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Archive for the ‘Challenges’ Category

Weak at the knees


There is a feeling that weakens the knees, melts courage and blinds any other focus. I am convinced this intense feeling is the key to bravery and hope. What a paradox that what makes you weak into fondness builds up hope, confidence and courage. Then all of over sudden in the blindness of your feelings you move to convince all and sundry that you found the one!

Many days ago (probably a year has passed) a friend of mine posted on his Facebook page that he had met and fallen in love with one cute girl. In my culture you never take hear say as the truth until such is presented to you first hand; therefore I did not make much out of but to “like” the status and left it at that.

Any good meal starts from the farm and nurture of all other ingredients – we watched as we learnt of increased mentions of dates, our friend became “friendly” scarce but this is the natural process of breaking out and cleaving as the scripture advises. We cheered from afar and prayed in goodwill for their well being. It therefore was a joy when the dates turned into court! By the very act of proposing in his romantic scheme on her birthday with a ring to boot. A few weeks later we were invited for the dowry negotiations and plans to travel out of town and witness fell into shape.

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The drive to Voi early morning of 29TH April 2017 was tranquil as the road led us through the fascinating plains of Lukenya, Savannah country of Kibwezi through Tsavo and the rich majestic hills of Taita. A stopover in Voi town to consolidate and team up with our friend’s family was done before we set off for Mwatate. The winding road up the Mgange hill was enchanting. The sobering height elevation and picturesque sights were just divine. The scenery of plush green with dotted trees and canopies was orgasmic to our eyes and spirit. As nature led us to the peak and the climax where clouds kiss the earth as fog and soft showers teased us. It was a glory sight that afternoon to almost be one with nature.

The journey led us to a homely village perched on the hillside almost at the top and to a rapturous welcome of Taita song & dance. The pretty dressed up ladies ululated and harmoniously belted out tunes that could arouse love from deep within!

From the introduction to the negotiations (which were successful glory to God) and the ultimate dance and see off ceremony – we witnessed culture with it’s goodwill and a people proud of their roots. As we set off in the dark, our hearts were at peace and our spirits excited in the flame of love. We had won even though it was only our friend who was “weak in the knees”  and had come out to rally a whole convoy of over 16 vehicles, numerous relatives and over 50 friends to take him to his in-laws. This proves that love is no weakness nor blindness; it is fortitude, gratitude and appreciation. Love definitely conquers all – the long winding road, the plains, the Savannah, the hills, the rain, the community (of family, friends even foes) and “the one”.

As we sat down to reflect the day at Voi Wildlife Lodge the following morning, we were in awe and yes the tone for more fulfilling journeys of love was reinstated.

SUNSET RISING


Sunset Rising:
by Lunani Joseph
The sun is set to rise,
The moon waves good night,
The dark pursues the day,
The sunset is rising –
Cockerels crow as time is marked,
No minute counts as the last light,
Many scamper to finish duties,
The sunset is rising –
Evil parades it’s tools,
The devil scouts for sport,
Who is safe than sorry?
The sunset is rising –
Ambush is planned,
Traps set for the naive,
The ground shakes from sabotage,
The sunset is rising –
No guarantee on security,
Safety is a treacherous walk,
Insanity dwarfs reason,
The sunset is rising –
The strong breeze time away,
The clever sharpen their advantage,
Assuming nothing even the assured,
The sunset is rising –
Wits are outsmarted,
Guts then become a weapon,
No weak heart in a fist fight,
The sunset is rising –
Nothing in the dark remains hidden,
Truth illuminates the facts,
However slow justice stocks up,
Then light springs unto the dark,
No sunset is final,
We rise in faith.

Winning Frozen Moments


Growing up we played many games some were ridiculous and somewhat absurd. There was one that we would play in groups and one would shout freeze or statue! Which meant those within the group should be still in the position they were in. Most of us were caught up in  ludicrous poses which were very uncomfortable. The gist of the game was when the one in play would try tickle or distract the “statues” from their pose. It was hard to keep still when tickles especially with feathers or blades of grass in obvious places. Slowly some of us learnt to ignore the tickles under our feet, around the armpits and other areas. But the areas around the ears, nose and eyes were most ticklish and as such we made rules not to use rouse them in the game.

