Monday, 6 August 2018

The King & The Advisor

Photo Courtesy: CelebMix.com


This story is a result of a challenge I did earlier. It's a children's story that can teach even the oldest of timers. And I feel that if you acknowledge the power of perspective in your life, it can really do wonders for you.

I want to resume on the Youth and Us series after this and if you don't know what that is, hit the "home" option on you're screen to find out. 

If you're the kind of person who can't find the right guy/gal, don't feel fulfilled by your job, have to pretend like you're Ok all the time or don't have strong meaningful friendships and relationships, then this is the series for you. And where we are going next, you gonna want to have read the first two. 

Otherwise without further a do, here's the story of the King & his Advisor. Break a leg yo 😄

"Once upon a time there lived a great king who ruled a big land with lots of people and houses. The King lived in a beautiful palace by the ocean and his kingdom rose around it. 

The kingdom was next to a big scary dark forest made of fat and ugly Baobab and other trees that were said to hide monsters and beautiful animals. Some even say that during the full moon, the trees would move around the forest and even talk to each other. 

The elders tell stories of how once the monsters attacked their village and they all ran into the palace and were protected by its big fort walls. And that the monsters till this day await anyone who goes to the dark forest alone at night to eat them.

The king had a best friend who always was there for him. This friend helped the king rule the kingdom with fairness, kindness, honesty and justice. His name was the Advisor.

Advisor and the King grew up together and we're best friends since their childhood. One day when they were playing swords together, the palace doors flew open and the bravest and strongest men in the kingdom walked in. 

Each of these men was chosen by their village elders to join a special group of men who went into the dark forest for many days to fetch food like meat and fruits for their people. They were known as the Royal Guard.

Everyone in the village loved them because they were brave and not scared of the forest. People would gather around them and hear their scary stories of monsters and dragons, and all of the beautiful animals and plants that lit up in wonderful colors. 

After the stories the King and Advisor would pick up sticks and play pretend of fighting monsters and ogres in the forest. And they wished that one day, they would also go out into the forest and fight monsters and bring food to the people. 

Finally when they were older, they joined the strong men. They were so happy and loved going out with the strong men to bring food and fruits. They saw plants that close their leaves when touched, some that light up in the night like street lamps, leaves that caught fire when they fell, birds that would scream instead of chirp and animals that grew flowers on their backs.

The King's favourite were the floating cottellas that looked like bright jellyfish swimming. They were so many and they only appeared at night around the biggest tree in the forest. Sometimes the ocean water would rise and reach the tree and glowing fish would come out and start moving in bright blue circles around the tree. Everytime he saw them, he felt happy and relaxed. 

However, ever since the king and his friend joined the hunting group, they have never seen any monsters or ogres before. But that was about to change. 

One day, the strong men were leaving for their trip to fetch more food for the kingdom. The king and the advisor decided to join them in their journey. But this time, things were different.

After they entered the forest, the sun suddenly hid behind dark rainy clouds and the trees started dancing from side to side to the wind that blew on them strongly, making scary sounds as if they cried. 

The forest became dark like night and the plants did not light up like street lamps. Suddenly, it was quiet. Too quiet. And it started feeling extremely cold and silent. Then, scary noises started running around them making everyone a little scared. 

Everyone took out their swords as one of the strong men lighted a fire torch to see in the darkness. When the torch was ready, the man lifted it up for everyone to see properly and to their surprise, a monster stood right next to them. 

It's mouth was open with sharp teeth, feet with long claws and a fat tail with spikes on it. It hit the man with the torch down and roared like thunder to the other men.

The king took his sword and run towards the monster to fight it. He picked up the torch and swung it left and right together with the sword. The monster tried to fight back but the fire frightened it away. It then roared in defeat but before running away, swung it's sharp tail and hit the king on his hand. 

The king was in pain and the strong men rushed him back to the kingdom to be treated. But the damage was too great. And the King could no longer use his hand like before. 

He was so sad and disappointed in himself. His friend the Advisor came to visit him in the treatment room in his palace and saw how sad the king was.

 The advisor told his best friend that it was part of God's plan that his hand would not be healed well enough but because the king was still very sad, he told his friend to leave and never help him rule the kingdom again.

The Advisor was saddened by this but he said that this was also part of God's plan. And he left.

Years passed since the accident and the King got much better with using his other hand in most activities. He even started going out with the strong men again. He was faring well.

One day, he got a message from the neighboring kingdom to go visit them for an important meeting. The trip to the other kingdom would take a week's journey on horseback. And since they would be passing near the dark forest, the king asked the strong men to go with him and hunt for food for their journey.

