Life lessons from my personal Victories and Defeats.

As impossible as it may seem you’ve got to fight for every dream, coz who’s to know, the one you let go would have made you complete…. West life’s Flying without Wings.

Struggling is the real meaning of life, victory and defeat, are in the hands, Of God so one, must enjoy in struggling.

I remember reading these words on a little cloth wall hanging at home. I must have been six or seven then. Beyond their rhythmic and lyrical sounds, they were just plain words, written on a cloth and hung on the wall.
I saw them again a couple of weeks ago. In my neighbors’ house. I read them slowly this time, twice. No longer noticing their rhythm but the wisdom they carried.
In January this year, I took up a teaching job and moved hundreds of miles from family…

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In an old song, musician Tina Turner asks the question, ‘what’s love got to do with it?
If the numerous timeless tales that exist on love are anything to go by, then the answer would be, without any doubt ‘everything.’

Since time immemorial, man has tried to piece together bits of the puzzle that is love with minimal success. Since Biblical times, tales have been told of strong men of valor who fought in epic battles and conquered kingdoms only to be brought down by their love for a woman. The strong Nazirite Samson fell prey to his enemies thanks to Delilah, a woman he fell in love with. Even devout king David, unable to control his desire for another man’s wife (Bethsheba), killed the man so that he’d have her.
Shakespeare, the great writer of the 16th century also penned a most tragic tale, Romeo and Juliet, which tells the story of young star-crossed lovers who fate destined to doom. Ancient Greek and Roman Tales and even native African myths like Lwanda Magere speak of the power love has over mortals.
What then, are some of the timeless evergreen tales and tunes about love that have stood the test of time? One would ask in this month of love, and especially with spirit of St. Valentine hovering in the air.


Top of the love blues for this season would be Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh. The song’s flirtatious and coy lyrics and the fact that red is considered the color of love at valentines could be the reason this song will always remain timeless.

Peabo Bryson’s A Whole new World, largely considered a wedding song in Kenya, is another well-loved tune during this lover’s season. In the song, a lover promises to introduce his beloved to a new world full of splendor and new horizons. This song is fondly remembered as the soundtrack of the cartoon Aladdin that is based on the ancient Arab tale; Aladdin and the Wonderful magic lamp. Aladdin takes his love, Princess Jasmine on a magic carpet ride and shows her the wonders of the world from up above.

George Michaels’ Careless Whispers is also on the valentines’ list and so is Savage Garden’s I knew I loved you before I met you and Bonny Taylors’ Total Eclipse of the Heart. Berlin’s Take my Breath away; the soundtrack of Tom Cruise’s classic Top Gun is also quite liked by lovers.

Modern tunes too have found their way into the all time love songs charts. They include Bruno Mars’, I hope be brings you flowers; Adelles’ lovelorn lyrics Someone Like You and Avant and Nicole Scherzinger’s Lie about us.

Closer home, African tunes that seem to be considered all time favorites include Daudi Kabaka’s Safari Tanganyika Freshly ground’s I’d Like, Atemi’s Someday and Fadhili Williams’ Malaika.


Hollywood has also done its fair share in bringing love into our make-believe world. Perpetual tales have been told over and over. City of Angels is a heart wrenching tale in which an angel ( Nicholas Cage) falls in love with a human (Meg Ryan) and thus gives up his angelic nature and becomes human. Sadly, his sacrifice of super natural powers is in vain as Ryan is involved in a bad accident and perishes on the day that Cage takes the fall that humanizes him.

Dear John, another Hollywood love story, tells of John, a solder, who falls for a pretty girl called Savannah just before going on a war mission abroad. They keep in touch through regular letters they write each other (hence the title Dear John.) However, as fate would have it, John’s chances of reuniting with his love dwindle as months go by and this, needless to say, exposes both lovebirds to heartaches.

Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman, a well loved romance story, tells of a prostitute (Roberts) who meets a ‘client’ (Richard Gere) for business but the two end up falling for each other. Obviously, this has dire consequences for the super-rich Gere who has a name to preserve and Roberts who, despite her genuine feelings, is regarded as a social climber. Kelly Rowland’s Seat filler and Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard also explore this theme of true love vs. Social class.


Walt Disney hasn’t been left behind in the exploration of the love theme. Besides Aladdin, Numerous other cartoons have been enhanced through inclusion of romance as a plus for good winning over evil.
Lion king, the story of Simba’s coming of age is spiced up by his reuniting with his playmate and childhood love against a backdrop of Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

Shrek is also happy to find an ogre like him in Fiona.
In Oz the Great and powerful, we see how love can lead even the bad to goodness. Oz, a cheat and sly fellow, is challenged when Glinda, the good witch, completely trusts him to save her people from the wicked witch sisters. This belief in him makes Oz choose his good, honest and honorable side and he is rewarded with kingship and great romance with Glinda the beautiful.

