THE FESTIVE SEASON

THE FESTIVE SEASON

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Caption: A sculpture depicting  the shepherds in the manger

Nothing awakens the child in me as the festive season. I only need to hear Silent Night  or  Joy To The World and the small girl in me lights up and is instantly transported back to her childhood. This is one place where I had felt loved, cared for  therefore safe and secure. I trusted my parents and myself enough to learn the basic skills  of life  from them until I grew up to take care of myself. I unashamedly admit that though I attended a church missionary- founded school, the true meaning of Christmas was lost in the festive activities until my late teens. I am sure I was not the only one to trivialize the season  among my peers.

The performance of the Christmas Nativity play at the end of the school year  would get me into the Christmas spirit. At home, the neatly trimmed hedge and manicured garden would  give the tell tale signs of the approaching Christmas. By the second week of December, the early Christmas specials would have been made available in some of the big shops like Drapers and Deacons in Kampala. One of our big cousins would take us to the city for shopping; a new shirt and trouser for the boys while the girls bought dresses and shoes. We would return to the city a number of times just to be part of the crowd of shoppers under the pretext that some of us  had not yet found what we wanted. We were always fascinated by the decorated Christmas trees in these big shops.

Later as we grew older, our favourite treat was joining in the Christmas carols and watching the Mayor turn on the lights on a giant Christmas tree in the  Mayor’s garden at the city hall around the 20th of December.

The best Christmas’  were celebrated at our village home, forty kilometers  west of Kampala. It was a big house surrounded by  rolling green hills, well maintained coffee trees and banana plantations that stretched as far as the eye could see. How we enjoyed roaming about in the wild! Our parents ensured that we learned to be useful about the house.

Decorating the Christmas tree was a ritual that was reserved for the girls. We started off  with choosing the right tree; large and tall, among the three or four overgrown ones from the hedge behind the house. This was followed by retrieving  the box of the old decorations from the store and adding them to the new ones.We would blow the balloons until our cheek muscles  hurt . The balloons would be  tied on the tree along with bells and ribbons. Many times , we would pause, step back to inspect our efforts and only when completely satisfied, would one of us  climb on a chair to place the golden star of David at the top.

Then early on the 24th, two or three cows picked from the herd will be slaughtered and the bulk of the meat would be neatly wrapped up in banana leaves and distributed in the village especially to the elderly. My father would insist that we delivered some of those parcels to the relatives in the village. The smiles and cries of immense gratitude have lived with me to this day. They taught me one of the true meanings of the Christmas season; sharing and giving with love whatever you have with the needy. This gesture always reminded me of how fortunate our family was.

On Christmas day ,we would wake up excited at the crack of dawn  and rush to the Christmas tree to check for the presents.  Always, there was a well wrapped up gift for each one of us and the helpers in the home. I remember the best present I was given was two books from the Heidi series. One of my brothers, a good swimmer, could not hide his joy when he was given a pair swimming trunks and a cap.  Many times we would wonder how our parents chose just the right present for each one. Perhaps it is true when they say that  Mother knows best.

We always attended the  8am service at the simple village church. The older ones would walk there except if it rained. Surprisingly, December was always a hot, dry month but then out of nowhere it could rain on Christmas day . The young ones would drive to the church with our father who  also loved coming to the village; away from the madding crowd of the city. It was a place of peace and quiet and it allowed him to spend  as much time as he wanted with us. He taught us to ride bicycles, how to harvest coffee and identify each head of cattle by its quirks. It was one place where he could be himself.

Christmas at this place was always busy. There would be more than thirty people in all, the family ,relatives , friends and a few invited ones from the village. The lunch itself was a real labour of love. A variety of mouthwatering dishes of  beef ,goat and chicken stews, roasts over open fires, accompanied by  bananas, rice, potatoes  and vegetables. Everything was cooked to perfection and thankfully we all ate to our heart’s content and we washed it down with Pepsi cola, the favourite drink at the time.

To amuse ourselves, we would play board games such as Ludo and Snakes and Ladders while the adults reminisced about seasons passed. Having worked in the colonial office earlier on, my father would always find time to listen to the annual Christmas message of Queen Elizabeth II to Britain and the Commonwealth.

It always surprised to us how such a day of fun would quickly pass. Such days were unforgettable. Since then I have celebrated more than fifty such days but I still treasure the memories of my childhood. Some of the rituals I carried with me when I got married . As I grow older, I have come to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas to a true believer that is the love of God  to mankind. God’s nature is love and on seeing that we had turned away from him, he sent  his only son to reconcile us to him. What greater love! It is not lost on me that as a Christian, I am God’s child  and it is my duty  to be like him, living a life controlled by love. Everything that I do should be done out of love, for love and in love.

This message should not be lost in the merry making and feasting  at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas to you all. May 2019 be a year filled with love, joy, peace, good health and prosperity.

