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 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.

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.

A tale of how salary conspired against me.

It all began a long time ago; once a upon a December, I received a call asking me to pick my appointment letter. My parents were very excited, I was working, finally! My linear progression scale also agreed- kindergarten- check, primary school-check, O’level-check, A’level-check, bachelor’s degree-check. All checked. I picked my letter with a litany of requirements, one of them was opening a bank account. My dad wrote my reference to his bankers and it should have been easy, only this was a long time ago. I needed to explain why I wanted to open the account and what the purpose of the account was. And so began the games that salary would play with me. Each account had charges, minimum bank balances and an insy, winsy bit of interest. I selected the one that only required one letter of reference, it had no interest and required an immediate deposit for it to be opened. I was already indebted to myself, or was it the bank, before I even started working. Never forget salary.

Do not wait till your first job, start saving on all monies you receive.

Moral. ⚠

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7 NKJV

And with that sorted, we started work. Salary was sometimes late, sometimes early, sometimes just on time. Salary and time were clearly having issues. I decided to work with time, because well, time was more predictable. Salary’s mood swings were legendary, every one complained about her, whenever we were with time. Which was always.

Your most constant resource is time. If you manage your time well, money shall follow.

Moral ⚠

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 TPT

It was not long before I was introduced to advance. The office grape vine always has a vine dedicated to options that are available to maintain your current and dream lifestyle. So advance, had limits and could be contained within your salary for one month. Well, that did not sound too bad. Let us try this advance. And advance😀 was always on time. Advance was always in a good mood, it was easier than accounts opening. You even received a phone call when advance was paid. Wow. Advance became my new best friend, goodbye salary! But Advance was jealous, very jealous. I had so many conversations about my relationship with salary, and told advance it was nothing personal but I owed salary alot in life. Well, that did not go down well, advance started to sabotage my dreams. The more, I pursued advance, the less I had to spend on my lifestyle. Salary was constantly complaining because the bills were piling up and we could not keep up.

Advance is debt. Stay away from advance on your salary. Choose contentment.

Moral ⚠

Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
Proverbs 21:17 NLT

With the ‘millennium bug’, came new innovations. The first one being a salary account, all one needed was a letter of reference ans, voila you had an account. It had no minimum balance and minimal charges on withdrawal. Little did we know, this was a setup.

Not all that glitters is gold. Read the fine print. Read the times.

Word to the wise ⚠

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5 NKJV

In they came, trip trapping on our bridges, unmoved by our troll nature. They walked in, all suave and kempt, high heeled and polished. They spoke English English, a bit accented and their words rolled off their tongues like it was their mother tongue. Once in a while, they switched to their mother tongue, fluidity just. The latest crop of banking relationship managers ushered in by the ‘millennium bug’ and the Great Recession aka the Crash of 2008. They sold us salary loans. If you had a salary account, it was easy peasy. Sign here, sign here, and voila, within four days, you could be a millionaire! If you did not, it might take slightly longer, more signatures, but you too could join the club. ✒️? So it was, that within a few months, we were all millionaires. It took us a few years to catch on that interest rate, the one in tiny letters that you could not read, was not our friend. By then, most of us were so indebted, even advance would not pick our calls. We had mortgaged our future. And we still had to live in it.

Salary loans are an overdrawn future. Walk away from debt.

Moral ⚠

A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
Proverbs 22:3 MSG

Promotion and an adjusted salary structure brought great reprieve. The same relationship manager who once ruthlessly sold loans to beat targets advised to defer gratification and save over time to achieve my goals. He gave the illustration of the cumulative effect of saving over the same period vis a vis paying off a loan. And without the interest component, wow. It looked doable. I could also wait, even with inflation, the cost was so much lower. That’s how I started saving.

Never spend your money before you have it

Thomas Jefferson ⚠

The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
Proverbs 21:20 NLT

So there is this series being run by Worship Harvest Ministries, catch it here if you have not yet watched it.

Working the works of God

Jesus was speaking to some Jews, according to John, who asked Him this question that always struck me as strange, odd even. It always seemed so out of context. I thought well, Jesus, who is graciousness personified, was being gracious to the askers. What did they mean by working the works of God?

