Ongala Maurice

To Inspire is to Empower


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ATTRACTION AND DISCRETION

When the face you have been staring into with grins and goosebumps turns into that of a monster. When the hands you have been enjoying to clasp burst into flames and burn your own. When the lip you have been kissing grows proboscis and sucks your blood dry. When the chest you have been hugging with fondness pushes you hard and you fall with a thud. When your hope of a blissful future turns into a painful eternity…

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“When the hands you clasped burst into flames”


Attraction is a natural law of socialization. Everyone needs some amount of attraction in order to be comfortable doing certain things, keeping a certain job, being in certain places or keeping certain people as friends or acquaintances. Without this subtle yet powerful law, all you engage in will soon turn out to be meaningless and worthless regardless of how dazzling and cherished they are right now.

Stop forcing yourself into a clique you are not attracted to. Stop trying to fit into a job which doesn’t satisfy you and which you don’t enjoy doing. Stop trying too hard to love people when the natural attraction jar between you and them is only emptying down rather than filling up. Stop trying to study a course that you have no attraction to, only to please your parents and professors, because they want to be proud of you when you finally hold that title.

Listen, you would rather die, than live a lie. Be real. The greatest form of betrayal is that committed against self. When you betray yourself, you have only yourself to blame

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“Do not be too timid to affiliate to your attraction” 

because you had better options on your hand but you consciously chose the wrong one. Sooner or later, the friends you were trying to please by staying on in an abusive relationship will be all gone. The relatives you were struggling to do their will, will soon leave you to your own devices when you are already shattered in a love triangle or smashed in a pitch-dark emotional abyss.

The Advisors-In-Chief who opened pages of “Relationship 101” for you day and night, will run short of lies, their prophecies will be nullified by time, their theories will cease to hold. Then they will block your communication channels. You will feel like dying after realizing just how cold this world can get. All these because you were not real in the first place. You were living your life to please others who sadly, didn’t have your best interest at heart.
With all these, where then is the place of advisability? Should we be headstrong and ignore every voice that cautions us and every instruction that we receive? Nay! This is where discretion comes in. Exercise discretion with caution and fearful obedience to God, especially when you know what God’s express will is, in such a situation.
You will be branded a few names here and there for it. Some ugly rumors will run across social media of you being a heart breaker, indecisive, ungrateful, tough headed, proud and evil. You will be ostracized by your family, discriminated against by your friends and maligned by those you held most dearly to you. But that is just fine, because it is both a phase of growth and a learning curve. 
During this phase, you need to keep your pen and note pad closest to you. Don’t let a lesson go un-learnt. Here you will unlearn to learn. You will sift and shift. You will acquaint and quit. But when you are done, you will be the best version of you: bold and strong, wise and knowledgeable. You will be ready to face the world. 
See you in the next article!


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WHILE I CARRY ON


The story of legendary songstress Lydia Achieng Abura is one that gives my heart so much pain. Struggling with one too many things in life including terminal medical conditions, a sickling son and loss of close family members to be left all alone! Then came the hypocritical celebrity friends who left her to her own devices… 
This reminds me (aside). Recently, a very close friend of mine lost her beloved step brother just a day after I had prayer by his bedside and we had expectant hopes he was gonna get better – he is no more. Death indeed is painful and tragic!

Anyway, I thought you should know these about me, y’all hypocritical friends: 

I want to be translated and in a twinkle of an eye, ‘be caught up’ with the resurrected saints in the air as we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. 

I want to sing happy Hosanna Hallelujahs to the King of Kings as we match on into The City of God.

I want to do my best by God’s grace to work, watch and wait for that epic day so it finds me ready…

But since death is real, and since it is not for me to decide whether I be translated or not, I thought I should tell you the following too: 

Don’t wait to buy me a coffin when I die, afford me a shelter now while I carry on.

Don’t tarry till I’m gone to come dress me in a sassy black Italian suit and exquisite silk Prada neck tie from Milano, and that costly gold cuff-linked white cotton shirt from wherever – I need them now, while I carry on.

