Author: Hamza Hassan

When You are Working on Your Dreams Things Will Happen to You That Will Catch You Off-guard.


When You are Working on Your Dreams Things Will Happen to You That Will Catch You Off-guard.

It was a A week of great Blessings, A week of great trials A week of great lessons.

When you are working on your dreams things will happen to you that will catch you off-guard. For two consecutive days Thursday and Friday  of that week, from around 9 pm to 11 pm, I sat down at the same spot I am seated as I write this stared at one spot on the ceiling and cried a stream, tears trickling down my cheeks un- interrupted like a busted water pipe.

I had organized a motivational  event  for teenagers dubbed  “TeenNaweza”   everything was going very well, Alhamdulillah,  [all praise to God]  great speakers confirmed, kids registering in large numbers, that we were worried if we can manage such large numbers in these covid times everything was going like it should, like a needle into a garment, until, a week to the event.


Exactly 6 days to the event, I escort my wife upcountry to visit her family. Since the next day I have to be at work, I travel back as from 7pm usually the journey is only 2 and half hours I presume I  will be in Nairobi by 9:30 pm and beat the 10 pm  curfew time.

I reach Nairobi at 10 pm, people are still walking and some shops still open I walk  ki Unaweza until I meet nyaunyo (whip) swinging police officers, no stories, you get close enough you get a whipping of a lifetime, they don’t care where the whip lands on your body, they derive pleasure from cries of grown men, I hear cries from people in front of me.

In my mind a giant split screen start to play, on one side is images I have watched of people injured even maimed by police, a swollen eye, an open wounded blood dripping forehead, a cracked skull, a broken arm. On the other part of the screen is interesting, I see Usain Bolt passing me a relay baton giving instructions in his Jamaican accent “  cum pon let’s go”  which is Jamaican  for mguu niponye [ run].

I understand right away for in the ghetto we are partly Kenyan and partly Jamaican. I sprint towards safety, listening to one thing only, my heartbeat, its sending messages about the weight someone lost and I found, and how I need to return it urgently, but I hear something else I was not expecting, a crack was that a bottle I stepped on ? No that was me, my left foot answers as it tries to lift itself from the ground. Ouuuch that hurt, just like that I have twisted my ankle. I keep on walking a few steps a boda [motor bike]  comes and I jump on it. I get home and apply Robb  just like we grew up seeing our parents do, don’t worry about it, it will be better in the morning.


I wake up to a pain I have not felt in a very long  time. I can barely walk, I have deadlines at work I have an event am planning I am all alone in the house I have to prepare breakfast prepare to go to work. Mwanaume ni kujikaza  [ man was born to suffer]  I say.  I  go out walking with a limp towards a friends car, who came to pick me up. I go to a friend who is a masseur, I know the rubbing (kukanda) will be very painful but I  convince myself to endure the pain and will be better tomorrow or at least by Saturday the day of my event. But I was wrong the rubbing/ massage is more painful than I anticipated at some point I just hold tears but the sweat I can’t hold my whole body is perspiring. The long week of pain has just started but what can I do ? Do I even know what tomorrow brings? No, I just hope it will be better.


I wake up with a pain a hundred times more than yesterday my feet is also swollen it looks like unsliced bread.  I still have to go to work I have to prepare and still I am  home alone. I don’t want to tell my wife who I know will be very worried and I want kumalizana na hii uchungu ki mwanaume ( want to deal with the pain like a man)  she keeps asking are you okay, its like she has a distant eye  ? I reply never better .  In the evening the pain pushes me to tell  her, but I downplay the situation I just tell her ni kitu kidogo tu (its nothing much)  she hears none of it, and true to my fears she is extremely worried, “tafadhali enda hosii na usiniambie ni kitu kidogo” ( please go to the hospital and don’t tell me its nothing) “okay” I say, just to kill the conversation but deep down I know am not going anywhere.    But the pain waaaaaah!! I decide it will be a good idea if I go to the hospital but am  not sure if this is something a hospital can help I decide to call a friend who is a coach they deal with this everyday. He says “no don’t go to the hospital, can you get ice blocks? You should have iced it from the first day you shouldn’t have rubbed or massaged, I’m sending you a contact of a physio go see him tomorrow in shaa Allah” regret is a grandchild, the swahilians say. I wish I knew, I say to myself.


