For the love of coffee!

On July 27, 2010 my Facebook update reads: “anyone know a coffee/tea addict in campus? Holla!”

Four minutes later, half a dozen comments fly in. One of them smacks me. It’s a claim that my University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) is an addict. His name is Dr. Jon Masso, the current DVC-Academic at Daystar University, a private university in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.

“He carries his thermo cap everywhere. Seriously, it’s an addiction. ..Avoid too much coffee dear,” Faith writes.

“He still does?” The next comment reads.

Faith: “Masso is de no 1 coffee addict. … As in, he can’t make 2-3 sentences in class without a sip. And he’d excuse himself from class just to get some more,” she adds.

I figure I need to talk to him so I book an appointment.

The magic coffee mug

Dr. Jon Masso’s love for coffee spans decades. He is a personable physicist whose sense of humor easily sends you into guffaws. However, it is the broad-mouthed narrow bottomed 500ML silver colored coffee steel mug that’s most memorably associated with him.

“Mostly it’s just nice to sit down and have something warm to sip during the day,” he says. Facing his desk adjacent to the wall, are three thermos flasks on a stool. It is 4 P.M, and the DVC thinks he’s probably at coffee mug number 5.

He refers to his coffee mug as a ‘very useful tool’ for teaching Physics. “If I raise it up to a certain height, I could ask students how much work I have done,” he jokes.

The mug has certain social aspects to it, he adds: “The traditional view (America) is that University Professors should smoke pipes. Whenever they had a difficult question whose answer they didn’t know, it gave them time to think.” The mug comes in handy too, allowing him time to think as he slowly sips.

“I take instant coffee, which is the lowest form of life,” he says. “If I didn’t let cost be a factor, I would take real brewed coffee from Dormans or Java (some of the popular coffee shops in Kenya). Pretty soon you go broke when you do that often.” Once in a while, the DVC treats himself to white cappuccino. He also takes quite a bit of decaf.

So is he hooked to the stuff? “I don’t think I am,” he says. “If you’re addicted to coffee, it must be the caffeine you’re addicted to. It’s just nice to have something warm to sip on, sort of like a security blanket,” he adds. However, a day without coffee would probably make him a little dull.

He fell in love with the drink in his heydays as a university student. “I haven’t done it all of my life – yet” he jokes.

He’s in good company. My uni pals can’t get enough of the brew either.

On Facebook one says: “Mines black, two sugars thank you!”

“And I like it white with four sugars please,” the next comment reads.

Dr. Masso prefers black coffee with little milk in it. “It’s not coffee if you put sugar,” he says.

And Eve, who had minutes earlier, accepted my friend request writes: “so w@s with the coffee addicts vybe? Am one of them.”

This article originally ran on the LeafBerry website. It is reposted here in memory of Dr. Jon Masso.

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THIS CHILD WILL BE GREAT

THIS CHILD WILL BE GREAT

I wrote about Jane on this blog not too long ago. Now she’s found her voice and is writing! Her first post below.

childofpromise2016

I borrowed the title above from Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s memoir depicting the remarkable life of Africa’s first woman president. In the thought provoking memoir,she bares it all revealing snippets of her childhood, experiences with abuse, her meteoric rise to power against all odds. By penning down this stirring read, Sirleaf seeks to fan the flame inside everyone that with perseverance and hope,we can change our world.

I decided to start this blog,albeit with alot of apprehension initially. I was afraid to pour out myself; the raw emotions, the pain, the confusion (yes! am still trying to come to terms with it all). But the Lord impressed upon me that my pain is not mine alone. It is meant to encourage and build up; inspire and ignite hope to so many. Pain has led to my purpose;brokenness to my beauty in an endeavor to face my fear and finding my…

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The big deal about Singapore

I attended a talk by Dr. Victor Koh from Singapore, the other day. Dr. Koh is an advisor to the Government of Kenya on Vision 2030.

I remember before he spoke, the facilitator asked: ‘How many people have been stuck sat in traffic this week?’ Every one raised their hands.

Then he asked: ‘How many people have running water in their houses 24-7, 365 days a year?’ Only two people in the whole auditorium raised their hands!