 

 

 

REVISITING MY YOUTH

When growing up in my village, my peers from the neighbourhood always preferred the meals served at my home while I preferred what was served in their homes.It did not stop there; as youths  now living in a world full of conflict and violence, our neighbour Kenya  apparently had all that we needed to experience the Paradise of our youth. The Uganda of the 70s was under the authoritarian rule of General Idi Amin. Typical of youths anywhere, I and my peers had an overwhelming sense of safety though still acknowledging and confronting difficult external realities of living under military rule.

Well aware that there is never a time in life when we do not have a child within, a friend and I made our first adventure of travelling outside Uganda just before we embarked on our long courses of Medicine and engineering respectively at the only National University of the time. Armed with innocence- openness, optimism and excitement, we took an overnight bus from Kampala to Nairobi. These were the East African Community days: free movement and easy monetary exchange of one Ugandan shilling for one Kenyan shilling. My young brother who was a student at the Directorate of Civil Aviation in Nairobi had warned us of the cold weather in Eldoret and Nakuru so we were well covered in sweaters over blue Jeans. We arrived in Nairobi by 6am and true to his word, my brother was waiting for us  at the bus terminal. Closing my eyes now I can see his sunny face with surprising clarity and detail! Tall and lean , with an Afro cut, he was wearing a warm checked shirt over bellbottom trousers and platform shoes.

There and then , we began our ten days of fun and adventure. Nairobi was a big city full of people. It  had wide , clean streets. The people were warm and friendly and not too much in a hurry; they were willing to offer help where they could.The public shuttles locally called ‘Matatus’ were foreign to us but by the end of the week we had got used to being packed like loaves of bread and their fast speed. I was mesmerized by the tall buildings like Hilton Nairobi, Kenyatta Convention Centre and Uchumi House. We looked on in envy as mini buses painted in the colours of zebras and giraffes offloaded and loaded tourists at the hotels. We lost count of the numbers. We visited the Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe centre, the Snake park , the biggest market in the city and the cultural centre : BOMAS of Kenya. My brother had many pilot friends who enjoyed letting off steam during the nights so we  became night revellers; dancing at the most popular places like Club 1900. We had very little to worry about so we shopped, danced, partied and had fun. By the end of our stay, I had fallen in love with Nairobi and would later come back many times over to create more memorable experiences. No doubt these were among the best years of my life.

Then I graduated, got married, became a mother and later looked for greener pastures in Botswana, southern Africa. For all the years I was in Botswana, I never visited my second home: Nairobi, I always passed through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in transit to Entebbe, Uganda.

Now that I have retired and relocated  home, I seized the first opportunity to visit Nairobi. Last week I attended the Women Doctors international Conference in Westlands, Nairobi. As I was driven from the airport, I was flooded with memories of my youth.  Many of these I have not recalled for a long time and yet they were as vivid as if they had happened yesterday! That is the power of memory!

I could not help but marvel at how Nairobi city has changed in those two decades. It is unrecognizable!

cITY OF SKYSCRAPERS

It is a city of Towers and skyscrapers and most of this expansion occurred in the late 1990s and has continued to today. I kept craning my neck to read the names of the towers: Britam Towers- the tallest, followed by UAP Old Mutual Tower, Times Tower, Prism Tower and I could not count those under construction. I had to admit to myself that I was mesmerized by the new towers and the highways. All the Nairobi landmarks of the 1980s and early 1990s had been dwarfed by these towers. My face lit up as I recognized one old familiar place- The Sarit Centre  very close to the conference venue. The Sarit centre was at one time the biggest shopping mall in Nairobi and the place to be and be seen.

Later in the week, accompanied by a friend, we walked through the city centre. Recognising the cylindrical Hilton hotel on Mama Ngina street helped me to get my bearings right. It was like being reunited with a long lost old friend. From there I could recognize other streets immediately. Despite the big crowds in the streets, I felt safe, secure and peaceful just like the good old days. I was thankful that the boda bodas– motorcycle  taxis had not taken over the city  as in Kampala.

They say that : “What the heart has once owned, the eyes cannot forget”.  I had to take a moment to view the city from the tenth floor of Movenpick hotel  mainly to identify the old and familiar landmarks like Nyayo House, Uchumi  House and Rahimtulla Towers.It was my way of proving to myself that I was in Nairobi! I also drove and walked through the Kangemi slum situated in the western part of the city. I noticed some changes too: some simple solid structures soared above the numerous temporary ones.

The full day guided tour to Nairobi National Park, Elephant orphanage, the Giraffe centre and Karen Blixen Museum and BOMAS of Kenya awakened the child in me. Each place had a fond memory tagged to it and seemed to embrace me with a hug. A visit to Kenyatta  National Hospital reminded me of the friends who had worked there.