After icing it the previous night, today the swelling has subsided but still very painful, I can barely walk plus I was advised to tie a bandage, which plus walking with a limp I look like I have just survived a fatal accident. Remember the plans for the event are still on, kids have already registered, schedules have been planned but the leg has other ideas. Also today I had planned to visit the venue with my mentor /friend sh Abu Najma. He calls “ mguu ikoje, utamake? ( how is the leg, will you make it?) “ inauma but ntajikaza bro”amidst the pain I struggle, take an uber and get to arboretum, I find him already there, from a distance he just stares at me struggling to walk, only short steps, stop, rest a bit, walk with one leg raised and the bandage on my foot makes it look like I have just survived a fatal accident. After salaams, he just say one thing “kweli Unaweza”  In the middle of a very important convo with the sheikh my phone rings, I reluctantly remove it from my pocket, with the look of who has the audacity to interrupt this convo, oooh its my wife, “my flower” I call her. In her voice I can detect anxiety, “ your daughter is unwell since yesterday she doesn’t want to eat she is unresponsive she is not playing, that’s not a good sign you know how playful Hayaa is ”  that  deflated me completely, “ my daughter, my love my sunshine my Hayaa. I send her cash for medication.In the evening I get another call from my flower“ Hayaa anaendele vizuri, but Mimi naskia tumbo inaniuma sana”  ( your daughter is doing much better but I have a stomach ache)Not very good news for someone 3 months expectant. Not to cause panic I ask “did you eat something that might be the cause? Maybe try drinking hot water if it might help” since its at night we agree if symptoms persist she will seek medical advice next day. We sleep hoping for the best.


Murphy’s law States that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. I think its not true, it should be, anything that can go wrong will go  extremely wrong or very very wrong. My foot is a bit better today  though still painful I walk with a limp and bandage still on but that’s the least of my worries, I’m worried about my wife’s health was it just a minor ache or something is wrong? We are about to find out in a few. She goes to the hospital, the doctor refers her for an ultrasound. The result must have shocked her that she needed time to breath and gather courage to inform me of the situation. When she got the courage;“ nimeambiwa mtoto alikufia kwa tumbo , 3 weeks ago”  ( the baby died 3 weeks ago)how do you receive such information with a hurting foot?  When your wife is over 300 kilometers away from you, you are all alone in the house, and you have a very important event in a day? I just sat down in a corner of the house and just cried a river. Its said “ the sorrow which has no vent in tears, may make other organs weep ”to be honest all my organs, the whole of my body was weeping. I wish my  tears could wash all that away, but since they didn’t, I still had to face the reality. What next ? it will have to be flushed out. With the doctors striking, the few private ones working   will charge an arm and a leg. Now this is an emergency I had used all the cash I had on other issues. Where will I get the cash? I decide to channel all my grief to Allah I pray 2 rakaats (units of prayer) “ only You we worship only You we seek for help” afterwards I sit down and start contemplating my next move, I send a few friends  text messages they comfort me with their words but still money is needed. lol. One of the friends is a brother  I love so  much, in our conversation I could feel his empathy,

Him : “so what’s the plan ?

Me:  the foetus has to be flushed out, and she be cleansed.

Him: cost?

Me: I give an estimate of the amount

Him: silence

Its now 9:00pm I don’t have the cash, I don’t know where it will come from all I have is faith, all I know is Allah will provide a way. Meanwhile I have a zoom meeting with my team organizing the TeenNaweza 2020 I join in and talk and laugh and plan like everything is alright on God’s green earth.


Its 8:00am my ife is on her way to the hospital. Do I have the money? No. Do I know where I will get it ? No. But money is the least of my worries, what’s giving me a headache is I am in Nairobi and my wife is in Kitui, she will go through this procedure in my absence. Will she be alright ? My event can I just abandon it, delegate to someone? How will that turn out, will be a successful event? Its tough coz this involves peoples kids and money you have to guarantee their safety and make sure the kids get value for their money.

