I had a dream

Last year, we brainstormed during a meeting, out of ideas on whom to headline for Croak and Rhyme, 4040’s annual music fundraiser. The year before, we had surprised many, including ourselves and brought the legendary Maddox Sematimba as our main act. We needed to match up to our own expectations. “What about Sauti Sol?”  we thought. They are terrific musicians and would put up a good show, plus they are in the ‘neighbourhood.’ How would we pull that off? Obviously, we could not afford them. Our ingenious plan was to find an airline to give complimentary tickets, an up-scale hotel to sponsor the accommodation and then we would convince the group to perform at no cost. Easy peasy right? Not.

One of the best and worst things about my team and I is that we dream massive dreams. The more difficult it seems to pull off, the more we want it. We did not go far in this dream. We soon found out that Talent Africa was organising a show in Kampala for the afro-pop group. We took a seat.

The tickets to the show did not come cheap and while I was thinking of which organ to donate, Jem sent me a message that read “ How badly do you want to go for the concert?” I replied with few words and multiple emoticons. She made it happen. I anticipated their performance so much that I literally booed performer X off the stage because his set seemed to be endless. I assured Jem as soon as the band showed up, we would not to be sitting anymore. We’d have to take our spots at the front to dance and scream the night away. We did move when they were finally coming (for real) because at these concerts the main act can ‘appear’ 431 times before they actually show up. They gave a great performance as only they can. They have truly mastered the art of stage presence and performing live. My only regret was that they didn’t stay longer.

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Last week on Monday morning I tweeted about a dream I had had.

sauti tweet

While I was minding my own business, trying to work on my dissertation, I took a break and went online. I found a message from Joseph saying he’d read my tweet and that I should call a number (which he shared) to continue the conversation he had started. I asked him to quit playing games with my heart right away *hands up if Backstreet boys came to mind as you read that. No? Okay. Moving on *

He assured me that it was real since Sauti sol was coming for a show that weekend. What? Which rock was I living under?I did not even now about the concert. When I checked twitter, I found most of the replies to my tweet were referring to the upcoming Club mega fest where the group was scheduled perform. Here is what followed, I loaded an amount of airtime my phone doesn’t usually subscribe to, said a short prayer and made the phone call to the +254 number. I shared the details with their publicity person and when I was done, I sat on my bed thinking ‘Could this really be?’ That is when I did what any normal person who has faith does. I opened my closet and looked at my vast collection of 40-40 t-shirts.(the only clothing item that is upgraded almost regularly) I chose the t-shirt that I would wear if my request was granted.

faith thanks God

Over the next few days, I asked those who understood my anticipation to pray as I tried, albeit, unsuccessfully to think about other things. Lo and behold! I receive a program and guess which team has a slot with Sauti Sol? Breathe, Esther breathe!, I had to remind myself.

It is one thing to enjoy music by a musician or group of musicians, it is totally different when you realise that they are more than that. To blend talent and compassion for humanity would seem obvious and yet it still remains a reserve for a specific kind of individual. Knowing Sauti sol extends their time and resources to children through their Soma soma initiative struck a chord with me while we dreamt of bringing them to Uganda. As with everything else, God had other plans. He needed them to come and be part of our literacy program (recently christened Angaza which means to shine) that resonates with their belief in education and encouragement of young people to pursue their education.

When Bien, Polycarp, Austin and Savaro met the children, it was magic from the start. They were exhausted from their long weekend of activity but that did not stop them from sharing some love and energy.

band laugh with kids

kids peace

polycarp baby

Sauti kids happy

The group encouraged the children to stay in school and value their teachers and education. They emphasised the importance of finishing school, which they, themselves, did alongside their musical career.  Having met at Upper hill High School themselves, it was easier to illustrate real life examples of some of the benefits from their time together. When Polycarp was introduced as having graduated in Actuarial science, the children were asked if they knew what it meant, there were several resounding ‘Yeses’ in the audience. I was laughing too hard to google the meaning, for my neighbour of course.

high 5

Bien speech

 

Would this session have been complete without some music and dance? Nope! The children got to learn the chorus to Sura yako and the cherry on top was the lipala dance. They were overjoyed and kept singing long after the band had left.

hearty laugh

See this pure happiness! So infectious!