When the time for the journey came, the sun hid behind dark rainy clouds again and the trees started to swing side by side to the wind that blew on them strongly, making them cry again.

The King got afraid for sometime but because the meeting was of great importance, he decided to go on with the journey. 

As they prepared to enter the dark forest, suddenly, shouting was heard all over inside it. Everyone froze for a second and thought people were  in trouble. The King drew out his sword once again. The other men joined him as well and made circles around him for protection. 

Suddenly, one of the men shouted and then magically disappeared into the forest. And then another. Then another. Nobody could see what was happening and who was taking the strong men. 

The King swung his sword frantically to the left, then to the right and then to the left again until finally, the shouting stopped. The king was shocked when he realized he was the only one left. Everyone else was gone.

He held tight to his sword looking around to see if he saw anything. Then, a short man with big eyes, pointed teeth and a long tongue stepped out from the bushes. Other short men started appearing and before long, he was completely surrounded. 

One of them, who wore a big ring sawn with dry grass like the shape of a crown, stepped forward from them and stood Infront of the king. 

Sweat dripped from the King's face as the short man moved close to him. He begun sniffing the King. And then sniffed his good hand, and then his hurt hand. He looked back at the King deep in his eyes and suddenly let out a loud shout with his large eyes popped out even more in anger. The rest of the short men also started shouting at the King and that is when he knew it was all over, so he shut his eyes closed, and waited for the worst.

And then, there was silence...The king opened his eyes and the short men were all gone. 

He got on his horse and quickly rode back to his palace and went straight to his old friend's house, the Advisor, near the mangrove trees at the shore of the ocean. He told him all that had happened.

After listening to the King, his friend explained to him that those short men were the evil witchdoctors from the South hills of Atita, and they were the enemies of many kingdoms and villages around the Indian Ocean shore. 

The Advisor continued to explain that the King was spared only because these enemies only took people who were not hurt in any way in regard to their bodies.

After hearing this, the king was so happy and pleased that he got hurt on his hand otherwise, he would have also been taken by the witchdoctors.

Suddenly, the Advisor started to laugh and laugh. The king was confused and asked why he was doing so. The Advisor explained to the King with a wide smile on his face that, if the king had not hurt his hand, he would have not sent him away. And if he was not sent away then they would have been together when the witchdoctors attacked and the Advisor would also have been caught.

So by sending him away, the King had actually saved the life of the Advisor. They both laughed in joy and the King said that truly, it was all in God's plan. 

Since that day, whatever good or bad happened to the King and his people, he knew that it was all in God's plan and that God always wants the best for His servants. Even when everything seems to be going the wrong way, it is indeed, all for the best of them.

           The End

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Youth & Us: Technology

Photo Courtesy: pixabay.com



I remember in primary school we had a mathematics teacher, Mr. Ruma, who whenever he walked in class, everyone would light up and enjoy his lesson to our bones and wish it would never end. 

We also had another teacher, Mr. Musa, who caned anyone who'd cough without his permission (metaphorically). The bell was our saviour in his classes. 

Mr. Ruma got the best performance of our class than any other teacher. And even when one would fail his class, they would feel bad and try their best afterwards. 

We were the same students for both teachers and more so, performed better in Maths of all subjects than any other. This is what leadership is all about.

A leader takes care of the people responsible for the results and Mr. Ruma, he did this for us and thus the results spoke for for itself. He created the right environment for us to succeed and Mr. Musa didn't. The difference, Empathy.

Through empathy, he understood us and knew where to work on so we could succeed. Unfortunately, for millennials (our current generation of youth born from 1982 onwards), elderlies only see their laziness, unfocused attitude, entitlement and can't keep a job qualities, but haven't understood why they exhibit them.

There are four major 'Whys' for this behaviour. And if this is your first time reading this, read on the first 'why' about Failed Parenting Strategies here. The next 'why' is Technology.

There is a chemical in our bodies called Dopamine. This chemical is responsible for the feeling you get after finding something you were looking for or after achieving a goal.  

That elation, that feeling you get after finding your keys, wining a game, crossing something from your to-do list or even tasting something sweet or delicious, that's dopamine.

This chemical is however also released by nicotine in cigarettes, by gambling and the intake of alcohol. It is actually the root cause of addiction for these activities because every time they are consumed, it feels good. 

Furthermore, majority of alcoholics; "walevi conc" discovered the numbing effects of this chemical when they were at their teenage years. 