What do I do? I am  worried. Nitaweza kweli ?Then my wife sends me a text:“Najua ungeweza ungekam more so uko uliko unatushugulikia and I appreciate Ntakuwa Sawa biidhnillah   Focus kwa event ikue Unaweza “I’m trying to be strong, trying to calm  myself “don’t worry Hassan everything will be alright”.

Have you ever had one of those days maybe it’s an exam, a driving test, a wedding you try to pretend everything is alright but deep down in your gut, weeee! I am on my way to a school I was to speak alongside other speakers I had invited, but I can’t concentrate my wife is in my mind and she is on her way to the hospital  am not taking anything less than the best healthcare around but where is the money? the calls keep coming in from people around her updating me of the progress each second but what they want to hear is “nitume kwa number gani?” ( to which number  should I send ) but where is the money ?

I start to panic a lil bit . I call a few friends who I know can help, they listen attentively and promise to call back in a few. My mum is also calling everyone on her phonebook lakini wapi .  Then my phones beeps, a message, I wish its Mpesa as I hurriedly check, my wish comes true its Mpesa, you remember I told you about a brother who asked, how much is the cost ? He sent me 30,000 Ksh I just teared up. Alhamdulillah ( all praise to Allah) indeed Allah works in ways only He knows. I wish I could thank the brother enough.  With that my wife can begin treatment the rest I will get am sure. Now its time to make sure everything needed for the event is in place. But there is still some worry about the event especially with corvid regulations and risks but it has to be done. I juggle between calls to plan for the event and calls following up with my wife in the Hospital.

8:00pm I am still in town running up and down in town making that Kenyan last minute purchase but to be honest what is running up and down is my blood and my thoughts am nervous, or anxious I don’t know which, will the event be successful?

My sisters Ayan &Naseeb are very helpful in planning the event, my sister Ustadha Maryam offers to cook lunch free of charge On the other side my wife regains consciousness and demands I be called she wants to release me of my worry and she succeeds, Alhamdulillah


The event is amazing, the speakers over deliver, the food is beyond yummy the games beyond fun words can’t describe, the feeling I had as I saw those young people being impacted greatly. From the event I was able too get a little something that helped to clear some bills.   Mine is just to give thanks. Alhamdulillah.  A special thanks to my 2 sisters Ayan and Naseeb without whom the event won’t have been as it was, I don’t know how to repay you.  the parents, kids, speakers and all the volunteers and Myself.

I finish the event and take the first shuttle I can to go visit my wife it leaves a few minutes past 7pm I reach Kitui after curfew time I take a motorbike and in front of us is a cop with a very long stick caning everything on  sight….And certainly.

We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient)”.  (2:155)

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him”.[Muslim].

The world breaks everyone but some are stronger in the broken places.

I choose to face my problems with grace, for if you don’t face them with grace they will stay on your face



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Genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower.

When I was around 2yrs old my mum worked as a kitchen assistant at U.S.I.U University, a few times she took me with her so it’s safe to say I have gone to university but  did not attend university.

That is why I was so happy when I found this quote by Thomas Carlyle  “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.

For the past few years I have been a collector of books I have learned relearned and unlearned you know some people read as a source of entertainment some read for information but for me I read as a source of transportation for after Allah reading has transported me from a small house I paid 1500 a month to where I live now, reading transported me from a job I was being paid 8000 a month to what I earn now after tax, I won’t mention but maybe in future after upgrading lol, reading transported me from  a person that looked smart and wise,, until I opened my mouth but now I  can stand in front of people and say something meaningful.

Last year I read 32 books before you congratulate me just know I am ashamed for being 18 books shy of my target were it not for the time I wasted on scrolling down Facebook, I.g and twitter like am looking for oil and the times I spent travelling back and forth from one app to the other.

Just like me, I know you are very busy but we cannot afford not to read just like we can’t afford not to eat the time you spend in trafficking, in between appointments, waiting at the bank and such places you can read a whole lot of books. Early last year In my 2 trips to Mombasa via SGR I read close to 5 books while young people my age mates in the same couches were drinking singing and dancing erotically to “ Wamlambez”  if we are to change the system we got to sharpen the saw man or else we will grow old complaining of the sisters

You can read Soft copies on your phone or hardcopies you can buy half price in town or listen to audio books on YouTube if your budget is as tight as your belt.

