How Learning and Self-education Saved my Life

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. – Benjamin Hardy .This will be our syllabus.

By creating a system that allowed me to read a small amount every day, I was reading a staggering number of ‘real books!

Being aware of our beginnings is an important leadership lesson. My story begins as a class eight graduate. I spontaneously developed a habit I could not understand its full meaning until later: I begun to voraciously read and study tiny, severed pieces of newspaper I picked along the road. What other people used to wrap mandazi and cigarettes turned out to be my reading materials! It became my individual means of becoming literate.

I considered them immensely valuable in terms of appraising my understanding. They treated me to short blasts of unbiased factual reporting and debate and a fair bit of opinion. They reported real-life events that were of actual importance and emotional value to me, and this aroused my curiosity. I became aware of important and relevant topics that were being discussed in the society. 

I occasionally met new words and got enthralled by how journalists, politicians, analysts, experts and commentators weaved words together, which prompted me to record and wonder about those phrases that caught my eyes and stirred my imagination. These group of writers provided a wide range of various text types and language styles – which is one of the most important features of newspaper-based activities. They engaged me in interesting and enjoyable activities, which further encouraged me to find the true power of reading books and real print media resources. 

Reading these pieces of literature helped me escape the constrictions of living in a fiercely disconnected environment. For a rural kid like me, they took me on a trip to brilliant minds and places and exposed me to what was hidden beneath life. They became my only chance to experience life beyond own neighborhood and culture, letting me meet and begin thinking about other people, other perspectives, other lives. It helped my brain to advance quick enough to not have my dreams smashed into submission by society and imploded by reality?  

I took on the task, in the most primitive form I could afford, to gain knowledge and insight for the sake of my own benefit. There was no curriculum holding me accountable to self-education but the initiative I took to read these tiny pieces of newspaper was something I considered a gift to my future. Investors say that anytime you invest you are putting either time or money into something else to achieve something greater. And here I was, investing knowledge into my brain to deliver for me commercial values. Is there credence in that? An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

The formal education I received in school gave me the tools I needed to become a life-long learner, but it is continued learning that gave me the tools to become a life-long doer. In a very great way, self-education helped me to stop accepting who I already was and to begin living in a way that embodied who I wanted to become. I fashioned my life to strive for some of the things that reflected the person I wanted to become.

It was beautiful to realize I could improve and advance in life through the pursuit of mental excellence no matter where I currently stood. What I demanded of myself was the development of faith and the willpower to pursue what I thought would enhance the quality of my life. My general understanding was this: I could not afford money and things that came with it but faith and the willpower to pursue your dominant desires and dreams is a function of choice. I had inherent ability to make just the right choices that could catapult me to those dreams and desires – the choice to self-education and learning.

Every single question I had about life was answered in those tiny pieces, and they helped me open up my mind, my thoughts and my world through the help of those who came before me. The simple truth is that we all need to learn from those who have gone before us. We don’t have enough inherent knowledge to reach the top. I may have been every bit pitiable, even poor. But I didn’t want poverty and low social milieu be a justification for making excuses and being lazy, this is a habit of system apologists – those who are losing it all. When people are losing, they clutch on every straw. I could lie to myself but I could not lie to my goals and future and dreams. I could either take action to pursue them or let them die and accept who I was. So, against the tolls of poverty and want, I understood that I, as an individual, deserved reparations and therefore initiated my own destiny through reading newspapers. 

By creating a system that allowed me to read a small amount every day, I was reading a staggering number of ‘real books!’ It was a small ritual that resulted into exponential gains.

On the contrary, I learnt one thing that is retrogressively shocking: how rural populace run their lives on distorted information. They select, organize and interpret information they get from radio in such a way as to support their attitudes, beliefs circumstances, emotions and feelings. They spin-radio facts to fit preconceived beliefs to reduce dissonance. Once an individual begins to propagate – in his own way – information he gets from the radio, he become an authority and a model citizen journalist. The information categories that were most distorted were those relating to government and policies, politics, religion and employment. 

Folks were (and still are) fanatical about their tribal kingpins. What these people say is final without much interrogation or critical analysis. As young, innocent people, we believed whatever our adult environment discussed. Their points of view were final and an actual representation of what was on the ground. They once told me that Kibaki, former president, killed his son for advising him to leave power for Raila in 2007. Looking back, I lived in a world that was fairly competitive, we faced the same existential and practical challenges and only proper and adequate information could keep one ahead of the pack. 

