My mother

Who was your most influential teacher? Why?

She was my teacher at home and in school. You see, I am a son of teachers. In my formative years, my mother was the lower primary school class teacher. Taught me to read. Write. Arithmetic. And I can’t recall what else. She was again my home science teacher in std 7 and 8. Introduced us to a survival skills like cooking, washing, ironing, and baking. My first time to bake was in school, not at home and then we would often bake at home.

We owned no oven. The national grid didn’t come as far as where we lived and schooled. Gas must have been in homes of just a few people. So, to get to a constant temperature for baking, we used silica. We would put sand in a container and heat it for a time, then reduce the fire. The silica would retain this heat until whatever you were baking was done and for some time after. But I digress.

Having mentioned my mother, I should mention my father, the other teacher in the house. Unlike mother whose lessons were on the practical side of things, the lessons from my old man have been subtle.

Other people have influenced me along the way, some very powerfully from chance interactions. I remember the mama who trained us as peer counsellors in high school. Or the government official/ preacher. Or our high school principal. My ceo has, in my adult life, been one of the best teachers I have got. And our late friend, that bird/ dino- had quite an influence.

I miss my first teacher, my mother.

It is not conceivable

What is one word that describes you?

That one word would describe me. Unlike a golf ball or a cork than can be described as hard, I can’t think of on one word that would describe me. Let’s consider the 16 personality types, as a start, and I bet any of the traits could be applied to me and that person wouldn’t be wrong by much. Maybe the only trait that anyone would least likely associate me with is being an entrepreneur. I don’t even think of myself in those terms.

Having said that, how we see ourselves is way different from what others see. Maybe, it would be best to ask those closest to me to answer this question. I might say that the word that describes me is easy but they would most likely disagree. They may say I am difficult. Complicated. Stubborn. Sometimes irritable. You know, anything but easy. And they could be right.

My colleagues at work or on construction sites may also disagree with me if I said I was easy. Some would think of me as being bossy. And I would disagree. While yet others would have different words or adjectives to describe me and in their view, they would all think themselves right.

While I prefer anonymity, some say I am loud. I know you are wondering how could one whose thoughts are all over the web talk of preferring anonymity. I don’t know the answer too. But that is just how it is.

Maybe, you, my regular audience can tell me what word you think describes your genial host.

Am I alone?

You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, car, or bike?

Or with a group? Is there a time or resource constraint?

I would travel by bike. When one travels by plane, you hop from one place to the next and cannot really say you saw the place. You could say you were in this town and that town but not really getting to see anything.

Bicycle is different. You have to stop regularly to add supplies. To sleep in the middle of nowhere. To negotiate for safety. Fix a puncture here. Repair a chain there. And you are flexible enough to tour the countryside. If you see a signpost of a land feature, off you go. Riding a bike for these many days means you get to lose weight and stay fit. Which is a good combo.

Car and train can be both interesting. Fast travel. Varying levels of flexibility but you get to see the countries you are traversing without getting too tired. Only thing is you get butt sores but not compared to how your butt will be feeling after riding for 30 days.

Pick your struggle.

Happy Monday.

Depends on the weather

How would you rate your confidence level?

And also on what I am doing.

For example, I am at 10/10 that I can boil water, rice and make tea. Good tea.

I am at 10/10 I can initiate a project, execute and conduct a monitoring and evaluation exercise. Why don’t we as architects conduct life cycle exams of our buildings to determine for example whether we delivered value to our clients or was it just a waste of everyone’s time?

I am 9/10 I can write a blog post. An interesting blog post, that is. The one I have left out is for haters.

Since it’s a Sunday, I don’t want to take more of your time than is necessary. Happy Sunday everyone.

is imitation allowed

You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence?

Since we have been told on good authority that imitation is the highest form of flattery, I would follow in the footsteps of the confessions by Jean J Rousseau. He starts his autobiography thus

I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.

Confessions of J. J Rousseau

And if this will not do, the introduction to Ecce Homo, should do. It starts thus

As it is my intention within a very short time to confront my fellow-men with the very greatest demand that has ever yet been made upon them, it seems to me above all necessary to declare here who and what I am. As a matter of fact, this ought to be pretty well known already, for I have not “held my tongue” about myself. But the disparity which obtains between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries, is revealed by the fact that people have neither heard me nor yet seen me. I live on my own self-made credit, and it is probably only a prejudice to suppose that I am alive at all. I do but require to speak to any one of the scholars who come to the Ober-Engadine in the summer in order to convince myself that I am not alive…. Under these circumstances, it is a duty—and one against which my customary reserve, and to a still greater degree the pride of my instincts, rebel—to say: Listen! for I am such and such a person. For Heaven’s sake do not confound me with any one else!

Ecce Homo, F Nietzsche

Yes. Do not confound me with anyone else for I am my own person!