–    90 % of knowledge you need is in a book you have not read

It is such a shame for our generation that we are drowning in information but starved of knowledge.

We cannot afford not to develop our minds for, if you do not know anything, and then you teach your children what you know, then your children will be as smart as you are.  

So read my brothers and sisters for there are worse crimes than burning books one of them is not reading them, gather knowledge not only information

Today information is scattered everywhere it’s not information that you need its knowledge but knowledge is not enough you need action, action is good but it’s not enough you need motion. The application of knowledge action and motion becomes power


The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. We live in the age of Alexandria, when every book and every piece of knowledge ever written down is a fingertip away. The means of learning are abundant—it’s the desire to learn that is scarce  – Naval Ravikant







Blood is thicker than porridge
My phone rang about a quarter to 7pm, I heard his voice on the other end of the line, I wondered what was wrong this time? You never know what his calls might bring, from his past I was prepared for the worst. “ he said bro you are the only one I could think of calling, I have been arrested again and have not eaten for hours can you bring me something to eat ?” AGAAAIN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU ……[ MBONA UNATUPEA PRESSURE WW? ] he just kept quiet. In the thick of thin my tone forgot he is 5yrs my senior.
Blood is surely thicker than porridge, in the split of a second I went from angry, to sad ,to emotionally nostalgic, by now my eyes had begun to sweat profusely , every tear dropped with a memory I remembered how ladies deflated at his sight, for indeed my brother’s beauty, was only second to his handsomeness, he never spoke much but his appearance was a siren, he had an easy smile, a pleasant personality, his skin tone was not quite black but surely not white, his shade of melamine, had a dense of polished mahogany, his muscle definition was flawless just like his bone structure, there was some shyness in his brevity, but his character, brewed interest more than his beauty, as it was a perfume of commendations.
The first tear dropped with a vivid image of a mini me, when I joined class one and he would hold my hand to Ngunyumu primary school for 3yrs before he did his class eight, he was the first one to get to that in my long line of family. His character of a protecting older brother when I had been bullied, with fatherly instincts, he bought clothes for me and my younger brother while he still was in primary school, I remembered the French National team jersey he had bought me, that one which I wore through to its toothless old age.
This tear dropped with the sibling rivalry, fights we used to have “ wewe unapendwa sana, ngoja mathe atoke utaona” [mum loves you more, when she leaves you’ll see] I hated that I loved him.
This tear dropped with a memory I  wish not to remember, the voice of a neighbor in our single mabati house, that was shelter to my family of 9 “ nmeibiwa viatu, AMA ni mtoto wa huyu mama ndio amechukua? “ [ my shoes have been stolen OR is it this woman’s son who took them] and the next morning he insisted my brother took them. I remember vividly how my brother aged just 16 a form 2 student was arrested like a criminal on our watch. He spent 9 months in remand, how my family fundraised for his bond 3000 shillings for the entire 9 months, I walked with a pen and a book fundraising for 3k this is where I learnt without paying fees, the meaning of blank promises.
This tear dropped with a vision of my brother the day he came out of that shit hole remand they call correctional facility, we were happy, but the eye sees what it sees, he was sickly yellowish, with whitish itchy rashes all over, malnourished, his face was as pale as his faded hopes, the eyes bore a pain that went down to his soul that was emotionally and physically malnourished, I wish this is where this memory ends, but there is more courtesy of our misplaced society, he was thrown in a sea of hardened criminals the rapists, murderers, robbers name them, whereby like a small fish he had to learn how to swim with the big fish or become their food, he went in a boy with an easy smile he came out a man with a care free spirit, angry and hungry and his hunger burnt…….
