The Europe Invasion Part 3: the Nordic Adventures

My 8 day stay in the Nordic, you can as well call it Scandinavia or simply Norway officially begun. I have in the past been blasted and chided by friends over my obsession for bread  especially in the place of a good meal say Ugali, Rice and the likes ,had they known bread is actually served on dinner tables in Norway, they (you) would be glad that I have been rehearsing for this particular period.  So yes I was going to have a lot of bread for my entire stay not for breakfast as is common back home but for a main meal, surprising isn’t it? In fact my Kenyan compatriots ganged up with Ugandans and Tanzanians to whine about it.

Our first day to the last day of our official engagements was very insightful and interesting. It was such a humbling experience interacting with people of different races, colour, nationalities, sometimes trying to learn bits of the different languages and even attempting to communicate with some who couldn’t even utter a word in a language that I understand most. They helped me get a glimpse of their countries, I got to know a little about Nepal, Bangladesh (and particularly a participant from this country and her struggles with time difference and the effects on her sleeping patterns), Zambia, South Africa, Madagascar (their difficult-to pronounce long names), Brazil, Colombia (obrigada) among others. We would step out during breaks over tea or lunch to bask on the dodgy cold sunshine, we would take a lot of pictures, sometimes we would try and go near the shores of the frozen Lake but  it gets extremely cold as you get close to the Lake, you can actually literally freeze. In the evening we went out for team building activities, walked on snow trails, sometimes we would deep ourselves in the Jacuzzi or flex our hands and legs a little bit in the indoor warmed swimming pool.

I love how precise and accurate weather forecast is done in Norway. So one evening someone announced that it was going to snow the following day. I quickly went online to confirm that and indeed it began snowing as it was forecasted. I was really fascinated to behold the sparkling white fragments (they call that snow) falling from above like rain and slowly filling up the ground and into layers and layers and layers and others landing on trees and mountain tops. That’s when I really got to grasp the analogy of snow that God refers to when he talks about cleansing us from sin. Within no time the entire area turns white and sometimes greyish from the firmament to the ground. Again I got to appreciate the aesthetic value that the blue sky adds to our earth, the earth really appears ugly without the blue cover over our heads. You get the feeling that the entire heaven has spread a blanket over the entire earth and locked all exist routes above and below.

After a 2 day stay in remote Hurdall on the shores of the frozen lake, time had now come for us to take a road trip to the city of Oslo for a day’s long young leaders’ conference at Vulkan Arena on the outskirts of Oslo City centre. We got to a cold Oslo about an hour or so later right on time for the conference. We met a host of other young people from across the world that had come for the conference dubbed ‘breaking barriers’. The conference was very insightful, amongst the most well organized conferences I have ever attended-well managed time (Norwegian time, In Norway time is of essence, every second counts) the incredibly seamless manoeuvres and transitions between sessions, good lighting and sound. I got a front row seat very strategic spot for my photography. Natalie Becker a former South African Actress who has appeared and starred in several movies and films was in the house as the moderator for the conference. I had read about her in magazines way back in the days and now she was a few steps from where I am seated. Laila Bokhari State Secretary MFA was also in the house, she has Pakistani roots.  Young people from across the world including refugees from Syria shared th

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the snow cover at Gardermoen Int’l Airport

eir experiences on how they have been able to break various barriers from racial, geographical, religious barriers among others to cause an impact in their societies.

 

It was lovely getting to bump into other Kenyans on the side-lines of the conference Tanzanians as well some of whom reside in Oslo. It’s such an exciting feeling when you get to meet your homies out there in the foreign land. At the end of the conference all of us were charged and ready to venture out there to cause change.

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 A section of the young leaders conference participants at Vulkan arena

Owing to our very tight schedule, we were not able to explore Oslo beyond the precincts of Vulkan. Our host Tom and about 5 of my colleagues from Brazil, Tanzania, SA, Bangladesh and Madagascar were scheduled for another meeting for the remaining three days miles away from Oslo. We then quickly got into a taxi operated by a gentleman of Asian descent to Gardermoen an hour or so away from Oslo (It’s interesting that the airport is that far away from the city centre, compared to JKIA which is about 20mins from the CBD). Our able driver got us to the airport for our Scandinavian Airlines operat

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Oslo bound

ed -SAS flight to the West Coast city of Aalesund and thereafter to the port town of Ulsteinvik, home to some of the wealthiest folks in Norway.

