I don’t know of anyone who has the potential to make me as mad as my siblings! I also don’t know many other people with whom I don’t have to be superficially nice or well-mannered to be accepted. My siblings and I have many quarrels and squabbles but when I’m really pushed to the wall, they are the first people I would call and they are the ones who would most likely go out of their way to help. A great man called Joshua Kakaire Kibeddi used to tell me that family is divine, at the time I didn’t fully understand it. I thought he meant to say that family was a godly thing but as I have gotten older, I now realize that what he really meant to say is that our families (parents and siblings) are hand picked by God and we really have no choice in the matter. They are the people God so fit to put us around so we can be and do the things he has called us to.
That might well be the reason why God commands us to honor our parents, they are ordained by Him and therefore carry much weight as his representatives in the early stages of our lives. The Bible talks about how our times and geographical location were pre-planned by God so we could know Him and do the things he intended for us on the earth. In the same way, parents and siblings were pre-planned to enable us fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. I am not blind or insensitive to the fact that some people lose their parents at birth or are abandoned for one reason or another or have their parents robbed from them by some unfortunate circumstance like disease or an accident. Some parents might leave their children for reasons only they know; maybe an extremely abusive marriage or a harmful addiction like alcoholism or some other such thing. Even though these are very sad scenarios God always has a way of bringing other people into our lives to take up the role and responsibility of a parent. It might be a church leader, a teacher, a sports coach, a community leader, an older friend or even an older sibling but there will always be someone who God places in our lives to fill that gap. Even in cases where someone is an only child or separated from their biological siblings, God will send friends who eventually become closer than a brother or sister.
For me the greatest challenge is for us to be the best that we can be to and for the people that God has allowed us to be family to. Whether that is biological family or spiritual family. As parents let us love our children and model the right values before them, as siblings let us be there for each other, loving even when it’s hard. Now I don’t mean to say that families will be perfect, I think that’s not possible this side of heaven but I believe that they can be strong and healthy and happy.
True love cannot be faked. You can spot a phony a mile away. Some people choose to live in denial but you always know when someone truly loves you or not. You can see it in their words and actions, you can feel it in your heart and soul. Being loved feels about as good as a scoop of melting ice-cream in your mouth, only better! It’s great when someone appreciates the good things about you but what a blessing if they still accept you even after they see your flaws! Genuine love is the deepest need we have as humans. We were designed for love, wired to be wanted and accepted; that’s why rejection and mistreatment hurt so bad.
God is love and God made us for himself. That’s why we desire to receive love. Whether we know it or not we all secretly desire God. So, we look for him in things and people and in many other ways. Even when we don’t think it’s him, we want, we still look for him and just don’t know it. No one person can truly love another perfectly if they haven’t first received that love from God. That’s why a flaming romance can turn into deep pain and well-meaning folks simply get bored with each other after a while.
True love is not selfish. It always puts the other person first. Always seeks to make them happy and has their best interests at heart. You can tell when a man really loves a woman, you can hear it in his voice and see it in his actions. It’s not something one can act for very long. Without much effort the man diverts a lot of his time and resources to the person he loves. They constitute the bulk of his thoughts and conversations. His friends, his colleagues and family will hear of this person in one way or the other. It may be in passing or even intentionally but they will surely know that she exists and is a very important part of his life.
Every man has the capacity to love one woman truly and completely. The only catch is they can’t do it unless they learn from the one who is love himself. Unless they experience the love of God first hand. The love of God teaches us how to love others. It teaches us faithfulness and commitment among many other things. Nothing can separate us from the love of God and in the same way nothing can quench the love of man who loves as God does.
While in our mothers’ wombs, we are completely and entirely dependent on them for survival. We are actually so dependent that we literally eat what they eat (okay, a more processed version of it) and should they not take good enough care of themselves it might affect our physical development to a great extent. When we finally get out into the world, we remain dependent but gradually get weaned into independence in many aspects.
At a certain point (most likely when we start to earn a considerable income) we attain a new level of freedom and total independence. That doesn’t mean we don’t need our mothers anymore (we always will), it simply means we don’t depend on them the way that we used to and that we now make decisions and take actions based on our own judgement.
We are not responsible for the “sea” we find ourselves in or the kind of “ship” we find ourselves sailing but at a certain point we become responsible for the direction in which we drive that “ship”. We cannot choose the weather or strength of the current but we do choose how we hoist our sails and that affects the speed and direction in which our ship goes. I’m really no expert in sailing but let’s draw a lesson from the seafaring men;
You might have heard stories of how that when storms are raging and the waves are a mile high, the Captain orders his crew to throw any excess baggage into the sea. If the weather had been fine and if the sea had been calm there probably wouldn’t be any need to throw these items overboard. But during a bad storm it becomes necessary to lose some weight so the ship can withstand the ups and downs of the waves. Now the baggage might be merchandise which is meant for sell or some other items of value but not quite as valuable as the human life at stake. So, the Captain allows the necessary evil of causing some financial loss in exchange for the greater good of saving lives.
