Monday, 2 December 2013

Simon Peter- the disciple for everyone.

The title of this article might be misleading to think that the writer is a theologian. I humbly submit  that I am not one but just floating issues that I have found quite uplifting in my recent devotions. I would love if anyone can develop on them. However, the title with all fairness indicates that I draw inspirations from the great New Testament theologian N.T Wright. 

For the last couple of days I have been reading and reflecting on Jesus’ life and earthly ministry with keen interest, following on calling, life and legacy of disciple-Peter- a fisherman.  One thing that the calling of the Twelve disciples reveal was that Jesus was calling men from poor backgrounds to serve with him. Rozen (2010,233) writes, “…at the time there were carpenters, pharmacists, bakers, fishermen, tinsmiths..." Fishing trade was done by people of simple means and the call of Peter signifies the importance of compassion that Jesus emphasized and the promise of hope of a better world, a coming "Kingdom of God" on earth to those who suffered.

Book of Acts 4:13 records the following about Peter and John; some version calls them “unlearned and ignorant men” while others do not mince words, “unschooled, ordinary men,” who shook Jerusalem! Further I went ahead to investigate what is transformation that happens when we meet Jesus. Ordinary and unschooled people, outcasts in society as well as marginalized get a turn-around in life that people realise that they have been with Jesus!

The Gospels tell the accounts of Peter with Jesus in details but none does so well than Matthew so I decided to follow him. In a well documented style Matthew is portrayed as Jesus’s closest disciple.

First to be called and immediately takes the place of leadership. Time and space does not allow us to go into details about everything that ordinary Peter did but the following encounters with Jesus reveals something extra-ordinary about him; The time Peter tried to walk on water (14:28-31), the time Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone (18:21-22). Is seven good? The time Peter gets to pay Jesus's taxes with a coin from the mouth of a fish (17:24-27). 

Matthew records Peter accounts so well. Peter calls Jesus “The Master,” “The Son of God,”… With inexpressible faith he followed Him, “Master if it is you tell me to come,” and without hesitation the man walked over the sea. Peter was a man of different character-even when Jesus rebuked him (by referring him as Satan) publicly he did not run away as many of us would if we experienced the same.

Nearing the end of His ministry Jesus chose Peter to be the rock upon which Jesus was to lay His foundation. (Mt 16:18-19) “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

There is something great we can learn from Peter today about following Christ!!

Some say You're just a good man
Some say You were kind
Some say You are in the grave
But I say You're alive

Some say You're just a prophet
Some say You were wise
Some say You were just a man
But I say You are God
You are my God

I will shout Your fame to all the earth
I will lift Your name on high
And the world will know Your greatness
You are my God
I will shout Your fame

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Monday, 25 November 2013

My encounter with anti-terrorism/Drug-unit police this morning

I had just boarded a bus this morning when just after a few minutes at around 5.07am it came to a halt. Few passengers alighted and more boarded. The last to board was a young, athletic man in his late twenties or early thirties judging from his demeanor. Swiping his oyster card, the system returned a red beep to signal that he did not have enough crediton his card. 

When such a situation happens, the obvious thing is the holder of the card to dig into his/her pocket and pay in cash or alternatively getting off the bus.  On rare cases I would imagine a customer could be allowed to still continue with his/her journey without interruption provided there was a reason to allow such a judgment. I say it is rare because I have never heard it reported.

This particular man was a bit interesting. Following his arguments I gathered he was not pleading to be allowed into the bus but rather seemed to question the driver why his card did not have credit. 

They say-the customer is always right- and the bus driver seemed to understand that philosophy pretty well-he gave him a listening ear. The would-be passenger went on and on about how he had spent the last top-up. Having heard enough the driver asked his oyster card and whipped it on the reader. As this was happening the other passengers were getting impatient and agitated.   

A loss of just a minute in London might mean missing your next connection, so their anger and frustration can be understood.  One elderly woman right behind me shouted ‘young man release the bus and get out now.’ In solidarity with the elderly lady, another well-built man added, ‘or I will have to remove you myself.’  At this point I was looking at my watch and a loss of few more minutes would have meant me loosing my connecting bus to the airport and consequently my flight but this particular situation was out of my control so I just sat calmly and watched as things unfolded.

Signalling danger, the fellow took the print-out from the driver and seemed to agree that indeed he had spent all his money. Turning back in shame or fear of retaliation from other passengers for wasting their time he started swearing as he left the bus while the passengers celebrated and one seated next to me shouted ‘good radiance.’ I doubt the passengers would have let him in even if he got a green light from the driver.

