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The 12th Kenya National Prayer Breakfast Part II

Uhuru_NPB

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his entourage made entry at the 12th Kenya National Breakfast (NPB) Safari Park venue just after 9am and moments later the MC for the occasion, and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Hon. Captain Clement Wambugu took the podium to formally welcome the guests in attendance.

Besides the President and his deputy, those in attendance included the Speakers of the Senate and that of the National Assembly, Governors, Senators and MPs, Judges, Cabinet Secretaries, diplomats and business leaders.

The last time I had seen a gathering of so many political and business leaders in one place was back in August 2010 during both the passage of the new Constitution on August 4, 2010 and at a promulgation party at the Carnival later that month.

Hard to believe it’s been almost 4 years since that jovial promulgation day but one could tell even at this somewhat solemn event that the ideals of the new constitution have yet to be fully experienced and no less than the president himself acknowledged this in his speech.

Not coincidentally, however, the theme of this year’s NPB was “Doing Things Right,” and the organizers had greed and corruption in mind as among the vices especially those in leadership must do right about to eradicate or at least minimize below the current toxic proportions.

To this end, the organizers did not find a shortage of wisdom on this sharing the following in the official program:

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty…wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.” Solomon, King of Israel (circa BC 1000)

“…and what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?” Jesus of Nazareth (circa AD 30)

“…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching…” John Wooden (1910-2010)

Upon welcoming the guests, the MC invited Hon. Alice Chae, M.P. to do the first scripture reading, followed by Hon. Paul Koinange, M.P., who offered the first prayer.

Breakfast was then served at each individual table in lieu of guests trooping to some central serving point, which whenever it happens with that many people, is an invitation for confusion and chaos, let alone wastage of time.

As breakfast was being served or being had, the Parliamentary Choir took the stage and did a rendition of several songs, which was impressive as I am sure many of us present had no idea there was such a thing a Parliamentary Choir, let alone one that could sing as good as this one did.

Mr. Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, President of the Court of Appeals was then invited to offer a prayer but gave a lengthy ode mostly focusing on ethics and civility before praying.

He also had some words of wisdom on being humble and told the proverbial story about a guest who goes straight and takes a place at the high table only to be embarrassed later being told to vacate the seat as the seat was reserved for someone more important than him or her who has just arrived.

Justice Kariuki was apparently preaching what he doesn’t do or either that he was reminded of this as he had the audience laughing noting precisely this had just happened to him, namely, he came and proceeded to seat at the table reserved for the president and whoever else was to sit with him but apparently Justice Kariuki it was not so he was politely asked to move!

Lesson: Always humble yourself; better sit at the far end of the room corner only to have someone come to you and say, “Sir/Madam, you have a place reserved for you at the High Table; please follow me and I’ll take you there.”

Of course, as you’re being walked there, everyone’s head is turning and as you take the high seat, you’re telling yourself and everyone knows you’ve landed.
Imagine the converse; you’re told to leave the High Table and head to some corner seat and on your way there and as you take the seat, you’re telling yourself and everyone is saying what a moron—okay, maybe not that harsh but you get the point.

Back to the event, several other speakers took to the podium and offered their prayers, including a reading from the Quran by Hon. Dr. Abdi Nuh, Chairman of County Speakers Panel who prayed for peace and religious tolerance in the country.

The Hon. Senator Naisula Lesuuda, followed with a lengthy prayer which I am sure impressed many as did me for she was not reading as the others were—at least it didn’t appear that way, yet everything she was saying in the prayer was apt, thoughtful and organized in how she delivered it.

I would say it was the best prayer offered during the occasion and the best way to sum it is, if you can imagine what there’s to pray for our beloved country, she covered it.

In between the scripture reading and prayers, the Moipei Sisters, a quartet I had never heard or seen before took the stage and beautifully sang several acapella songs which the audience seemed to enjoy as did yours truly, even though am usually not a fan of acapella.

Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama spoke in behalf of all governors and said all leaders should be on a mission to do things right.

“Let us not ask what is it that is in it for me but what is it that will help our people. Our aim is the delivery of services to the people,” he said.

The Guest Speaker, former US ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration was then invited to offer his remarks.

He started by basically going over his own personal journey of growth to where he sits today personally and professionally as the Vice-President of The Ibex Group, Ltd., a group dedicated to bringing international investors to East Africa.

