s treacherous path, that is accompanied with frustration and disappointments, our view of this day changes, from the happy, rainbow and colourful interpretation to when will this day end. Last year I realised how much I hated this day and this is why.

Love comes with a price tag. Clever entrepreneurs look forward to big sales around this time. Supermarkets put Valentine presents on front shelves, musicians plan launches and just about every business claims to have a package that will leave your partner happy. Those days a handmade card was all it took to get a yes. But now, out of the 365 days, February 14 is the only day you cannot say the magical words I love you without a present. That’s if you intend to get a positive response.

Whether you like it or not, you are likely to spend more than you planned, because it is not a good idea to say, sorry honey, I cannot afford that. Hope you understand. Chances are, she will not understand.

The competition is also ridiculous. The ladies look forward to 15th to tell all their friends how much their man cares based on what he did for her. This means the men have to step up their game on that day. You cannot do the regular dinner and movies. You have got to be extra creative. This exerts enormous pressure on each partner. Because the expectations are very high, the disappointment will take toll it’s in equal proportions.

Competition leads to evaluations. Your partner might never stop questioning the fulfillment of the relationship on other days because they are running back and forth. However on Valentines, when they look at other couples and see how they relate with each other, at that point they might ask themselves that dreadful question, “Am I happy?” Based on how things have been going between you two, there is a probability you might be single at the end of the day or month, depending on how patient your partner is.

I also hate the fashion part of it. When you go out, she expects you to at least wear red without putting into consideration that some of us look awful in that colour.

I suppose I truly hate this day because we tend to consult our emotions while spending instead of our wallets and account balance. The result of all this, is we find ourselves very broke on February 15.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jonathan Watching CNN

Deepest song I have ever listened to is "watching the sunrise in an old rain coat." it takes you back to the feeling; that the night was rough because of the heavy floods that left you fighting for your life and knowing it was the very last time you were looking at your dear mother and your sweet sister with the cloudy possiblity that you might never see your dad again; who for the first time did not come home for supper that night.
an old rain coat is the expression of the journey you have been on with this rain coat who you now refer to as 'mate'. the schools you have trot in with it. the days you wore it on top of your Russinga primary school uniform sweater. And on the days you stood in the middle of the rain after school waiting for mum and dad to pick you up.

Jonathan watching CNN
"Cyndi Lauper- Time After Time." The song reminds me of the days Jonathan and I sat on the porche, saturday mornings and listened to 'Rick Dee's' top fourty count down on capital FM. And him perfecly immitating the radio jockey with his deep American accent and I would be very facinated by it. It reminds me of the days I played Super Nintendo with him and wondered how he beat me every single time. Jonathan loved comics and anime.
He was the one who allowed me to watch street fighters even though it was above my parental rating. he kicked me out of the room until the inapporpraite stuff was off. Its those days we watched recorded episodes of star trek and power rangers on the Sony Video Casstte player.

Perhaps the real reason i am close to Jonathan is because there was a time Mum and dad were in the states and it was just me, him, Christine and my aunt Edith who I was not particularly close to despite the fact that she was the one face i could point to in my current life who i knew in my previous life.
mum and dad were gone for about six months. During this time which Jonathan and I bonded very well. he used to take me to Village market to his favourite Movie rental store and rent a cool movie for Kshs 80/=.

it was cool to have breakfast in the little dinning area at the house in Kuna. Jonthan loved shorts, t-shirts and white socks. he always was cool. and subcosciencly the person who defined 'cool'.

Phase of Kathleen
I have known Jonathan in two stages, "Jonathan watching CNN', and the 'phase of Kathleen."
'Jonathan watching CNN' is the period when I'd just arrived in Nairobi and confused as hell. Those same memories that seem so distant when i realise it was not so long ago when I showed up at the Kuna house with nothing but a polythene and a pair of slippers on my feet. it characterises the phase when Jonathan taught me English and forced me to watch Sesemi street on saturday morning. its the age I played with paper planes the whole day and drunk lemonade during half term.

