It’s Sunday. Sunday we preach, or rather, we used to preach when we were in tiptop shape. It has taken me days to build up to this post. Sometimes I think I will come up with a strict schedule, like Kariuki does at Kisauti, you know, drop a post, say, every Sunday. He drops his every Wednesday without fail. Also, his e-book is out, that’s how driven he is. He is that serious. I could do that, you know, write regularly and everyone expects the post at a certain time of day, so that if I miss out, I am accountable. I really could do that. It builds a great culture of discipline and passion cultivation. But I don’t. Why?

Well, today, like I said, is Sunday. And Sunday I preach. For a long time, I have not done so. For a long time, I have not done anything right to my spiritual self. I have not been growing. I have found myself in this routine of sorts every Sunday. I struggle to wake up, I make tea for everyone, do dishes (if I feel like), go back to bed again, wake up again, take a bath, go to church, teach Sunday school, scream my heart out at a 100 below-six-years-old kids then get out wondering why I feel drained. Scratch that. I always know exactly why I am drained. I am not supposed to teach every single Sunday without getting a break to recharge. For a long time, we had many teachers in my class, teachers that would teach on schedule, but along the way, things fell apart and became a matter of begging people to teach. I thought I could do it. I thought it would be selfish of me to just act like everyone else and jump ship, so I didn’t. I hang in there.



I love Sundays. Sundays are the days I just chill out and enjoy the freedom. On good Sundays (most of them are good), I am lady Shiku. I don dresses. And heels. Just to remind myself how it feels like to be a real girl. And it feels good. This Sunday, I wake up later than usual. Mum does not wake me up with a phone call as usual. No, I have not moved out. Yes, she calls me every Sunday morning from the other side of the wall. When phone calls act as alarm clocks.

I am so sleepy. Why, sun? Why couldn’t you just rise a little later today?

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What of Us with No Fathers?

By Kariuki Dave

Now that Father’s Day is here, we are all obligated to honour that special old man in our lives whose efforts are least appreciated by the society we have today. Father’s Day is one of the little known international days. That is not my concern for now though. I am more concerned about those of us who were brought up by single mothers. Who do we salute on this day? You see, I belong to this group of people who, for one reason or another, didn’t get to grow up in a household with a father figure. Some of us had fathers who were just there to be seen, not to be heard nor felt, but we are here anyway like the rest and we do have a story to tell about those who took up the challenge and played the father’s role in our upbringing. My grandmother (God bless her soul) happens to be that person to me.


The 21st Century Church and the Mugumo Tree

When I opened my dashboard to write a post, I was not going to write about the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) or anything about its politics. (Bear in mind that this post is not just about the PCEA church, but really about any church out there.) I was going to write about a Mugumo tree analogy I heard in yesterday’s sermon. But somehow, the post became what it is now. I was going to write about how I have this little church I go to when I feel like my church is too much. This is a church across the highway from home called PCEA Joseph Ngwaci Memorial Church. I have attended it for two consecutive Sundays now and I love it. I have been toying with the idea of completely relocating to it. Why? I will tell you in a bit.

Yes. I am a full member of PCEA, complete with a little holy communion book that gets signed every time I take holy communion. The church is my home, with all its drama, Practice and Procedures Manual. We fondly refer to this manual as P and P though I have never actually seen or read it, I just know it exists. On the flipside, they are those who say that PCEA stands for Please Collect Everything Available. My church, the one in which I am an actual member, the one in which I would not fidget if they asked if ‘there is a visitor in our midst’, is PCEA Kikuyu Township. I even teach Sunday School. I love my little sweet beginners and they love me too. I think. Or they just love the songs I teach them. 🙂

But I have been avoiding it of late, clearly. You see the Please Collect Everything Available joke is very close to serious business, especially in my church. You will never get into that church without someone telling us how we should contribute to building the resource centre and many other group activities. Anyone who has been to Kikuyu has seen the structure that will be the resource centre rising above the compound. It’s getting on fine and will be complete in the near future. I have no qualms about development at all. Maendeleo ni mazuri. I am all about giving too. Give and it shall come back to you. My problem is when all these development matters are given pre-eminence over matters of the heart and soul.

Truth be told, sermons and everything else we actually go to church for have been known to be cut short so that money could be collected. Even in my own Sunday School department, kids will be left without a teacher so that merchandise will be sold at the church entrance apparently to support the very same Sunday School ministry. I just want to teach those children in the way they should go without getting a million text messages about meetings to raise money to buy insignificant things. That is exactly why I have not been to my church these past two Sundays. I will definitely go back because of my kids, but other than that, there is virtually nothing that draws me back. Oh, except the Kikuyu Service praise and worship session. That is the ultimate experience for me. Singing those close-to-akorino-like songs to the Almighty gives me some inexplicable joy.