Ambassador Gration, a retired major general before serving as US ambassador, recalled a time when he nearly died while flying into San Antonio, Texas due to mechanical difficulty.

He said although he had even by then had an accomplished life, he afterwards felt had he died that day, he didn’t believe he would have considered that living a full life.

His life having been spared, he yearned for something more; to him, this something more became more apparent when he thought about what happens when someone dies and is buried.

Noting there are two distinct dates that appear on the tombstone of anyone buried at a cemetery, namely, their date of birth and when they died, Gration further noted in between these two dates, is a dash and the dash represents something very important: our legacy.

In other words, said Ambassador Gration, the dash is what we make our lives to be, meaning, what we do between the date of birth and death is for us to fill in and ultimately it’s how our contribution to society or humanity will be judged or determined.

“God determines the beginning and end of life but we as humans have to decide what’s in between that beginning and end,” he said.

This realization, he reiterated, became crystal clear when he became a man of faith following the near death experience he survived described above which solidified his faith in God and has since become the point of reference in everything he does.

I interpreted this to mean Ambassador Gration believes putting God first and whatever endeavor one pursues is paramount as it both accomplishes one’s will and hopes while at the same time doing so in a manner that’s pleasing to God and therefore good for society at large in general and for any individual directly or indirectly affected in particular.

The former ambassador said Kenya has a lot of potential because of its strategic geographic location and its hardworking citizens.

“East Africa’s future is very bright and I truly believe now is the time to be flocking to Kenya and not fleeing its borders,” said he.

“We know that terrorism is a terrible scourge and it must be defeated but we must shun the political finger-pointing and become part of the solution. We must all work and unite. We must make it too hard for terrorists to operate in our spaces,” he said. “A safer and more secure nation is everyone’s responsibility, not just the job of the security forces.”

Following Ambassador Gration’s remarks, Hon. Ekwee Ethuro, the Senate Speaker, gave his remarks that centered on unity. He said prayers “are not something we’re doing just to feel good” but “we want our leadership to know that what breaks God’s own heart breaks our hearts. We have come here to plead for those favours from God,” he said.

Deputy President William Ruto then took the podium and told Kenyans that there was strength in diversity. He said despite the different religions, Kenya can progress if only they prayed together.

“A house that prays together, stays together” Ruto said, adding, “never again should we visit violence on one another”

Before inviting President Uhuru Kenyatta to give his remarks, Ruto said he had asked the president to sing his favorite childhood Sunday School song, which he said the president had agreed to but on condition everyone else joined him in singing the song.

And surely upon taking the stage, the president had the entire audience singing “Blessed Assurance,” which was some experience to behold, given the joviality and easiness with which it was done.

Setting aside his prepared speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta criticised the political class for hypocrisy.

“If only half the people in this room, just half, just took up the messages we have been given today, this country would change within one year,” said President Kenyatta.

“If we left this room today and just committed ourselves to go out and practice what has been preached here by ourselves as leaders, then we’ll have a great country and great prosperity and a great future for the people of this country,” he said.

Saying “God never and never will abandon Kenya,” President Kenyatta asked leaders –and Kenyans for that matter, to reflect on their relationship with God.

“God has never abandoned Kenya but maybe we have abandoned God because if half of the people in this tent just took up the messages that have been given here today, this country would change within a year,” the president said, repeating what he had just said moments earlier regarding half of the leaders present heeding the message and what that would do in terms of transforming the country in 1 year.

“Let it not be that we stand here, we say great things but what we read, what we hear coming from the same leadership in our dailies, on radio stations, in public rallies…is completely contrary from what we have preached here,” he said.

The President told Kenyans to stop divisive politics and embrace unity if the country is to progress.

“Let us see all of us preach against tribalism, let us see an end to negative ethnicity and hate speech. Let us see more of working together to improve and transform the lives of Kenyans,” he pleaded to all leaders.

The President asked Kenyans to end hate speech and tribalism which he said were rampant in the country.

“It is unfortunate that we do the opposite of what we have been told here today,” the President said, adding, “let us always do the right thing.”

The conviction and firmness with which President Uhuru Kenyatta said this led me to believe this was not something the President was just saying for the sake of saying but it’s something he actually believes the question is are others equally willing to do the right thing?