As we neared my stop I pressed a button to signal to the driver I needed to get out. The door opened and in a flash catapulted towards the station. It would normally take me ten minutes to cover that distance but I only had less than five. I got to my bus just as the driver ignited the key.Even when he said good morning I could not respond-I was out of breath.  I just smiled, flashed my ticket and found my seat.  

Thankfully I got to the airport an hour earlier and that meant I could sit down and relax and get my day started properly with a cup of tea.

Grabbing my hot cup I retreated to a secluded table and pulled out a newspaper I had picked on the way. All the paper carried, seemed about people complaining about life. From ‘Tax to tackle London bubble’ to ‘Luis Suarez  vs Mirallas hideous tackle.’  It was too early for me to engage with such ‘sensational’ articles in the morning after what had happened earlier. I needed something more refreshing. 

I folded the paper and kept it away. I got my notebook and pen and started scribbling my journal. I was caught in that intense mood that I lost conscious of what was happening around me.  At one point I posed to think as I looked straight on my paper on the table as my fingers played with my pen. Just turning my eyes to the left and to the right I saw feet of two men. They had well polished shoes and wore well ironed trousers. 

Still not moving my head, I looked at my two bags both lying on my both sides. There was a sniffer-dog which seemed to be carrying out an order with articulation. I decided to look up and on my left stood a well built man with police uniform who wore a stern face. On his hands was a semi-automatic calibre weapon and stack on his waist belt was a glock pistol and his friend seemed to have the same paraphernalia too.

I don’t know what took my mind but I looked straight into the eyes of one of the officer and asked him, ‘what is going on here?’ I presume I should have been the one answering that question from the police.  The police officer smiled and literary laughed for what I thought was the lack of an answer to my question.  The same was happening at the other end of the coffee shop.Dogs sniffing and officers on the look out for anything suspicious. This brought back old memories when growing up as I wanted to one day become a soldier and serve nations.

We exchanged few pleasantries and they left.At times we may not like police and their actions but these men and women work round the clock to secure our streets from terror and keep it clean from drugs. Kudos to London Police!!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Why the man of the soil loves London?

Awarded the best short film IFFF 2011, Man of the soil, takes us to unusually small island on the Carribean in Dominica where the story of one, Jerry Maka West develops. The film depicts him as simple man of the soil who despite the ‘busyness’ of city life manages to work his garden by growing and preparing food Just as his grandparents once taught him. His ability to skip in and out of a complex modern world without being drawn to it is just admirable. Maka’s lifestyle is to be envied not only by his contemporaries but by us all.

Visits to London often remind me of Maka West ethos and philosophy.  With its alluring beauty of arts, architecture, technology, music and history just to mention a few London has the ability to hold and own your soul. However, the whole experience could be exhausting and energy taking. 

As a student whom am used to be branded a poor fellow it takes an extra cost to whip out a train card to secure a passage to a bit of country air. Though, not given a chance to cook as my grandparents taught me like Maka, the ticket secured me the bucolic beauty of Hertfordshire in one school of missions by the name AllNations. There, I got to hang out with my good friend who updated me all I needed to know-well of course over a meal in a Jolly Fisherman Pub though the I heard that the fisherman signalling nice weather went away to the shore to bring more fish for tomorrow and therefore failed to meet him.

On another front London offers a place where all cultures meet. Having not had anyone work on my hair for almost a year now I decided to walk into a barber shop where this helpful lady from Nigeria worked. I explained what I wanted my hair done but she suggested few other options which she thought would be trendier but I declined and stuck to the original plan.   

She finished and I paid her but I needed to get change. Immediately she received by money she went over to her desk to a phone and started to chat with another person on the other end of the line for a period that seemed to go to eternity. At the look of things I don’t think she was in anyway talking about me but the grin on her face made me think she was probably counting blessings for yet another customer. 

Getting agitated, I walked closer to her and using sign language-sort of- told her I needed my change. Hanging the phone she asked why I was so much in a hurry-I need to catch a bus Madame! Wonder what Jerry Maka West would have done? Would the man of the soil have bothered by time or the change?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Kenya travelling on a slippery path of gagging the media

Historically the mention of the words ‘Kenyan MPs’ seems to elicit something of negative bias.  Though it can be said that they have made a huge contribution to the democratization and development of our nation, their sins are of equal measure. 

To just mention a few, they ashamedly without blinking of an eye award themselves heft allowances in a country with a very low GDP compared to many states. Their appalling attitude to wealth and its distribution fails my imagination. 

Forming a very minimal percentage of our population they sit on a class of society that enjoy security whether socially, politically or economically that many would kill to have. Their position of leadership is so elevated that it becomes the ultimate dream for many aspiring to make it in life.  