The dinner –dance held at the Utalii College Hotel brought back memories of the rich and diverse Kenyan cuisine and night life. Unexpectedly, it also reminded me of my age: the one- time night reveller could not stay beyond midnight!

All in all, Nairobi still remains an amazing place with so much to enjoy.

I left Nairobi relaxed and young at heart.

Frank Kafka said : “ Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

The radical change that the city had undergone confirmed to me that I still had the power to create a new life for myself by learning to be free – to let go of attachments: friends and places even life itself.

So next time I visit Kenya, I shall explore the city on my own and just be in the moment.

What about you ? Do you have any particular place which evokes vivid and heartwarming memories of any particular stage in your life?

I would be very happy to hear from you.

 

 

 

BE KNOWN AND REMEMBERED FOR GOOD REASONS

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There is a big red- tiled house along Entebbe road , on the way to the country’s only International airport, that I have passed by  for over fifteen years. On many occasions it has been pointed out to me as the house belonging to an ordinary man who through sheer determination and hard work worked his way to the top. The story goes that from a mere porter at a welding workshop he struggled to build his own metal fabrication and design business. On more than two occasions, he had to start afresh but he never gave up. He acquired the necessary skills, became professional and built a solid business.

I think by now he is an old man but I only know his name and many times I have wished to put a face to the name! Then, just yesterday as I accompanied my sister to the airport, Kizito my long time trusted driver from the Airport taxi service pointed out another house to me. It is a four-storied commercial building, as good as new but looking empty and forlorn. “ That building has been like that for two years; the owner died and his children could not agree on how to run it,’’ Kizito explained with a heavy heart.    I found myself thinking about how each one of us lives and writes his legacy every day through our actions and interactions with the people around us.

Like the owners of those two houses, I have two different friends whose lives bring out the values and purpose of their lives. The first is none other than Kizito himself. His telephone number is among those written in my dog- eared notebook that I have kept for over ten years! It is one number that has been among my contacts since the Mobile phone became a vital part of each one of us. I did not know him before . He was recommended to me by a childhood friend as I was looking around for a reliable driver to take me to the airport for the South Africa Airways 7:00 am flight. I used to take this flight back to Botswana through Johannesburg for most of the time I lived and worked in Botswana. The check- in time was an, awkward 5:00 am. For all those occasions, reliable and dependable Kizito picked me from home, located thirty-two kilometres from the airport, on time. If anything, I sometimes delayed him! We have come to know each other well and whenever we travel together we take the trouble to catch up on each other’s lives. He dreams of owning his own transport company. Little by little, he is getting there. He took a bank loan to buy the Toyota Harrier that he is currently driving and is left with seven months of repayments. I was happy to learn that he ensured that he did not secure the loan against his small home.He is also doing his best to get his four children in the best schools within his reach. As a satisfied customer, I have recommended him to many other friends and true to his word, he has never left them wanting. I always remember him with a smile.

The second friend is Moses Kunene of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is another taxi driver who was recommended to me by Kalagi, my childhood friend who has lived in Johannesburg for thirty years. Worried by the violence in the country at that time, I needed a reliable and trustworthy driver to pick my children from the bus terminal and get them to Oliver Tambo International airport for a flight to Cape Town where they undertook their undergraduate education. Kunene has picked me from the airport and dropped me at Kalagi’s place in Pretoria, many times over. He has proved as reliable as they come. He shared his biggest dream of owning his own Safari Tours company early on and it has been  great joy to watch him grow as opportunities and choices opened up for the black South Africans. True to his word; he now owns a small tour company that ferries tourists around Johannesburg the ‘city of gold’ and Pretoria the Jacaranda city and the administrative capital.

He employs four other drivers but whenever I call, he himself shows up. He took me and my sister from Gothenburg ,Sweden, around the  main tourist attractions like Soweto and the Mandela Museum, the Apartheid Museum , and The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO Heritage site, the Pretoria National Botanic Gardens and the Union Buildings. Kunene loves what he does and is extremely enthusiastic about his work. He has invested time, practice and money in his work. At the same time, he has been able to move his family of five from a shanty area of Johannesburg to Mayville suburb of Pretoria! What he considers as his best achievement so far is having guided his eldest son into a Business Administration degree course at the University of Witwatersrand -WITS, Johannesburg. The transformation has been remarkable! How I wish Kizito could tell me something close to this story for his family in Entebbe, Uganda.

These two men are ordinary, happy and optimistic people walking around with an attitude of gratitude. They treat their jobs with respect and give them the priority they deserve after their families. They make our world better by what they do and say. From the time I got to know them, they had clarity about where they were and where they wanted to be and were determined to find ways of getting there.

The real takeaway from Kizito and Kunene’s stories is that as we go about our day-to-day jobs, we are writing and living our legacy. We influence the present generation and the generations to come, long after we have gone out of this world.