We certainly pray and hope they all are; at least that a good number of them are to make a difference in what has to happen from where we are and where we must go for the sake of peace, unity and prosperity for our beloved country.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Politics, Religion

 

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The 12th Kenya National Prayer Breakfast Part I

Uhuru_Musyoka_NPBPresident Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Wiliam Ruto
with former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka during NPB

A few days after arriving in Nairobi a few weeks ago, I met a friend of a friend who has since become a friend himself and as we were chatting, my new friend mentioned something about the 12th Kenya National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) to be held at Safari Park Hotel on Thursday, May 29, 2014, which was a couple or so days away.

Curious, I probed more about this and at the end of our conversation, my new friend agreed to arrange for an invitation for me to attend the event.

I was initially to send someone to pick up the invitation but as it turned out, my new friend and I subsequently agreed to meet for lunch over something else where afterwards he gave me the invitation.

I have attended a few of these events back in Washington, DC so I was curious and actually looked forward to attend the one in Kenya if anything to find out how we as Kenyans do ours even though the concept is the same.

Just as in the US NPB, guests are required to be seated by 7:30AM latest, which is usually some good time before the president, who’s usually the chief guest, arrives to grace the occasion.

In practice, the time before the president arrives is time for mingling and/or getting to know those seated on your table and tables, save for a handful or so, are usually non-assigned, meaning you seat wherever you find space.

This is intended to maximize opportunity for attendees to meet and make friends with new people, which is not a bad thing at all and is consistent with the nature and purpose of these NPBs.

A funny anecdote regarding being seated and where later.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 28th, 2014, I had a meeting with another friend of mine at his office and the conclusion of that meeting, I asked him if he was attending the NPB to which he answered in the affirmative.

I told him I was, too and asked him if we could ride together even though I had my own driver who could take me to which he also responded in the affirmative.

“I’ll pick you up at 8AM” were his last words to me as we bid each other goodbye and I left his office.

As I was leaving, I found myself wondering why my friend would pick me up at 8am when I was told and the invitation clearly stated guests must be seated by 7:30AM.

Given I know who the person is and that therefore he had to know the protocols and procedures, I didn’t make much of it.

The following morning my phone rang at just a few minutes after 7am, “sorry, we must leave now!” were the words on the other end.

It was my friend who noted he was mistaken as to what time we were to be at the venue.

Fortunately, I had gotten up early and was already getting ready so I told him I was ready.

“Where are you?” my friend inquired, “Well, I am at _______but I can’t really tell you how to get here so let me get someone to tell you.”

I had someone give my friend’s driver instructions only to have them drive right past the gate and discovered this at a point where coming back would take forever as it would be with traffic.

Realizing this, my friend called me and wondered if in lieu of him coming back with that heavy traffic, if I could just walk over to where they had pulled over and not too far from where I was I said I would and did just that.

That was an experience as is the case walking anywhere in Nairobi for yours truly which I avoid altogether for a number of reasons not the least of which is I never know which side to look for traffic, coming from the Keep Right world, the rude, unyielding drivers who would rather run you over than be 3 seconds late to kiss the car bumper parked ahead and going absolutely nowhere in heavy, non-moving traffic, fear of being hit dead cold in the face by a stranger who doesn’t like the way you look, etc.

Indeed, the last time I recall actually walking CBD was a long time ago I was with my sister and suddenly, out of nowhere, this lady carrying a baby appeared and started walking side-by-side with us asking for money.

My sister quickly took some cash from her purse and gave her what she would later tell me was a large bill but she didn’t care.

“Did you see what she had on her hand,” my sister inquired.

“No I didn’t; what was it?”

“She had spit likely mixed with poop on her hand had we refused to give her money, she would have dumped the entire content on our faces!”

I am fairly certain that was the last time I walked anywhere beyond into and out of a car into or from a building in CBD.

But I digress.

Back to walking toward where my friend had pulled over, this made sense because we were already late and any further delay in traffic would make matters worse so with someone in tow or more precisely ahead of me, we briskly walked toward where my friend was waiting and in less than 10 minutes I was in his car and off we left for Safari Park.