Last night the Kenya Photography Awards 2016 went down in the Louis Leakey Auditorium at the National Museums Compound. Amazing moments captured and frozen in print were exhibited in different categories. Subjects caught in loudly unorthodox poses beneath endearing natural and creative lighting. The drama depicted in the pieces needed no mention as they sprang at our eyes with every glance.

This should be an inspiration to many to take up photography and pursue it passionately.

 

IMG-20160620-WA0003One of the outstanding moments of the event was when one Iteba Alloys who won under the creative series category.

IMG-20160620-WA0002His series dubbed “the Lantern of Hope” was shot at night with his little brother playing the subject holding a lantern lamp.

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Alloys is truly a creative and as he finished his award acceptance speech – he proposed to his girlfriend! Romance is daring and love’s fire is unnerving and stunts the unimaginable. As we grow older we are safe in what we know and what is sure. When you play “what ifs” they may discourage such a bold move as Alloys did yester night. Much to his delight the girl accepted the proposal. We wish them the very best in their courtship.

A well deserved win and a fiance for Alloys. Captured in time as a wonderful frozen moment. Hongera! to those who won and Baraka! to the many entrants and nominees. I am challenged to participate in the coming year.

7 Ways to Make Out of a Rut Stretch


Driving in unmarked roads will sure get you stuck between paths and by-ways. The terrain is normally uneven and springs surprises unto even the most discerning driver. There will be twigs to contend with, there will be sand pits that feign stability but give way too easily, there will be a bump that will require wedges to maneuver and a winch if not the tug of strong five or more men.

muddy ruts

Growing up in the village we witnessed many a vehicle get stuck especially during rainy seasons on our murram roads. It never made sense when they called them “all weather roads” – but then again it has a twisted meaning. That they will weather you out in all seasons. During the rains they would be muddy and a sore to motorists and pedestrians. While during the sunny season the vehicles would leave behind a train of smoky wafts of dust and grit to the pedestrians.

It is in the observations of seasoned drivers that I horned skills of getting out of ruts and continue to apply this as my journeys take me through scary ruts in the expanse of this country and beyond. Here are seven pointers to help you get out of ruts:

  1. Get out and scout the ruts

If by chance you never saw the ruts and got in abruptly then you have to stop and take stock. Do not under estimate a rut – small ruts can suck all your energy and still be stuck for hours if not days. Get out scout the area of the rut. Look for the smallest areas of advantage. It could be a strip of a stone or a hint of rock. That could be the much needed break to get you out of the ruts. Life has such and good breaks out of difficult times are often from unlikely sources. Look within and without for that advantage.

  1. Read signs, research routes and seasons

When you are forewarned you are forearmed. Knowing crucial information about a route or a venture from the onset is the best way to beat any eventualities. But then again if you find out that what you know is contrary to what you find on the ground then quickly un-learn, relearn and adapt. Flexibility is what makes the most of adventures and how charming are the stories to share from the experiences.

  1. Get tools and customize equipment or things

We have modern tools like a winch and the like then we have those that you build on site just to get out of ruts. We once got stuck in a small rut in the outskirts of Lugari forest with my wife and we built a raft like thing out of twigs and grass. And when we were almost out and noticed our raft like tool was short she threw in one of the car mats and guess what? We got out – though that action got her right in the pathway of mud as I stepped on the gas.

  1. Call in help early enough

Never assume a rut. Any problem that looks simple for you to solve might get you bogged down. This one time in the company of my wife, daughter and her nanny we set off in our Toyota Hilux double cabin pickup for our upcountry home. We arrived in the rain and the last stretch off the tarmac was muddy as usual. I have used this road for many years and never have I been stuck even in a two wheel drive vehicle. My assumption of driving a four wheel drive got us right in a deep rut. Another assumption of the rut got me revving up and before we knew it, an hour had passed. All this time I had ignored the free help that had availed itself as a small crowd had gathered around about the vehicle. Had I tapped into their help early enough then I would have been out in a jiffy. When I finally humbly asked them to help, those Luhya men about thirteen of them lifted the 4X4 from the rut in under 20minutes. Little did I know that a cane moving tractor had made the rut deeper and no matter how hard I stepped on the gas with the shaft firmly put in the rut I was not making progress but digging deeper. To date my wife remembers those men and how they loosely suggested and lifted the car out. “Si tupepeko hii kari tuitoeko kwa shimo mpaka pale” loosely translated as “Why don’t we lift this car from this rut to that place”. We laughed at their deep Luhya accent. And gasped as well at their demonstration of will and strength.

