Focus

Vision is blurred if the light does not bend or refract correctly and focuses directly on the retina. Blurred vision is a refractive error, which is the most common disorder of the eye.

Sculpted By Design 2021

What you focus on, EXPANDS

Are your thoughts preoccupied with the concerns for today? What shall we eat? What shall we wear? Where shall we live? Have you noticed that these concerns keep growing?

Picture credit: Pinterest

Pause.
Refocus.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 NKJV

Who is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?
Who is the Savior of the World?
Who loved you enough to die for you?
Who loved you to redeem you from death?
Who gave you new life?
Whose name is above every other name?

Pause.
Refocus.

Jesus is the Light of the World. Our gift of 24hrs is because the earth rotates around the sun. The earth never waivers, never falters, never alters. The Son should remain your singular focus just like the earth and the sun.

Remembrance Day

Is observed on 11th November to honor those who died serving their countries in World War I. There are poppies everywhere you turn on any street in England. On lapels. On billboards. On hats. Everyone has a poppy to remember. The tradition was instituted by King George V, grandfather to Queen Elizabeth II. This tradition is over 100 years old but it is as real as Christmas and as Thanksgiving. There is even an order of service for the Service of Rememberance

In October, I teach a session on the History of Uganda at Harvest Institute School of Leadership. The sessions have varied over the years, because wow, we live in interesting times. So this year, we were looking for history around us. Prior to this class, I found out from a friend that her grandfather whose home is in my neighborhood was a WWI veteran and a published author! Go figure. Do you think we have Remembrance Day in Kiwanga? Not in the least. If we were living in England, there would be a whole ceremony at the St Thomas round the corner from his home. And we would leave wreaths and little notes at the gate of his home. It is such an ordinary day.

Some of the students were not in Kampala so they needed help finding historical sites in the districts where they were. And that’s how I found out that Semei Kakungulu built a synagogue in Mbale. A synagogue. How could someone not remember to teach this in school? It is such a contrast to who he was and what we were taught that it should have found its way to the books. It didn’t.

We must choose to remember. And to remember not in part but in whole. Our lives did not begin with us so taking a moment to remember is us being grateful. Grateful for choices we did not have to make. Grateful for decisions that led to us being on this planet. Grateful for all who made it possible for you to live where you live.

On this last day of November, who do you need to remember? How can you express your gratitude?

Swords Up!

An AK 47/is a heavy prop to carry around but there she was swinging it around as she spoke with her colleague. Is there no protocol around these matters? How should a guard on duty conduct themselves?

We had to learn how to handle a gun as part of the training. Theory and practical. Take it apart, assemble it, and fire in a range. For some of the class, the shock started with the sound of the bullets up close. Mine started with the weight of the gun, especially during the recoil. One of the sergeants had to sit on my back to ensure that I was not destabilized by the recoil. Well, that would not cut it during any armed operation. So we had to learn to handle the weight of a gun on a daily. We were told to purchase specially fashioned batons known as silas. These would be our guns for the duration of our study. We marched with them to class, carried them to the dorms, even to meals. It was never lost. Wherever you appeared, you appeared with your gun.

That gun became almost an extension of each one of us. How interesting the allegory Paul painted to the Ephesians about the Sword. The average Roman Sword (gladius) weighed about 1kg. This seems so light, after all what is a kg of sugar, until you have to constantly carry it over long distances in formation. The Roman Solider was never without his armor.

African troops in Burma during World War II.

Swords Up! Such a fun game. Our Sunday school teacher used it to teach us to find Books of the Bible and then verses. It was such a joy to be the first to find the verse first, which was always easier with a well read Bible. The pages of a new Bible stick together for the much shorter books which makes it longer to find them. The last books of the Old Testament and New Testament were always the most rewarding because they were hard to find.

The Bible is delightful because it is the very Word of God. The Word from whom all things exist. The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Whereas the Bible looks like an ordinary book, Jesus reminds us that His words are Spirit and Life.

28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

Psalms 119:28 NKJV

Your strength is found in always carrying the Word of God everywhere you go. There is no day off. There is no one time you appears without the Word or carry it in a careless manner. Every Christian must spend time learning and memorizing the Word of God. Listening to the Word being taught by their teachers of the Word so you are equipped in and out of season. It is the only offensive weapon a Christian has.

