Your life is a series of Choices


Martha was excited to host Jesus. A very important guest. A Rabbi. Everything had to be just right. She drew up a menu and assigned roles in her mind. She ensured the guests were seated, their feet were washed. They had light refreshments. All was going well till she sent Mary to serve the guests.

Martha had many things coming at her that day. Hosting a big number of guests can do that to you. There is only so much you can achieve alone. There is also only so much you can achieve through very excited others. Little things begin to pile. You cannot find a certain table cloth. The person you sent to borrow one from your neighbor heard yellow when you specifically mentioned cream. The caterer’s truck or maybe donkey breaks down and will not move. The wood is wet! Or power goes as you place that roast in the oven.

When the many things came, Martha became anxious. Nothing was going according to plan. This was not good! She began to fret. She was troubled.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 ESV (emphasis mine)
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Mary also had many things come at her. She was also hosting guests at her home. When she entered the room to serve the guests, she heard Jesus teach His disciples. She observed how they sat listening to Him. His words were warm and comforting. They made her heart lighter. The bustle in the kitchen was no longer important. This moment here had to last. She could not pull herself to leave the room.

She was not anxious.
She was not troubled.

She chose to sit and listen to Jesus. Jesus called it the good portion.

Moments. Life is a collection of moments. A moment is a result of a choice. You can choose one moment over another. You can reject one moment over another. Life may seem to roll on and at you, but with each roll you have the power to choose. It is never taken away.

Have you caught yourself too busy with getting things done for Jesus? It is never that serious. Selah. Breathe. Look at the stars, remember who is that called you.
Have the things of this world consumed you? The soaring prices, the never ending deadlines, the endless quest to make it in life. Selah. Pause. Look around you. Listen for the birds. Watch the leaves bristle.
Have you become troubled by all the suffering in this world? Selah. Take a seat. Go back to Calvary. Take in the cross. Take in the blood that Jesus shed. Take in His choice in Gethsemane.
Are you anxious about tomorrow? Selah. Turn back. Return to the stronghold of hope. God is your refuge.

Every day of your life, you can choose the good portion.

Sit and listen to Jesus.

It will not be taken away from you. ❤️

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?

Jerusalema

It became the most popular song during the COVID-19 pandemic. Complete with a dance routine. There are so many tik-tok videos in various countries. It went viral.

We long for Jerusalem in times of distress and Master KG’s Jerusalema lyrics do not stray far from this very familiar cry.

Jerusalem is my home
Jerusalema ikhaya lami

Save me
Ngilondoloze

He went with me
Uhambe nami

Jerusalema Challenge. Photo Credit: Pinterest


In World War I, a poem by William Blake was set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It became England’s version of The Battle Hymn of Republic. Recently, there have been calls for it to become the anthem of England.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Psalm 122:1‭-‬2 ESV

Lord, like the Psalmist, prayed so long before our time, may our hearts never forget you, O Jerusalem. May our feet always stand in your gates. May our souls receive gladness when we come into the House of the Lord. May our home always be in Jerusalem. Amen.

Terror

Transformers, Dark of the Moon is what we were watching. Again for the umpteenth time. My first encounter with transformers were as fascinating toys, that came as trucks but could be changed into an action figure. Well, here we were in someone’s imagination, on what those toys could do.

When the decepticons invade Chicago to set up the bridge, their first priority is to cause terror so the humans flee and cannot stop their mission. Eventually though Sam comes with the soldiers to rescue Carly and the decepticons up their game! Shockwave brings in his drill that destroys an entire sky scraper! Horror! Where do we go to from here? In Dark of the Moon, the humans are like props on a set but being human, I cannot help but imagine if this happened in my own city, (Scooby and Shaggy teeth chattering)

It dawned on me that all terror starts in this same fashion. A few decepticons are sent to cause a few ruffles to fly. During the 1985 into 1986 war, we developed a running reflex! If you saw a group of people running in a certain direction, you dropped whatever it was you were doing and run in their direction. Why? It was the only signal we had of an attack. You just knew that people were fleeing from danger. Oh my, it was so bad, that way into the 90s, people would hear a tyre burst and run. And cause others to run as well. My children find this story very entertaining, btw.

Then the object of the terror becomes the clear focus and the intent is still to intensify terror in the hearts. As Shock wave’s drill, comes up through a street in Chicago, destroying everything in it’s path. You know, you should not be anywhere near it. However, when it systematically weaves its way through the sky scraper and crushes it like one does ice in a blender. The levels of horror in the heart have gone up. Eh! The sound effects do not make it any easier, neither do the shots of people trying to run as the building is being crushed. Horrifying. Mass graves, rape, mutilation and destruction of key land marks in war are designed for this very purpose. Terror that causes one to stand still like a deer looking at headlights.

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5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.