Don’t wait to come shed crocodile tears in my funeral as though they could raise me from the wooden box, come cry with me now when I need a shoulder to lean on, while I carry on.

Don’t wait to come to my funeral, grab the mic and lie to mourner how I was a good man yet during my lifetime all you did was to slander my person and assassinate my character. 

Don’t wait to pile up roses ūüĆĻ on my casket and grave after I’m gone. Give them to me now while I carry on.

Don’t wait to write condolences on my social media pages when I can read then no longer, show me kindness now while I carry on. 

Don’t wait for my demise to say, “We loved you but God loved you most…” and those tired plagued lines; come assure me of your love now, it will rejuvenate me while I carry on. 
Please, do me all these things while I am yet alive. While I can afford to hug you, smile back at you and thank you, while I carry on.

#SeasonsOfGrace


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The Luggage or The Flight?

Doubtless, you need both. In fact, both seem equal in significance. The one literally takes you to your destination and the other sorts you out while you’re venturing on escapades away from home. If you’re a frequent traveler, was there one instance when you were compelled to consciously choose between your luggage and the flight? When you just couldn’t have your cake and eat it, like we do many times and take it for granted? What was your choice? Come with me.

December 2009, good year of the Lord. A young Kenyan student in his early twenties is making his second grand trip out of the country! He’s thrilled and intrigued. Thrilled as a student of Anthropology because he can’t wait to meet and greet the people of West Africa, experience their culture and contrast their diversity; and intrigued because he has to go down south to Jo’burg before he proceeds up west to Dakar. What a journey! But for some reason he loves it. Back then, take off and landing were bitter-sweet experiences which he clearly didn’t mind.

So on the material day, journey begins at JKIA. All luggage intentionally checked in for Jozi just so he could go trace the damn baggage carousel in the massive Oliver Tambo International Airport, check it in again for Dakar and feel nice! That was part of the adventure, how could he miss that? 


But immediately after check in at JKIA, kaboom! Something not so normal happens. One of the counter attendants for South African Airways announces with the eerie Southern African accent that has exerggerated r’s and d’s – you’d imagine her teeth are crushing pebbles instead of nuts, “Sorry your flight is delayed by at least 7 hours… The airport runway lights failed last night so the aircraft didn’t land… Some flights were deflected to Mombasa and others to Julius Nyerere…” By the way, you should’ve heard her pronounce “land” as “leeend”. I can’t.

As you’d expect, one or two white dudes start cursing vehemently, fisting up and throwing hands in the air. Americans are easy to tell, my brother, they rule the world! To this, another SAA lady, stout, short and light skinned with tiny eyes and chubby face, comes forward and barks in a coarse diction, “The mistake was not ours, please blame the airport management, not us…” 

Meanwhile, this young student chuckles. That “Please blame” line sounds to him really amusing but now is not the time to laugh. He is disgruntled in the queue. He’s thinking about his connecting flight at Jozi and how he’s gonna spend these 7 or so hours at JKIA. He remembers a close friend, Donna, who works close to the airport, calls her up. She comes just in good time. They talk time away, sip vanilla shakes and crush some nuts (not pebbles). Time is eaten like pounded yam, the bliss of friendship. Soon they part ways with a warm hug and a “take care, safe travels” line. 

Time to board, time to fly and four hours fifteen minutes later, time to land! But fresh trouble begins right after disembarking the bird at O.R Tambo. First step into the airport, still at the immigration and police checks, this young man hear his name on all the loud speakers. It’s a boarding call, only unique and scary because they’re only calling his name. Each time they call they say it’s his very last chance to board. His eyes pop. His anxiety heightens. His fingers are sweaty and clumsy. He answers the police with repeated nods, grabs his passport and yellow fever certificate and dashes to nowhere! Then he stumbles on a man in uniform and asks where his boarding gate is. He gazes at his boarding pass then roars,

“Hey, are you the one they are calling? They have been calling for too long, use the escalator then go downstairs and you will see your gate!”

“But what about my luggage, sir?” He asks

“Did you check it in for Jo’burg?”