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, ” This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John 6:28-29 NKJV

So there is this series at Worship Harvest #SomeKaMoney, started this August 2020. If you have not listened to it, you can start right here.

Sunday morning, keenly paying attention to the sermon and boom! It hits me that to the Jews, work was their way of extending the kingdom of God. It is why they ask Jesus after he has miraculously fed them, all five thousand of them, how they can work it? Their response to the miraculous was wonder and desire to replicate.

One of my history classes had very inquisitive minds. They did not accept regular answers and always asked why? The lessons were filled with so many seemingly unconnected whys. I decided rather than waste this opportunity, let us delve into the theory of evolution. At which point, of course, with the many whys, they became the several theories of evolution. In order to prepare for the lesson, I also had to really delve so as to sufficiently answer each child’s questions. I read about Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos islands and his journal entries and drawings of the finches. Suddenly, my world was filled with wonder at the magnificence and greatness and forethought of God.

These finches were spoken into being, (Genesis 1:20-23) on the fifth day. Not only were they distinguished from eagles, parrots, hens and humming birds by the Word of God. They carried within themselves, the ability to adapt and survive in their different environments. Darwin spent five years observing them, it must have been such a wondrous thing to behold. His observation led him to write his paper, The Origin of Species, which to date has caused quite a stir.

Source: Pinterest

In both instances, Darwin’s and the Jews, the wonder of creation created a desire that got them working. It created a passion that caused them to create. Why then do we separate, our wonder from our work? It is not possible. All work begins with wonder, the possibility of greatness. The possibility of bringing happiness to a soul.

Have you paused to think about why you work? Well Genesis 1, tells us that God paused at the end of each day and saw that His work was good. Is it any wonder then that Peter says of Jesus ‘he went about doing good..’ while speaking at the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10:38). Paul writing to the Ephesians exhorts them and us to remember that we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works’. Paul also writing to the Philippians encourages them that ‘it is God who works in you both to will and to do. God worked because He is good and loves to do good.

Why do you work? And why should you work? Work is our response to the greatness of God. Like the heavens, David writes about, declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1). Our work declares the glory of God.

What happens when men encounter the grace of God?

I find myself pondering on the relationship between diligence in study and the grace of God; wondering whether the grace of God removes the discipline of study or empowers it.
As a History teacher, I went back in time.

Photo credit: PINtrest

Martin Luther was a Professor at the time he encountered the grace of God, not merely a lowly monk. He had a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Theology. He was one of the first professors to lecture in German instead of Latin, a great feat, in a time with no German Bible for reference. All this in the Roman Catholic Church with it’s rigor for study. When he encountered the grace of God, he wrote ninety five (95) theses!
John Calvin, an accomplished French lawyer. When he encountered the grace of God at age 26, he wrote a simple catechism in Latin and French, Institutes of the Christian religion, to date one of the foundational expositions of the Protestant Church.
Ham Mukasa, a regent in the Buganda kingdom, the Sekibobo of Kyaggwe wrote a commentary of the Gospel according toMatthew in Luganda. Matthew is deemed to be one of the most detailed and complex gospels because it is written through a Jewish lens. Apollo Kivebulaya, with only a passion for Jesus, studies day and night and translates the gospel of Matthew from Luganda to Rutooro.

What shall we say about Moses the stuttering prince who recorded the laws in great detail and built a replica of heaven in the tabernacle. Peter, a despised fisherman, who went on to write very eloquent letters to the Jews in the diaspora. Paul, a prisoner in chains, formerly a zealous persecutor the church, whose letters are still read to this day- his passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is the read at nearly every wedding in the church. Even John Mark whom Paul cast aside wrote a very brief version of the gospel.

The grace of God empowers the study. Paul writes this,

the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (Titus 2:11).

It is not possible that having encountered the grace of God that one would fail to be diligent in study.

Starting Now

2019 started off as a marathon that quickly became a never-ending 100m dash each and every day. Some days I didn’t know whether I was coming or whether I was going. I didn’t think for a moment I would have time for my favorite pastime, reading.

My sister started a book club to read books by African Writers. She coopted my skeptical self. We managed to read a book each month as planned. As she was recollecting, the achievements of her year, it turned out I had read all 11 books and had teas with most of the Ugandan authors.