Every time we make a move forward as a nation these leaders seems to take us two or more steps backwards.  We cannot keep silent. Kenya cannot continue to blame other nations for her problems as true as that could be. We must take charge of our destiny if the 2030 dreams are to be achieved. 

We hate when we hear others call us corrupt, disorganised or untrustworthy. How can we defend against such claims if all people see and hear is misappropriation and embezzlement of public funds by people trusted by the nation to do manage their wealth.

Kenyan media has made a huge step in playing a key role of highlighting and informing the nation about issues that concerns us.   Corrupt officers are now publicly ashamed and declared; people are now more informed on issues concerning different enterprises be it those working in product or service industries. 

It is worth noting that though the media has made these huge steps there still remain a lot to be done. Poor journalism and reporting occurs daily and every government in the world makes sure that their media behaves appropriately. 

However, what our MPs have done this week cannot go unreported. They have set themselves to police and judge the media. Literally this means that you do not want as a journalist to be on their wrong side. Kenyans we must stand firm and condemn those who seem to be taking us backwards and MPs features top on the list!

Others writers views

Monday, 16 September 2013

More of my experiences away from home

Finally my arrival was marked by rain, a pattern that would follow the rest of the year which would either be wet and/or rainy and in better days windy. At the airport to meet me were a lovely lady and a fellow Kenyan all whom I had never met before, apart from few correspondences. We exchanged greetings and headed to where it was to become home for me.

It was at the beginning of autumn when a substance called chlorophyll that makes leaves green start to fade away which marks the third season of the calendar year in the northern hemisphere. It is indeed a beautiful season when the green colour of summer gives way to the yellow, red and eventually brown.  Seated at the back of the car my tiredness coupled with apprehension of what was to come made me pay no much attention to the conversations that were going round in the car. I just sat down, closed my hands and enjoyed the view outside as I got chauffeured home!

I vividly remember my first night. We sat down round a table for a meal. Across the table sat an American who shot questions to me one after another. “So, Gerald  do you like potatoes?” he asked. I don't know what to say to an American who seems to be my age and trying to grow a moustache with sad ginger hair. I want to be bold like an American and tell him that potatoes are not my liking but I can’t. Around the table are many locals and I had already gathered that answering no would not only offend them but many more within a radius of 100miles.  Choosing my words carefully I told him that where I come from we don’t have a lot of potatoes.

Later that night the whole community met round a fire to get to know each other and more so pray that the Lord of mercy would lead us through. My skin was feeling dry and full of goose bumps as the cold started to hit hard. Wrapped in my red Maasai shuka  I joined the fire camp too. I could tell from the looks of my new found friends that they were sympathising with me because winter was not in yet.

October sun would then offer light and warmth that made me feel good as I walked in a nearby park. It is the kind of season when wind blowing and rustling leaves causes a relaxing sound. This lovely sound effect is further enhanced by the sound of leaves crunching under one’s feet. The gentle breeze made the weather seem perfect and refreshing as i soaked in nature’s abundance.  It offered a serene environment to silently reflect on God’s faithfulness and majesty. 

The season I was told would only last for few weeks and there would be no more leaves anywhere. Back in Gaturi where I grew up I only knew about two season- rainy and sunny seasons. What a shock!

Kenyans have many fine attributes to recommend them for. Their hospitality is charming, their sense of humour is keen and their history is virtually unprecedented depending on who you talk to anyway. But punctuality is not a cultural virtue.  Our priority is one of context over process which makes it difficult for people to abruptly end conversations in mid-stream when the clock strikes the hour.

Take for example what might seem like a quick easy task to do- buying a bus ticket to Mombasa  on Kirinyaga road in Nairobi. After standing on the queue for what seems like eternity, you finally reach the partly glass partly mesh wire window and observe the guy manning the counter get up and walk away to return with a cup of sweet tea and a mahamri . It is pretty obvious that they have no scruples about chewing and slurping while serving the customer. In any case how is that going to affect selling tickets!

Local shops offer almost a similar sort of experience. You are at home and you start experiencing signs of malaria to which you decide to walk to the nearest chemist cum grocery to buy some medicine. On arrival you are met by a guy idling about waiting for someone to sell his assorted merchandise to. 

On enquiring he tells you that the shopkeeper is out to get some food but will be back soon. An hour later he comes back with a plate of chapatti and beans. As if that was not enough, he tells you that he has no medicine because the delivery guy has not turned up for the last couple of days and it is not known when that will happen. 

As one not used to monochronic time, it was frustrating, but it does not take long to slip into gentle flow.  However I still do miss the reality that time is a gift to be relished. It might not move quickly but it’s fast enough. If something doesn’t get done, there will always a tomorrow or another day. And even if that doesn’t happen well and good and who knows-may be it was never meant to be…..