The Tanzanian cartoon Kirikou is a great love story too. It tells of a little super-boy Kirikou who has been chosen by fate to be the savior of his people from the wicked witch Mchawi Karabaa. Through brilliant tricks, Kirikou successfully delivers his people from the spell of Mchawi Karabaa. After her spell has been removed, Mchawi Karabaa turns out to be a good person and she and Kirikou get married.

All this tales that are as old as time, coupled with the more recent ones like that of the famous and beautiful Taj Mahal in India that was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife Mumtaz; and the Lord Egerton Castle of Nakuru Kenya, built by Lord Morris Egerton for the woman he loved; work through our hearts to remind us of the great power of love, which is up until now, unfathomable to mortal man.

MOMBASA DIARY: Love and Architecture.

From the glominage Archives , For Valentines…


Chronicles of a Woman in Search of Herself.

Day Four: Friday 19th April 2013.
Part One

Fort Jesus and Old Mombasa Town

Old buildings with tales of long long ago, these are a few of my favorite things- my Corrupted rendition from Sound of Musics’ Favorite Things:–)

My girl Sue came over today. She works in kwale but came so we could hang out. We watch a few plays then head to town for lunch. Turns out most of the hotels offer fast foods and very few ‘coasterian’ dishes.
After a lunch of amazing Pilau and coconut chicken, we decide to visit the Forth Jesus historical Site and Old Town Mombasa.
Love and architecture
I am endlessly fascinated by old architecture, especially those with heroic or love stories set long ago. Perhaps it is because of Roger Whitaker and his song ‘Railway Hotel which tells a heart wrenching tale of…

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She made her grand entry into presidency by doing the unimaginable; chopping her salary into near-half and selling off her chopper to save on resources, only to be invited to a function abroad and lack a means of transport. She then decided to beg Ian Kham, Botswana’s eligible bachelor president to give her a lift to the function (of course  dear controversial Ian said no!)

On corruption allegations of her cabinet, she fired all of them without batting an eyelid-and (unlike Kiir), got away with it.

Furthermore, on Monday the 27th January 2014, in the wee hours of the morning, Malawi police rounded up Joyce’s former close ally and ex-Justice minister Raph Kasambara’s house to arrest him on charges of money laundering. Mr. Kasambara, a once-upon-a-time bosom pal of Joyce Banda, was enjoying his deep slumber then; he took his sweet time before opening the door, then casually glanced at the arrest warrant, smiled and answered the police a question that has existed since the beginning of time.  What is in a name?

He informed then briskly that in Malawi, ‘a rose by any other name doesn’t smell as sweet ‘by declaring that his name was infact, Not Raph but Raphael.

The surprised police officers then waited in the chilly lucid air of early dawn as one of them rushed off to go and correct the

Name error.

Kasambara used this golden opportunity to inform his face book friends of the warrant saga, obviously greatly amused by his own ‘witty delay of justice’.

So the name on the arrest warrant was corrected before Raph-ael was arrested.

Finally, even as we hear grand tales of rich corrupt politicians in many countries stashing away millions of dollars in secret Swiss accounts, Malawi’s corrupt politicians have a more creative way to hide the cash. They seem to know that walls-even ATM walls- have ears and so they safely stash their cash in teddy bears, pillows and mattresses. How truly creative!

I wonder what the country had planned for #malawi@50.

Happy Jubilee year Joyce Hilda Banda.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey: A Summary.