This tear dropped with memory of how at home complains were trickling in like electoral  results  during presidential elections, people who had suffered at his hands, talking to him didn’t do much for he felt like he needed to punish the society for what it had done to him, its tough to describe the sleepless nights we had after hearing some boys had been stoned to death or lynched, the constant fear might he be one of them? so many times people came home with a package of condolences from rumours that he had been gunned down or lynched by a mob only to find him in the house. Alhamdulillah
This memory is so heavy it took with it a gallon drops of tears, one night a crowd gathered round as group of young men locked horns in a machete party, my brother was on the menu. My mum watched helplessly in the crowd as one of them swung his machete which aimed at his head luckily the machete had other ideas, painfully landing at his left ear and slicing it off that’s how he became “ maskio moja” [ one eared]my mum wept as his firstborn son, lost a part of his body, if that wasn’t traumatizing enough she watched as the ear landed in the nearby mtaro [ditch] and got carried away like sheet and there lied a young man struck down in his prime by the burning harshness of the ghetto.
This tear dropped with how he tried to drink his pain a little at a time but he never could get drunk enough to forget slowly by slowly he became a full blown alcoholic it really didn’t matter to him as long as he was drunk, most of the times he would be stoned as a zombie.
By now the sun was kissing the earth and my phone rung again another strange number he doesn’t have a phone but he knows my number like the palm of his hand “ he said bro on my way to the court, will you come pay my fines”?
willing and able I was, and I couldn’t have been happier “I will be there in shaa Allah
As he walked out, on his long walk to freedom, from a distance I could see all the painful events of his life gathered in one package, and the scar they have left in his life deep enough that a mans palm can disappear into, he did that thing we do, when you raise your upper lip and lower your lower one “smile” he didn’t even care about his disfigured dental formulary.
we embraced like brothers are inclined to, a hug with a double smooth touch, as we approached a diner to cool his hunger pangs he did a charitable act to a passer-by that reminded me that although we might have been stitched differently we are cut from the same cloth.
He asked weren’t you going to work today? this is more important I replied before he could finish, he said you are the only I called, “ ndugu ni kufaana sio kufanana” and he choked in emotions, bursted into a stream of tears shortly before I followed, his eyes were as red as fresh blood.
like a big brother he wiped of his, and mine, he put his arm around my shoulder and said don’t cry, I looked up at him, and through my teary eyes, and through that fogged of a vision of him all I could see is a man whipped by life like puppy and words of Elvis Presley came to life….
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto.
And his mama cries Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need It’s another hungry mouth to feed In the ghetto.
And his hunger burns so he starts to roam the streets at night and he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight in the ghetto (in the ghetto)
Then one night in desperation A young man breaks away He buys a gun, steals a car Tries to run, but he don’t get far (in the ghetto) And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man Face down on the street with a gun in his hand In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And as her young man dies On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’ Another little baby child is born In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his mama cries.