In the same way, when circumstances become difficult on the sea of our lives, it might be wise to consider throwing out any excess baggage to lighten the load so our ship can withstand the storm and waves. It’s a tough call but as captain you have to decide, throw out the things that are weighing you down so you can be able to sail through that storm.
Just this afternoon I was having a conversation with one of my best friends and they reminded me of how it’s always important to finish the things that we start. It generally leaves a bad impression when we start things and don’t follow through with them. It tends to feel like we aren’t serious or appears like we lack a certain level of commitment in life. I don’t know about you but there are things in my life that didn’t work out for me the very first time that I attempted to do them. For me one of those things was school. I really struggled to get through school and had to redo a couple of classes more than once especially in High School but also in my last year at the University.
I remember a particular subject I had to sit 3 times before I passed it! It was discouraging and degrading having to repeat a paper that many times but I can honestly say that the feeling of triumph after I eventually passed it far outweighed all the discouragement and anguish, I had gone through before. Time is divided into seconds which make minutes which make hours which make days and every new day is an opportunity for us to start over. When the Sun goes down in the evening, we can get rest from the labor of one day and embrace a fresh start as the Sun comes up the next morning. The same thing happens at the start of a new week, a new month and a new year; we have the opportunity to start over.
In spite of any mistakes, you may have made, you need to embrace the opportunity to start over again. This will not erase your past or take away the pain and hurt of bad decisions or experiences but you can be certain that it will get you moving in the right direction. So, make your mind up to start over and should you fail at some point (which you might), just start over again! The surest way to win a race is to finish it, first. There’s just no way to win without finishing stuff. And sometimes finishing means starting over in certain areas of our lives.
In 2018 I enrolled for the Harvest Institute Leadership Course but somewhere along the way I yielded to the pressure of my circumstances at the time and decided to quit. Although I might have had what seemed like genuine reasons at the time, they were still reasons and the fact is that I dropped out of the course. I didn’t want to have that lingering in my life so I promised myself to someday make a comeback and finish the course. That comeback is happening right as I type this! Thank you for reading my first blog from the Harvest Institute School of Leadership Class of 2021. I should make it abundantly clear that this time, I thoroughly intend to finish what I started.
A question that makes you feel like help is on the way! Actually, these words (how much do you need?) might be interpreted to mean “I’m going to help”. Granted there will be times when for one reason or another even the best of friends is unable to be of any help (materially) but majority of the time and even beyond our ability and better judgement, we are generally willing to bail out our real friends. I was born to a lower middle-income family and we lived not far from the upper middle-income homes. To be fair, one could say my early life was one of modest privilege. Attending a decent government school, living in comfortable housing, driven back and forth from school, not ever having to miss a meal or struggle to find essential household items. That was the general experience of most children who grew up in the suburbs of Bugolobi during the mid-80s to late-90s. My father had worked his way out of a difficult life in the remote village of Kapir and found himself a job as the chief internal auditor in one of Kampala’s foremost banks at the time. A job that afforded my siblings and I the comforts and privileges we generally took for granted. Not because we were ungrateful little brats but because we honestly hadn’t known that life could be any different from what we were experiencing. As a matter of fact we thought our lives to be somewhat miserable because we didn’t always have “sausage” for breakfast (was usually bread and porridge) or watch DSTV (we watched “normal” TV) or wear brand new clothes (we wore used clothes except for Easter and Christmas, those were always brand new!) like some of the other kids we played with in the neighbourhood.
Anyway, through a series of tragedies I lost both my parents and my siblings and I went through seasons of lack and hardship that made me in particular reminisce on “the good old days” when Daddy was around. Somehow, though we had to move and live in less desirable neighbourhoods because we just couldn’t afford the rent and other bills without my Dad, I generally didn’t change friends. As it were, I ended up attending the same schools as some of them and that kept us in touch and connected in several ways. Growing up poor doesn’t bother you that much as a kid because it’s not really your fault and people won’t really judge you for it. They sort of lay it on your parents. That obviously changes when you grow up and have to fend for yourself. As an adult the expectations are different and everybody is pretty much dealing with their own share of challenges so there’s less sympathy and favours from people. Well, except for your friends. Friends will always be there. The real friends that is. I thank God for the guys and girls who have stuck by me when they really shouldn’t have. At some point in my life I really wasn’t sure what or who I even was. Nothing seemed to be working out, I seemed to be spinning in the same spot without much forward progress. A situation that was a result of my own doing but also an outcome of factors beyond my control. I’m thankful to God for the friends who stuck it out and continue to do so to this day. People with whom I can truly be vulnerable and honest. The kind that ask, how much do you need?