In his famous opening line of the book Anna Karenina , author Leo Tolstoy states: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.
Could this be true?
Are all happy families alike?
Stephen Covey, renowned trainer, speaker and author seems to share the said sentiments, if the title of his bestselling book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families’ is anything to go by.
In this book, Covey brilliantly tackles a sensitive topic that many consider deeply personal; the family.
However, one would wonder if it is possible to sum up family experiences into seven habits. My answer, after reading Covey’s book is a resounding yes.  A master trainer, Covey has combined different methods of effective training: from personal family experience anecdotes, to to-do-exercises to other peoples’ experiences and timeless principles thus making the book not only engaging but also easily relatable and eye-opening.
An old saying goes ‘nothing beats experience’ and Coveys’ insight-fulness into the family could be attributed to his being married for over four decades and successfully  raising eight children alongside a very busy and successful career that required lots of traveling.
Hereunder are the seven habits discussed in the book that is arguably, the best book on family relationships I have ever come across and one that I would recommend to anyone who truly understands the value of family.
To be proactive simply means to act based on principles and values rather than to react based on emotions or circumstances.
How exactly does one become proactive?
Covey argues that as humans, we all need a pause button; something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it.  ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space, in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response’. Instead of reacting to emotions or circumstances of the moment, act based on your deepest values which in the context of family, should include love, patience, understanding and consideration.
Is it easy to become proactive?
Not really. However, constantly reminding  oneself will help  recommit to the struggle and to get one’s motive straight.
Four  simple ways to start being  proactive with your family.
1.  Learn to hold your tongue instead of lashing out at another person and rushing to say things you will regret later.
2.  Develop a sense of humor and strive to see the funny side of life. This is learning to say ‘we’re off track but so what? It’s not sweating the small stuff  but learning to be accommodating to our loved ones instead of demanding perfection. However, one should watch out for excess humor which can develop into a culture of sarcasm and cutting humor.
3.  It’s in the little things that you do.
·      Be kind to your spouse and children, treat them royally  like they matter
·      Make it a habit to complement a family member each day.
·      Apologize. And let others have the right to disagree with you.
·      Be loyal to those not present. Speak in a  responsible and constructive way about those family members even when they are not present.
·      Make and keep promises.
4.  Teach yourself that love is a verb and not a feeling.
This would then mean consciously choosing to love your family members, not because of what they do or their choices but in spite of their sometimes poor decisions. It means training yourself to listen and empathize, to affirm the child and spouse and to appreciate even the little things that they do.
What if criticizing comes easier to me than appreciating?
Covey uses to analogy of muscle development to answer this.
The key is to push the fiber until it breaks, the nature overcompensates in repairing the broken material and the fiber becomes stronger within 48 hours. You have to bring into play the weaker muscles rather than taking the course of least resistance and staying only with those muscles that are strong and developed. 
In life, our tendency is to run with our strengths and leave our weaknesses undeveloped. And yet the full utilization of our capacities requires overcoming the weaknesses. We can push against the resistance and break through to new levels of competence and strength’ says Covey.
Always have a purpose bigger than your problem.
Covey argues that having a picture of what you’d want your family to be like in the end is a powerful tool because it helps you during the low, discouraging moments.
This final picture isn’t a one man affair. Actually, Covey proposes finding out what each family member purposes for the family then creating a family mission statement that features everyone’s expectations.
Ask your children and spouse the following
·      What they want you to be.
·      What kind of home do they want
·      What embarrasses them about the family?
·      What makes them want to come home
Answering these questions will help knit a shared vision and value system hence the family will head towards a mutually agreed on destination.
Does this sharing begin when one says I do?
Not according to Covey. He advises that while dating, you should get down to discussing what you’d want your home to be like.
Do you want it to be fun? Relaxing or educational?
What values would you like to instill in your children, honesty? Respect?  Integrity? Faith or environmental sensitivity?
Use the mission statement to help you stay on track.
Covey is however quick to point out that even the best mission statement will not protect you from some thorny moments like handling a difficult teen. These teens feel insecure, traumatized and unstable; you have the potential for being the only really solid thing in their lives. So when you get discouraged, just remember what end you are working towards and strengthen yourself with the final picture of a happy, principled and loving family.
For any family, the very first thing is family time. You need to have it, weekly, uninterrupted, forever.
But, you may ask, is it possible in this era of professional competitiveness and twenty four hour economies?
Covey answers this by alluding to an analogy he expounds fully in another of his book ‘First Things First’.
 Climb the ladder of success yes, but make sure the ladder isn’t leaning against the wrong wall. True riches are not in money or positions but in family relations. Your professional role is temporary, you will retire and be replaced and the company will go on; however, your role in the family will never end. You will never be replaced, Family is the one true permanent role in life,’ Says the world travelled trainer who organized workshops in numerous places across the globe while raising a family of eight children.
The place to start is not with the assumption that work is non-negotiable, its with the assumption that family is non-negotiable’ he adds. 
Sometimes, it means choosing between more money or more family time. It is an open choice, however, always keep in mind that there is no substitute for that special relationship between a parent and a child.
During family time, read with your children, talk to them, work with them, listen to them and spend happy time together. Help a child connect with their greatest gift, the conscience.
Anyone serious about putting first things first needs to answer this question.
Whose going to raise my children, today’s alarmingly destructive culture or me?
In this era of media craze, media can literally drive the culture in the home. It is therefore imperative that before we choose our tools and technology, we must choose our dreams and values, for some technologies  serve them, while others make them unobtainable.
As if this isn’t bad enough, we can no longer afford to depend on role models in society to teach our children the timeless principles that govern life. There are too many gray areas and someone we consider a role model for our child today may wake up tomorrow and announce a world shattering ‘personal view’.
We must therefore provide leadership in our own homes
Family time and family vacations make children feel close to one another and to their parents. And these times should be expounded to include at least each child’s favorite activity. This is the price to pay to make our family big picture come true.
One on one sessions are where most of the real work of the family is done . Deep nurturing happens here.
Listen to the child, don’t criticize or give advice or suggestions without being invited to.
Moreover, before a school term begins, get the events calendar and mark all the important functions to be attended. This is what putting first things first is all about.