I will not even mention the Reverend David Githii fiasco here. That is another story that needs some serious thought. He has a website though, if you want to see what his issues have been with PCEA for years. And by the way, this man is a thinker and I actually like him. He may go a tad too far with his claims but they have a basis. The politics that are appointments of reverends to a specific church, kirk session wrangles and so on are expected. We are human anyway. We all fall short of the glory of God. The problem is if we know we have fallen and just stick down there without giving proper thought to our goal as the church. Are we here to fulfil the great commission or ensure that we are the church with the richest folk and tallest buildings?

The little church I have been going to is very homely and deep in the village. Probably why I shouldn’t even compare the two. The members are not building any resource centre neither are they buying a Sunday School bus. We can learn from them. Church is that place that I go to have that unwinding moment. To praise God and to fellowship with my fellow believers. I can do the former anywhere else. The latter, is what I am on about. That fellowship described in Acts 2:42-47. That fellowship that draws people to the church, not that which makes them say, ‘Kama kuokoka ni kwa kina Shiku, hiyo sitaki.” We should not be the church where a preacher is given 5 minutes to give a conclusive sermon. We should not be the church that dedicates all its efforts to monetary issues that may not even help an actual needy person within the church or even out there.

The mugumo tree analogy was given by a woman on the pulpit yesterday. The mugumo tree is ubiquitous in the Kikuyu community, just as the PCEA church is. It is also called the strangler fig. It strangles other trees for its survival. It starts out as an epiphyte on other trees then grows its roots downward to envelop the host tree while still growing upward to reach into the sunlight. Eventually, the host tree dies and the mugumo tree grows in splendour. The preacher gave the analogy in reference to the evils we allow to encroach our lives. I will use it to refer to the church, even beyond PCEA. This could very well be the story of the church. Our church, the host tree, could be strangled by unnecessary ‘growth’ that we attribute to the 21st century. It will be strangled, giving rise to a strange new establishment that we will not recognize any more. That is if we do nothing about the direction we are taking. Think about it.


Mugumo tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mugumo tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teachers’ Strike

So everyone seems to assume that just because teachers were on strike, they were in bed sleeping. Well, they were not. At least the ones I know were not.

To them, teaching is a calling . Whether people think lowly of the profession, whether the government decides to treat them as lesser people, whether no kid growing up today wants to be a teacher, it still remains a great vocation. (OK, slight exaggeration. There are kids who want to be teachers when they grow up. My six year old sister is one.)

I was and still am raised my two high school teachers. They met in campus (I always smile at the idea of meeting my lifelong partner in campus. Clearly I did not pick that particular gene).

Every day, mum and dad leave the house to go give their all in school. Every day, they come back with interesting stories. Other times it is loads of papers to mark. Once upon a time, I spilt a glass of water on some papers dad had left on the table. I do not even want to imagine what dad told his students; all I know is that I did not even get punished for it.

Mum is the listener; the teacher counsellor. She wants to help and she always helps in whatever way. Mum bonds with her students. So much so that she has been maid of honour at a former student’s wedding.

Dad is the funny man. Once he taught me geography during some holiday tuition sessions. He is the guy who will teach about rotation and revolution of the earth and demonstrate it. Yeah, in this case, he assumes the role of the earth. He spins while at the same time going round in a circle. Get the picture? I would say I laughed at the demonstration like the rest, but I really did not. Inside, I was thinking ‘Oh God, dad is embarrassing me’.

Well, when I come to think about it, it is not always about me. I bet none of the students in that form one class ever forgot about revolution and rotation. He made it fun.

Through all this, I have always known that teaching requires sacrifice. Even when you are transferred to a school you did not want; even when you have to work with students who do not seem interested. The joy comes when you bump into them in future, full grown men and women, successful citizens, who still remember you.

Somehow, a teacher always remains a teacher to me. That teacher who took me home the day I puked all over the classroom floor. The teacher who ensured I could write and gave me the confidence to do so. The teacher who made a bet with me, that he would do something for me if I passed my exams.

A teacher remains a teacher to other people too. Many people do not even know my dad’s name. He’s simply ‘Mwalimu’. I may never be a teacher apart from the Sunday school teaching I do, but I appreciate teachers. I never thanked them enough though, maybe someday I will.

I celebrated when the government agreed to hike the teachers’ salaries. Not because I had something to gain from it. Maybe I wanted the kids out of the house soon. Whatever I wanted aside, the teachers deserve every coin. Even when you think that they already have enough from the tuition fees and all, they deserve the raise.

By the way, the teachers I am talking about woke up every day to go to school. Even with the strike, things had to be kept in check you know. Now that’s dedication.