As a friend remarked, the adults might have been more excited than the children. I can’t speak for everyone but how often do you have a dream, literally and watch it come true, before your very eyes- soon after? In my life, I can’t say often and for that, I am all kinds of grateful.

Photo credit: Daron

 

Thank you Sauti Sol 🙂

Keep believing.

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Fare thee well

Viv sent me a link yesterday. I decided to wait till I was ‘free’ and comfortable before I could read it.

Little did I know that this blog post here, would change everything.

I sobbed pretty much through the entire thing.

It was deep, painful and I repeat, painful.

I don’t know if it was because I could relate to this numbing pain that outwits the mightiest of painkillers or the fact that someone was going through it, in real time.

Maybe it was Mbugua’s unwavering faith and the strength I could feel oozing from him as my shaky index finger scrolled to unveil a new paragraph.

Perhaps it was the fact that I was in a bad place myself and was suddenly guilty of not being thankful or even worthy enough.

Whatever it was, the post broke me into so many pieces and before I could recover, I sent Viv a message telling her all the things that I felt.

Her reply was “I just felt that you could relate and appreciate it. Must have been God speaking.”

I told her she was right and that I planned to read all his blog posts. She cut me short with the heartbreaking news that my newfound hero passed away on Sunday. The horror!

She cut me short with the heartbreaking news that my newfound hero had passed away on Sunday. Oh the horror!

I was almost  mad at her for giving me a good thing, then taking it away. If I felt like this, what about his family, his friends?

As if things could not get any worse, I found out he got better along the way and even proposed to his girlfriend who has been by his side the whole time. Now he was no more. Whyyyyyyyy?????!

“Lucky” for me I generally have trouble sleeping so I had plenty of time to mourn, pray and ponder life in all its complexity.

I was both humbled and convicted by a paragraph within his blog post where he dared to ask the question “Is all this pain worth it?” I have to share this.

To answer the question of whether it is worth it to go through this painful experience: If by this pain I have been a witness to the truth and glory of Christ; if by this pain I have strengthened and encouraged a believer; If by this pain I might have pointed someone to Jesus and caused them to desire a personal relationship with Him, Yes, it is worth it. My body will probably disagree, and it is expected, but I choose to side with my spirit and soul, which vehemently affirm.

Whether you are a believer or not, I am convinced each of us has a role to play, an innate ability, to inspire others even  in the slightest of ways.

We may not all be eloquent or confident  enough to stand tall and speak of God’s goodness but that we are alive is enough. For what better way to testify than to live your life? e have no excuse for simply existing because every minute is an opportunity for us to be a living testimony for everyone we encounter.

We have no excuse for simply existing because every minute is an opportunity for us to be a living testimony for all the people that we encounter along life’s path.

I visited the late Mbugua’s facebook page,  A prayer for Mbugua that has been open throughout his illness with updates and so many uplifting words of comfort and support.

It is evident he touched so many lives through his strength, faith and words.

I might have gotten to ‘know’ him at a time when he was saying farewell but he has impacted my life too.

The hospital bill was cleared as an emergency finance so that the family could leave the hospital in India. If I remember correctly, Mbugua’s body arrives in Kenya today.I got this number from the facebook page 0706551777 for contributions via Mpesa. At least the family can concentrate on mourning, knowing the financial burden has been lifted. Do support if you can.

Death is a thief and it takes those whom we feel most deserve to be with us but there is comfort in knowing that he who is no longer with us gave us great memories, and in Mbugua’s case inspiration too.

I did not know this graceful gentleman who lost his battle to cancer, but from the little I have learnt in the past few hours even I have a story to tell.

Rest easy Mbugua, may your memory continue to inspire and bless the ones you left behind.

verse