Shannon Alder said: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.’’

I for one have decided to write and live my legacy every day by whay I think, speak and what I do.

I would be extremely happy if you chose to join me in this endeavour. Together we can make our world a better place.

Kindly leave a comment about this post and share your experiences about living and writing your own legacy.

TAKING ON THE CHALLENGE

One of my favourite quote is by an American writer, Alvin Toffler (1928-2016). In his book entitled ‘Future Shock’ ( 1970) he says: “ The Illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write , but those who cannot learn , unlearn, and relearn.’’
In this digital era, things are changing constantly and fast. The solution is to wake up each morning ready to learn how to learn. To increase my adaptability wherever I am, I have to learn, unlearn and relearn. Learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught. It is a lifetime job.
In last week’s post I informed you that through repeated experiences I had acquired the habit of decluttering my physical space once a year. This habit would free my mind, heart and soul to engage fully with life. I was happy and productive. But since my return home, I had relaxed on this good habit of mine and found myself accumulating stuff faster than at any other time in my life. This attachment to things had started weighing me down emotionally and was decreasing my productivity. I had to save myself by ‘relearning’ the good old habit: Regularly let go of things, keep only what I needed at that moment in time, not keeping things that I might need in future.

The English writer and social critic, Charles Dickens, said: “My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.’’
Not to stress myself, I decided to start on this task of organizing my physical space immediately by clearly defining what I needed to do and coming out with a plan of how to do it. I have planned to do a little at a time and to ensure that it is done and done right. Every Saturday morning, I shall clear one room at a time, taking one item at a time. I am determined to stick to this schedule for the next three months. I have to avoid distractions and I have given myself permission to ask for help when I need it.
Knowing that the best time to do something is usually ‘now’, last Saturday, I rolled up my sleeves and took on the challenge. I did not want to give myself time to think of procrastination.

I started in the spare bedroom which I had literary turned into a store. I had three labelled big plastic containers : one for items to be given away, another for items for the garage sale and the third one for items I needed at that moment and therefore could keep. I only kept items that I really needed; any holding some significance in my life and any that served a purpose in my life. I never kept anything that I hoped I would need one day.
As I combed through the accumulated stuff, the first three hours were tough on me due to the emotional attachment but as time went by, it became increasingly easy. Much to my surprise, I had started enjoying the childlike spontaneity and in the process, I became open to the experience.
By the end of the morning, I was thrilled that I had focused on the task and cleared one corner of the room. I felt in control and felt good about myself. I was doing the right thing to ‘relearn’ a good habit that served me well in the past.

I had no doubt that if I sustained this energy and zest and worked to schedule, I would meet my deadline of getting rid of clutter in the house in three months! I celebrated the little I had done right over a bottle of wine with one of my childhood friends. I am now looking forward to next Saturday to take bold steps towards my goal.
The experience has reminded me that with any big task, you start small and that the beginning of anything worthwhile is the most difficult part.
There is also a Spanish proverb that says : “ Tomorrow is the busiest day of the week.’’
We all have the tendency of putting off things until tomorrow and yet the best time to do them is now.
If there is something you want to do, do not let fear hold you back. Acknowledge your fear, allow yourself to feel it but then go on and do what you have to do. This is what courage is all about.
Napoleon Hill said: “ Do n’t wait. The time will never be just right.’’

The Chinese say that : ” The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I am thrilled that I have taken my first steps.

Thank you for reading this post, I would be very grateful if you shared your experiences with me. Kindly leave a comment and feel free to share the post with family and friends.

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

I spent last Saturday afternoon singing Christmas carols at the home of one of my childhood friends. Before I got carried away by the singing and before the memories of childhood came flooding in , I had to remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas. As a Christian I know that every family in heaven and on earth receives its free name from God the Father. God the Father sent his only Son to earth to change all those who believe in the Son into members of the holy family. So Christmas is about family, friends and focuses on loving, sharing and giving. A group of about seventy people consisting of the young and old sang the Christmas carols bringing the joyful Christmas spirit into our homes. With hearts filled with love and gratitude, we sang and embraced each other .We sang the traditional Christmas carols like Once in Royal David’s City and Silent Night and we the seniors among the group knew each song line by line! The kid in me just came alive as the treasured memories of the Christmas days celebrated in the past floated to the surface.

I could see myself singing the same Christmas carols as a teenager at home and at the Mayor’s gardens in Kampala. Many years later I was to sing the same Christmas carols in Cape Town botanical gardens at the foot of the Table Mountains. Irrespective of where I have had to join in the Christmas Carol Service , the switching on the Christmas tree lights always symbolizes the ushering in of the Christmas spirit into my home. It always brings in smiles, joy and love in my heart.