The distortion of information was not going to empower a young soul that wanted to amount to much and needed real knowledge and information for solving practical problems being faced, unless one devised own system of seeking firsthand information.

Majority of children in my village lacked basic literacy skills even after eight years of primary education due to limited information services. Which not only restrained us from exercising legal and moral rights but also limited the opportunity to productively participate in socioeconomic development. 

Information we got seemed to only revolve around the holy grail of color and numeric yet, literature does much more than basic facts or social rules we got in school and home. It could have been amazing if we got the opportunity to see materials that reflected the world around us – and the broader world too – featuring different races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, classes, ages, and so on, and also exploring political, moral, physical, and emotional issues. 

If you went to town, kids our age spoke good English, wrote better essays and we always felt inferior whenever they came back upcountry for Christmas.

My reading culture got more intense in college. Whenever I return home for vacation, I notice how different I am from the rest of the population. This is due to socialization I’ve received from the many materials Ive read in the library. I come to see how superficial and futile are most peoples thoughts, how narrow their ideas, how mean their sentiments, how perverse their opinions, and how much of error there is in most of them. However, I don’t want anyone to notice my brilliance, lest they say I’m proud. I remain in the village, act in the village, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.

Entertainment and distraction

Entertainment and distraction is the enemy of creation and learning. They will keep you in mediocrity. – Benjamin Hardy


I stand in opposition to systems that tend to devalue self-education and its ideals but glorify entertainment and distraction.

Its always easier to enjoy watching Wilbroda on TV or movie compared to reading a book. Most people cling to instant gratification, because it feels good in the short run. However, the opportunity cost is huge. When you spend an hour on mindless TV watching, you could have read a book which will potentially increase your life by a great percentage. In other words, you sacrifice that amount of self-development to watch pointless cat videos.

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. -Benjamin Hardy

The path to self-education is very unpopular. Odds are, once you begin to invest in your brain, you will find it is a lonely road and pretty much less competitive. You have no need to rush to the library to reserve new arrivals in the display section, you will get them even two weeks later! But you must rush at the centers that serve English Premier League to get space!

I push for self-education and personal development. I have in fact developed a compassion for those who fall by the wayside. I try to intervene individually partly because I have become a writer, but mostly because of the leadership and motivation I have received from books, which make me my brother’s keeper. 

The power that be in Self-education

Whatever may be said in praise of entertainment and distraction, the fact remains that it is not possible to rise to a life of meaning and contribution without learning and self-education. The power that be in learning and self-education transcends limitations and captivity. Books are for reading. They are meant to be sources of knowledge not relics to be preserved. 

I read constantly. But I’m only a recent self-reader. I’ve only been here for a short period. I don’t suffer any delusion of grandeur. I’m not at the center of it. I have just begun. Its the most important thing you can ever do with your time, because its an opportunity to tap into the collected knowledge of the entirety of human history — while sitting on the couch, lying on your bed, traveling in a matatu, cooking in the kitchen. Through reading, you understand things within the society and then you knowledgeably speak out. 

When you are knowledgeable and you speak out, people pay attention to you, you begin to meaningfully contribute to change

When you are knowledgeable and you speak out, people pay attention to you, you begin to meaningfully contribute to change. A person who does not read is an empty vessel that is vulnerable to manipulation, they run their entire lives on rumors. In almost every discipline, reading is one of the few keys to advancement. It allows you to expand your mind, stand on the shoulders of giants, and be mentored by the greatest people in history. Success and reading go hand in hand. Never let school, entertainment or distraction interfere with your education. 

Actively educate yourself about topics which can bring you to your greatest height and put all your heart into it.

Why is it that so many successful people, billionaires, CEOs emphasize on self-education. Why is it that Bill Gates, with his amount of wealth, reads 500 pages every day, yet he should be busking in the beach somewhere in Bali sipping some mojito, dip into a breakfast of grilled coelacanth drizzled with ambrosia and lightly coated with flakes of gold? There must be something behind these covers, lets find it.

Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become. -Hal Elrod

    

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Tale of Nairobi Kids and Their Yuppie Culture

Every high school (at least as they come across to me) had enough bunch of brethren from Nairobi – whether an inner city kid or suburbanite. They nourished and maintained a yuppie culture – an urbanized affluent lifestyle. But beneath the veneer of affluence and style was an emerging cult of entitlement that became pervasive and entrenched in our schools.