  1. Innovate and improvise quickly to start making progress however little

Ruts are always treacherous. They feign their looks and can deceive many. In business there are many problems that can rock the firm especially cashflow. When clients show difficulty in paying up; quickly discuss a payment plan with them DO NOT WAIT. However little the progress made reflects on the full amount – take it and review regularly. This also goes for supplier payments. When projected income is not netted as envisaged, go ahead and start a drawdown on the amount you owe them. A rut stretch however treacherous can be conquered in time as you make small movements. Always aim for the next jolt and step forward.

  1. Build up your guts and faith as the help feeds on it

Just like a fire needs kindling so does the help in moving out of a rut stretch. Remember to help them see the outcome you want. Then aim for small forward steps. Applaud them, get to know them in between breaths and call out to them respectfully. Show them how to handle your vehicle if you are particular about marks and dents. Cheer them up and offer your friendship as you never know when again you will meet. I have made good friends around the country from such situations and some have turned out to be very solid bankable relations.

  1. Learn: Listen, Look-up, Link up and move out

Being stuck in the rut slows you down. You can choose to whine on the time lost, dents caused and any other bad thing or create a knowledge base out of it. God has a funny sense of humour and he will use a rut stretch to get your attention. Learn the area of the rut, the people culture, take in the scenery, make friends and most importantly take lessons from the “being stuck” position. When you can draw “the what not to do”, “how to” and “why you do” then you have grown from the stuck position and may never get stuck in similar situations again. Many guys you have been stuck before in ruts – go back and kit their vehicles from the knowledge they gather in different terrains. Such that they are always better prepared when they encounter ruts again.

As we pursue our resolutions this year I pray we will all get out of the rut stretch; in relationships, business even spiritual matters and be well into growing for the better.

Genuine Winning: In Little there is Much


Winning is not everything if the basics and the core that is our inner thinking and belief structure is a mess. We have those who have lazy wins – where the other party did not prepare well and as such they did not put up a formidable fight. But those that have smart & consistent wins are a delight to watch even in their worst defeat. I like what my Arts teacher at Kakamega High School Mrs. Mushira used to say “It is more blessed to get a clean B than a corrupt A or a lazy E – when God knows you have put in your best and it is whatever grade then he is glorified in it and blessings abound” This qualifies the bible verse that says ” Little is much when the Lord is in it” Reuben Odanga the gifted film maker likes to quip this one.

We have countless examples of God using little with Bible Characters of old for his Glory. Remember David the small shepherd boy with a sling and five stones? Then there is the boy at Jesus’ meeting that had five loaves and two fish. I am reminded of Abraham and his small acts of obedience. Do you recall Moses the stammerer and his shepherd’s stick? I pray that anyone reading this will be challenged to use what they have however small with total abandon and all the skill they have in faith. It may look small, it may even be termed mediocre like they taunted David saying he was bringing dog fight tools to a war of mighty men. But when small combines with faith a winning combination is revealed. It is also true that others may mock your efforts and say small things yield small results which is a principle held by many; that should embolden your resolve to put up a brave fight.

Another bible example is of the four leprous men who had been left behind when their city was attacked. It was tradition and religion prohibited communing with leapers let alone tending for them. The disease was not only highly contagious but fatal. In 2 Kings 6 & 7 the story of faith amplifies the struggling steps of the four leprous men to a mighty sound like that of a huge army. In faith the leapers said to themselves paraphrased as: “If we stay here we die of hunger, so we better go into the city of Samaria and die on our feet trying to get something to eat and drink than die a coward’s life”. This mighty sound scared a Syrian Army that had won many battles (maybe lazy wins or otherwise since their core beliefs were thwarted by only sound without sight or they could have been winning by scaring tactics which now turned to them). In my village one stout boy at the Maturu stream we here we had gone to bathe challenged me to a fight. Now for a brownie – town boy opponent at that he knew he would emerge victorious. He looked tough and very muscular. He was the “first-body” of the area. Thank God a vehicle sounded from a far and I took the opportunity to shout “Lori ya mkate”. The second he changed stance to look at the road, I quickly threw a fearful heavy jab  that hit him square on his left chin. He fell down and rolled into the stream. All the village boys burst out laughing as I took to my heels. I kept dodging him until we were of a sensible age. Was that genuine winning? No! He would have thrashed me proper if it was fair.