“Y-yess sir”

“My friend, choose one”

“I don’t understand”

“The luggage or the flight”

Tough choice there. The seven hours he thought he had in O.R Tambo were spent in advance at JKIA. But why do people refer to you as their friend when they’re only meeting you for the first, and probably last time? He wondered. Anyway, the uniformed man advises him to take the flight and leave the luggage as it would be impossible to get a seat in subsequent SAA flights since it’s December, a peak season. He further instructs him on how to use his baggage claim pass to trace his luggage once he lands at L√©opold S√©dar S√©nghor. He assures him that he would have his luggage delivered to his hotel in a day’s. 

So he thanks the man and off he dashes with a whizz, albeit half-heartedly. As he boards the Airbus, it is clear that the whole crew has been waiting for him and it is such a relief to them that he came! He feels like the man of the moment – he is. Nine and half hours above the clouds, no sleep in his eyes. The poor boy is thinking of his luggage that he left in SA and wondering they’ll ever be united. To him, it’s more like a break up between two love birds who just don’t seem to get over each other but neither has the humility to make the first move in making up…

Two days later, SAA delivered my luggage right to my hotel room! 

But come to consider it, life is a constant choice between the luggage and the flight. In this choice, passion, appetite, dazzling allurements, and company are no safe guides. In this choice, we are called upon to be radical and consciously abandon the luggage and baggage that deter us from flying. 

Like in my case 7 years ago, baggage always seem very important and greatly to be missed if lost but the truth is, it’s not! At least not as much as the flight. Life calls us to strive with our very blood to excel, tread wisely and leave our footprints as landmarks on the sands of time for our posterity’s sake.

We struggle daily to impress, under self-instigated duress, people and things who probably care nothing about those impressions. Yeah, the pressures of life are enormous and compelling but some times it makes sense to abandon all the craze, take a respite and re-evaluate the worth of these struggles, then with rejuvenated resolve, give it a fresh shot.

Will you choose the flight of the luggage?

#SeasonsOfGrace


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Going Down Below

Soon after she rudely told me they had no vegetarian plate (the woes of flying economy), I threw my sight balls out the window to deal with the anger and the hunger, and behold, spectacular clouds! Then I started typing…

There are times when you will be cruising above the clouds where only extraordinary lives – like the Eagles – thrive. You will feel the pride but fail to see the privilege. You will forget that below those same clouds are other human beings just like you except that they are crawling with the turtles. You will forget that before you got up above, you were down below, and whether it is hard work or connections that got you above the poor clouds, it’s still a privilege all the same.

Clouds above the city of Bamako, Mali

But the most crucial thing that you are likely to forget – which will sooner or later throw you in utter disarray and poisonous poignance – is the fact that one way or the other, you will have to go back below those very clouds! Poor you! In going back below the clouds, the reality is that you will either land or crash, and the probabilities are not for you to determine.

If you safely land, you get a chance to continue with the not-so-normal routine of pain, sickness, politics, murder, tears, treachery, betrayal and graves! This will be a golden chance for you to right your wrongs and redefine your purpose but I can bet with you, you will waste it. If you don’t, then you are among the rarest exemplary breeds. 

On the other hand, if you crash, that’s the end of your story. Sad and absurd, but we are being real here. Forget about ‘happily ever after’ – it’s a trap! A mental trap that’s aimed at keeping your spirit comforted in an uncomfortable zone, your intellect maimed worse than that of a zombie and your rationale blocked so you don’t think or reason. Happily ever after is non-existent, it’s a hoax. Anyway, I digress. 

So if you crash, you lose not only the privilege of being above the clouds but also your life itself. You die. You lose it. And this kind of death isn’t comely (not to mean others are) because folks don’t get to view your remains. They are given your body parts or ashes or things, but not your intact remains. Chiefly, you lose forever a chance to live forever. The pride that beclouded your sight and the privileges that you never took time to appreciate, all gone! 

I need to let you go now, but just in case you missed the whole point: live simply, learn and refuse to unlearn humility. Remain humble regardless of your worldly achievements, both apparent and assumed. Stay connected to more human beings than machines and do not forsake your God – He alone will have your back till your last breath. Spread the Word! 