Psalm 91:5-6 AMPC

And all this is going on, there is the final battle that the autobots and Optimus Prime must prepare for. The battle of slander. Sentinel Prime and Megatron seem to have outwitted the autobots and Optimus Prime. They slander Optimus, taunt him and try to weigh him down. Slander is such a wicked tool, because it tags at your heart and mind. It causes you to stay still because you are double minded. Is this person for me or against me? A person who was for me would not say such a thing? Or conversely, your enemy will offer a truce as did Megatron? But it’s a Trojan horse. Optimus Prime decapitates Megatron and destroys Sentinel Prime bringing an end to this battle.

What has terrified you? God’s promise is if you remain in His Shelter, you shall not fear. You shall not be terrified. Return to His stronghold and find reprise from the terror, from the pestilence, from destruction and sudden death.

Who has come against you? To win the battle of terror, you must be clothed in physical and mental might. All are found in the Shelter of the Most High God. Are you wearied from too much violence? Return to your shelter, let the Father dress you in His compassion.

Cracked

So many memes on the internet about Gamer’s rage. It is real. Things do not work as advertised, they work in real time. In real time, things slow down. Things depreciate. Friction happens.

The real game changer is inertia; it feels like you are moving forward, only to catch yourself in a holding pattern. For the creative, going through an intense design time, all the pieces are falling into place. The mind and fingers are in sync- momentum is gained. Suddenly, the key board is not working. The mouse freezes; the touch screen is not responding.

It must be the sweat or dust. This is easily resolved with a bit of tissue. Nothing that a cool water break cannot resolve. Still nothing! This cannot be happening. I have deadlines. I was nearly done.

Photo credit:Pinterest

What began as seething, is now rage. And the object becomes the screen. You pound at it, throw it far from you. Glass doesn’t always break but it always cracks. Sometimes visible to the naked eye. Sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Cracked glass is fascinating as an art piece but not as crockery. One is never sure when it will give way.

Adam cracked us all; we are volatile. One way this moment. Another way in the next moment. It became cute and we have nice cliches to describe our art pieces; perks, phobias, addictions, defects etcetera, etcetera…We got stuck and were not fit for purpose. Till Jesus paid it all.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:22 NKJV

Jesus paid it all. You can live through inertia. Through sticky keys. Through being stuck. No need to rage, just breathe. Life it goes on beyond this moment because Jesus has made you alive.

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.

I tell of two moms

The ululations echoed back through the walls of the house. They had received the gift and so the ceremony could proceed. This is how I was introduced to the concept, ba Mama or the mothers. Among the Baganda, your mother’s sisters are your mother. All of them combined are your mother. Your mother remained invisible even during your traditional marriage ceremonies, tucked away in the house. Her voice though remains loudest, and so if she rejects the gifts from the prospective in-laws, hang their heads in shame and leave immediately.

As far back as I could remember, my mum and her sister were always together. They fondly referred to each other as, My sister. My earliest memory was her bar on DeWinton Road, Canton Bar and Restaurant. It is from this bar, that we named her, so we hear, Auntie Canton. It was later in life as teenagers that we were calmly corrected that her name was Elsie pronounced as EL-ay-see by the Bakiga. A bit too late, I think. She will always be Auntie Canton. This restaurant with it’s multi colored, multi diamond shaped mural at the front, well polished wood floors and huge orange booth chairs, became our favorite place. The bar man, PK had such an amazing speed of service. All the waiters decked out in white shirts and black well pressed trousers, operated like high speed robots. They added bow ties when there were formal occasions. The kitchen was so huge, so huge. And the backyard opened into an even larger parking lot and an entrance to flats with so many playmates. When Bimbo Ice Cream finally opened on the opposite side, we were set for life. We watched all the Kampala rallies from the verandah of Canton and crossed over to meet the Rally drivers at Bimbo when they came to rejuvenate. For those readers who were not born by then, the first rally race courses were through the streets of Kampala.

My aunt run this establishment with impeccable standards, I am yet to find a kebab that tantalises my taste buds like the ones served at Canton. The drinks were always cold, it did not matter what time of day or night. Those drinks were always chilled to exactly the same temperature. The wooden floors shone so much, that when the sunlight hit the entrance, you could make out your reflection in the floor. The door had a glass partition but never once were there finger print marks on them or single layer of dust. Her glasses were always sparkling, you did not hold a glass from the rim and you most certainly did not bring a client stained or wet glass.

She celebrated her birthday with a ball. We all dressed up, and my cousin Pamela and I were privileged to be flower girls at her party. How glamorous. We were welcomed by Uncle Rukampena, the Master of Ceremonies in his white dinner jacket. He had such a rich baritone, it was a real ball. They had dances like waltz, fox trot. Well, my feet are both left so I could not keep up. It was beautiful to watch the adults glide across the dance floor.

St. Francis Chapel. 4.1.2003

In 1986, this establishment was shut down and my auntie lived in Makerere with us for a while. As an adult, with hindsight, I now recognize this as a difficult season in her life. As a child, I thought this was one long conversation with her sister. Oh my, those sisters could talk. We always wondered if we would talk like them when we grew older. Because they started talking in the morning at breakfast, through lunch, through tea, after supper, they camped at the dining table and continued talking. In the morning, we would find them at the table in the same positions, we bade them good night. Her staying over in my mind, was to attempt to finish this conversation that never ended.