That’s how it is :/

So what’s all the fuss about Singapore?

1963, as Kenya gained independence, Singapore was a slum island. Today, if you want to see a slum, go to a museum

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I won’t delve into lessons Kenya can learn from Singapore, just present the state of things as mentioned by Dr. Koh, how the country deals with ordinary issues that face every country. . 

1. Culture of saving – Savings make up 46% of Singapore’s GDP. The country has no external debt and instead huge reserves. Citizens value delayed gratification.

“When you borrow too much, you become beholden.”

2. Housing

When we had a poor housing system, our people had every kind of disease as a result of having no running water, poor sanitation . . . Today 90 % of houses are modern houses – there’s water running at CONSTANT pressure in every house, daily garbage cleaning, piped gas, optic fibre. . .

The housing system is run by the government (national housing), residential units are up to 52 floors high.

Singapore has the world’s largest real estate. ‘We can construct a fully serviced apartment in 8 minutes – to include everything you imagine. . .’

Most Singaporeans have a house/ own a home. This is important because everyone feels they have a stake in the nation.

Singapore_Skyline_at_blue_hour_(8026584052)3. Value addition

Africa the continent with the richest mineral resources is inhabited by the majority of poorest people in the world. There is a problem.

“Why sell raw materials and then import as finished products? Why don’t we (Kenya) add value to our resources? The whole game of industrialization is value addition.”

Singapore does not have mineral resources, but “we manufacturer anything we want.”

The country manufactures some of the most expensive pharmaceuticals in the world, ‘they are customized to your specific DNA, and exclusively made for you.’

4. Security – One of best armies in region. Everyone in the country is a soldier. Remains an active soldier for 40 years.

5. Political parties – No racial or religious or tribal issues can be brought up by political parties, these are emotive issues everywhere. “In Singapore, we have a law against this.”

6. Corruption – No forgiveness on impunity. High penalties for bribes. “We pay our civil servants well” We take law enforcement seriously, don’t just have beautiful laws.

7. Crime – Vandalism and violent crimes are punished by caning. It’s meant to inflict the greatest pain.

8. On dealing with pay hikes – There are no boycotts and strikes. Tripartite system where the government, business leaders and the trade union reward productivity.

“Wages have been increasing over the last 50 years. Everyone takes a pay cuts too during recession. We believe a pay cut is better than (retrenchment) no pay.

9. Unemployment – There are more employment opportunities than the people. There is over employment. We seek skilled professionals all over the world to work in our country at the same pay as nationals.

10. Central providence fund – The 20% that citizens save, pours into 3 main funds: Housing, catastrophic health issue, and retirement.

11. Port – Best harbor in the world, not due to size, but number of ships and movement. A ship is offloaded and loaded within 12 hours and it’s out of the harbor.

12. Public system – No traffic in Singapore. Number 1 in e-government. You only fill one form and it’s populated across all government departments. Easiest place in the world to do business

13. Social welfare – Distribution of wealth – every year they have surplus. Distribute 50 percent to citizens.

14. Life expectancy 80.1 years

15. Economy – Singapore’s economy has been ranked as the most open in the world, 7th least corrupt, most pro-business, with low tax rates (14.2% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) and has the third highest per-capita GDP in the world. Also the highest trade to GDP ratio in the world, averaging around 400% (Wikipedia)

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Almost unreal. I still don’t believe something like this exists. But it’s what’s possible when we dream and want the best for our people I guess. Kenya someday? Maybe. .

My struggle with the bus preacher

My ears will instinctively switch to airplane mode whenever a bus preacher jumps on board.

Bus-preacher

Photo credit | thenet.ng

I will get offended before he opens his mouth, and although I’ll try not to fumble with my phone, staring outside the window the whole time is not sustainable either.

Some take too long, others are too dramatic, and yet others offer misleading doctrine. But there are those who show up, keep it short and leave. They don’t even collect offering.

It’s these ones who leave me with a tinge of regret. Because the whole time I kept myself distracted, especially waiting for them to screw up and alight. Alight they do, they were the real deal but I was too busy.

It’s similar to that one friend who suddenly starts sending unsolicited devotional messages at an alarming frequency. The first time you respond with words like deep, refreshing but when you realize they won’t stop, you pay back by stopping to read those spam messages.

