Suits

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As usual, today I woke up and dressed for work. And as usual, it was a suit, shirt and tie. But this was different. My attire was all new.I must confess I like new clothes. Normally once I have bought new clothes I want to wear them immediately.  This was the case this morning.

In my ‘humble opinion’ it is best if all the clothes and accessories are new. There is something just not right abouta new suit and old shoes. In this case the clothes were new. The shoes are six months old. So not too bad.

After dressing my wife told me I was smart. And I felt good since I think she has good taste. That is one of the perks of being married. Most days she complements me on my dressing. Before marriage, she would compliment me on the days we met which was a few times a week.

Sometimes I can spend a lot of time deciding which tie matches with which shirt. I may decide that a blue tie matches with a white shirt. Then after deciding, I try on a black suit and then decide that while the blue tie and white shirt match, the black suit is not the best match for them. So I try on a gray suit, then conclude that the gray suit matches with the blue tie but is not the best match for the white shirt. So I am back to zero. This can go on for upto thirty minutes especially if you add the time it takes to tie a tie and then discover that the tied tie is a bit longer than it should be (it should reach around the belt buckle), meaning I end up tying it again.

At such moments, I wonder where the culture of lawyers dressing up in suits came from. And why I have to bother with this ritual 4 times a week. I first had to wear suits regularly in law school around 2006. Back then, I did not know much about suits. So I asked my elder brother for advice and he gave me a small book about office wear. It had lots of information about how a suit jacket should fit on your shoulders, the length of the suit jacket, which colours of match best and the like. I was entering a bold and brave new season of my life after a wearing tshirts and jeans for the whole of university.

I remember asking two seasoned-suit-wearing friends of mine to go suit hunting with me. They assisted me select 3 suits. When I got back home I drove my mum and sister nuts by trying on the suits several times and asking them whether the suit jackets met my shoulders at the perfect angle.

At law school I learnt that one of the main reasons lawyers dress up is to make a good impression, the so called “halo effect” theory. According to the theory, when someone meets a smartly dressed lawyer, they are likely to develop some positive biases about the lawyer. They are likely to believe that the smartly dressed lawyer must also be important, intelligent, confident, articulate, and full of deep knowledge about the law.

It is now 11 years later and I still wear suits. In fact, I have become so attached to the idea of wearing suits that I feel there is something missing on days that I dress down. At my office, we normally dress up in suits from Monday to Thursday.It can be ridiculous suiting up on really hot days. We dress down on Fridays. Curiously, I rarely meet face to face with my clients. Often, they are actually based abroad. Most communications are by email or phone. So I suit up every day to come and deal with mostly clients who will never see me. Once in a while, a local client might pop into the office for a meeting.

When I was an associate, it was more important to dress up, because my job often involved going to government offices to follow up on company registration applications, do land searches and the like. And generally I got the sense that government officials treated you more seriously if you were smartly dressed. Nowadays, most of my work is done from my desk.

So why do I still dress up? Habit? To give an example to the associates and interns? To fit in with the other dressed up colleagues? To feel good about myself? All the above I guess. I probably should start dressing down more but I do not know how to even begin.

By Ray Musyoka

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Angaza

I have not written here in so long. What better way to come back into the game than with a piece of writing about something I hold so dear?

For context, ‘Angaza’ is Swahili for shine/illuminate. We chose it to represent all the light the children we work with will beam into the world. Our Angaza program is not just about children learning to read and write better, but also changing the world in their own little ways.

I will not say much more. Let me go ahead and share this beautiful piece by one of our volunteers.

 

Let there be light that burns like the midnight oil

Like candle wax that drips like sweat

Or the tears of a parent

Or the glint of rainbow hues

Sparkling through the dews on morning grass – bare cracked feet swooshing past

Wading through swamps – feet lifted dainty like the hem of a skirt

Trudging over hot sand – one eye out for snakes and such…

It is said that in the olden days, finding knowledge was harsh

Now we realise that it’s gotten much worse

But beneath the light of Angaza –

Watch how the ground is compelled to split in half

How the seeds that fell along the path and on the rocks and among the thorns-

Sprout and curve

Stop a moment and make low bows to the clouds

Discern then how their branches rapidly spread

How the roots reach for further depth

These roots of seeds that refused to be eaten by the birds;

Or scorched by the sun, or choked at the neck

Like a tenacious truth

First whispered in a quiet room

Swelling and gaining strength and attaining shape

Till one day they’ll hold sway over cities and hills and plains

Casting their shade – dropping their leaves in a gentle hail

Healing the turbulent;

And spelling doom to fear and ignorance.

 

So let us then;

We Guardians of this Light never let it blaze in vain

I too by the power of Angaza have been compelled

Heartbeat, quickening in tune with the way our minds race

Fist pressed close against the chest

Glance lifted like the chin

Hallucinating in retrospect

Writing this vision like a letter and spreading the word