The President is Coming

“H.E. The President of Uganda shall be the Guest of Honor at the event.” And that’s how it all started. With groans, with sighs, with enthusiasm, with nonchalance, it did not matter. There was work to be done.

The team that I was a part of was tasked with finding the tent. It was not to be a collection of tents but rather one big gigantic tent. At the time, our only exposure to this notion was the one used at Speke Resort Munyonyo. We had received a brief on the cost and it was extremely high.

Our role was to source a good alternative. The hunt was on and so was the countdown. Oh, Uganda, may God uphold thee. The term is kuyiya. My dad says that Ugandans will never acknowledge that they don’t know, rather they will impose what they know on your specifications. Sometimes it works but most times it is a rather shoddy substitute. One service provider enthusiastically told us how they were able to provide what we wanted, only to be asked at the reception, “how many tents we would require?” I could not help but also ask him whether he did not hear that it was singular and not plural.

One service provider did have the specified singular tent but it only sat the number we required if there were no tables.

I got a small headache.

So it was back to Munyonyo. The operations team lead was very courteous, responding to my inquiries and asking his questions. Even though he was sure it would not be set up on the tarmac, he visited the site anyway. The number and depth of holes we would need to drill to set up the tent would ruin the parking lot. But you can think about it, we would have no problem setting it up, if that is what you want. No, it was not what we wanted, I thought.

Eventually, one service provider imported the tent with the required specs. We were all set for the day. There was a dress code, a specific parking area, a program and caution to be prepared to be unavailable in person and on phone all day.

1 And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 2 So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

1 Chronicles 29:1‭-‬2 ESV

How much more ought we to prepare for the House of the Lord? The place where God resides. David would not leave it to chance, he had to ensure that Solomon could fulfill the task at his young age. Solomon was not going to botch this up. He set up storehouses of treasures for everything that would be needed for the temple. He invited other leaders to join in. He set Solomon up for success.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Yes, the Holy Spirit indeed resides in us and we are the Temple. We are part of the Body of Christ. We have chosen to congregate in specific locations. Would the visit of the President be more important than meeting Jesus every Sunday? How have you prepared for the House of the Lord? Will zeal for the House of the Lord consume your children and their children? Or would they wonder why it is so important? Will they succumb to any offer or will they look for the best for the House of the Lord?

Don’t be caught unawares, prepare

The Author-ity

When you take a pen, write your story and publish it, you become a published author. What does it mean to be an author? Does it mean you have a way with words or that you appeal to a particular group of readers? Are you entertaining or do you generate excitment?

Authority is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘orginator. It may also mean the state of being an author. Authors are the origin of their works. Wow, that sounds so grand and like a Life purpose.

But what does originator mean? Authors are finite beings, so they really cannot be at any origin. Charles Dickens, Shakespeare do not live any more, unlike the origin of the River Nile that has never changed. Whereas that is true, they did bring unique writing style into this world. There are not too many Chinua Achebe’s nor Soyinkas.

8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Luke 7:8 NKJV

I find this conversation with the Centurion a most fascinating one because Jesus doesn’t actually talk to him but rather to the Jewish elders he sends. Each group carries not their own words but the centurion’s words.

Photo credit: Pinterest

To be an author-ity is to carry another’s words. Like the elders carried the centurion’s, every author-ity is a carrier of another’s words. We pull words from every precipice of our minds, our environments and weave them into stories for our audiences. The Jewish elders could speak to Jesus in a way the centurion could not. They were elders in their own right, custodians of God’s promises to the nations of Israel. They were authors of Jewish customs and norms in Jesus’ day.

On this day, they carried the words of a Gentile. And they came under his author-ity. They carried his words to Jesus and the servant was healed. The Jews continued to benefit from the kindness of the centurion. Becoming an authority is a trust, a trust that you shall be faithful to the originator.

After you have read others’ stories, write your own. Become an author-ity.

The Boxing Glove

Nicky Gumbel of HTB narrates a story of a visit to a teenage prison and his use of a boxing glove as an illustration of our lives.

I brought in a boxing glove as a visual aid. I dangled the glove and showed how ineffective it was without a hand in it. Then I put my hand in the glove, made a fist and punched the air so that everyone could see the difference it made to the power of the glove. Nicky Gumbel, Bible in One Year, Day 256.