Is it because we subliminally feel that our personal space is under threat, and anyone approaching must either beg for permission or enter rather cautiously? Probably some form of pride in the name of being careful.

Yet when you get deeper as a Christian, you can’t keep some messages to yourself either and just like them, become a chief spammer. Karma 🙂 Because no one else really cares.

It’s just how it is.

But maybe listening to the next bus preacher may not be so difficult, or could it be simply a matter of only giving short messages? I still struggle. . .

What’s your take?

The letters – Fathers and Daughters

  1. Let’s go drink!

“Why are you hiding?” I ask a 9 year old girl

“It’s that man.”

“Which one?”

“You see the one who just walked in?”

“Ehe . .”

“He always goes to the bar with my father. He is the one who teaches my father to drink. I don’t like him . . .I even saw them drinking at a friend’s house.”

Source - Study.com

Source – Study.com

“I hope my dad will never introduce my little brother to beer.”

  1. Don’t call me

“How’s it working on this end of the earth?”

“It’s tough working away from my family. There are days my 10 year old daughter calls and I don’t want to pick the phone. She makes me want to cry . . . I keep asking myself, is this worth the sacrifice?”

The 100 Day Challenge Meet Up #2

Behind the curtains

Event organizing is a gamble:

Organizers do their best to estimate how many people will show up, prospective attendees do their best to stay silent and wait to see who else will be attending.

A standstill of sorts, until the due date is dangerously close. Days to the event you’re worried if it will flop or if it will happen at all. By then no organizer wants to make any extravagant plans.

But I let all this stress be handled by the very skilled Trezer, Neema and Ndanu, and they very much make it happen!

Behind the curtains are conversations like:

“Carrying (snacks) for some of us is a herculean task, waaah”

“I figured that would be the case for guys, but come on guys, we did these picnic things in primary. The other option would be to contribute and have sandwiches made. . . ”

 “Sandwiches hutengenezewa wapi? *hides*”

 “Lol, you are not asking this question and hiding.”

 “Edwin pata bibi haraka!”

Haha

The meet up

A cool crowd shows up.

Like revelers, we decide that the August memorial park cannot contain us. In a matter of minutes, ideas are bouncing off each other before Lunar Park becomes the chosen spot for awesomeness – Merry go rounds, boat rides and stuff.

We march straight to a supermarket and exchange our money for supplies. Only Tony’s roast mbuzi is missing, but we pretend it’s there, and that way he agrees to chauffeur us to the fresh territory. Fortunately his humongous car can contain all of us.

Vehcle

Through it all, I’m silently amazed at an outpouring of love:

  • Tosh had offered a free meet up venue, and now a vehicle to take care of our commuting needs;
  • Ndanu is unable to make it, and she sends a huuuuuuge cake for the team.
  • And there’s Cynthia Kimola giving that mellow voice at no charge.
  • The rest of us make time and sacrifices I’ll never know about

I’m silently wondering, when did people become so giving? Only God can cause such overwhelming awesomeness. We talk about dreams, our experiences and members’ ventures that we’re willing to support. We talk about God.

In between it all, I’m watching the youngest member of Team 100 by extension, an eight year old darling.

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IMG_0952She’s assembling mini-rubber bands into a wristband and she’s swift! Hell, she could do this with her eyes closed, I can’t even do it to save my life.

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IMG_0993At 8 years old, she’s making money – this little wristband costs me 20 bob, and when I tell her that I want to buy all her stock for the day, she doesn’t blink when she says: “Just know that 20 of these will cost you 600 bob.”

Camaan!

Team 100 meet up 3

We will dare to go to the outskirts of Nairobi, and have lots of fun. By then, a few more members will have completed their challenges. At that time, we’ll carry books to donate to the Book Bazaar – an initiative by one of us, and yes a few more fun faces will join us!

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Or who knows? The Mombasa Edition might be right up!

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The 100 Day challenge is an open group on Facebook, whose members keep each other accountable in individual journeys of self improvement. Some of the bloggers who made it to the second meet up blog here: Mercie here and herePoshia; KasivaMaichNeema and Cynthia