I cannot even begin to count how many Christmas cards I have had to write out and post early enough to be received by family and friends in time for Christmas all these years. The e-Christmas cards have been around for a while and I sometimes find them convenient and fast but still I feel that a few special people need the traditional card signed by me. I cannot forget the time I spent with my siblings and later with my children decorating the Christmas tree. It gives me hope that someday, I shall be decorating one with my grandchildren.

Memories of the early morning church service where everyone sings cheerfully and with enthusiasm are greatly treasured .The family gathering that usually follows later, remains the cherry on the cake for many of us. The Christmas meal consisting of a variety of family favourite dishes are a constant reminder of a mother’s labor of love. Their smells and taste are safely stored in my memory too. Not forgetting the traditional Christmas fruit cake; moist and fruit laden. I have always tasted it with my eyes before biting into it!

Now that I have earned membership to the Senior citizens’ Club, it thrills me to see the young creating their own memories of this festive season. I know for sure that once such memories are created, they will be cherished forever.

Over time, I have learned to look out for the needy in my community so that I give and share the joy and peace of the season in my small way with them. I have been amazed by the difference it makes.
To anyone reading this post, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May God’s love, peace and joy remain in your heart throughout the year. We are blessed to bless others so go out and share this love, peace and joy throughout the New Year.
May 2018 turn out to be your best year yet.

 

 

Where would I be Without Encouragement?

Among the definitions of the word encouragement that I came across while preparing this post was: to give support, confidence or hope to someone. This implies that this person has given up or is about to give up on something. Your encouragement can be given in words or as attention or as a reward and helps to keep the person on the path. Children need more encouragement than adults but we all need it. Parents, teachers and friends are always there for us to motivate us to want to do better and to want to give more. As we grow older it becomes clearer that if you want anything enough you have to encourage yourself first.

As I write now, I am being reminded of the three modes of encouragement. In the ancient Greek games held every four years at Olympia, the winners were given a victory crown of wild olive leaves and an olive branch. In my culture: the Ganda culture of Uganda, mothers used to tie locally made metallic ankle bracelets known as endege on young children to encourage them to learn to walk. The sound made by the bracelet as the child moved around would encourage the child to stay up on her/his feet.

In my teenage years, I was a passionate athlete and was a member of the School Athletics team for some years. Winners in the National School Athletics championships were given book vouchers from the then Uganda Bookshop. I can vividly recall the days when my father would drive me to the bookshop and leave me there for some hours to chose the story books I wanted to buy. I always felt like a kid in a toy shop! At the same time, the best class students in each school subject were presented with books at the end of the year. Thankfully, I was able to collect a number of these and this fuelled my passion for the written word up to today.

All children need to hear adults complement them on what they are doing right and to be taught that failure is part of success and therefore should never allow themselves to be defined by one particular event. For any child, being given encouragement in the form of attention or presence is terribly important. As long as you are present especially for a school event in which he/she is performing; it hardly makes any difference whether he is Joseph, the carpenter or just a tree among the many in the forest. As a reward, a mother’s or father’s simple smile always does the magic.

The psychologist tell us that a child has both physical needs like food, shelter and air and core emotional needs:approval,affirmation and acknowledgement to grow into a well-balanced individual. When the parents or caregivers and our friends provide us with these needs, we all feel good about ourselves and it brings out the best in us. Our parents’ approval, love and acceptance condition us to seek approval from others. Away from home, we seek for these from friends, spouses and coworkers. They give us an emotional sense of security and free us to be ourselves and to effectively engage fully in the world around us.

I have been around for a while and have come to understand that the need for approval, affirmation and acknowledgement never stops. We look for these needs throughout our lives. Each time I post an article on the Blog, I wait patiently and excitedly for comments from the readers. When I get some, I am encouraged to write more posts and to write better too. Sometimes I reward myself with a treat after a hard day’s work.

One encouraging quote by an unknown author says: “ Set your goals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.’’
Catherine Pulsifer, an inspirational writer says: “ A gift that costs no money but one that costs time and your attention is giving some words of encouragement.’’
You and I can go around building up people; it will create happier and more confident people.

Thank you for visitng my Blog and reading this post. May it stimulate you into encouraging those around you every day. I would be very grateful for a comment about this post and others. Feel free to share the posts with family and friends.

 

The Art of Balancing YES and NO

Life is essentially about relationships and the choices we make. When faced with options, we end up making a series of YES or NO and gradually build up the big picture of our lives. As I said earlier, we are social animals living interdependently. We all start by conforming to please family, friends and peers and continue to ensure success and status doing the same thing. The majority of us will struggle to do what we really want without losing our family and friends. Juggling both family and work, one can find herself taking on too many commitments and too fast. This has resulted in burnout- exhausted and overwhelmed. It is our responsibility to empower the young to avoid or to handle such situations. It goes back to teaching them and supporting them in creating emotional and spiritual balance by simply learning to balance YES and NO.