Be a friend.
If you had asked me 25 years ago if I’d be married today, I’d have answered with the strongest affirmative. From a young age I always fancied the idea of a handsome prince and his fair princess living happily ever after. I read the folklore of Cinderella, Snow White and other similar fairy tales. Being born in Uganda, I have had a different experience from the story book fantasies and images of childhood. I slowly learned that real life expectations are not well acquainted with the wishful dreams and sentiments of a fairy tale. Life and time have cured the deception and near insanity of imagining one can ever have a fairy tale romance. Life consists of many uncertainties, hardships, disappointments, unfairness even sheer evil and betrayal. No one is exempt or immune to the inevitable hiccups we experience when relating with other fallen humans especially if we relate at a “ground zero” distance. The innocence of childhood eventually wears off and you start to see the brute reality of ill-motive, selfish ploys and all manner of schemes in the selection and keeping of mates. We are all entitled to our own tastes and preferences and should by no means be compelled to endure an unpleasant bond to a partner for whom we feel no affection or endearment. I do not advocate for a mindless and hasty choosing of a spouse. My concern however, lies with the state of our hearts as we make these choices and the yardstick by which we make measurement for a suitable spouse.
I can’t speak for anyone else. My inclinations and judgements are subjective and purely a reflection of my own experiences and journey in life. And as such what one considers trivial and a non-issue might be solid ground for dismissal of a prospective suitor to another. Our choices are as broad, varied and unique as the individuals that make them. None the less, I’m bothered by the adulteration of sincere love with the impurities of selfish ambition and a desire for self-aggrandisement, where our affection for the other is staked unfairly on what we stand to gain from the union as opposed to what we have to offer in the union. Men driven by a flaming sensual lust and women by a deep sense of insecurity. I am by no means underplaying the natural needs and inclinations of the genders and their right to have these needs legitimately satisfied yet I dare to say that the only way for any of these needs to be truly satisfied is if they are shared in a union of unselfish devotion to the other.
A union where mutual trust and absolute commitment allow for the partners involved to be what and who God intended for them to be. Without constant and unnecessary comparisons to the ideals that where formed in either partner’s mind in their growing up years. Whereas it is true that people will marry within their social circles and whereas we cannot deny the many prejudices that surround the choosing of a spouse from ethnic grouping to economic standing and religious affiliation, we must understand that the success and happiness of this union is solely dependent on a genuine concern on the part of either partner for their chosen mate. All other considerations crumble in the face of hardship and the many tests of life. If you have already made this choice and find yourself committed to someone, you can and you must learn to love them. Not out of duty but from the depths of your heart. Love brings out the best in people. Love begets love. If you are yet to make this choice, I pray that you will have love at the centre of your decision.
The greatest of these is love.
Unlike most kids I don’t have a very vivid recollection of my childhood. The memories from before I was 5 are quite blurred. My earliest recollections are from when I was about 4 and in nursery school but even then, they are faint and scattered. What I can vividly recall is my decision to follow Jesus at the ripe age of 10! Like most boys, by the age of 10 I had sinned enough to warrant a one-way ticket to hell (not something I’m really proud of). I had been involved in neighbourhood fights with the other kids, stolen a neighbour’s bike (for the record I took it back!). Been sent by older boys to deliver secret messages to unsuspecting teenage girls and a string of other sins within my power at the time. Thanks be to God that in that season and before I could go off track completely, God by his mercy reached out and saved my mum through the preaching of relative (a story of its own) and through my mum’s salvation, I was introduced to church and heard the preaching of the gospel. I can hardly remember anything the preachers said except that I needed Jesus because I was sinner. It really didn’t take much convincing on my part. I knew I needed a saviour so when the time came, I walked up and surrendered my heart to God. That will forever be the wisest decision I ever made.
Well, starting out with a sincere desire to change my ways, I took to Bible reading and listening to preachers on t.v. At the time (1995), there weren’t many t.v stations let alone preachers on t.v. but as it were, Dr. Fredrick K.C Price of “Ever Increasing Faith” had a broadcast airing on one of the stations but I can’t quite remember which one. I could hardly make sense of what he said but I always listened attentively and did a little preaching of my own when the sermon was over. My dad had an old radio cassette player with a record button and I’d record my sermon for a few minutes and play it back to hear what I sounded like. I didn’t realise why then but during one of those recordings, it struck me that speaking to people about God and his Word was something I really wanted to do. Decades passed and life took many twists and turns. I adopted ideas of being several things as I went up in school from an Architect, to a Doctor even an Economist. And while I tried to find myself in the maze of life it still came out strongly to me at the age of 19 that God’s mandate for my life is to actively serve the body of Christ by the ministry of the word. Many desires and dreams have come and gone. Some I realized, were nothing more than wishful thinking but the desire to be in the ministry is the one most constant desire that I have. I struggled with it because it’s not a conventional line of work and it’s marred with a lot of ridicule and slander for both the right and wrong reasons. But lately my resolve to pursue this call upon my life has become very deep and distinct.