What is it that scares our small efforts? Remember Walmart started as a small retail shop. Large Corporates like IBM, HP, Microsoft and Apple started from home garages. They must have had little space – improvised workstations and little pay if not at all. I am challenged to do my little as unto the Lord with gladness and refined skill. Play music and refine your skill until Kings want you before them always like David did to Saul. Serve the tables until the patrons only ask for you like Nehemiah the cup bearer that served King  Cyrus so well that they became solid friends. This resulted in rebuilding a wall that many years lay in ruin. General Stanley McChrystal speaks authoritatively in his book Team of Teams ” We should all lead like gardeners” whose excerpts were published in August 2015 by fortune.com gives an insight of how small acts in tact and intricate detail help armies and leaders achieve victory. For a well decorated soldier this truly is a knowledge base that is astoundingly rational but still connects to faith. In the bible God helps a King to pick a gardener to lead the army of Judah for his passionate detailing of the palace gardens.

Gardening is divine – first all things used in the trade are God determined. God provides the seeds, the soil, the weather patterns and the harvest. All he requires from us is obedience and devotion as of true faith in this score. Gardening is all dependent on God. It is then obvious how he instructs Isaac to plant during a dry drought and upon this obedience (Psa 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” NIV) we see the first ever recorded a hundred fold harvest. Just as an orchestra conductor God expects us to harmonizes the different instruments, notes and sound to produce good quality music.In the preparation of the land, details like strokes used to break, timing of harrowing, tilling technique, soil enrichment with specific nutrients, seed preparation, seed selection, weather reading, weather timing, seed positioning, weeding, pruning etc require  disciplined concentration and faith in action. My uncle retired Major Saya is so intune with his dairy cows that they know him – he feeds them, washes them, talks to them, walks them and has a routine well oiled for them that they produce gladly. It is in the small acts that brilliance calls us. It is the small details and faith that God’s victory is revealed. Once we had visited Uncle Retired Major Saya to watch Harambee stars  and he looked disturbed. He was one of the few owners of greatwall black and white television set in the village of Mausi and such attracted many of us soccer fans. Upon sharing he mentioned how the nappier was unhappy – this took me by surprise. ( Soon I will write on Plant Conversations now that I am enlightened) He then showed me the variations in colors of the popular dairy farmers grass. He mentioned how the manure dressed on them was not well seasoned and the strokes of the cuts was not as advised. This affected the nutrient levels and as such their unhappiness translated in Nekesa and Shimuli (his highest yielding cows then) having digestion problems which lead to a lower yield that day. This kind of details mastering is what delivers consistent winning.

How well do we know the little we have? How do we connect the dots of those details into our strategy? I am learning and hope to get a little better grasp each day.

 

IT IS NOT A DISASTER


I believe in what is practical and real but; fantasy is always a thought away – when spoken in faith then thoughts become great actions that change circumstances. We can spin the ugly into impressive truth – we can tune instruments and dull notes into polished music pieces. There will always be some urgency and nature’s principle dictates for each way there is an opposite. It is also true in every urgency there will always be still moments and slow events.

We all have dealt with emergencies one way or another. Even for those that meant running down the stairs to catch a glimpse of a beautiful girl one more time before she exited the building. Others are life critical and meant employing our first aid skills and engage in multi-task to make calls, bandage a wound, pray and fan the patient all at the same time.

What is evident that in all that craze and foray in emergencies – however short they may be there are always still moments. In many a movie we always are taken aback by the count-down to a bomb blast and the hero in split second precision looses his bound hands, saves the girl, works through a maze of other barriers and miraculously works out the sequence required to stop the bomb. All in the nick of time.

It is this  belief that art is a reflection of mankind that whatever the disaster we could save the day. Like the heroes in the movies, when we are calm and face adversity with tact and composure then victory is sure.