#SeasonsOfGrace


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STEERING WHEEL OR SPARE WHEEL?

Suddenly, I had a tyre burst. I held the steering wheel with my life and the spare wheel didn’t even cross my mind. There were two on-coming vehicles, one already overtaking the other and obscuring my lane. I stuck with the steering wheel even though¬†I couldn’t safely steer the car to the left hand side and park because of this deep trench. I was at sixes and sevens! It was a real pell-mell. Mind went blank but instinctively, I didn’t get my hands off the steering wheel, even though it couldn’t seem to be availing much.

The last thing on my mind was the spare wheel. The time to think about it hadn’t arrived yet. Maybe, if I managed to safety stop the car then I would think of it. But for now, I was doing 85 or 90 Kph and the distance between me and the on-coming rogue vehicles was narrowing by the second.

I was afraid (a driver is not supposed to be afraid). I was terrified. I felt as though I was was inside Wastage Mall with that eerie Al Shabaab guy pointing his rifle right at my head, at very very close range. I shuddered, but still held the steering wheel, albeit feebly. I just refused to let it go. I dreaded a head-on collision, but I also dreaded rolling into this ditch. I honked and let out full lights. Honked again, hard. All these didn’t avail much.

Never in my entire life had I felt that desperate. Drama was unfolding and I was at the very heart of it. Everything happened at the speed of light and I had little time to think or act. I was dying. Lawd! Snap shots of my mother and family came to my poor memory. I had just seen said bye to mum, but I wished for a chance to see and hug dad too. To assure¬†Barry, Maurine, Mercy and Felo that all’s gonna be fine with them without me in this world. I was seeing death but I wished for life.

At this point, handed over the situation to God. Then Isaiah 41:10, a verse we had studied with¬†Javan¬†two years ago, came back to memory. Only then did I feel the bravery of a lion in my heart. I stepped on the brakes and rolled safely and graciously three or four times! I knew I was in safe keeping. I was no longer afraid of death. I was covered by the blood of Jesus Christ (Amen). The wreckage halted and I was alive! The driver’s side was untouched, unscratched, just safe. As I walked out of the wreckage, some superstitious humans thought I was a ghost. Funny, right?

 

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Look, if you’re still reading, this is the whole point:

1. When you treat God at the spare wheel, fear will engulf you. You will lose all the battles, including your life itself. But when you treat Him as the Steering Wheel, the Lion of Judah will impute His courage on you and you will be safe even in death!

2. If you memorise the sure Word of God and not fables, He will bring it back to memory at the time you need it most and it will save you.

3. You gotta make your ways right with God and man (right now) because you don’t know when your life may be taken from you.

4. Whe you see death, do not wish for life. Pray for it in the saving name of God’s Son.

More segments of this testimony will follow.

‪#‎SeasonsOfGrace‬


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NATIONAL YOUTH DISSERVICE

Kenya. Outright, the East African country whose leaders are known to have perfected the science of looting public coffers and robbing¬†the citizenry of hundreds of billions, while still remaining the region’s economic super power. In the wake of numerous graft scandals that have rocked our nation from¬†the years past to this very day, I chuckle at the thought of writing this piece for I know not where to begin. I must confess that my poor mind has been the field¬†of¬†a stiffly contested battle as to whether or not I should pen this. But having remembered the moral obligation vested upon me as a young leader and the overwhelming weight of responsibility, this task is underwhelming.

Well,images-3 I do not want to dwell on the Ksh. 791 million and other humongous amounts looted by powerful people at the NYS, Ministry of Devolution and elsewhere in the Jubilee government.

I just thought we should remember a few things and do some critical thinking as we near the election year, 2017. For starters, it is useful for us to remember that it took the President and his Deputy unusually long to name their cabinet after their disputed election. But when they finally did after ostensibly carrying out ‘extensive consultation and interviews’, there was no ministry directly in charge of youth affairs. Instead, youth affairs was one of he too many departments under the then Ministry of Devolution and Planning headed by the all-powerful Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru. The constitutional limit of the number of ministries notwithstanding, this was the genesis of my problems with the Jubilee Government. The youth were arm-twisted right from the beginning of this government. From its very onset, we were only a small department and not a full ministry as had been with the previous regimes.