Aha! Wondrous nairobians. You talk of a new hit song and they are rapping towards the dormitory. You mention your favourite footballer and there they are, giving the history and all the literature of Man U. 

They had cocoa, and blue band, and detol. Four vests, 3 pairs of socks, deodorant and a couple of pants branded Maywhether (have you seen them).

Nairobians don’t just become your friend. You must demonstrate shared values. You must be able to regurgitate all rap songs, prove you can mimic rastafarans or talk in italics. The average nairobian kid makes an open disavowal to those who live simply like their ancestors once did. Nairobi kids want to be musicians and deejays yet, no one is putting in what goes into that. They want to be global talents through word of mouth. Where are your songs?

You must also be conversant with world superstars – their relationships, love scandals, type of cars they drive, amount they weigh, number of tattoo and, whether or not they are installed in illuminati. How difficult it is to be a nairobian!

Difficult because, for one, everyone around you think you are crazy. For another, you have to assert your will singly through this yuppie culture no matter what.

Moreover, Nairobi kids don’t just walk like you – throwing your legs wherever whenever. To them, walking is something you have to be particular about – it is a vehicle for self-expression. 

They walk with trousers down there, as if they had another set of buttocks! They talk too like niggas. If rural kids were fastidious about life and style, and religiously looked for a certificate of occupation to this class of culture, they would not get them.

But they did not escape the wrath of commoners. Nairobians were lambasted as excessively consumptive in their pursuit of a more dominant ideological and cultural paradigm in our schools without much regard for those from upcountry.

In as much as they tried to operate unencumbered by restrictive school regulations, their yuppie heyday was short lived. By the time a nairobian will be done connecting all the aspects of their culture, an exam certificate would have returned a grade D downstairs and a rural kid would have passed, scoring an A – even in Kiswahili they don’t know how to speak.

Best Way To Prepare Yourself for Life After university

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No one can predict the future, but plenty of people are out there talking about what the future could be – with a changing technological, legal and cultural environment. Our glitchy human behavior may make it harder for us to take actions that benefit our future selves. 

But when you can imagine concrete details of a possible future, it’s easier to close the future gap and put yourself into that future and it will become less of a stranger.

Like many students, I’ve  fallen prey to a cardinal paradox – poisoning the present by agonizing over a future hardship that might never materialize. The greatest fear of many students is how they will begin life after their last university paper. See, we are wrapped up in things that have not yet happened. This makes us excellent problem solvers, but appalling worriers at the same time. 

So, in this article, we want to ruin our short time alive by setting expectations of how we think everything should be after our university.

University comes with a lot of free things: free flowing water, free electricity, inexpensive accommodation, free WiFi and the fastest internet connections, free meeting rooms, free playing grounds, free gym services, free books in the library, free consulting from professors  who always love getting involved in student run startups, free comrades – there are so many ways you can use your comrades for free, of course for mutual benefit, whether it is being shown how to use an application system in the computer, or holding your legs as you do sit-ups – virtually free everything you would pay dearly for outside campus.

Finishing your last paper means you are kissing the world of freebies goodbye. And you begin to live independently. The minute you threw that tasseled cap in the air, your student loans are no longer mythical numbers you’ve ignored for four years, Monday – Friday, 8-5 is a real thing, the year becomes a whole 12 months not two semesters and a break.

First thing pay attention to the present, ensure you have lived a full life so that you will not whine about those things you did not do in college. Fifty years ago, philosopher Alain Watts wrote in The Wisdom of Insecurity, 

“It is in vain that we can predict and control the course of events in the future, unless we know how to live in the present. It is in vain that doctors prolong life if we spend the extra time being anxious to live still longer.”

Too often our minds are set on getting somewhere else. Each beautiful day comes to an end with hundreds of unnoticed moments behind us – we didn’t notice them because they were insignificant to us. And over time our entire lives become a massive pile of unnoticed and insignificant moments on our way to more important things. Then the important things get rushed through too… to get to the next one, and the next, until our time is up and we’re left questioning where it all went. But it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.  This moment is your life, and you can make the best of it. The future hasn’t arrived. The only thing that’s real is what’s happening right now.

