UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Recently I went to my construction site to check on the progress. They had just finalized securing the doors and windows in. The metallic doors were held in place by a mixture of cement, sand and water. It had rained the entire day. There was mud everywhere. I took a long look at the house. The roof had been put a few months ago. It somehow helped with shaping the house. Passersby hadn’t been sure what exactly was being constructed before the roof went up. The more I looked at the house, the more I realized that there was still a lot of work to be done. The architect, who time after time comes to check on the house, told me about the next steps. Rain gutters have to be put in place to harvest and channel all this rain water. The walls have to be plastered with a lot of sand, paint has to be applied and all sorts of workings. The inside is no different. Similar steps have to be taken. Actually more. There is work to be done on the structure. Similar to the outside, plastering, painting and all kinds of designs have to be applied. Tiles will be used in some sections of the house and not forgetting that electrical and piping work will be done prior. Am I trying to brag to you about my construction or knowledge in construction? Far from it. Being at this construction site made realize that life is no different from this. At all these construction stages, chances of finding construction debris lying around are high. You may as well step on a nail or have to go through makeshift ladders. There are various people that work on the house at the given stages. A porter won’t be the one doing the electrical work. The plumber won’t be the one mixing paint colors. These come at different stages in the construction process and stay for as long as that stage is on- going. They may as well hire more people to help them finish. The different stages have different costs and needs. Isn’t this life? Aren’t we all under construction? Aren’t we all at different stages in our lives? Back in the day, I enrolled to study procurement and logistics management at Kyambogo University. One of the reasons I did enroll was the fact that I didn’t perform exceptionally well to join law school on government sponsorship. The reason however, why the majority of us joined procurement at that time was as a result of the procurement officers during that period. They were young men that became overnight tycoons. We envied them. They were constructing all kinds of houses and starting all kinds of business. This is the life we wanted immediately we left campus. We didn’t want things that take time. We wanted quick riches and elevation. We forgot one of the 21 laws that John Maxwell alludes to. It’s a process. Things are not attained in a day but over time. There are stages. What I should probably inform you is that some of those procurement officers were enrolled in the university of understanding main campus – Luzira maximum prison. We want to attain the end result in a flash. We have become so much a microwave generation.  I go to the construction site and when I look at how far the building has come, I pull out my laptop and cross check with the architectural designs.  This blue print shows me how the end product will look like. I thus can leave with the debris around. Yes, the site will look ugly for now. I know that the expenses have to be met. I expect to come out with dirt when I visit the site. I do expect to find many people at the different stages. But one day the building will be done. It will be the beautiful picture the architect designed. Those that pass by today and ask what that is will just be saying wow. So is my life. Am not yet done. Construction is ongoing. You remember that rough word I said, pardon me. The builders are yet to level that part. The other day you asked for some transport money and I refused, am sorry. The chandelier lights are yet to be fixed inside. Sometimes anger comes out of me, am not yet painted on the inside.  Bear with me a little longer. The architect drew a fine plan of me. I know am not yet done for he said I am wonderfully and beautifully made. If you don’t see that way yet, it’s because am still under construction. The anger, resentment, bitterness and the rest you don’t like about me today, he (the architect) appointed different builders to work on those at different times. They are doing their job. Bear a little longer. The good thing the architect is always checking up on me to ensure that all is done right by the builders. When its not done right, he tells them to undo it. Sometimes we will just show them another way. Am not done yet. So is that person you are judging. They are under construction. You may be one of the builders or porters appointed for a certain time. Don’t sit back and wonder why the building is in such a way. Do your part. He promised to reward you.  You too are not done. Let the builders do their job on you. Allow the architect to continuously monitor and correct you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Psalms 139:13-16 NIV