We have faced some stormy times in business and as a family too. We have had to deal with an emergency after another in quick succession. This caused a lot of anxiety and grounded our faith. Help never came from the quarters we were sure of, neither did it come from those we thought it could. Through it all we had only ourselves – got no sympathy vote – we had to just stay put.

The experience opened our eyes to a new level of faith. Where as a child you pray and believe and with the analysis of the Hebrew boys (Shadrack, Meshack & Abednego) we also had to say in prayer that if God chose not to save us then it was still okay.

From objective analysis we did what was expected of us – finished assignments in time and within budget, invoiced as scheduled but payments took longer than usual.

From September 2014 many things went south, business dwindled, payments were slow and inconsistent which translated into bulging overdrafts. The overdrafts were a shy replenish to company deficits and never fully fit. So when they were due – the deficit kept growing and the strain continued.

Cost cutting measures were a sigh of relief but often short-lived. To remain competitive there are costs you cannot afford to cut and in many cases to fully optimize you need to increase some costs. We have had difficult discussions with clients, suppliers, bankers and God. Especially when we lost our unborn baby.

We have been scared and the dread of what was to follow gave us confidence. Most importantly we now truly believe our help is from God. He raises those you never expect to come to your rescue. This does not mean those that did not help are your enemies; far from it – God makes it all beautiful for his glory.

I dare say that the forecast of the Elnino is not a disaster in waiting but unveils opportunities for our leaders (that is you and me) and the collective efforts from all of us to give of ourselves (time, energy, expertise, skills, talents and money) for God’s glory. Plan to help – ready your tools, money and all manner of help for a great work ahead.

The Gain in Losses


Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ~Walter Anderson
The song ” It is well with my soul” by Horatio G. Spafford is said to have been composed when he seemingly had lost his children and the better part of his riches. It depicts a man anchored in faith and wet in the spirit not by tears of the tortourous elements of this life but of resilience and fortitude in God. His confidence and joy remained undented and are embodied in each line of the song’s lyrics:

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Winston Churchil once quipped “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Where do you draw such robust enthusiasm and tenacious joy? The ruffle that any kind of loss brings is unsettling and can remain a nagging quiz to our humanly minds and bears like no other heavy burden to our hearts. I believe only faith in God is this achievable.

This last Saturday, I was privilledged to catch up with my TV. The hours we clock at work and attend to other pressing matters many a times make it almost impossible to sit infront of the TV and watch anything. We always glance as we rush about or stare at it as our brains churn unto other issues. I am grateful time availed itself to watch the TV. I caught up with a movie that was showing on Star Gold channel named Club 60.

Club 60 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The movie is not your common bollywood flick with a villain and a hero. Far from it, this is an all engaging story around the losses that life brings. The story starts on a sombre note when Dr. Tariq & Saira loose their only child and son. This not only unsettles them but takes a heavy toll on the father Dr. Tariq who even attempts to take his own life. The wife Dr. Saira suggests they move from Pune to Mumbai. They move into the a flat they had bought for their son Iqbal. They are met by an overly jovial and friendly neighbor Manubhai.

Manubhai is a very cheeky character – he is frivolous with life and goes about with full abandon. He is keen on recruiting the new couple into the Club 60. He comes out as a very nosy neighbor – he shows up unannounced – speaks his mind and heart – quick to indulge anyone and everyone in his chatter.

Club 60 1

 

 

 

He is oblivious to the loss the couple are coming to terms with. He is confronted by Dr. Tariq when he unexpectedly pops into their flat quite late to ask for ice cubes. Even then his enthusiasm and joy is unruffled. He comes back with their common friend from Club 60 Dhillon also grappling with a loss of his own and had called at Manu’s. He changes the mood of the couple from sombre to celebratory.

In the whole movie it unravels the loss of each of the club 60 members loss behind the facade they put out for all to see. It showcases their struggle to adapt and steps towards generous living. This startles Dr. Tariq into the reality that he is not the only one who has lost – to his surprise he learns that Manu faced the flogging that life can bring and still afforded to smile and live free.

My pick from the movie is that there is a lot to gain even when we have lost. David Sirlin aptly puts it in his book Playing to Win: Becoming the Champion that “Losing is part of the game. If you never lose, you are never truly tested, and never forced to grow

 

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