This wasn’t part of the sprint but yeaayyyy. I did it!

I decided to collect all the books and count them and check my e-book reader. Wow. I had read 20 books, which comes to about one book every two weeks. I am also a polygamist reader, so, I have like 8 other books at different levels of progress. I read all the syllabus material that was required for teaching as well.

I read!!!

How? By focusing on my priorities.

Habit 3 of Stephen Covey’s Put First Things First has a matrix for prioritization. These priorities are drawn from your personal mission statement. Quadrant 2 is the Quadrant of effectiveness.

Put First Things First is at the heart of effective self-management. It’s the ability to organize our time around the most important things.

7 Habits app

I wrote my personal mission statement two years ago and practiced scheduling my big rocks on a weekly basis. It was tough, it was grueling. Some days I wondered why the fuss.

The hardest part is starting. Once you get that out of the way, you’ll find the rest of the journey much easier.

— Simon Sinek

Two years later, I am reaping the benefits without flinching….ok not quite…I have fallen asleep in books. I have carried books around but didn’t open a page. I have piled books next to my bedside and not opened a page for days. I read only a paragraph on some days.

If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Set your goal, schedule time for it and start. You will get to the finish line.

Happy 2020.

Purpose

For most people, maybe the larger majority, their key take home from Transform 2019 shall be momentum.

Mine will be purpose. The shuttle orbits and is able to break out of earth’s gravitational pull because it was designed for this. It was fitted for its purpose. My lungs are the size of the tennis court because of the amazing role that oxygen and its partner, water play in my metabolism. My DNA is 70 trips to the sun and back because I am complex and designed to dominate.

For each session, like gravity, I was pulled back to my purpose. Two years ago, I sat down to write my mission statement. The first time I had been asked to do it, I had drawn blanks in my mind. I knew the organization’s mission. I knew the mission of every Christian but I had never needed to think about my mission.

This time round was different. We were going through a two day session on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This was Habit 2, Begin with the End in Mind. I had written my end so many times but not like this.

Begin with the end in mind also means to determine our own life’s purpose. It ensures that as we’re climbing the ladder of success, it’s leaning against the right wall.

I did not want to reach my life’s end and find my ladder was against the wrong wall. I still did not know how neither what to write.

Thankfully, the Franklin Covey team had thought of me. Jesus, you love me too much oh, excess love oh. The app, and it was an app, had questions about my passions, my dislikes, my bucket list, my many things that I hope to do when I retire….At the end it put all of them together into one statement.

Creating a Legacy founded on our rich African heritage and built on the eternal rock, Jesus. All wrapped in the goodness and grace our Lord has lavished on us.

The statement looked like me. Even with certain things undone, it looked like me. Wow. Jesus, you love me too much oh, excess love oh

These two days, I have gone through the same epiphany. I have reflected on how all the people I spend time with are passionate about the things that I am passionate about.

The app sessions I walked into with Pastor Muriithi and Pastor Jumba, I might as well have gone through a tesseracts- a wrinkle in time. I could have been chatting with my dear friend Hannah or having breakfast with JoyLiz at a cafe. Or chatting with Stella or Noreen about the place of culture and history in the life of the 21st century child. In reality, I was at Transform 2019 discussing World views, failing forward, the church is the solution to all the pain in the world, culture alignment, discipleship, global perspectives – conversations that I have had over the last two years. Ongoing conversations that keep me awake at night, conversations that lead me down rabbit holes, conversations that I carry to my prayer room. Jesus, you love me too much oh, excess love oh.

Do you have your mission statement down? Write it down. I found a beautiful Japanese concept, ikigai Aka your purpose in life that is able to guide you.

Focus and intensity. As I reflected on this aspect, purpose popped up yet again. Focus and intensity are powered by Purpose. Like focusing light through a magnifying glass.

Your final success is the sum total of our successes and failures, Dr. Ian Clarke.

Purpose helped me to accurately reflect on this statement and to fail forward rather than wallow in the mire of failure. Jesus, you love me too much oh, excess love oh.

No ladders on wrong walls, all ducks in a row. Is this how I envisage my 65+ reflective years? Absolutely. Will my Legacy be my end in mind? Without a doubt.

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1‭-‬2 NKJV