The reason for this is that when we are young, the only approval we seek for is from our parents -- if they say no it's a no, if yes yallah. But when we get to teenage hood, our approval shifts to the outside world. That's why our dressing, behavior, changes so that we can 'fit in' 

This period is a very stressful one and is meant to teach us how to cope with other people and develop social skills.

So every time there was significant stress in the alcoholics' lives (financial, social, depression), instead of turning to a person for help, they turn to the bottle -- dopamine; makes them feel good.

Now here is where it gets interesting. The same chemical that is released by these drugs, is also released by cellphones and social media. 

We love to hear the sound of our notification exploding when we turn on the data; feels good -- dopamine. We go back to our posts to see how many likes we scored on it; makes us feel worthy -- dopamine. When we are down, we text ten of our friends simultaneously (hi, hey, Heyya, A.a, Alafu...); so that we feel lifted when they respond, guess what -- DOPAMINE. 

And you know what this has in common with alcohol, cigarettes and gambling...it's highly, highly addictive...

We have age and religious restrictions on all of these drugs, but we have none when it comes to cellphones and social media. 

It's the equivalent of opening up a liquor cabinet and telling youth, "Heyya, whenever this adolescence thing stresses you out, try the Vodka it'll dampen your pain." Translation, Not good. 

If you are the kind of person who looks at your phone first thing in the morning before you greet the people sleeping in the same room/house with you, you're addicted. If you walk with your phone in hand when you're moving from room to room in your apartment complex, you're addicted. If you can't stay without your phone in sight around you guess what, you're addicted.

And whilst we're on this topic of phone addiction, imagine you're sitted in a hall with people besides you and I'm standing on stage speaking to you on this. Now imagine I'm holding a phone in my hand whilst I speak to you. Do you at that moment feel as important to me as the phone I'm holding while I speak? 

No you do not. This is the subconscious power of the phone amidst human interaction. And that example is just an artificial environment( stage and audience.) Now how about every time you go out with friends, attend those important meetings with your superiors or have chats with others and you have your phone out beside you...this is why the youth claim they can't form deep meaningful relationships with others.

PS, and turning the phone upside down isn't more polite 😐

You see youth sitted together but everyone of them is glued to their phone screens. You can shout at them for such behavior but it's not just an addiction, it's a chemical addiction (dopamine). It's like shouting at an alcoholic or a smoker and expecting them to change. 

And the results of this addiction is the rise of depression among our youth because of how cellphones and social media has replaced social skills.  Thus youth don't know how to talk to others when stressed. The increasing rates of suicides and the new epidemic universities are dealing with of more youth taking a Leave of Absence due to depression is another issue. 

I personally had to push my graduation to retake a unit I missed due to depression. And these results are the extreme effects. The more likely ones are people skimming through life just, fine... "how's your friends? They're fine... Your job? It's fine..."

There are no deep meaningful relationships between friends, relationships and no fulfillment in life because the youth don't know how to share there problems, with their friends or others when they are stressed with life's demands. 

Friendship has become a relation where you know when your friends are to get something better to do, they'll cancel on you.

Such crucial and even life saving social skills was replaced by the temporary 'good feeling' of dopamine once a teenage year ago and now, it has become hardwired in their systems at the expense of human relation. 

And online support groups aren't the answer because the human touch has no share button. 

Technology when balanced in life, has no issue. But when used with no restriction, leads to addiction. And like every addiction, it wastes resources; your money, your time and ultimately, destroys relationships with others.

It is no wonder one is ready to live with a tiny budget on food but have credit and a connection for social media #red_flag 

So, we have a generation that, not by their own fault, grew up with failed parenting strategies and technology that has resulted to low self esteem and depression from poor social skills. 

For the world to get the most of them, it must understand these two 'Whys' and the other 2 to be expounded on after this in shaa Allah, and only then will it be able to generate a legacy of never before seen leaders of this millennia. 

In the end, it all boils down to Empathy. If you're the kind of guy who dreams to make a difference to the world, try it. I promise, it works. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Youth & Us: Failed Parenting Strategies

Photo Courtesy: pixabay.com
Claimer: This post goes first to the parents and guardians in the audience then to my fellow youth. 

A man once coined a quote saying 'A good leader isn't responsible for the results but rather, responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.'  This is the exact opposite of what we have everywhere today.

I am passionate about this because I believe that good leadership is the answer to the magnitude of problems in our lives. I envision living in a world where such qualities are taught to the youth not in their schools or madrasas, but in their very homes. And I believe that it is their right upon their guardians and parents to teach them these qualities by first learning them and then showing them through actions, and guiding them through their words.