He used this illustration to depict our lives without Christ. Boxing gloves are not as soft as made out in the illustration above. It is true that the glove looks whipped and harmless until it is put on a hand. But not just any hand, I thought.

When David was brought before Saul to prepare for his battle with Goliath, he did not find Saul’s armour very helpful. So I thought, neither would I be any use with that glove.

Muhammad Ali Art. Photo credit: Pinterest

But in the hands of Muhammad Ali. That glove is mighty in the Boxing ring. It is power packed. And so it is with us.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

In Christ, we are new and power packed. There is no remembrance of our former weakened state. Like the gloves in the hands of Muhammad Ali, no one recalls that just a few minutes ago, the gloves were no better than their decorative type. We are faster and mightier. We are waiting but in the real thick of the action. We are not formless, we have a purpose and our destinies are shaped.

Most importantly, we are in the hand of the winner. When He spread his hands out in victory, we are also spread out. We bring nothing to this fight other than belonging to the fighter.

Did you wake up feeling powerless? Allow Jesus to adorn you in His strength that you may be like a boxing glove in the hands of Muhammad Ali.

Cut it off!

Pluck it out.

My MIL had this love for trees, in particular Avocado trees. Yes, her avocadoes were out of this Kampala. Huge, as in one could feed our little family of four. For context, the avocadoes I ate in school, one could only sufficiently feed me. And I don’t really fancy avocado that much. Really! So anyway, these avocadoes had that real avocado green color, wow. Peeling one was delightful, the flesh fell exactly where you wanted it. If you have peeled one that got mushy and collapsed into insy winsy bits ina bowl, you know the painnn. The pain of being robbed of a salsa and left with guacamole. Cry me a river.

We would rave on and on about her Avocadoes whenever we were at her home. Her Generosity was unmatched, she shared everything. So if you wanted avocadoes, she sent them by almost sackfuls. It was Avocado paradise. Well, when we finally moved into our home, she decided to give us our very own tree. You think she gave us one, not in the least. She came and planted, by herself two avocado trees. All the while, lamenting how she failed to find one exactly like her own. How she knew these ones would not be exactly like hers but would come close. There we were surrounded by avocadoes, true to her word, they were not exactly like the ones she had. They were huge but not the Avocado green. Oh well, we could always get the ones she picked from her home.

One day, I am passing by one of the trees and I notice these unusual orange flowers on it. I was in a hurry, so it was a really cursory glance. I had spotted some creepers trying to strangle our golden duranta, this was closer to the ground. I pulled them out and moved along. When I got back in, I attempted to find the creeper that turned to be an orange trumpet vine but I couldn’t trace it. Immediately, I knew the tree was in danger. Please I cut all my Agriculture lessons, so it was just a sense.

The cancer

My husband quickly identified this lump and we had to cut off the branches that were affected. The lump where the flame vine had attached itself to the branch and started to grow as an Avocado branch. The orange flowers were pretty but they were not avocadoes. That lump just looked like a cancer to me!! While the men were busy sawing off branches and carrying them away, I was running around shouting ‘O my gosh, this is like a cancer!’ while taking pictures and moving closer to observe. Sigh. Sigh. God loves me just this way, is all I am saying.

Why must a cancer be cut out or nuked out of your body? Because it won’t stop growing. It attaches itself to your body and grows with everything else. Only, instead of adding to your beauty, it begins to drain the life out of you. That tree looked bright, all right but that lump is ugly. Also you are not as productive as you need to be. The flowers on avocado tree signal fruit is coming. These flaming orange trumpets look great on a fence but not on a tree.

So it is with sin. Paul writing to the Romans teaches them that the wages of sin is death. When it comes to dealing with sin in our lives, we cannot be complacent. We have to cut it out. You could choose to ignore it, but eventually it chokes you to death.

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:43 ESV

Pluck it out.

The Perfect Bow

The Myth of Retirement. Part III

I love neat bows. They appeal to the perfectionist in me, everything appears to come together when a bow is neatly done. Also, to achieve a neat bow, usually the packaging is neatly done. It takes time, effort and precision to get it just right.