 

I will tell you more about my venture deep into Norway and the feeling of being not so far from the top most and coldest part of the universe, the North Pole in my next episode…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Europe Invasion Part 2: Flight path to the Nordic

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The beautiful village hotel in Hurdal

KL 1143 to Oslo, my eventual destination, was now ready for boarding. I couldn’t wait to behold the incredible endowments in the country of the northern lights-the acres of snow, the frozen lakes that I had seen in pictures, the fjords, and the infrastructure not forgetting the Norwegians. My Tanzanian colleagues Nelson and Lyn Christine were also on board.

After about an hour and half, the Boeing 737-800 KLM owned aircraft was now flying us above the Norwegian skies. I was now viewing from the jet’s wide windows while snapping away the incredibly amazing views of the snow-capped escapements and the expansive acres of snow covered fields below us. The experience was becoming even more exhilarating as we began our descent into Gardermoen International Airport.

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the snow covered plains and mountains above the Norwegian skies

Sometimes back I had watched one of Richard Quest’s Business travel episode about Gardemoen and the technology they use to ensure flights are not disrupted even during heavy snowing. It was unbelievable that virtually everything I had watched on that episode was now unfolding before my eyes in real-time. Landing gear engaged… check…window shades open…check…seats in upright position…check…cabin lights dimmed…check…cabin crew preparing for landing …10,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1..We touched down on a cleared-from-snow runway after about an hour and forty minutes.

Velkomen til Gardermoen International Airport ladies and gentlemen, the real Norwegian experiences are now awaiting us outside the cabin. Gardemoen International airport is a very busy airport, that’s where you get to find most Norwegians. It’s home to the Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) handling up to 26 million passengers according to data available for 2016. It is ranked 19th among the busiest airports in Europe. Gardemoen boasts of two run-ways making it possible to handle multiple aircraft at a go. Meanwhile I managed to link up with my Tanzanian friends, they were actually waiting for me at the walkway to the gate. We exchanged pleasantries and straight to the luggage claim area to pick up our luggage. Again just like at Schiphol, it was pretty warm, the weather outside through the glass walls was looking good, sunny and scattered clouds, very calm – very deceptive indeed for a first-timer like me in such an environment. Our host Tom warmly welcomed us to his native country with pizza and soda as we wait to catch a bus to our hotel in remote Hurdall some 30 minutes or so away.

I, together with my Tanzanian colleagues was scheduled to join some 100 plus other participants from more than 20 countries across the world for a youth summit in Hurdall organized by the FK Norway, a department under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs in conjunction with other Norwegian partners. It was now time to board the bus to the hotel. I couldn’t wait for the road trip though short to explore life outside the glass walls. As the exit doors opened before us an extremely cold sensation engulfed the entire me and I felt like the air inside my nostrils had been sucked out so that I couldn’t breathe it in anymore, I felt like I had been stripped off all my clothing and dumped into a freezer. Virtually everyone else was in that predicament struggling to quickly as possible tow their heavy luggage into the compartments and rush to the bus for some desperately needed warmth haha. The winter reality was now hitting me hard. I managed to secure space for by bag, removed my trench coat and woolen gloves and dashed into the bus.

The entire airport parking was snow covered. The fields, trees, people’s homes and cars were all looking colourless, they were entirely covered by snow. There was barely anyone on the road or outside the houses for the entire journey. Everyone else was either indoors or driving simply because temperatures are extremely low and unbearable. I noted a very interesting feature while on the bus ride through the snow, there are numerous roundabouts much smaller but more than the number in Nairobi. Oh and something else interesting is that Norwegians drive on the wrong side of the road, it especially gets so scary when the bus is negotiating a bend while another vehicle is approaching, it appears like a head-on-collision waiting to happen.

30 minutes or so later after that exciting adventurous journey, our bus pulled into the parking lot of the Hurdalsjoen Hotell.It’s a beautiful facility sitting beside the frozen Lake Hurdalsjoen and behind it, is a snow covered mountainous forest. It’s a gateway of some kind 50 miles away from the capital, Oslo (Pronounced ‘Ozlo’).I was checked in a

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The frozen Lake hurdalsjoen

room on second floor, overlooking the snow atop the mountainous forest. I walked around the room, peeped through the glass window, and in all this I couldn’t fathom that now I was in a village hotel but this village looked strange, way different from my village back home, it’s a village in Europe thousands of miles away from home.it was quite, serene, I could only hear the sound of the running heater in the room. It was getting to 5pm local time (7pm Kenyan time),the jet lag was now biting hard having clocked more than 10 hours of flight and about 6 hours of waiting both at Schiphol and Gardemoen. It was now time to have some good rest.