Secondly, when the Opposition Leader Rt Hon Raila Odinga raised alarm over the on-going fleecing of public funds at the NYS and named CS Anne Waiguru as a prime suspect, several things happened.

  1. Leader of Majority in Parliament, Hon Aden Duale, a die hard Jubilee member and self-confessed sycophant of the President came out with poisonous vehemence against Raila, asking him to stop meddling in the Jubilee affairs and wait for next elections.
  2. Deputy Leader of Majority in the Senate, Hon Kipchumba Murkomen, a close ally of the Deputy President came gun-blazing against the opposition CORD Coalition in rallies and press conferences terming Raila as an enemy of development.
  3. Then CS Anne Waiguru herself actually sued Raila for defamation. (Jeez! How hard corruption can fight back!). The case files have since been rotting in some city shelves with no follow up Рit was only a threat.
  4. Mutahi Ngunyi, a city political analyst and consultant with his usual shameless bias bashed Raila on Twitter, insulted him and called him all manner of names including the famous ‘Lord of Poverty’ phrase.
  5. Deputy President William Ruto repeatedly called Raila a poor, stingy man, an economic saboteur. He further¬†propagated¬†Mutahi Ngunyi’s Lord of Poverty insult, to which Raila responded with the even more famous, ‘High Priest of Corruption’ term.
  6. President Uhuru Kenyatta himself defended Waiguru saying the opposition should let Jubilee deliver on their mandate to Kenyans and avoid side shows. He was also quoted during rallies in Obunga and Kibra slums asking Raila and his team to stop sabotaging the otherwise helpful NYS slum upgrade program.

Well, today the whole story is different. Over the last few weeks, individuals like Josephine Kabura (I don’t get why this name is pronounced as Kafura) who was¬†supposed to be the sacrificial lamb decided she wasn’t gonna die alone. She swore an affidavit that seriously implicated Waiguru and Mutahi Ngunyi in the NYS multi million scandal. On her day of grilling at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Waiguru went ahead and adversely named Hon¬†Duale, Hon Murkomen¬†(I’m not sure if they are still honourable), Deputy President’s Personal Assistant, Farouk Kibet, DP’s brother and other individuals as having been involved in the scandal. The affidavit is in the public domain, doing rounds on social media. The other thing that has happened is that both the President and his Deputy have since kept a deafening silence on these latest developments.

So today, every Kenyan youth knows that the reason the six individuals listed above cursed, insulted and damned Raila Odinga for blowing the whistle of NYS scandal was because they knew they were all involved in one way or the other, no? They knew they were partners in crime. They knew they had hatched a plan and it was well sealed. They had treacherously stolen from the Kenyan youth and they weren’t going to let anyone make noise about it. They used the mainstream media, social media, propagandists like Dennis Itumbi and all manner of tools at their disposal to discredit the RAO. But as we have come to know experientially, facts are ever so stubborn. Today we know that it was has always been a National Youth Disservice (NYD) and not NYS.

If you are a Kenyan youth (including recruits at NYS) and you happen to stumble upon this line, it is meant for you. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been watching the goings on in the State of The Nation with utter disgust and bitterness. You walk long distances¬†daily, sweat out your last drop and keep hoping for a better tomorrow. You persist in the hope¬†that the Jubilee government will make good their promise of job creation. Well, you can do yourself one favour, go register as a voter. We have a date with mediocre leadership next year. 2017 is beckoning, so do this favour to yourself. Register and vote out Jubilee. Period. That is your most powerful way of changing and shaping your next 5 years.

 

 


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Vultures for Leaders!

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African Heads of State in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Africa has over the decades had to put up with leaders and governments whose core objectives are to amass wealth and commit hienous atrocities against their own subjects – slaughter, kill, maim and torture, punish dissenting voices and cripple the very liberty that they ostensibly fought for during the struggle for independence.