Choose your environment wisely. The environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. As a human-being, you always take on the form of the environments you continually place yourself. Consequently, the best use of your choices is consciously designing environments that facilitate your going one step beyond. Don’t spend all your time with idiots and then wonder why it’s hard to meet someone great to provide you opportunities. Go where the people you want to be like are.

Ensure you have lived a full life so that you will not whine about those things you did not do in college.

If you move home, have a deadline how long you are going to stay there. It is comfortable yes but the distance between comfortable and complacent is surprisingly short.

Keep learning. Just because your formal education might have ended doesn’t mean you should stop learning. You have got to keep old skills sharp and continue learning new ones.

As for me, I will be willing to do any job in my field that provides an opportunity for moving ahead. I’m a big fan of starting small, trying different things to see which works and which doesn’t. And iterating based on feedback.

Keep going though.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Social Life and the Undergraduate Experience

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Do we need a class in dating?

I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a book written by abstinence author, pastor Joshua Harris. He argues that traditional dating is “a training ground for divorce” because it puts people in the habit of quitting relationships when things get tough. However, didn’t intend to talk about Harris nor his crap, just used the title to prod you into reading this:

You understand young people love articles neighboring on love and relationships. As we polish our resumes and rack up extracurricular, we may have forgotten how to love. Do we need a class in dating?

I may be deviating now but before I treat you to a great read nonetheless, may I apologize to Sophia Macharia for breaching the writing style she has always advised me to uphold. That is:
K – Keep
I – It
S – Short
S – Sexy.
Sophia Macharia has been a steadfast supporter, a passionate critic and a dear friend for so long.

Here we go, as a substitute for family and a marker of the young man and woman’s arrival at a new stage of life, university come to serve all our needs: Educational, emotional, bodily as well as social. As we begin a new month, I like to talk about the social service. Realize I love to bring my articles from a personal perspective.

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Love to bring articles from a personal perspective.

Can say I had a slower transference of allegiance from my village to college, a broader world where we witness real sexual development and acquire manly and womanly identities. Never got closer to ladies or dated any girl in my first and second year. Doesn’t mean I was devoid of confidence, exuberance, enthusiasm, muscular body, handsome face and self-assured stance as hallmarks of my youthful existence.

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Doesn’t mean I was devoid of confidence, exuberance, enthusiasm, muscular body, handsome face and self-assured stance as hallmarks of my youthful existence.

But I became more aware of myself and environment as I advanced the classes, begun to view the female companionship as an essential and desirable alternative to the company of male university friends. This view somewhat has tempered the influences I have had from my male campus environment and restored manly vigor by allowing me to regain the long pined for society of the unenfranchised sex… Shhhh! And rather than eschewing the heterosexual contact, I have seen it more often than not as a vital corollary to the homosocial relations of my college life.

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I became more aware of myself and environment as I advanced the classes, begun to view the female companionship as an essential and desirable alternative to the company of male university friends.

Heterosexual romance, courting and liaisons, not attachment with other men has hitertho dominated my sexual development. My regulated contact with campus girls at specified times therefore has formed an essential component in the development of my character. So this emphasis on heterosocialability has become nearly as vital to the formation of my undergraduate identity. In essence, my heterosocialability has provided practical knowledge and imparted gentlemanly qualities which are perhaps more necessary and more valued and expected from a husband in the family setup of any household anywhere.

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my heterosocialability has provided practical knowledge and imparted gentlemanly qualities which are perhaps more necessary and more valued and expected from a husband in the family setup of any household anywhere.

College is a bubble, and that bubble is full of attractive people of the same age all living figuratively and literally on top of each other. A campus full of people in the exact same demographic as you with no curfew in sight equates for most of us to having our first serious relationship around this time. And although this first-love stuff is certainly incredible, dating in college is also total bullshit. It just doesn’t count as reel dating. This is why:

“Lets get hopped up and make some bad decisions!” is the unspoken collegiate mantra. Its a bona fide breeding for bad decisions and this is the time you are supposed to make them, so in a way, casual hookups aren’t really judged the same way as they can be in adulthood.

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College is a bubble, and that bubble is full of attractive people of the same age all living figuratively and literally on top of each other.

Punch line
The truth is, while you may feel invincible, entitled, a pro and even believe you are an actual adult during university, you still have a lot to learn about yourself – and that includes knowing what it means to really love and be loved by someone else.