“ Until you learn how to confidently say No to so many things , you still always say Yes to many things.’’ Enest Agyemang Yeboah
This is where the 80/20 Rule of Time Management comes in handy. At any one stage in your life, you have to define what is most important to you and focus your time, energy, efforts and resources on that. What you focus on always grows.
You have to prioritise the 20% most important things to you and devote 80% of your time on them. Anything else is regarded as a distraction and should not be allowed to steal your time. We all have 24 hours in a day but the most successful among us are those who have mastered the art of using their time wisely.

Developing this 80/20 mindset will help you to use your time effectively. The ‘urgent’ will stop drowning out the most important activities that advance your overall purpose in life. You will stay focused on the key stuff in your life. You will be able to beat the stressful lifestyle that puts you under extreme pressure.
As we grow and take on more responsibilities only to retire later, the 20% most important things in life also change. You continue setting your priorities, it will lead you to make good choices about what you want to be and do. You will stop wasting time on things that do not matter to you.

I have learned to apply this 80/20 Rule on a daily basis and it has worked wonders. I have been able to do much more in a day and generally I have been able to move the most important things in my life forward. I have been able to do amazing things by reducing the distractions.
Each day throws you many options all day long and saying YES or NO to these options points you into a different direction. Over time, your personal growth comes in a series of small, incremental changes resulting from the choices you made and your commitment to follow things through.

Later in life, the strong urge to please, to fit in, to satisfy the demands of family and peer groups wears off and you want to live a life of more significance and depth. You consider what adds value to your life: what makes your heart resonate with your soul and what makes you feel good about yourself and brings fun in your life.
As learning is for life, I am still learning and trying to master the art of balancing YES and NO. As they say: Practice makes perfect.
One last quote: “When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.’’ Joe Calloway

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. I hope it will help you to use your time effectively. Kindly leave a comment about it and feel free to share it with your network of friends and family.

 

A Life of Service

The unexpected death of Rotarian Sam Frobisher Owori of the Rotary Club of Kampala and President-elect of Rotary International on 13th July 2017, shocked many Ugandans and millions of his friends world-wide. I am not a Rotarian and I cannot claim that I knew him enough but what I know for sure is that in the last twenty-nine years his face had become a symbol of Rotary in Uganda. It is no surprise to me that his death has created an opportunity for me to write about living a life of service to others. Records show that he joined Rotary in 1978 and has served it in many capacities and took on the responsibility of growing the Rotary clubs in Uganda from nine to the current eighty-nine in the last twenty nine years. This is no mean achievement considering that for him it was never about numbers but more to do with quality. We mourn an accomplished man who has lived out what was his own to do and made a unique contribution to the world.

All that he was able to do emerged organically and easily from whom he was: a simple man of integrity, compassionate, passionate and hardworking individual. His concern and compassion for others fired him to become a Rotarian and as he rose through the ranks he was socialized adequately to become effective in his community and country. In Rotary, he was able to express what was in his heart. Rotary transformed him into a better person and he changed Rotary in some aspects. The Rotary community he created in Uganda was able to grow and flourish.

He knew who he was – strengths and weakness, his gifts and talents and used them to find his purpose and meaning in life. He used his life to make a difference and to help others. By doing something good, something useful with his life he made many people happy and found joy in his life.

One of my favourite authors, Khalil Gibran(1883-1931) : the renown  Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer considered Serving others as the key to lasting joy and the actual true meaning of life.

One of his famous quotes says: “I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I served and I saw that Service is joy.”

He also said that: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Sam Owori gave his love, time, energy and efforts.

Albert Einstein ( 1879-1955)Physicist. He crystallised the importance of service in life in this quote:

“Only life lived in service to others is worth living.’’

As Christians, we are commanded to wear the apron of humility to serve one another. God works through people like Sam Owori and you. Service to others is service to God.

When we love unconditionally, give gladly and humble ourselves to serve others without expecting any rewards: it is the closest we can get to being godly or being perfect. When we connect to people and help them live full lives, our lives will be full too.

Rotarian Sam Owori devoted his time to loving others and creating a community of Rotarians and in doing so, he found purpose and meaning in his life. Once he found what he was created to do and followed it relentlessly he was happy and lived an engaged life. He mentored, sponsored and inspired many Business and professional Ugandans to live meaningful lives and to engage in life fully. No wonder he always looked so alive, confident, open and always had something to look forward to.

Like all professionals of his time: he had many demands on his time but he learned to balance his own good with the good of others. He focused on what was most important in his life: God, family, his health, friends and service to humanity, and profession.Once he got what he wanted, he protected and sustained them.

I salute him for having had the courage and ability to do what he had to do to make a difference in Uganda and the world at large. He never sought his own good but did it for the good of humanity. He left the world a better place than he found it.