As it would turn out, we arrived ahead of the president and actually still found people mingling but given there were no seats assigned, save for a few individuals like the president, the Speakers, some cabinet secretaries, etc, my friend just told me to watch wherever he sits and sit on the same table as we were to leave together immediately the president finished making his remarks as both he and I separately had other engagements following the event and did not want to be caught up with everyone leaving.

My friend then takes a seat on one of the few designated tables this one for diplomats but knowing I was not my friend, I said to myself, “no; don’t sit there lest some diplomat comes and you’re told to get moving!”

More on this later–the anecdote I first refer to above.

So, next to the table my friend took a seat was another table where there was only one person sitting out of a possible 10. The table was the first one to the right of the entrance to the huge tent where the event was held, and therefore next to the open air and field, which was ideal for me as I tend to get closer phobic.

As soon as I took my seat and said hi to the only other person sitting there, I saw the table was also reserved for diplomats!

Fortunately, it turned out to be an overflow table for diplomats and several other late comers who were not diplomats joined us to my relief one actually turned out to be a brother of my friend and he and I have also since become good friends.

One of these was a Parliamentary staff member who by way of introduction said I could never figure where she was from going by her last name and surely enough I couldn’t; it turns out she’s from one of our little known communities I now forget (no pun intended) but I was nonetheless happy to see a young member of this community as she is doing something within the corridors of power and hope that she, too, can some day be just that power.

Shortly thereafter, the president and his entourage entered and the program started.

More in Part II coming soon.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Musings, Politics, Religion

 

Memorable Acts of Compassion and Kindness

kindness

I am sharing the following true story involving a close family member in the hopes it can inspire others to replicate what she did or at least try to or keep it in mind in terms of not just caring about others in a metaphysical sense–which many do anyway even as they outwardly project otherwise but in actually doing something manifesting the caring, however, small, which in turn inevitably makes the lives of those so cared for that much better in the least.

To be sure, it was not the first act of compassion or caring this family member has done and neither shall it be the last knowing her but it was unique enough to prompt me to write about it, after she shared same with me.

It all started at a place of work where the family member noticed a recent hire–a lady in her early 30s had a broken tooth that she could not get fixed because she couldn’t afford it.

It’s not hard to imagine how anyone, let alone a young lady like this would have their psyche and overall being affected knowing they have a deformity or unusual condition so prominent and readily observable like this more so when they know it can be fixed but is not because they just can’t afford it.

On determining this to be the case, namely, that this lady could not afford to fix her tooth problem, the family member who’s part of management at this place of work brought it up at a managers’ meeting in the hopes of convincing the other managers to agree to have the company as employer pay for the lady’s dental work to fix the problem.

Setting aside the human element of the plea, and hoping to address the company’s bottom line the prism from which all company decisions are usually see and made, the family member made the case were the employer to cover the expense of having this lady’s tooth problem fixed, they’ll have a loyal employee who would go the extra mile to be a more productive employee in appreciation for the gesture of goodwill.

Unfortunately, however, the family member’s suggestion was turned down as the other managers did not support the idea.

Undeterred, the family member sought to find other solutions so she called her family dentist and asked if they could help this young lady.

Upon telling the dentist about the plight of this young lady, the dentist agreed to have the problem fixed at no expense to either the family member or the young lady.

The dentist asked the family member to have the lady call to schedule an appointment, which she did and the family member offered to drive her to the dentist on the date of the first appointment where an assessment was made and impressions made of her teeth.

That was a couple or so weeks ago.

The dental work was done yesterday and the lady now has a beautiful smile but she was still covering her mouth when smiling only for the family member to tell her, “you don’t have to do that; your tooth is fixed!!!”

We’re sure it will take a while for her to get used to her new look minus the embarrassing bad tooth.

As she was driving the young lady back to work, however, the family member told the young lady what she had told her before and that is, not to tell anyone what she (the family member) has done to help get her tooth problem fixed.

That’s not surprising for that’s who this family member is, always doing things to help others but not wanting to be recognized or known for having done so.

While other occasions have involved either monetary or more effort, all what this involved was a warm heart and desire to help someone in need by any means and the means here ended up being just making a call and asking someone who was equally willing to help this young lady.

Had this family member not done this, it’s likely this lady would have for a long time continued to suffer having a bad tooth that she expended so much energy and consciousness to hide, which in turn would have continued to prevent her from fully enjoying life as she will now, given this problem is fixed.