 

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The Europe Invasion Part 1: The First Timer in a Big Jet

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Schiphol, KLM’s hub

It was going to be my maiden intercontinental voyage outside the precincts of East Africa and indeed the African continent. On top of this, I was going to be a first timer on board a KLM owned Boeing 747-400 series christened Hong Kong. It is a multi-million dollar worth massive piece of steel with two decks that holds up to 400 passengers including the crew. Its four engines makes it possible for it to cruise at a speed of up to 900kph on an altitude of up to 40,000ft. My previous flight experiences had been local and on relatively smaller jets-Embraer 190s, 170s, Bombardier dash and sometimes I got lucky to try Boeing 737-300 series.

 

KLM has a unique online check-in system where you can see who else is traveling with you among your connections on Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn. So in the process of checking in, I tap on the Facebook option and as unbelievable as it seems then one of my long time buddies and church mate Sharon Baranga a very dedicated NTV journalist pops up on the system but I decide to brush it off, I figure out probably the system is trying to pull my leg so I decide to wait until I get to the airport to prove the system right. Anyway I get to the airport on time, manage to clear with the immigration without a hitch and off to the waiting lounge in readiness for the 2359hours take off to Schiphol.

Surprisingly ,while at the lounge I get to bump into at least 3 other people all on the Schiphol bound flight including one and only Bishop David Oginde of CITAM. The most surprising and happiest bit is when now I actually get to spot my friend Sharon seated on the far corner of the lounge.

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Selfies on arrival at Schiphol

That moment entered into my list of the happiest moments I have ever encountered. She is headed to DC to receive an international journalism award, it is such a blessing from the father above, the giver of every perfect gift. We take to the skies at about 0040 hours thanks to some technical issues that prompt a delay. I really like the inflight service particularly the service by the extremely courteous crew. It is interesting that KLM has chosen to play a different ball game from what other players in that sector are engaging. They have employed very mature and much older flight attendants probably in their 30s and 40s in fact a complete departure from the young pretty faces that most modern day airlines parade in their cabins. I get a taste of I guess it’s Dutch inflight meal. The flight is quite smooth save for some mild turbulence over the Kenya-South Sudan border.

At dawn break  after close to 8 hours of flight over Northern Kenyan then South Sudan, a bit of Ethiopia, into Egypt, over the Red Sea,Greece,Prague,German, we begin our descent into Schiphol and touch down at about 6.30am Dutch time. Both of us had never experienced winter before and so we pretty much didn’t have a practical idea of what below zero temperatures mean until when we stepped out of the plane into the jet bridge before stepping into the terminal, we got literally frozen. We’d thought that we would probably experience similar conditions inside the terminal so we dash back to the plane to ask the attendants if they can allow us to carry the blankets with us to complement the not so heavy clothing that both of us had. I had donned a hoody, a marvin and a pair of woolen gloves but my pretty warm trench coat was in my checked in luggage. So they allow us to take the blankets however we realize the temperatures are warmer inside the terminal because of heaters and what have you.

So we are now in Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Europe’s third largest airport serving close to 60 million passengers as of 2016 most of whom are on transit to other parts of the world. I’m startled by the sheer number of people moving from terminal to terminal-some on escalators, some on moving walkways to cut time between terminals, and others are on escalators, some strolling, some relaxing in the internet and coffee cafes-it’s literally a beehive of activities. My connecting flight to Gardermoen, Oslo is in about 3.5 hours while Sharon’s flight to DC is about 6 hours away so in the meantime we opt to explore Schiphol. We get to sample the Dutch tea and coffee before jumping into the automated massage chairs to revitalize ourselves in readiness for connecting flights. So Schiphol has this very nice massage service, where you lie on a sort of reclining seat, insert at 2 Euro coin and enjoy a 5 minute massage to revitalize your system.

So my time in Amsterdam is up, I gotta go, goodbye Sharon and ya’ll. I am off to the Scandinavia, we shall catch up again when I get to Oslo in part 2 of  my invasion into Europe. God bless you

TRIBES ARE GOD’S CREATION

Tribes in Kenya have in the recent past acquired a ‘do-not-touch, do-not-mention, do-not-approach’ tag so much so that folks nearly trip when the word appears in front or even behind them. Actually there are innumerable instances where tribes have prematurely ended people’s careers, families, relationships among other unspeakable things. Tribes have a stepping stone for others to desired positions while for others tribes have shut doors of opportunities for them.