Credit: Pinterest

I learnt to tie a bow in nursery school, it was a coming of age milestone. No longer would I have to wait for an adult to do my shoe laces, I could them all by myself. How exciting this was! I quickly realized that the bow was simply a small part of the process. Some of my caretakers were not as careful with bows as I was and they simply did the bare minimum to ensure the shoe did not slip off my foot. I was horrified to find that the two ends of the bow were uneven, not once, not twice, but most of the time. That right there was not good. So my bow was always lopsided.

How did one go about correcting this. I observed how laces were put in the shoes and practiced, over and over till I got it. This was in the time when we all wore BATA and shoe laces were made out of cotton. Cotton has the amazing ability to do what it is expected. Nylon, polyester and all other forms synthetic fabrics do not always perform to par. So the bow is always lopsided.

As a young person, you are usually given a linear path expectation. You start off in Nursery, then join primary, secondary and later university and get a job. This path loops very perfectly like a neat bow till you get a job. Sometimes it doesn’t, you fail a major exam and cannot complete that section of school. Or you are too ill to attend regular school. Or maybe you lose a guardian or parent and you are unable to pay the school fees. Or you are not admitted to the school of your choice. Or you do not get the subjects of your choice. Whatever it is, the path is not linear. And so your bow is lopsided.

This same false hope is cultivated when you start work, a linear path. You find yourself in a holding pattern, waiting for the Control Tower to confirm that your plane may land. When I finish this set of qualifications, I shall leave this job. When I have this amount of money saved up, I shall retire. When I am done with this project, I shall embark on this and that. The holding pattern begins, because life is not linear. It’s all fine and dandy till you curve balls and bends are littered along your path. And so your bow shall be lopsided.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 19:30 NKJV

Jesus says this on the cross-one of his dying phrases. His redeeming work is complete and He dies. What a way to die, He even finished His work. And said last words. Such a neat bow. Only that three days later, He resurrects and on Ascension day gives His disciples instructions to make disciples of all the nations and take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

The laces are undone.

What just happened?’Didn’t He say it is finished?’ ‘Shouldn’t we be chilling in paradise with nojitos?‘ ‘Never ending sunsets?’ Apparently, not, Jesus is still working. We still have work to do. When your laces come undone, get on one knee, re-do the bow, get back to work.

What would MAGUFULI do

18th March 2021. Social media was awash with the news of his passing. Our typical response in the post COVID era to announcements on social media is cyncism or at best a frenzied search for cross references. This time, the news came cross referenced. It was difficult to believe. Even more difficult to accept. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli at the age of 61 had succumbed to a heart condition, Vice President Samia Suluhu announced.

He had rested from his labor. In 2015, when he burst on the scene, he made it crystal clear that his priority would be Tanzania. One of my most memorable quotes from him is:

Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family, I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

Bill Hybels in his book, Courageous Leadership entreats leaders to have a compelling vision. A leader sees the vision. Rais John Pombe Magufuli had a very compelling vision for Tanzania. In His Tanzania, it was possible for all citizens to prosper. He painted this vision continually, whether it was mineral rights, or education, or roads, the Tanzanian citizens were always first. First things first, corruption either in terms of money or time was dealt with swiftly. It robbed the citizens. He would show up unannounced in government offices and ask difficult questions.

You cannot talk of preserving environment when the majority of the citizens are depending on charcol or wood for most of their energy source.

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

He felt so deeply about this that became so famous for his austerity. He barred unnecessary foreign travel, cut his own salary to USD 4,000. At one point, he chose to clean up to curb the spread of Cholera rather than hold national independence celebrations. What? Was this in Africa? Whose that guy? And so came the trending hashtag which is the title of this blog. #WhatwouldMagufulido.

We were awestruck. We were inspired. Could this be the rise of a new breed of leaders? How long would he last? We watched his every move with bated breath. We tweeted and retweeted his lastest actions. We dramatized every single action of his.

Indeed, even when COVID-19 struck, he did not disappoint. While everyone was scrambling to lockdown, Tanzanian borders were open and it was business as usual. The Magufuli approach. There were pictures of him praying in various places, but the most iconic were the ones where he was without a mask. We were all masked, in our homes, shut in tightly. He looked like some renegade cowboy or modern John Rambo, just ready to shoot down this virus. It was in the same 2020 that Tanzania moved to lower middle income status. We clapped and celebrated with them, while hoping and praying for the end of our lockdown and a return to the normal.