As this family member was recounting this to me, I could not but loudly wonder how many other people out there suffering from all manner of deformities that could be helped in the same manner were someone to care enough to find them the help.

To this, the family member said something that really puts all this in perspective: “The dentist has a business to run; it would be unreasonable to expect him to do this to everyone with the need.”

Very true; had the lady gone to ask the dentist for free dental work, I am fairly certain the outcome would not have been the same as no doubt she would have been told this was not possible.

What made the difference is someone else made the plea in her behalf and that’s really the least one could do.

Some like this family member I know do more or are quite willing to do more God bless them for that.

As the Bible says in Hebrews 13:16, “do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased..”

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Religion

 

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We Are The Proverbial Children Of The World

If you are reading this you either know this, know but don’t care, care but don’t know, both, a combination of all of all four but all of that doesn’t matter to this moment take the moment to reflect on what this was all about and act accordingly.

That will be your gift to the world, unless you don’t care in which case you would not be reading this this far in the first place unless you’re the very representation of fill the blank.

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We all are a part of God’s great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

[Chorus:]
We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart so they’ll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand

[Chorus]

When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all
But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Well…well…well
Let’s realize that a change can only come
When we stand together as one

[Chorus]

Read the intro again.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Religion, Social

 

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Muslims Declare Support for Raila and CORD

Railaandmuslims

The CORD alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga has secured the backing of a section of Muslim clerics, rekindling the 2007 memories of a controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Muslim community. According to Citizen News footage, the Muslim clerics told the Prime Minister that there was no need of an MoU, but insisted that he must ensure full implementation of the constitution, to assure all Kenyans their rightful share of the national cake.

The CORD line up, a day after its unveiling, challenged its opponents in the Kibaki succession contest to conduct issue-based campaigns, and desist from politics of name calling.

Click Here for Video Clip of Event

I congratulate our brothers from the Muslim faith for standing with the one and only one man among those seeking the presidency they have the confidence to know will lead bila ubaguzi against any Kenyan and will make sure the interests of the Muslim community are in the front burner and will remain there and better as they have always been in Raila’s order of priorities.

Speaking on the occasion of this visit by the Muslim clerics and scholars at Raila’s residence, the head of the delegation Sheikh Mohamed Warfa said to the PM, “we are assuring you the support for the presidency of the republic of Kenya and we’ll be able to go at the village level and make sure every Muslim knows hears, knows and is ready to  support and vote for the CORD presidency in the name of the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga.”

Inshallah.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Politics, Religion

 

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The End of the World Is Not This Saturday or December 21, 2012

There are a number of predictions out there about December 21, 2012 (next Saturday!) being the end of the world as we know it. Some say the ancient Mayan calendar points to this this doomsday and specifically pick December 21, 2012 as the exact date because that’s the date the calendar comes to an end. Others talk of a Nostradamus doomsday of 2012. Is all this talk even necessary, let alone being something to think or worry about? Not really.

To be sure, from a Christian point of view, the end of the world is essentially the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This expectation is core in my Seventh Day Adventist faith and is firmly grounded in the Bible:

Jesus clearly foretold of his return: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Mathew 16:27 (KJV).

Yet he added that no one knew of the day and hour of his return, not the angels, not even he himself: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Mathew 24:36 (KJV).

Hence, strictly from this point of view, it is unwise to speculate about the date, place and manner of the Second Advent or the end of the world for that matter.

On the other hand, one of my favorite Bible verses from childhood to this day which I can still recite, one among many, anyway is “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3 (KJV).

This verse reiterates the Second Advent and explains why it’ll happen.

The question is, what are we supposed to do in the final days of the earth’s history, whenever that is? The Bible describes those who await Jesus’ return with these words: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelations 14:12 (KJV).

As one  Adventist has put it,  “The last generation doesn’t wait with fear, apprehension, or uncertainty, but with hope, faith, love, and action.” Alexis A Goring, in the Adventist World.

I say the same thing and add, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Luke 6:31 (BBE) or just be good and love everyone and you’ll be just fine.

Now, if the world does come to an end this Saturday as those predicting this say, at least they won’t be be around to say “I told you so!”

Peace, Love and Unity.

Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Religion

 

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