Little sparks

A friend asked me the other day what I hope to achieve with all this writing. To him, society is a very corrupted world that needs radical change. Sort of like a big bang to reset it. I listened to my friend speaking and realized that we need to have a shift; a mental shift.  I love jack fruit (ffene). I saw one the other day that had got so much fruit on it. It was huge and had branches spreading out to form a shelter. I was amazed. The boda-boda guys were only enjoying the fruits; the tree was a shelter and a (hoduloopu) wardrobe for their jackets. The more I looked at the sheer size of this tree, the clearer a question came into my mind, where did it come from? You see, Jack fruit trees don’t drop from heaven overnight. A seed must have been planted (or thrown somewhere around here). Days and nights passed, rain and heat came. This seed fought and soon was able to come out of the ground. Seasons came and went and this jack fruit became bigger and bigger with each passing day. Now the boda-boda men can afford to eat of its fruit, use it as a sitting room and wardrobe (hoduloopu). Why? Sometime ago, a seed, a small tiny seed was sown in the ground, probably by a good boy. Last year in November, massive fires ravaged the forests in California – U.S.A. At least 63 people where killed, more than 12,000 structures destroyed and more than 142,000 acres were scotched by the blaze. This was known as the camp fire. Before that, there was the car fire that also destroyed more than 229,000 acres of forest cover in August. The officials have many possible reasons that lead to these fires. Maybe it’s the weather. Hot, dry and windy weather makes things flammable. One thing however, that everyone agrees on is that humans are the hugest cause of wildfires. Young men go camping and make a small camp fire. They will forget to put this out and before you know it, the forest is all gone. A little matchbox fire will many days later have left acres of forests destroyed. There is a show on national geographic called airplane crash investigations. Did you know that 80% of planes are brought down because someone did or didn’t do a small thing they were supposed to do? Now I know that you get the flow. A little seed leads to a huge tree. One small matchbox light brings down acres and acres of forests. A small human error makes a huge plane come trembling down. Life is made or unmade by the little sparks. Have you forgotten your biology lessons? A sperm is just about 50micrometers. The tiniest object you can see with your unaided eyes is about 0.1 centimeters—so forget about seeing sperm without a microscope. Yet he you are! Yes, including you giant, tough, smart talking guy. You are a product of a raw material that naked eye can’t see! Perhaps something from the scripture will make you see this clearly. Jesus said that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can tell this mountain to go the sea and it will go. A mustard seed is just about 0.2 centimeters. This seed has the capacity to grow up to 30 feet with a 20 foot spread. God is wise. He knows that once you have the little seed, it can be grown overtime. All you need is a starting point. That little spark to get things moving. You should have noticed to in the bible that there was a question that most times preceded provision; what do you have? God was looking for a little spark that he can light to turn things around. I don’t think God needed one. He is God.  I believe it was to show us the importance of having something, however little it is. That’s what I told my friend am going to do. I want to ignite as many little sparks as possible. I am going to crusade for change in what we call little things. Kindness, humility, courage, personal victory, you name it! Wasn’t it Gandhi’s little spark that caused change in India? Have you forgotten how the love of Mother Teresa has shaped our world?
It is my personal thinking that if we all chose to do good, the world will be a much better place. Whenever we have the chance to do good, let us do good. Those are words from the bible. Some have chosen the little sparks that cause much havoc in the world. Terrorism, kid napping…and many others I’d rather not say. Let the good we do outshine them. I choose to plant seeds today that will become huge trees tomorrow. I chose to start good little sparks today. I choose to start little sparks that will destroy negative thinking. What choice will you be making? Mat Shona Dhliwayo said that ‘the simplest way to better the world is one good deed at a time’. In the words of Albert Einstein ‘The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who won’t do anything about it.’ Start some little sparks today. The world will be grateful.

Salute to the Heroes

On Saturday, 26th January every year, Uganda celebrates the NRM liberation day. This is to commemorate the day in 1986 when the National Resistance Army overthrew a government that was described as corrupt, a civil rights offender and non-democratic. Those that watched as the NRA soldiers matched onto the streets of Kampala victoriously were over whelmed with Joy. The Country had seen a lot of bad things happen. A lot of blood had been shed unjustly. Finally heroes had arrived. There was restoration of institutions and democracy. Mothers and their sons, fathers and their daughters all hit the streets and rejoiced. It was a good time to be alive so we are told.  

My mind couldn’t stop thinking about the sacrifices these heroes had to make. Nights out in the cold, living in trenches, no food for days, on the run and a life dedicated to constant fear of death! That’s a lot to ask of someone. That’s a lot to offer.

However, if you ask me the names of those men that sacrificed all that for our nation, I will probably tell you two or three that I know. I didn’t set out to know them. They literally came to me through the newspapers daily. Its not that am not patriotic, NO. I love my Country and continent. However, the heroes of all times to a mind like mine are not those that fought and shed blood for the Country. I take nothing away from these men. I salute their courage and determination. But after sometime, these men are sometimes forgotten and erased from memory. Populations turn against them. The very people (or their offspring) that were singing and jubilating when they matched, will now compose songs and ask them to leave! That’s the world we live in. Revolutions have been known to eat up their own children.

But there is a certain group of heroes that we can never forget. These we can never wish away or pray they die in their sleep. We get concerned when they are not okay. These are the ones that never give up on us. They never forget us. They don’t go out seeking to be heroes. They find us when we have entangled ourselves, or been entangled in certain messes and they choose to help. They do choose knowing very well that their reward is zero. Nothing to show for it. They do it knowing that we can ask of them to leave at any one time and they will leave unconditionally. They are heroes not because they chose to be, but because we found ourselves needing one. These ones know that whereas it is okay to celebrate winning a battle, the focus remains on winning the war. They lift us up no matter how far we have we have fallen. Sometimes they have to lose a lot in the process. But they still come through. Time after time, they do this. They don’t demand that we pay them. They don’t want to share of the spoils of the victory they helped us get. No. Theirs was out of the goodness of their hearts. These heroes offer a shoulder to cry on at given times (even when they have a heavy load at the back of their minds), a hand that provides continuously (even if they have nothing left for themselves), and a smile even when tears fill their hearts.