While we were locked down, he managed to convince our own President to take a trip down to Tanzania to expedite the harmonization of pending issues on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Chato, Tanzania.
This is East Africa’s first major oil pipeline. The $3.5bn project will connect Uganda’s oil fields to port Tanga of Tanzania on the Indian Ocean for about 1,445 km (898 miles). extraction agreements. Tanzania was kind enough to allow the Ugandan oil pipeline to pass through their territory to the coast. He built so many bridges, physical and mental.

The bilateral meeting in Chato, Tanzania. Source; web

Visions are priceless. They are holy entrustments from God that must be taken seriously. To squander a vision is an unthinkable sin.

Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership

Habbakuk reminds us that all visions have an appointed time. (Habbakuk 2:3) As leaders, it is imperative that we know the seasons of our visions so that they speak in their time. We are grateful for the gift of John Pombe Joseph Magufuli and his emulation of a visionary leader. May His Soul Rest in Peace.

Vanilla Essence

Or maybe I should call it The myth of retirement. Part 1. All through school, we always heard about and planned for retirement at some ripe old age. It was the utopian idea that at this age, one would have time to take all those holidays they missed, take a cruise around the world, run a farm and maybe play golf all day. Getting into the fast and furious rat race, I quickly realized this was too good to be true. There was just no one around me who lived like this. The only pensioners I knew were in their homes, in Kabale, where my parents grew up. And they were still very active in the political and economic life of Kigezi. Plus, the only reason I knew they were pensioners was because they were always coming to Kampala to fill out some forms to enable them to get their pension. This journey is about 500kms and because the roads were worse for wear, it took almost 24 hrs. All of my life. 😏

So what was retirement then? Did it simply mean that I was too old for formal employment? Not everyone is was formally employed, some were self employed. There, lived around the periphery of Makerere University, a group of elderly Batooro men who peddled anything and everything. One of the peddled recycled bottles, he collected glass bottles from our households, at that time everything was bottled in glass. He cleaned them up and sold them off. Would he retire? When would he retire? My nanny, was so old, Maria, bless her heart. She plucked out all my milk teeth, never needed a dentist. Would she retire as well? When would she retire?

Then came the Structural Adjustment Programs that saw the massive layoffs of public servants. They were given severance pay and overnight, they were no longer civil servants. Were they retired? Apparently, they were. But they were too young for cruises and yet too old for their former jobs. They reinvented the wheel. Early retirement became an option.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is a description of the buzz around me when I decided to retire. Nevertheless, when I opted to retire, time took on an elastic quality. I would have all the time to do everything, I had wanted to do. So I bought vanilla essence. I was going to be baking fresh muffins for breakfast and desserts for my family, so they could also live the life. I have a very sweet tooth.  It did not help matters that one of my retirement gifts was a desserts recipe book.  I would like to take a moment here and laugh 😂🤣 at this plan. Four years down the road, the essence is a running joke among my sons. I never baked a cake or dessert or any such thing.

…Life it goes on

Robert Frost

School schedules remained the same. Traffic jam remained the same. The earth still orbited the sun for 24 hrs. The dry and rainy seasons still remained. The visa application process for those long boat cruises remained just as rigorous if not more. Morning routines remained. Meal times remained.

And so it was that I found myself grappling with the word retirement and its meaning. Would it vanish like Santa and the tooth fairy? Only to reappear when my own children were learning about milk teeth and Christmas gifts. Would it be deleted from my word bank? Would it take on a new meaning? The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah, there were prophecies by great famous prophets like Elijah and Isaiah and little known ones like Micah and Joel. This Jesus who had just fed over five thousand of them with two fish and five loaves, might be the one. They followed Jesus in small boats across the Sea of Tiberius to Capernaum. After all, Moses had fed their forefathers with manna, surely Jesus could do better. Maybe He could even show them how He did it.

Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”
John 6:29 AMP

Surely, it could not be that simple. There should be a miracle he could perform. But, just like it was for me, the realisation that life is the journey of believing and trusting in Jesus is the ultimate mythbuster. Many of them walked away that day. Ultimately, the goal of life is not retirement but to believe in Jesus. Totally blew my sails out! This was not what I was expecting but it was how I had always lived. So if I had lived this way, was living this way, surely I should continue to live like so?

The essence of life is to believe in Jesus, the One sent by God. The Bread of life that satisfies my hungry soul.