His selfless service as a Rotarian that began in 1978, was to serve as a special initiatory experience to prepare him to serve at the highest level as the 108th President of Rotary International from July 2018. He was ready to move with a deeper level of wisdom to access what would have been available to him.He would have been the second African President of this prestigious organization founded by Paul Harris of Chicago in February 1905. It is an international organization found in almost all countries and committed to serve and foster friendships. Many Rotarians in Uganda had already been galvanized for the Montreal meeting next year. Who could not have felt proud of him as a fellow Ugandan? Sadly, he died at the threshold of attaining this highest office in Rotary.

Like Rotary International itself, Sam Owori will be known and remembered by the results he achieved as a Rotarian.

Norah and the three sons may be the unsung heroes who gave Rotarian Sam Owori the secure and stable base to take off and land on. We thank you for this role and mourn with you during this difficult time. God will give you the courage to continue his work of selfless service to humanity. He lives on in you and all that he created with a lot of love and commitment.

Rotarian Sam Frobisher Owori, you have run your race brilliantly. Rest in Eternal Peace.

 

 

 

Making Sense of The Changes

After being away from home for two decades, I returned to a country changed beyond recognition! I believe that no aspect has been left untouched; some changed for the worse and a few for the better. The old saying: “No Man Is an Island,” rings so true. Uganda is part and parcel of the Global Village and the 3rd Industrial Revolution  known as the Digital Revolution which started in the 1980’s and is ongoing,  has become an integral part of our lives. It has changed our lives: the way we do things, move and communicate. The internet and social media makes us feel so connected to one another globally and yet we are less sensitive to the feelings of others. The 4th industrial Revolution which builds on the 3rd one is steadily ensuring that technology becomes embedded into our societies and even in the human body. We are all really controlled by the environment around us and the more we get to know the environment, the better  we adapt to it and thrive.

I am here struggling to navigate through an uncertain environment  and trying  to find a way to fit in not merely to survive but to flourish as well. I am slowly but surely learning to deal with reality and help others of my kind to do the same.

They say:  “East, west, home is best,” but things as they stand, you can never make enough plans and preparations for the return home. Surprises keep being thrown at you but you just have to learn to keep trusting yourself while at the same time become street smart .You have to make your decisions based on facts other than feelings or emotions. The challenges you keep meeting serve to hone your Warrior skills.  My biggest challenge is finding where I fit in  a country whose moral fiber and values have been radically changed. Each day presents you with opportunities to grow and develop at the same time demand of you to acquire some critical skills like : knowing when to humble yourself and ask for help and when to help others and when to stay back.

As I try to makes sense of the changes around me, I am using it as an opportunity to learn and adapt. Like everybody else I know too well that change is a fact of life and that the earlier I accept it and work  with it, the quicker I would settle down.  When I choose to be like the ostrich and just bury my head in the sand, settling down will be terribly difficult for me. I have chosen to take the philosopher, Alvin Toffler’s advice very seriously. He says: “The illiterates of the 21 st century will be not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’’

Living in this era of information overload, every day I consciously choose to learn new things, unlearn what is no longer true or relevant and relearn what is still true and relevant to the times. I have to decipher the information for quality- absorbing what adds value to my life.

I still learn through hearing, seeing and doing things. I have become a keen observer of what is going on around me. I learn from my network of friends and family, colleagues, the young and old whom I have a chance to talk to, and through other returnees. I know for sure that the wise among us learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. I have also had to reassess my strengths and weaknesses, humble myself to ask for help and advice and tried to improve my weaknesses where possible.

This constantly reminds of the quote by an anonymous author: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape.’’  It is the same observation that Charles Darwin (1809-1882) the English Biologist and Naturalist made many years ago: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survive. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

I have to remain positive in action and attitude to succeed. My thoughts determine my actions while my attitude determines how far I can go.  By observation, I have come to understand that here people play the game of life along a different set of rules- cheating and exploiting others and a few of them play by no rules at all. After the shock and denial, I am now embracing the change but at the same time holding firmly to my core values and principles. For we are advised that: If a place is changing you to your core values, pack up and leave before you lose yourself.

Having said that, I know that East, west; home is best. I have to trust myself to rise to the challenge of turning home into the place I want it to be. I should start in my house and spread outside. No doubt it takes me out of my comfort zone and it can be scary at times but Charity always begins at home.

I remain hopeful that despite the avalanche of changes around me, I can carve my path through them to grow and develop while at the same time helping and serving others. I have never been the type of person who just sits and watches and I am determined not to start now.

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. May it help you to embrace and work with the changes at home , at your workplace or wherever you are. Feel free to share the post with your network of friends and family.

One Of the Giants of Our Time

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The Late Sir Ketumile Masire and  Lady  Gladys Olebile Masire at the latter’s  80th Birthday Party in 2012. Standing behind them is Gaone, their eldest child.