As difficult a season as it was, she did not bow out. She started a retail outlet for ladies’ clothes, enlisted my brothers to go and advertise in the ladies’ halls. She got a steady stream of customers, but she did not settle. Her next target was the ladies in the banks. Did I mention her ironing and sewing skills? She had this ability to turn any garment into as good as new. She leveraged this skill to turn second hand blouses into almost new, and sold them as what we now call first class.

I was privileged to share a room with her, everyone says we are alike. I don’t think so. She was so neat and orderly. She had this ability to sit on a bed and leave it neither dented nor creased.

Whenever we visited Kabale, my dad would point out her home. It looked so forlorn and abandoned for a long time. When she finally returned and we visited, what a transformation. The impeccable gardens, alive with flowers and bees. The grass was well trimmed and looked like a golf course. The wooden floors again, sparkling. The same neatness and orderliness. It became our favorite stop over.

As part of completing a bachelor’s, I needed to conduct research and submit a dissertation. I had no qualms about going to Kabale because my auntie Canton was there. True to form, she welcomed me with open arms. She spared no effort in making me very comfortable. There was a fire every evening when I returned because she knew how cold I got. The meals were ready like clockwork. She ensured my cousins sought a very trustworthy boda boda guy, she said she could not trust those Bakiga men with her niece. And indeed Sadayo proved to be very helpful and resourceful in asking the questions and finding respondents.

She spared no effort in teaching me everything she knew. Every moment was a teaching moment. She found me ironing one time, or should I say attempting to iron. She took over the iron and showed me exactly how to get a crease free ironing everytime. My mother was never too far away from her sister, she always reminded me how privileged I was and to pay attention because I was learning from the best.

On my wedding day, she was unwell but there was no missing embaga ya Kemirimo. She had given my cousin, very strict instructions about her outfit. She came to the wedding dressed like the Queen Mother but she had strained herself to come and had to go back home to rest before the official photos. I don’t have her in the pictures outside the Church.

My auntie Canton, how she loved me so. It was such a humbling gesture.

On 28th April 2011, I received a phone call and my dear Auntie Canton had passed on. On 28th August 2014, I received a phone call and my dear mum had passed on. Even in death, they remained, sisters.

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.

they shall not grow old

The title is taken from a poem written during World War I. It was eventually set to music by Karl Jenkins. The somber rendition in the link, would have made a great sound track for my history lesson this week as I taught my students about the death toll at Verdun (700,000 men) and the Somme (over 1 million men). As we worked through the imagery of incessant shelling, gas bombs, artillery bombardments and the trenches, the words of the poem came to mind. Those who survived must have lived it over and over and over.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon, FOR THE FALLEN

World War I seems like ages ago but not death. Each time, I receive a notification about a peer who has passed on, it’s very jarring. Jarring because I guess I was sold a lie about growing up.

When you grow up, you shall be able to do whatever you want. You can do that when you are older. Be patient, your time will come. What once seemed like sage advice now rings hollow. Hollow and shallow platitudes.

Because some do not grow old. In my senior six vacation, just before, we joined campus, to study our desired courses….I received the news that a dear friend, Gordon Mulinzi had been in an accident with his family. Some members had passed away but he was still in a coma. Even after his brave fight, he passed away. What?! After the hustle of reading for our A’levels, the discussions, the winter, the jubilation over being admitted to Makerere University on government sponsorship…he will always be a vacist, never a graduate.

‘Annet has died,’ were the few words my distraught friend managed to choke out as we packed our bags to leave at the end of our university. Annet had told me about her plans to go conclude with her fieldwork supervisor. She did not return. A boda boda knocked her down. It was Annet who held my hand when I despaired of learning, she faithfully took down her notes neatly and dropped off her books for me to copy. She made sure I was always in her discussion groups so she could ensure my name got onto the assignment. She carried me to meet lecturers, so they would put a face to my name. Annet will always be a student.

Gloria, very vibrant with such wise and subtle cracks, lay on her sick bed. A shadow of her former self. Cancer. She had a baby girl and a dotting husband. She managed to get us all to laugh again, even though she herself could only manage a weak smile. A few weeks later, I woke up to a notification, ‘Gloria has gone to be with the Lord’. There will be no reunions for her. No baptisms. No graduations. No firsts for her baby. Gloria will always be a bride.

Simon, recently succumbed to COVID-19. We were appointed as managers together to lead a new imitative. I fluked his honeymoon, cause we had to go and study and he decided to carry his young bride with him. It was fun. It was exciting. There were challenges but we always cracked solutions. He loved his work. He loved taking pictures. He loved people. Ever early. Ever reliable. I retired. Simon remained. Simon will always be working.

I remember them. We remember them. More as we age. They shall never grow old.

Photo credit: Pinterest

And maybe neither shall we, in the end we are The Fallen. Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe diem.