But there is a problem, "the millennial problem" as vividly termed. Millennials are a generation born from about 1982 onwards, inclusive of most of you here 😏, and they are known with a set of qualities they poses.

Elderlies have agreed that millennials are entitled and rebellious, unfocused, lazy, can't keep a job among other grim qualities. Well, it is true, I mean, yeah... But no one has gone further to find out why-- loosing points for Empathy y'all, step into them shoes.

And after discovering that why, they are put into four main categories; failed parenting strategies, technology, impatience and environment. But for convenience, we're only going to go through the first 'why' for this post. 

Failed parenting strategies unfortunately, came by because of the love of parents to their children. Most parents went through hell building their wealth and status and thus didn't want their kids to experience such pain. That's why up to date, it's become very hard to marry; simply because the kids are princesses and princes to their parents.

What built this up is parents telling their kids (ya'ani us) that they are special, can have anything just because they want it and in learning institutions, made sure the teachers give a pass to their kids whilst not laying their hands on them. 

An extension of this is the Participation Medal; medal or price given for coming in last-- detrimental to the child since it affirms how bad they are in that competition.

So when the kids graduate and get in to their first jobs, in an instant, they realize that they are not special, can't get anything just because they want it, get nothing for coming in last and their moms can't get them a promotion. 

So in an instant, their whole self image is shattered and turned on its head. And so we have this whole generation that is growing up with low self esteem.

And the boggling part is that, because they grew up in a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat world, they are soo good at putting filters on things. Ya'ani they are experts at curating how we see them; so much so that they can tell the elderly what to do and what life is and how to go about it. Now who older than who here?😕

But the reality is, they don't know where they are coming from, where they are going. And even when they are offered a listening ear, it is assumed that they have the courage to walk through that door and open up. But the don't.

Just like someone who is frugal and always uses toothpaste and other things to the last drop, we know that they grew up in hardship and consumed in rations; their environment influenced their behaviour; is the same thing with millennials and social media influence. 

Fact of the matter is that they are just youth who are still discovering their way; not assertive know it all's. It's just that society and environment doesn't allow them to breakdown.

Until the time we understand this and the other three "whys", and listen to them in a way of wanting to understand them, that is when we can build strong leaders who carry the potential to change our world. 

But first, we have to be good leaders to them. We have to empathize. Because even though they are the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of Today. So let us lead.

Fun fact: lead them in such a way that your child doesn't throw tantrums to get what they want 😋






Friday, 4 May 2018

The Holmes Gene


Ok guys so my story was shortlisted and picked to be among the first EVER Analogy series of short stories from the Coast of Kenya by Coastal Writers. It was published awhile ago but I thought to share it with you still. I mean, for a guy with a blog, it's kind of a big deal 💃💃💃💃 ahem...Anyways here's an excerpt of it. Might be good, might not be as good. If it's the former, be sure to download that PDF to complete it 😉 Now, back to business.


"The ocean wavered, transferring its energy through gentle crests which crushed against the coral 
below us. The sound of the crushing waves fused with the cheerful laughter from my friends 
harmoniously. I zoned back in to the energy of my friends as they cheerfully tell stories, sipping away at 
their gahwa beneath the residential storey buildings shading us from the setting sun. The buildings gave 
way to a cemented patio that stood just at the edge of the corals with a railed ending; this made up the 
coffee joint. I loved my gahwa as sweet as they come.
It was our favourite spot in Kibokoni where we'd have coffee after parkour practise runs near 
Fort Jesus every Friday evening. We made considerable progress that week so the coffee and visheti were 
super sweet. We just about filled the joint, whiling away the time with snacks and stories complimented 
with a view of the ocean. The eye-catching English Point Resort gazed at us from the other side of the 
ocean. The stories kept us there even after our cups were dry. They were good stories. 

“Nisave na hiyo kikombe bro,” a lanky, light-skinned guy around my age said, pointing at my 
empty cup. He had sharp cheek bones, brown-framed, thick lens glasses which he kept pushing above his 
nose and messy, black hair. 

I smiled as I handed it to him but he never looked at my face. He put it in the small bucket half-
full of water by his side and begun arranging the other cups to create more space for the rest. As he sorted 
away a few etres beside me in the rather quite packed joint, I glanced at the notifications on my phone and 
realized it was time for Maghreb prayers. I bid my friends goodbye and headed for Baluchi mosque. 
Listening to the imam's beautiful voice leading the prayers was a superb way of ending an equally 
beautiful day 

Approaching the main road, I heard someone calling behind me. Initially I thought that it wasn't 
meant for me but the urgency in the call made me turn around. I turned to see the lanky guy from the 
coffee joint running in slow wide steps as he struggled to hold his oversize pants to his waist while 
pushing his thick glasses back to their place.