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The Late  Gladys Olebile Masire cutting the cake on her 80 th birthday party, surrounded by the grandchildren.

Sir Ketumile Masire , one of the founding fathers of our great nation: Botswana, has been laid to rest at his humble home in Kanye, south of Gaborone today 29th June 2017. He died almost a month shy of his 92 nd birthday.
Botswana is my second home having worked and lived there for twenty one years as a medical doctor. For all these years, I had the rare privilege of being taken and accepted as a daughter in his family. This happened because my youngest sister, Gladys, went to the then Kianda College of Nairobi , Kenya with Gaone and they became very good friends. Gaone is the oldest of his six children.
When I relocated to Botswana I took over the friendship. So for me this pragmatic and prudent Manager of our country was Rra Gaone and his beautiful wife from Mafeking, Gladys was Mma Gaone.

I remember calling Gaone to advise me of their favourite drink so that I could take it to them on the first visit. By Ugandan culture, an adult cannot visit her parents empty –handed. To my amazement and amusement, Gaone told me that her father’s favourite drink was Rooibos tea served with honey and that is what I used to take with me each time I visited them. I could add things like juice, biscuits, on top. They always received them with so much love and gratitude.

When I was involved in a nearly fatal Road traffic accident in January 1998, Rra Gaone found time to visit me in the intensive care unit of the Gaborone Private Hospital and left a big bouquet of flowers and a Get Well Soon card for me. Later when I was moved back to the surgical ward, Mma Gaone came over several times in the afternoons to watch over me. I later came to know them better as we celebrated weddings and important anniversaries together. On such occasions, Rra Gaone would enjoy freedom and fun by turning into a wise Fool. He could tell funny tales and jokes and throw us into fits of laughter.

I remember one time when he found me without a drink and asked me what I could take. He insisted that I took something so I asked for water. He went inside the house and came back with a jug of water and two glasses. He poured some water and took a sip before filling my glass. He explained to me that was what the Tswana culture demanded. One other story of his that I found extremely interesting was how he had fallen suddenly ill and found himself in a hospital bed on his wedding day in 1957. He insisted that the wedding went ahead in that hospital room and tea was served to a few relatives and hospital staff!

He was a hands on father who always attended PTA meetings at his children’s schools and the Class days to monitor the children’s progress at school and later their graduations. He was in their children’s lives and they were in his too. He strongly supported the newly formed Maru-a-Pula School in Gabarone and the University of Botswana.
In the home, there was order and harmony and each one looked out for the other. There was no ambiguity about the core values and principles; Sunday morning was worship day at the nearest local church followed by the family lunch organized by all. He instilled in all his children discipline and the duty to serve others without expecting any reward and the need to keep improving themselves.
Many of his children especially Gaone have numerous friends but both Rra Gaone and Mma Gaone took great interest in them and got to know them better. Many times they visited London, they would call or look up my sister, Gladys.

In later life, he was happiest with the grandchildren and learned a lot from them especially about the internet and social media. He remained a consistent and principled gentleman.
In May 2013, sadly he lost his beloved wife of fifty six years. It was very tough on him but as the seasoned Warrior, he gradually found it in himself to continue with his life. He immersed himself in beef cattle farming,read many books,travelled to promote his Memoirs and to promote peace worldwide. He was on the board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that awards the world’s most valuable individual award: The Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership.

The last family occasion I attended before returning to Uganda; was the celebration of his 90th Birthday on 23 July 2015. It was a well-organized function by the children and he enjoyed it thoroughly.
Originally he was a teacher then a journalist so throughout his life he taught, he served he mentored and sponsored many and made the world a better place. He always explained, demonstrated but most of all, he inspired us to want to do good and be better people.
I for one learned from him that when you wear the apron of humility and served others without expecting returns,God lifts you up. Rra Gaone was an epitome of humility and service to others.
With beloved Gladys by his side, they were a force to reckon with.
Secondly, I learned that a stable and secure family is the main anchor in life: it gives you wings to fly wherever you want to go but always beckons you for nurturing and refilling your emotional tank.
Gaone and all, Rra Gaone left you an inheritance of principles and core values, an attitude of gratitude and a positive attitude about life to sustain your future. Make the most of it.

As he was being laid to rest, we all celebrated a life so well lived that it earned him a secure place in the annals of our Country’s history. We thank God for he lived long enough to see Botswana rise and shine as a great nation.
Both Rra Gaone and Mma Gaone will live on in their children, in our hearts and in all that they created with a lot of love and commitment.
Last but not least I leave you with this quote by George Martin: “ He was definitely a father figure for all of us. Once you were a giant, you were always a giant.’’
Rra Gaone , Robala ka Kagiso: Rest In Peace.