I had a boss who came through this way. I made mistakes that if someone suspended me, they would have done me a favor. Yet he never even settled on that mistake. He didn’t even want the mistake discussed. He got the mistake and took it upon himself to ensure that not only do I never do it again. I was to help others avoid and overcome it too. He took the blame for the many mistakes I made all the while shaping me and teaching me a lot. Some top leaders that got to know that he was always covering for me, bayed to my termination. He would have none of it. He put himself in the line of fire and did much more than protect me. He taught me leadership without having to literally call it a leadership lesson. He formed the image on the inside of me of the leader that I wanted to become. I am forever grateful to you, Kalibo.

Many may be surprised that I haven’t mentioned my parents yet. I am also as surprised. The fact that I see no need of mentioning them shows just how much they have continuously surpassed all the works of my other heroes. Calling them heroes would be an understatement. Never have I seen selfless love like theirs. I remember back in secondary complaining to my mum and asking her why she never came to school in a car yet the rest of the parents came driving. She began getting special hires to come to school just so that my ego was massaged. Never have I asked anything of her that she found so much to provide. That she does this without expecting pay in return or a huge title and entitlement puts her at the top of heroes of all times.

I know you too have your own heroes. They are those that were present at a given time in your life when you did need a hero. Take the time today to thank them. A simple appreciation message, a lunch or a gift will do. However, the best gift you can give them is to ensure that you repay their kindness towards others over time.

Here is to the liberators, the ones that fought our real life battles. Here is to the heroes in our lives.
“I’m saying to be a hero means you step across the line and are willing to make a sacrifice, so heroes always are making a sacrifice. Heroes always take a risk. Heroes are always deviant. Heroes always doing something that most people don’t and we want to change – I want to democratize heroism to say any of us can be a hero.” Phillip Zimbardo

I saved the World today

I have always enjoyed T.V. Hey! Stop judging me because they told you that excessively watching T.V is bad. The truth is that I know that already. I know. Deep down I try and reduce the time I spend (you may want use the word ‘waste’ instead, I don’t use foul language on myself) in front of the screen. One of my goals in life is to actually have a theater in the house. Complete with all the necessary sound, light and seats. Of course, it will also have a popcorn machine just around every corner. Okay, now you can judge me a little.

Anyway, back to my love, T.V. I enjoy mainly three things: the fascinating world of animals, the never-ending losing streak of arsenal (Interrupted by a win recently) and movies with heroes saving the world and probably kicking the bad guys down in the process. So, it’s not surprising that I have watched, re-watched and watched again and again the drama series called 24.

24 is my go-to series when the rest of TV is boring or having commercials.  I will always pick up a season and start watching it like it’s the first time. My love for 24 has everything to do with the main character in this series. Jack Bauer.

Jack Bauer opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know. The world of spies, agents, soldiers etc. that we never see or sing praises yet they ensure that we live through the toughest attempts of reaching the highest levels of stupidity by those that have flesh and blood like us. They do this even if it means we shall hurl insults at them the next day. In 24, Jack risks it all. He’s lost family, friends and everything just to save his country and the world from those evil men that make these attempts every so often.

I think Christina Perri was singing on behalf of Jack Bauer when she sang the chorus of a thousand years. Literally, Jack Bauer peeps into the grave on a daily basis and somehow lives to see another day. If there were to use a new Jack Bauer every season (or day) then the show would have been called: a thousand ways to die. I promise you Fox studio didn’t pay me to promote 24.  In fact I will stop right there.

Who am I kidding? Anyway, 24 showed me how these silent minority men and women save our world on a daily basis. No matter what you ask of them, they are up to the task.  Nuclear attacks? Don’t worry, bomb scares? We got this, some African rebels? We will be there, rogue state agents? We are on our way. Multinational corporations with evil thoughts?  Let’s do this. In a single day, Jack Bauer will stop a nuclear detonation, save the American president, prevent a nervous gas attack and save his friend or family. This was how I envisioned the world would always be saved.

Along the way came a young engineer and risked it all to save his brother. He went to prison and got his brother out. It sounds simple, right? (Say yes and I force you to watch all prison break seasons). Then in that moment I realized we all won’t be able to stop nuclear war heads from being detonated. We could perhaps attempt to break our loved ones out of prisons. Probably we won’t even be able to break prison walls to save our brothers world like Scofield did.

All of us need to heed to the voice of Napoleon Hill who said that if you cannot do great things, then do small things in a great way. You and I get to save the world this way. Smile at someone. It may be all they need to lighten up their world. Pay the taxi fare for someone. Do small acts of kindness on a daily basis for people that don’t know you, may never know you or may never be able to pay you back. Plant a tree. Wave at children. Take a first aid course. It may come in handy one day and save someone’s world. Give of your time. Listen. Just listen. You will be surprised at how many people out their just need someone who can listen to them without giving advice, telling them why or feeling the need to do something.

Today I did my part in saving the world. I stopped my car, signaled to oncoming traffic to do the same so that a young girl can cross the road. She smiled and waved as she crossed and I knew, the world is now a better place.

Martin Luther king Junior said it well:

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”