Happy New Love Month

#Writing Is A Labour Of Love ☺

Bitterly Exposed: Our Lecturers Do Not Inspire us to Become Anything in Life

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Twenty one year old writer of a book about life; Thrills and Chills – Trudging through life and an engineering student at Technical University of Kenya (TUK), Boniface Sagini has made, on Facebook, a critical observation on the dwindling role of university lecturers that I find of import to build on. These people exude a characteristic degree of professional insolence and arrogance as we shall see.

Here is Sagini “Public University lecturers are inspiring not altogether (at least as most of them come across to me) in so far as they teach or dress or treat students.
The lecture hall is supposed to be a learning, mentoring, nurturing space but it seldom is. Our lecturers don’t inspire us to become anything. ‘Lecturer’ is a title with a certain sheen and glamour but really what the teachers do is read PowerPoint slides, give us CATS they don’t mark, tell us how we are spoiled and make draconian rules in the class. Some of them connive to fail us and make our lives miserable. It is as though it soothes them. Some of them can throw you out of class and banish you from ever attending the class again for barely any good reason. Some of them are an affront to their own profession. Some of them are just plain mean.
Rather than goad us to be leaders and professionals ,they stifle us. And they don’t earn our admiration.”

As I have observed too, we have been treated in lecture halls as a separate category of existence altogether – almost an animal of a physically different class; a being to be treated with a distant severity generally, with a splendid condescension sometimes, with a friendly interest never. We have been relegated to a position of secondary importance oblivious to the fact of our elevated and noble position as a regular factory of lawyers, economists, educators, doctors, psychologists, community developers, bishops, statesmen and what not in futuro.

On top of Sagini’s point of view, I abhor the inability of dons to respond adequately to the intellectual and emotional needs of students and only remaining opportunistic careerists who are only far too willing to eschew their ethical and professional responsibilities of their positions to gain personal advantages. We have observed a contagion of their abuse of their roles as examiners by needlessly and callously punishing or failing undergraduates.

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So lecturers of this description, forgive me if I may say that I can scarcely bring myself to regard you as friends. It seems little short of sacrilege to couple the hallowed names of friendship and admiration with yours.

#Writing Is A Labour Of Love ☺

Infamous Heroes in School Are Never Heroes in Life

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There’s some intuitive justification for what sounds like a whimsical, sentimental literary device; infamous heroes in school are never heroes in life. And this is why…

There is a crop of unamenable, stiff-necked and deviant students in any school worth its salt. And they do all manner of negative things from bullying other students – shoving and teasing, stealing, noise making, refusing to do manual work. But the most important aspect peculiar to this group is the disrespect of teachers.

Talking about this group is talking about those people you schooled with. Fellow students we could shudder in their presence. Who made it difficult for us to enjoy the educational process. They trended in almost every ugly incident there was.

While other students came to limelight by sheer hard work, getting paraded for presents and gifts, this lot’s social identity was earned by doing the most uncouth and reckless of things, unbelievably annoying stuff. The former’s fame rested on solid personal achievements: on books, sports, debates and contests.

Almost everyone in school knew them like the back of their hands because every assembly day, we could hear their names called out – for bad reasons of course. Expressing a desire for more control in the classroom, and acting inappropriately made them feel powerful.

They meted out violence on other students, often expedient, crossing lines to be served first in the kitchen and water points. Menacing bullies we could not stand their force. We often shrinked before them.

Relating a personal story, I schooled in a remote primary school in the backwaters of Bondo town. And we got this freaking lot, only we got them in excess. They hid machetes in their clothes, walking around with sagged shorts, feeling important yet in the actual sense, they were all show and no substance.

Any teacher who dared confront them was in for a rude shock, infact no teacher could properly handle them except the headmaster who was often out of school, leaving them marauding like stray elephants.

They could not bring themselves to understand the value and power of school, they had the reciprocal of their priorities.

As a consequence, most of them got expelled from school, devoid of basic education. They have hitherto remained illiterate, unemployed and unemployable, living shaky and desperate lives. They have ultimately dipped themselves into oblivion, they are nolonger heroes!

Those kids who used to be cool, vulnerable and quiet have continued to tower, influencing lives, shaping communities and building the nation.

#Writing Is A Labour Of Love ☺