It’s however worth noting that tribes are a God’s creation and are a good thing in his eyes just like all other things he created as evidenced in the bible in the book of Genesis when he created everything and saw that it was good. I strongly believe that it is God himself who deemed it appropriate to create diverse environments and terrains specific and fit for each tribe. I believe he intended to have each tribe fulfil a certain purpose but not only for their (that tribe) own benefit but for that of the entire country. He even tailor made characteristics and attributes including physical make up, culture and language necessary to implement the relevant assignment/purpose. If you keenly observe you will notice that virtually every tribe if not all has been given certain capabilities that are not similar to those exhibited by another tribe and when all that is pooled together it should yield a huge benefit for the whole country.

Let’s run through a few examples just to enhance the argument above. The recently concluded Rio Olympics saw Kenya enjoy a global acclamation thanks to our athletes most of whom are from the Kalenjin community. The community has been endowed with the capacity to produce great athletes and clearly this is not a made-made job it’s God’s. The world out there didn’t recognize the Kalenjin community rather they recognized Kenya so that the glory is for the benefit of the whole country. Their next door neighbour the Luo community has produced some of the best brains around. They have used this capability to put Kenya on the world map including producing the first Africa-American president of the most powerful country in the world-America. Our Luhya brothers with their well-built athletic bodies constitute a huge chunk of the national rugby 7s team that has made a print in the world of rugby placing the country on a very high standing globally. We cannot deny the fact that our Kikuyu brothers are blessed with the knack of exploring business and investment opportunities hence contributing significantly to the expansion of Kenya’s economy even beyond the borders. The rich culture of the Maa community is known worldwide prompting huge inflows of tourists from across the world hence enhancing the country’s economy through tourism. The Coastal region on the other hand is the capital of warmth and hospitality thanks to the communities in the region that have been endowed with that skill by the creator so much so that every other holiday folks from up country fill buses and planes to take their families and friends for leisure in Coast. Even the smallest of tribes in Kenya have got a unique attribute that has a contribution to the well-being of the whole nation.

We have reasons sufficient to not trivialize our tribes and celebrate them because they are God’s creation and he saw that it was good.

 

 

RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL FOR A FREE, FAIR, PEACEFUL AND CREDIBLE 2017 ELECTIONS

The countr

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A section of religious leaders addressing media

y’s top religious leadership meeting under the Kenya Interfaith Elections Programme (KIEP) are demanding for a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in 2017 to ensure the country remains stable. The faith leaders addressing the media at a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday morning, asked the IEBC to clarify and make public the Principal Voters Register to avoid the discrepancies between the manual register and the BVR experienced during the 2013 General Elections. They further challenged IEBC to explain the measures put in place to ensure all electronic devices envisaged for use in the upcoming elections are functioning as required as well as an agreed back up plan in the event the systems fail to work.

The religious leadership challenged the electoral body to justify their request for additional funds from the exchequer to carry out the voter registration process and the subsequent General elections. They offered to offer leadership in spearheading a process where all Kenyans can soberly address all issues that have been raised over IEBC’s capacity to deliver on their mandate. They further called for a close cooperation between the Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to apprehend and successfully prosecute those found on the wrong side of the law for the sake of ensuring the integrity and security of the upcoming elections.

On the Judiciary, the leaders urged the judges and magistrates to play their rightful role as patriotic Kenyans in the interests of the country. ‘It will be a great day for this nation when judges decide to jail every person who tries to bribe them or other court officials’ read part of the statement.

The religious leaders reprimanded politicians against perpetrating violence to for their own interests. They called upon politicians to instead uphold value based campaigns and begin preaching and practising peace. They further urged Kenyans and particularly the youth to refuse being used by politicians to perpetrate violence and instead use their power of voting vested upon them by the constitution to reject leaders who promote violence.

The religious leaders pledged to engage in processes that will see a free, fear, peaceful and credible 2017 General Election.

Among the leaders who addressed the media include Canon Peter Karanja the General Secretary of NCCK, Sheikh Adan Wachu of SUPKEM, Bishop Alfred Rotich of KCCB, Prof Abdulghafur El Busaidy of SUPKEM, and Connie Ivuti of EAK among others.