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My name is Hassan Hamza and I come from a long line of pain.
I grew up where distinguishing dinner from danger, was an essential life skill. A stone’s throw away from Korogocho one of the largest and deadliest slums in Kenya.
Luckily, for me, I had two angelic mothers, I feel like Abraham Lincoln who said “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” for me after God I owe to my mother Mary Katunge and my grandmother Justina Mwikali.
Where it all started
My grandma was born in Kitui in the 1900s, the firstborn in a family of five children. At a very young age grandma witnessed her father’s horrendous death. She vividly narrated to me how one day as he was walking by the roadside, a car came rushing in his direction. He tried to avoid it by diverging into the bush, it followed him there and crushed him. He did not meet his death, death literally followed him into the bush.
From there on her mum and her, had to do whatever they had to do to survive. A while later her mum died leaving her with no option than to become the head of the family. She was around ten years old.
You already know what happened next but I will tell you anyway.
Early marriage
As a young girl barely into puberty, her family married her off, as the fourth wife to an old man that had children old enough to be her parents. She had no choice as the head of the family her siblings had to eat, and go to the toilet and bathe and her brothers had to go to school.
This was taken care off by the small dowry and sacks of Muthokoi that exchanged hands. And with that grandma was sold. She simply became an object for the old man to amuse himself with.
I am literally in tears as I write this trying to find the courage to narrate to you the pain she went through in that family that believed in and practiced witchcraft.
She told me how the remnants of the water she and her kids used to wash their faces in the morning would be taken by the co-wives. She didn’t know where it was taken to, but results don’t lie.
Deaths and more deaths
Grandma started losing her children in mysterious deaths not one, not two, not three but five children died the last one of whom died while sleeping on the same bed as my mother who was also sickly.
By now grandma had been completely overwhelmed, in between sobs she asked those around to bury this one too, pointing at my mother. Luckily, they understood it’s her pain talking, or else the person writing this wouldn’t have existed.
My mum, my first love Mary Katunge, remains the only child out of six. Grandma had seen it all, she decided to go back home where they say it’s better than east or west.
Siblings rejection
She was wrong her younger brothers the one she had taken to school met her with a resistance she had not anticipated. They insisted she had to go back.
They had been accustomed to the small portions of Muthokoi that used to come from the other end. When she refused one of them literally broke her back with firewood and she had to leave. She told me she forgave them for they didn’t know what they were doing and times were tough for them too.
A change of environment
With a broken back, a little girl and no money, grandma left with a determination to go to Nairobi on foot. She didn’t know where, how, and what but she had no other option.
She walked a pretty long distance until a “ not so good Samaritan” appeared in the form of a truck driver. He served his purpose. He even got her a house in the famous Mathare slums. But the man was extremely violent. Grandma could take the blows but when it came to her little girl, she said to him “ Slowly you man, you have come too much” but in reality, she said to herself because she didn’t wait for him to come back.
She left.
She took her little baby girl upcountry and decided to swim in the sea of Nairobi shamba ya mawe alone. She got a job as a waiter in a bar, found a friend who hired her a small space to place a mattress, and used to send most of the little she got for the welfare of her young girl upcountry.
My mom suffered upcountry in the hands of relatives and family friends she tells me she used to go for days without food and when she was lucky to get a warm plate the kids of that family would pour soil into the food and make it not fit for human consumption. At one point she had gone for three days without eating and she fainted on the road as she was returning home from school.
Teenage mother
Grandma had, had enough decided to live with her only child in Nairobi as now she had become a bit of age.
Nairobi welcomed her (my mum) and it was so kind to her, that it introduced her to motherhood. Just like that, my mom had become a teenage mother to a bouncing baby boy my elder brother.
A few years later mom took a deep breath of warm south coast air and there I was born. While the area is known for its cool sea breeze the marriage was the extreme opposite. It was known for alcoholism and extreme domestic violence. One time she says he came home drunk found her cooking chapati, he removed his shoes and placed them on top of the chapati in a pan and with that she was done. Like he couldn’t even do it on another food?
More children
Mum would later remarry and got five other children. My grandma couldn’t be happier. It was like she had gotten back her lost children.
But it was not all smiles. Whereas the man was generous with giving his seed, he was not generous with providing for the kids. And so mum had to singlehandedly take care of her mother and 7 children on her own.