A few cases in point. Not long ago, Kenya was at war with itself because of election theft. We saw citizens chopping off fellow countrymen’s heads, burning their property and driving them out of their homes because they belonged to a different¬†tribe. The effects of these, we still live with to this very day. Currently, Burundi is on fire. We have all seen gory images and heard unimaginable stories from the land of Nkurunzinza. People killing each other like they are animals. Draining their blood and dragging their dead bodies long distances in the open, then chopping off their body parts. Why? Because they are of a different political opinion. In Somalia, the blood of terrorism is the the water the quenches people’s thirst. It is no longer news for any number of innocent civilians to be killed by the warring Al Shabaab and their sub-factions. Recently in South Africa, which is supposed to be Africa’s most civilised nation – or so they say, we saw xenophobic nationals butchering innocent foreigners whose only crime was to visit and live in SA, legally. Southern Sudan, The Sudan, DRC… Damn! the list is too long, time beats me.

One thing worthy of noting is that the African culture is inherently a loving and peaceable culture. A comparative ethnography across Africa reveals striking similarities between cultural practices across the continent. I can state here with the audacity and authority of the African that I am, that not one African culture celebrates murder and advocates for killing, even through Juju, of innocent fellow humans.

What, then, is the genesis of the venom? Straight answer, vultures for leaders.

When you have people in positions of power and authority whose only interest is to be selfish, you will¬†fail. And this has been Africa’s greatest undoing, the reason why scores of African countries are proudly failed states. But even more appalling, none of these leaders who perpetrate such horrific crimes against humanity has been brought to book either during or after their reign. Pierre Nkurunzinza is still a free man. Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and other co-accused persons are free,¬†which brings me to the gist of this article.

Yesterday, The African Union adopted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s¬†Proposal¬†to quit The International Criminal Court (ICC). This, they purport,¬†is because the ICC is an imperialist court instituted to oppress Africans and strip them of their sovereignty. Really? Shamelessly, the heads of state attempting to compare Africa to the West and in sheer tomfoolery, stated that ICC has never opened any case against leaders of the West. They cited Ne-colonalism and all those kinds of nonsense to justify their dumb move. By the way, neo-colonialism is an argument of weak minds who can not stand up for themselves and reform systems from within. More critically, Neo-cololialism can as well be – and has been – perpetuated by our own presidents and leaders right here in Africa, so that argument flops.

int-auI don’t hold brief for the West, but my candid question is, how many leaders in Europe and the Americas in the recent history have butchered, tortured and maimed their fellow countrymen for political dissent? How many have persecuted and killed us Africans when we go to study in their prestigious universities because of xenophobia? Instead, have they not generously given our sons and daughters scholarships and fellowships? We have countless cases of such in Africa and very scanty in the West. This makes me wonder just how skewed leaders of Africa, conglomerating in Addis Ababa could get in their rationale.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have much problems with this decision if we had credible judicial systems and processes in Africa. First at country level, the courts are flawed and marred with wanton corruption that is at best, hopeless. As I write this, the a Supreme Court Judge in Kenya is being investigated over a 2 million USD bribe to rule a case in favour of a powerful politician. Just in case you didn’t know, The Supreme Court is the highest judicial institution in Kenya. Secondly, at the continental level, all the atrocities that have been committed in African countries have happened in the full glare of the much hyped AU.

Was the decision made by African Heads of State in Addis Ababa representative of their citizens’ views back home? If Africa so quits the ICC, what is the alternative court? The AU is a toothless dog that can only bark the loudest but bite no meat, however soft. If Africa so quite ICC, ours will be a desperate case. Our greedy leaders will adopt impunity as a shared best practice in governance across the continent, for, who will be watching? Our courts are already flawed and notoriously corruptible, who else will be watching? Our religious leaders are conmen and women who do worse than the politicians, who else will be watching? Our human rights watchdogs operate within a very limited space which is continuously getting squeezed as they become complacent… Who will be watching as African leaders savage and ravage the continent?

Africa needs a Revolution. Whatever it takes, a revolution is all we need.

Thanks for reading!

#VultresForLeaders #SeasonsOfGrace