BEYOND YOUR FAVORITE SUNDAY SERVICE

Most of you reading this I would bet are in good health and by good health I mean your body hosts sufficient nutrients that the responsible enzymes can convert into compatible forms to ensure  use to ensure your body systems are functioning optimally. Now the question that we ought to ask is what it takes for you to achieve such a state and the answer is nearly obvious that you must constantly feed your body with the relevant diet and the key word here is constant feeding not once no wonder even when you are unwell and your appetite decides to take a trip without your consent your friends or family members milling around your sick bed will almost drop tears ,kneel down ,they will do all they can including  bringing  foods you haven’t had an opportunity to eat probably in your lifetime so that you allow something into your stomach. If you refuse to chase your appetite down the street chances are that you will become even sicker.

It is the same case with the life of a Christian. It takes constant and habitual feeding to be able to grow andbs even become more muscular to handle even bigger tasks. The sole food for a Christian is the word of God. The Bible says man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God-the word. Your progress as Christian is determined by how often you feed on the word .You cannot peg your growth solely on your attendance to a Sunday service in your favourite church even when the mass choir belts one of your favourite hymns that leaves you yearning to grow wings off to heaven or you give the fattest sacrifice at the glare of church cameras and the whole gathering offers you a standing ovation. You require more than a Sunday service to grow. Maturity in the life of a Christian is equivalent to hearing the word of God, studying the word, spending quality time meditating on it and most importantly applying it. Now can this process be effectively completed in a single shot, a Sunday service? My answer is a categorical no. If you only feed on Sundays what about the rest of the days in the week? Six days every week without feeding will undoubtedly take a toll on you to the extent that even when someone strikes you with the lightest of objects you will probably fall off. In other words when cares of this world, trials and temptations check in, you will not be strong enough to counter them or to respond to them. If you feed constantly on the word (studying,reading,hearing, meditating, applying) the word turns from being just mere text to forming life in you and building your faith so much so that you can overcome even the strongest of storms that come your way. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God notice the word hearing is mentioned twice to connote ‘repetition’ hearing the word repeatedly not once.

I therefore urge us to consider taking our growth in the knowledge of God a daily or rather a habitual business. Even after a powerful Sunday service we must not let our Bibles gather dust on the shelves until the next Sunday, we should consider finding opportunities besides Sundays be it midweek church services, small bible study groups, personal devotions among a host of other strategies where we can feed on the word so that on the day of trials we are found to be strong.

Kila Siku Should be a Jumapili to you as Daddy Owen lyrics go in his Jam, ‘Jumapili’

Become Part of My Family

I reside in a space where battles of all kinds are fought.

There enemies left right and middle

Gladly I come from a family that owns the largest arsenal with some of the most lethal firepower that ever existed

It’s a state of the art establishment

Our father put it up for us including anyone else who chooses to be part of my family

He spent a fortune to establish it

He always shows us how to effectively use the firepower to win the battles

On the other side we are always following the directions he gives

Sometimes the battles are so fierce and we tend to draw back

But daddy is such a wonderful father that whenever such attempts to happen

For instance whenever fear and anxiety attempts to rear its ugly head

He reminds me to check the list of weapons in our arsenal

I quickly grab the key to the store and within no time I come across this very lethal weapon called Faith that even one of our greatest enemy wobbles when he comes across it

I waste no time

I pick it up and unleash massive wrath on fear and his company until they are completely lost from my sight

I keep on exploring the other weapons in the arsenal and daddy keeps on training me on their use

And so I keep on winning, I keep sitting on top, I keep getting stronger

My siblings are also following a similar path

By the way there are occasions when our enemies have tried to still from us

Because they realized what they have does not match what we possess

Their efforts have turned futile though

The best bit is that when daddy was putting up the arsenal and amassing these weapons

He’d done his ground work thoroughly

No wonder we don’t lose in the battle field because we got the appropriate and most powerful weaponry

He knows that whenever we are on the battle front, we are bound to win

He cheers us up

I would love to ask guys that are still out there to become part of my family

And begin learning our ways

To be part of my family, there’s this simple procedure that you need to do.

That is believing. Make this prayer while having decided with your heart

Lord Jesus I accept you as lord and saviour of my life, forgive me all my sins and write my name in the book of life. Amen.

Affirm you confession with Romans 10:9

Welcome to my family, you are now part of us.