She literally took matters into her hands. At times she was forced to fight women and even men who threatened her dignity and that of her children and those who would refuse to pay her hard-earned sweat.
She started a small scale milk business. We used to walk 3-5km every morning before school and evening after school delivering milk door to door across the informal settlements of the Eastland’s of Nairobi from Lakiisama, Korogocho, Babadogo, Kasabuni, Kariadudu Kariobangi to Huruma.
When my classmates were dancing to the tune of the bell ringing to signal we had learnt enough for the day I wore my sad face for I knew the task ahead of me. We would sell milk up to 11 pm. My younger brother Ali and I went the same route. We would sleepwalk our way back home, get home light the jiko, and start cooking supper.
If it was ready by 1 am, we were very lucky.
What do you think were cooking? Sometimes 30 ksh githeri for a family of 9, or quarter kilo of meat which got lost in a sack of Sukuma wiki BUT MUM MADE SURE WE NEVER SLEPT HUNGRY.
My brother arrested
When I was 12yrs old, my elder brother 5yrs older was arrested. All because a neighbor who had lost his safari boots said “ maybe the son of this woman stole them”.
We lived in a mabati house, so we heard everything. But the next day he insisted and even went to the police and without a bribe to pat with my brother was taken to Industrial area Remand prison.
I still remember the color of the book I walked with on my right hand and the pen on the left trying to fundraise for his bail 3,000ksh (make sure you don’t add another zero).
I walked for 9 months. I couldn’t raise the amount and my brother my hero the first father figure I knew, the one I learnt how to wear trousers from spent 9 months in remand for a crime he did not commit and a whole village could not raise 3K to bail him out.
When he finally came out he was a different person. A young innocent boy full of face, full of faith, full of future had been thrown into a sea to swim with murderers, rapists, and all sorts of criminals and when he came out he had a fit of anger for society stored in a polythene bag to preserve it and a mission to repay the society for what it did for him.
Suddenly we started receiving complaints from people who had suffered at his hands. Most of his friends were killed either by the bullet or mob justice stoning or burnt alive using tyres and petrol all of which he escaped by a whisker.
Chopped ear
Then one day he had crossed paths with a gang of rival youths one of whom swung his panga to claim his neck and finish him off. He tilted his head a bit and the panga landed on his left ear and chopped it off. It fell into what we called mtaro [drainage trench] and was washed away
All this happened as my mother watched helplessly.
He resorted to the bottle to drink his pain away. But I don’t think he has ever been drunk enough to forget, he is still trying. But we are thankful he is alive.
Big brother
I had no option other than to assume his birth rite. I became the big brother for my siblings. I also assumed the role of C.E.O of our small scale hand to mouth milk delivery business that our family of nine depended on.
When my mum took, a maternity leave I would take paternity leave too from school for that was the only way the mouth would remain good friends with the hand. A relationship that benefited the stomach more.
Grandma and mum’s motivation made sure I always had the audacity of hope for a brighter future. They often told us walking barefoot today will never prevent you from walking in shoes one day” ( I thought they only said that not `to buy me shoes)
I fought a good fight with the books armed with only a pen. I used to do my homework in the houses of customers who had kids in the same class I was. I didn’t have any other time to do it was a better excuse than we couldn’t afford the textbooks.
In 2003 I sat for my K.C.P.E. It was the only year in my schooling life that I was not sent home for school fees arrears, thanks to president Kibaki’s free primary education policy. Mark you Ngunyumu primary school in Korogocho was as cheap as a ball gum not even PK.
Joining high school
My KCPE registration fees were paid by a political aspirant. My mum’s love for education was always in conflict with her empty pockets.
I remember the day I joined high school it was a cold Tuesday morning. I walked behind my mother, my head lowered, my face frowned and shoulders dropped. The question on my mind was huku tunaenda wapi ? (Where are we going? )
We walked past houses made of iron sheets, mud, and some just nylon. Korogocho Glory High School was our destination. Deep in the intestines of Korogocho almost at the exit. Next to it was the sewage sugar-coated as Nairobi River and after it is the largest dumping site in Africa known simply as Mukuru.
Just 4 students
The school had just been opened in fact when I arrived I found only four students I was the fifth in the entire school.
Our school fees was 2500/- a term, not a month. Still by the time I finished high school I had outstanding arrears that I was denied the school leaving certificate. Instead, the principal wrote a letter “To whom it may concern, I confirm that Hassan Hamza was a student at this school he cannot be given his certificate because of his 12,000ksh school fees balance, Stamped” It was official. I presented it whenever I went looking for manual labor or college sponsorship opportunity.
Life after school
Life after high school was not easy in a community full of crime, drugs, and other vices. I was about to indulge in such when a friend of mine introduced me to community-based organizations.