“Bro! Ngoja!”

I grabbed my track pockets to see if I had dropped my phone but it was there. He finally got to me 
and bent over to catch his breath for a few seconds. 

“Asalaam aleykum bro!” he said, still panting.

“Waaleykum salaam warahmatullah,” I answered.

“I just wanted to ask if by any chance you practice parkour and free running,” he continued.

“Yeah, ata we're from training just a while ago hapo Fort Jesus,” I said

“Oh maa shaa Allah this is so great!” A wide smile came over his narrow face and he continued, 

“I've been practising a little pia but I never had anyone to practise with.”

“Sucks, right?” I said. “We'll be here for practise tomorrow. Feel free to join us,” I added.

“That would be awesome wallah bro. What time?”

“Usually tunaanza after Asr prayers but you can come earlier nione how good you are then 
tuanzie hapo.”

“How's 3 pm?” he asked.

“Yeah, that'll do great,” I said, feeling like an accomplished athlete.

“Ajeeb bro,” he said gleefully.

“Can I have your number?”

We exchanged our numbers and I gave him my names. He started walking back to the joint and I 
announced, “And what should I save you name as?”

“Twariif!” He yelled back as he back-peddled. I smiled at the thought of being a teacher of my 
favourite sport for the first time. 
The adhan sounded from all over Kibokoni and so I started again for Baluchi. I wanted to make it 
to the first row in salaah and get every rakaah.

         *************

I didn't want to be late for my first lesson so by half past two in the afternoon, I was in the matatu
waiting for the driver and conductor to be satisfied by the scarcity of passengers on a Saturday afternoon. 
It was one of the slowest matatu rides I‟ve ever heard in my life especially since I was determined to 
break my known reputation of coming late to important events. I was so anxious to make sure I don't 
keep my first student waiting. Looking back at it now, I wish I had the time to savour the full tide ocean 
as we crossed the bridge into town.

After multiple stops and waits, we finally arrived at my stop and I started for Fort Jesus on foot. 
What started as a pacing walk turned into a slow jog after I realized it was five minutes to three. On the way there I thought of the beginner moves he might have known already and which moves we'd train that 
day. My first student, I thought, smiling. I caught sight of a homeless man staring at me with a smirk on 
his face. I nodded backed at him as if to tell him that I respect him for all he‟s been through and I 
sympathize with him; even though I couldn't assist with his situation. 

I jogged past the last corner to the park just in time, expecting to see him waiting in anxiously. He 
wasn't there. I put down my string bag and warmed up as I waited for him. Good thing there weren't a lot 
of people on site so the weird stretching had no attraction value at this historical site.

I collapsed on the grass after trying to go for a leg split. What in the world was I thinking, I 
thought silently laughing away the transcending pain. My breath slowly steadied as I marvelled at the 
humongous blue sight of the sky, extending its signature convex nature to the edges of my view, its 
glassy depth emanating from the heights as it settles in still beauty, its majesty so pronounceable yet 
never seeking the attention of anyone or anything. Just existing in its own natural beauty. It was peaceful.

I slide my phone from my pocket and switched my view to its screen,

Nineteen minutes past three.

I opened my contact list as I sat up and selected Twariif's name for a message.

“HEY, WHERE ARE YOU AT? WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES TO STICK THE 
LANDINGS.”

My gaze fell back at the ocean which never ceased to amaze me in its beauty. Stray thoughts cut 
at my fabric of sanity with questions about who I was, what I meant for people and what my purpose, my 
calling was in this broad world of digital dementia, stereotypes and identity crisis. This was the curse of a 
wondering mind; the unravelling of nothing but the harsh realities that surround every border and will of 
our dreams and the definition of our lives that vary everyday like the combinations one can use to solve 
the Rubin's Cube.

I wasn't ready for that roller coaster today. I put my phone in my string bag and set it aside. Let's 
start flying, I thought.

Parkour is my second love- those single moments when you execute a vault 
perfectly and you feel the air moving alongside the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you float 
for just a fraction of a second in the air as the crows glide around you, clueless in their search for food, 
totally unmoved by your poor attempt at flight. There and then, it is just me and my world… 


Intriguing much? 
Continue this story here by downloading the PDF of this analogy and discover the Holmes in you & more wonderful stories from the Coast 😊