However Jonthan left too soon for Biola University, leaving me with no brother around. It was a lonely time for me while alone in Nairobi. when Johnny left with mum and dad, Christine was sent to Uganda and I was kindly hosted by the Lukwago's who I will always be indebted to for putting up with a mischivious little Patrick. Tendo was already giving them enough hell but putting me with him was simply a recepie for disaster. we did cause alot of Damage; him and I. He was always my partner in Crime.
for the rest of the eight months mum and dad were in America, i seemed not to mind that johnny was gone, because Tendo always had my back. He was always ready to get into trouble if i was. it was also cool to be around Yosia who in every way I associated with Jonathan except I thoguth he was a younger version. I imagined everything Yosia did while I was staying with them, was what jonathan was up to before I was adopted in the Seruyange Home.

The reality of knowing I was going to shoot hoops all by myself sunk in when Mum and dad came back. by then we did not have a house yet because when mum and dad flew, they decided to move away from the Kuna house; with faith that we would get a better place when they got back. I know mum and dad blame themselves for having moved into the Kuna house because they think that is what tiggered Jonathan's Athma which he has had to battle with the rest of his life. It was hard for jonathan to accept it. i remember one night waking up very early in the Kuna house and crawling slowly up the stairs. mid way the seond flight, I got a view of the Kichen area. Mum was hugging Jonathan and he was crying. He was admitting to mum that it was hard for him to live like that. He was feeling sorry for himself because of the misery he saw ahead.
I slowly went back down to the basement and into my bed. I could not sleep the rest of the remaing hour. I was scared that Jonathan might not make it to see me learn how to swim. little did I know that my brother would meet Kathleen who has given him a reason to live each day with as much pleasure as a man who just passed the bar exam, given him a reason to smile like a man who has just learnt his first valuable lesson. She has filled his heart with more happiness than a man decorated in gold. She has been the partner that hasn't minded on the nights he has coughed through out.

That early morning Jonathan confessed to mum he was faced with the possiblity of being miserable all his life. he had no clue that there were more happier days ahead than those he had out lived in his high school. He had not imagined that he and Aki would still go on to be pals even through their marriage days. He must have doubted the possbility of ever living in a well decorated house during the time his Visa was running out.
At times when I think I must be going through the worst time in my life, I remember those days I was in my Freshmen year in high school back in Kenya and paying twenty kenyan shillings at an internet cafe and reading a letter from jonathan; explaining to me how hard his life was because of the hustle he was going through with the immigration office. Even in the midist of his worst tribulations he was still thankful to God for his mercy. One letter I have never forgotten was one in which he narrated to me how he helped one old guy change car tires and in turn rewarded Jonathan with $50.
however depressing it must have been for him to write those letters to me, I could tell he was trying to be a brave soldier with hope of being a role model to his younger brother back in Africa who looked up to him. I did cross my mind at one point Jonathan wanted to quite, pack shop and probably come back to Kenya. But I am glad he stuck it out like a real man. Challenges in our lives is what differentiates us from the little muscled boy we once were. As i write this I am going through the hardest time of my life, I can barely process what is going on around me any more. it feels like a house has collapsed on me and I am too far barried in the rubble to get someone to hear my cry. But reflecting back on what Johnny went through, i too have strength to keep fighting on. With my old jacket I wear every where, I know one day I too will drive a comfortable car and dine in a good resturant. That is what seems ideal right now when I think of what I am going to eat in the next couple of minutes.

The Now stage.
'Jonathan watching CNN' is so because in the early days of my arrival, KTN which johnny watched all the time aired CNN for the first few hours of the day and since father and mother; whoever was taking us to school that day was usually delayed. johnny would sit back in the chairs and watch CNN until he was ready to be dropped off at Roslyn Academy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Charity Fund Fad

In the past six months I have noticed something with almost every event I have been invited to. For some weird reason every committee that organizes these events seems to be compelled to start a Charity fund at the event. In the past half of the year, "Department funds, University funds, Village funds, family funds and the list goes on have been developed. Looking at the needy people in our society, I can understand the need to have more of these initiatives in place so that the funds can reach those in need. A charity fund also provides those with the money a chance to give back to society. Many times the people with the money have no clue were to put it and that is why they are invited for fund raising drives.
However my worry about the Charity funds that are cropping up at almost every Launch is their sustainability. While writing this article I took the time to investigate a charity fund or two that were started last year. In my findings I realized that after their original debut date, they are long forgotten until a year later when the committee holds another similar event.
Running a charity fund is not a walk in the park, it requires a lot of commitment and passion. Before a charity fund is set up, the people who give life to the dream must come up with clear objective goals and a vision which they will share with others who they hope will come on board.
If a person is committed to the cause, they should be willing to go the extra mile to raise the money needed to help those who need it. A clear example of a charity that is committed to the cause is the "Save a buddy foundation" which hold tea parties, fund raising drives and many other small events that seek to raise money to help students who cannot raise the full tuition. The same commitment of the fund to the people it helps can be said about those who run it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why it is a bad idea to have freedom fighters running an economy