I have read few autobiographies. If there are any that shouldn’t have been written or trees cut to have them printed are those about most Kenyan politicians. First, the books are a bore. Two, there is nothing great or inspiring about them. They are monstrosities of the written word that shouldn’t have been allowed to leave any printing house. There is hardly anything to learn from them, except, maybe, how not to write an autobiography.

A match

What are three objects you couldn’t live without?

A knife and I don’t know what else.

A match to light a fire if it came to that. Though I would try other means to start a fire as long as there was dry grass and splinters. I could use glass to concentrate sun’s rays on it or use stones to start the fire.

A knife to cut everything from small game to shaping weapons and self defence in case I was attacked by a mad and violent man. Or a cow. For that matter.

I don’t know the thirsty thing. I wouldn’t need a cup because I could use my palms or leaves or something to get water.

This is assuming a worst case scenario. And assuming I have clothes on my back. And maybe a blanket or something to cover myself though a fire can replace the blanket.

What would you need?


Do you believe in fate/destiny?

But I will explain.

A man is what he is, by nature and effort. He can’t be anything else. What he becomes is undetermined. We cannot say when a child is born that this lovely girl will become the president. But if she should become, can we say she wasn’t destined to be? What would be our justification? Can we be any other way?

A child is born in the ghetto. Luck and grit combine and she emerges an international scholar or icon. A million others are born in the ghetto and don’t leave it. Is there any difference in their destinies? Why would rule out fate in one case and allow if for another?

The universe is indifferent to what we become. But we will be whatever we are.

Let me hear your objections.

Goodbye, my friend

Describe the last difficult “goodbye” you said.

I thought maybe the best response to this prompt should be a song. And so, I hope you like this song, but if you don’t that’s also ok.

Now that we have listened to the song, we can continue with the post. I think the only hard goodbyes we ever say are to those who have left us. And the sad part about it all is we don’t get to actually say goodbye, most times, that is. One moment so and so is alive and in high spirits and shortly after, they are gone and that is.

Since in the last many posts, I have been telling you a bit of myself, I will keep to that in this post. I did not have an opportunity to say goodbye to my childhood friend, Awuor. She died too soon, too young. I don’t know what she would have become had she lived to adulthood. But maybe, as Mark Twain writes in Mysterious Stranger, we should look at death as a gift. It could be the thing that spares us from a life of untold suffering or worse.

I miss my mother. I am not sure I said goodbye to her. I just accepted the fact that she was gone and that it was a one way ticket to nowhere. If there is any hard goodbye, it is this. It is unresolved in its indefiniteness. Unresolved in the void it left. Unresolved in the many possibilities that remain unspoken, unattainable.

Goodbyes are hard because of attachments we have to people or pets or whatever. I don’t seem to have any of this. No. I care deeply for those close to me. But I can resolve the goodbyes easily in my head and life continues. In a world of impermanence, goodbyes are the order of the day. They are to be expected. They are only hard because of the timing- sometimes we have to say them when we are least prepared for it, but saying them we must.

Let us prepare to say our goodbyes for saying them we must. At. Some. Point.


If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be, and why?

All other positions are taken. And I like being me. While I am being someone else, who will occupy the space I occupy?

To think of it another way, the reason this question comes is maybe because we are unsatisfied with being ourselves. We think if we were just someone else we would solve world hunger, poverty, end racism and all. But the person we might want to be has other problems that we don’t know and would not want even for a single day.

Having said this, I would still want to be me, but with money I don’t know what to do with. I would pay the police to keep Pink in jail for a week, just because. And fly all my friends to a place where we can holiday together, have a beer.

So yes, I don’t want to be someone else.

I am not ambitious

Describe the most ambitious DIY project you’ve ever taken on.

It would thus be impossible that I do anything close to ambitious. I recall a psychometric analysis I did some time back as part of performance evaluation that showed I am laid back and lack ambition. Some people think differently but I will stick by the analysis, for now.

Unlike my friend shelldigger who has been building boats and motors, I believe in delegated responsibility and I stick only to what I know. You recall I said I built my own pc while in campus. It wasn’t ambitious and I guess anyone who can read a motherboard wouldn’t have a problem doing it.

Is cooking considered a DIY? But before we get here, if there is one thing I would want to learn to do would be to buy a rim and spokes separately and arrange them to have make a bike wheelset and maybe build a bike. But I am certain, this and servicing my car will remain dreams. Big dreams.

So back to cooking. It is much easy to buy bread. Walk to the nearest shop and select a loaf of bread or loaves depending on how addicted one is to bread. To bake bread is something else. I had to start by using a search engine to find the recipe that looked simple enough for me and one where I had all the ingredients. I got everything together, prepared the dough whilst making a mess of the kitchen, set the oven to the required temperature set a timer and got everything going. Somewhere in this blog, the photos of that activity can be found. I am too lazy now to be bothered to find it.

So there you have it. The most ambitious DIY project from the least ambitious person known to man.