Not everyone is called to be a preacher. I do know however that at a young age, God places in our hearts his grand desire for our lives. And though we may get lost in the noises and pursuits of life, on the inside of everyone of us is his or her God-ordained purpose beckoning at them. There’s that one thing that doesn’t go away. It was there when you were 10 and will still be there at 90! I knew when I was 10.
I am a man of faith; saved by grace! But two weeks ago I had a terrible Monday. I woke up early to be at an appointment for a new gig ( much needed by the way because I have been scrapping around for cash for the past few months). As it were I had to take public transport which in Kampala is not very efficient to say the least. Anyway, I made it into town about 6:15 am and was walking briskly to my next taxi stage around Uganda House so I could board the next taxi to Nakawa and then use a boda to my final destination. All of a sudden I felt my head hit the ground and could taste soil in my mouth, I had no clue what was happening and it took me a few seconds to regain my composure and try to stand up. Nothing registered immediately until I heard a woman shouting in Luganda about how some guys had just snatched my phone from my right pocket! I didn’t even notice I was bleeding until she mentioned it as well. I looked at my shirt and trousers and sure enough there were drops of blood. I now realized that I had “officially” just been robbed so I started to think as I steadied myself and proceeded to climb up the street and cross a few more roads. Part of me wanted to go ahead and make the appointment but my better judgement told me I couldn’t show up on the first day of a new job looking like I’d just been in a fight so I turned around, found a near by water tap in one of the buildings, did a little cleaning up and headed to the Kansanga stage along Entebbe road. All I wanted to do was just get home and sleep off this horrible experience. Naturally you can imagine the glances and stares from my neighbors as I sat in the taxi on my way back home. I kept a wet handkerchief to the wounds and bruises but there were bits of blood on my shirt and trousers. My next two days were sad and dark but on Wednesday I felt some what lifted in my mood after a midweek fellowship I usually have with some friends. By Friday I was feeling a lot better and on Sunday I was able to give thanks in church for the gift of life and the other good things I could think of. So that was my Monday from two weeks ago. Of course I’m going to be a lot more careful when I walk along the streets of Kampala, I’m also thankful that I’m not the one who was on the other side knocking people out in the morning to steal from them.
God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power that works on the inside of us. As Christians our prayers avail much and produce tremendous results. God is not limited in his ability or capacity to meet our needs but rather it’s our ability and capacity to receive what he has so graciously provided through his son Jesus that limits us. We have every imaginable resource available for and to us. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness that is to say everything we need to live a good life and be godly. He has also blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in his son. We are indeed a fortunate and happy lot because on a day by day basis God abundantly supplies all our need according to his riches in glory.
It is important for us to know and understand (in a personal way) the kind of love that our Father (God) has toward us (his children). He did not spare his own son but gave him up for us, how then could he be withholding lesser things like a job, spouse, money, healing, or whatever it is that we need in order to live a happy and fulfilled life? God gave us everything we could ever need when he gave us his son. We are complete in Jesus. So be encouraged as you continue to trust God for the things that you need in your life. Go ahead and ask according to his will then believe that you receive and you will have what you have asked for.
Imagine yourself already in possession of whatever it is that you are trusting God for. Guide your thoughts and imagination in the right direction as you trust him to deliver on his promises.
Sam asked Amanda to be his wife and that’s how I ended up at Panorama View Hotel in Jinja on the afternoon of Saturday, 18th May 2019. Their wedding was very colourful and the couple looked dazzling yet my attention was taken by a small reunion of my high school teachers. I last saw some of them at least 15 years ago.
Turns out Sam is a son to former teachers at Mwiri and spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Jinja and particularly at the Mwiri Hill. Amanda hails from Kamuli a district not far from Jinja town. Sam’s parent’s friends many of whom happen to be former and current teaching staff at Busoga College Mwiri graced the occasion and it was heart warming for me to see them come out to support their old colleagues and friends as their son took an important step in his life. I walked up to two of my former teachers to say hello and show my appreciation and respect for the time they spent laboring to groom us into responsible citizens. It was a warm and reminiscent chat as we exchanged pleasantries and chuckled over a few questions about current pursuits and endeavors. I noticed they had aged a bit, albeit with grace, I noticed the happy feeling at meeting a former student after several years, I noticed the genuine concern and care for each other as they travelled considerable distances to be at this wedding.
I’m still musing about life, friendship, happiness, the passing of time and the significance of community.