I have spent a significant amount of time trying to understand our economy and where the leaders went wrong. The government blundered when it privatized all its entities. Because it now has to largely depend on tax collection to raise its budget. This makes it hard for it to subsidies any sector of the economy which might need help. leading to the rise in the cost of doing business for companies which eventually affects the common man. However if it still had enterprises to create income, it would be able to decrease taxes on some basic goods so that even with the sky high inflation, the condition would be livable. The government should borrow a leaf from the western world during the credit crunch. Governments used the episode as an opportunity to buy back some enterprises. Many companies in the Uk were bailed out by government and in so doing the government bought back these enterprises. There are pros and cons to this action, in most liberal economies it is urged that the market should be free and thus less government intervention. however in a country like Uganda that is facing abnormal inflation levels, it is now the government should have control over some parts of the economy. But because it sold off all its enterprises like Fresh Diary and Uganda Airways, it largely has to depend on collecting income to be able to run its operation. this is the reason why Taxes on the telecommunication industry are some of the highest in the world despite companies filing for tax relief. because it needs the money equally as much. giving the sector tax relief means they are going to loose out on billions of shillings which they will not be able to get from else where.

Why UEB was a better deal than UMEME
The transition from Uganda Electricity board to UMEME, the current sole provider of electricity in the country was anything but shady. like other deals done behind close doors, there were loop holes but there was nothing much a common man could do about it. Back then it simply looked like a branding campaign for the company to change its out fit and it came in a time when the load shedding was at its peak. Electricity was off for a full day sometimes. Generator dealers made a hefty sum of money in that season. A couple of years down the road, there is not much difference between the two companies in their service delivery and the cost of having a light bulb on, in the UMEME era is certainly more expensive.
When UEB was running the system, it was directly answerable to the government, meaning they served the interest of the country. however these days UMEME can increase tariffs at their desecration without consultation from the government. Unlike UEB, UMEME is an enterprise that seeks to make as much money as possible even if it means making the service unaccessible to the people in the village.
Also now government only benefits from the cooperation through taxes which can always be down played by the cooperation which makes the government a fool. Because the money UMEME is making is nothing compared to what is contributed to the government coffers. Before the profits realized from UEB were invested back into the different government sectors which meant the government had more money back then and this reduced the tax burden on the people.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sermon at midnight

I had always despised street preachers and taken them for people with time and breath to waste, but when I stopped to talk to one recently, I was challenged and left with a huge debt in my heart, writes Patrick Seruyange.

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Nobody seemed to be paying attention to him, not even me. From where I was, I couldn’t pick out a single word. But despite the chaos, occasional insults and hawkers competing for equal audience, he preached on. He was like a man stuck in the wilderness yelling for help, hoping that someone, somewhere, would hear his cry. Sometimes, we Christians take what we do too importantly that we forget the smaller contributions from other people. In God’s eyes, we are one body and equally perform an important role in furthering the kingdom of our Father. It is very tempting to despise pastors who preach on the sidewalks. Fellow Christians argue that their message is not taken seriously, or that they should only preach in church.

After meeting Emmanuel Walugembe preaching at 11p.m just above the taxi park, my perception towards side walk ministries changed.

Before talking to Emmanuel, I had all these preconceived ideas about him and his ministry. However, by stopping to talk to him, I realised that even though I did not pick any message from his sermon, his presence alone provided a challenge and provoked me to ask myself questions. There he was, smiling on, speaking with conviction and badly vouching for attention, yet I walked on and silently despised the influence of his ministry.

Walugembe was planting a seed in each one who passed by, a seed another person would perhaps water and have it blossom into salvation one day. It hit me then that even if nobody was paying attention, Walugembe’s presence alone was the message. A message asking each one of us what we are doing for Christ. A message delivered by a roadside pastor.