I joined as a volunteer, where I met people and opportunities. From this I got networks, experience, knowledge and even sponsorships and joined college. I went to Unity college, did a diploma in social work and also joined

NairoBits Digital Design School

where I did certificate in web design.

In 2015 I was in my tiny bachelor’s single room that I paid 1500 a month. I was debating my options whether to attend a youth motivational event that I had been invited to at K.I.C.C. I decided to go, a decision that changed my life forever.
I watched in awe as various speakers wowed the audience with their speeches and I was introduced to the concept of motivational speaking. One of the speakers Pepe Minambo gave out a book he had authored where he talked about an academy he started for public speaking and knew this was it.
I was burning with a passion I would have boiled an egg. The problem was the course was forty thousand Ksh. Where was I to get that amount? I went to several of my friends who promised to lend me the cash only to disappear into thin air.
An Angel’s hand
Frustrated but with a strong desire, I approached a lady I had just been recently introduced to – Amina, an elder sister figure to me with a heart so big that it barely fits in a room.
She counted for me 28K cash and even refused to hold my laptop as collateral and with that I got into the academy like a duck to water and a motivational speaker was born.
Little did I know that a time will come when I will join the dots going backward and be grateful for every experience I was subjected to, for it created the man I am today. A man who understands that we are a sum of our experiences. A man who understands that tough times don’t last but tough people do. A man who understands that “My life is my message to the world all I got to do is know an inspiring way to tell it” a man who believes that The rest of my life can the best of my life, only if I make it, in shaa Allah.
Gifted differently
I mentioned my younger brother Ali, what I didn’t mention is he kept moving from school to school because teachers and fellow pupils used to laugh at him for being uneducable, mentally retarded or simply mjinga [ foolish].
He finally quit school at class 7 and joined Jua Kali sector as a welder and its like he wasn’t created for anything else.
He did so well he was the first to own a Tv and sofa set [ at the time it was talk of town in our neirborhood] in our family.
Last year he bought a piece of land away and far from any family we know of. We came together and constructed a one bedroomed house for grandma. In February of this year, we opened it and relocated her there. You should have seen the joy on her face and the words of blessings that came out of her mouth.
No one would have convinced her that this kids that she brought up in tears blood and sweat would one day build a brick house for her in a land where no one would bother her.
Grandma rests
The joy was short lived as 2 weeks later grandma passed away. Just as we were getting to experience the other side of life. Just as we were preparing to get grandma enjoy the fine things of life in our small way to try and appreciate her SHE LEFT US ALL ALONE. meeehn, we cried and cried and cried a river at her burial.
On the day she died, she woke up in the middle of the night, woke up my mum and told her in Kamba “ tell my children, I love them, I have no problem with a single one of them, tell them to love each other, they should work hard and I leave them my blessings” she took a sip of milk and she closed her eyes never to open them again.
Grandma did not leave much for us but she sure did leave a lot in us.
Her words are still fresh in my mind “ Hassan, hakuna mtu hukua amewekelewa mawe kwa kichwa ” which means; everyone can make it, or simply put:#UNAWEZA
Today mum lives in that house. With her business mind and experience, she did a market survey and found out no one sells mabuyu and spices like pilau masala, cinnamon, clove seeds etc.
The business picked like bush fire and she now supplies almost half of the County. She is doing so well that she took up extension of the house and sometimes when a message comes from her its Mpesa with nunulia msichana wangu na mjukuu kuku. [ buy my daughter in law and granddaughter chiken]
My elder brother is doing better. I was able to take him to Mombasa where he took a break from the bottle I pray its permanent he dreams of being a driver something that I am working towards.
My other siblings are doing very great. Ali my immediate follower is a father of two. The one that everyone thought was foolish is now very skilled at his craft.
He specializes in building posho mill machines and anything metallic.
My beautiful sister Justina is an amazing businesswoman at only 24yrs. She beat the curse of teenage pregnancy in the ghetto. She travels within and without Kenyan border doing business very proud of her.
James who is after her is an amazing poet and graphic designer. The rest Regina is in form 3 and Richard our last born is in form 2. They currently live with mum.
Looking back from where I have come from I sometimes go back home and can’t believe I have my own house, and can take care of a family. I have a wife I love so much and a young daughter who keeps me hopeful fo a brighter future.
The world breaks everyone but some are stronger in the broken places. I am one of those and so are you.
As I was starting I said I come from a long line of pain. It’s my mission to change that now into a long line of success, purpose, passion, and happiness not only for my family but for everyone that I am blessed to cross paths with,
I do this through my company House of Hope that deals in motivational speaking, mentorship, Training and Team Building. I am passionate to inspire through my motivational videos on FB, IG and YouTube also through talks in public.
I have a project where I go to the slums targeting young boys who are facing the life I have been through I motivate them and provide for them vests, boxers, shoes and most importantly hope.
To do this I sell merchandise branded Unaweza [Yesyoucan], this includes, Hoodies, T-shirt’s, caps, pens and books.
On my day job I am also a journalist I specialize on Human interest documentaries that inspire and also informercials and adverts.
I am determined to spread the salt of my energy and passion to the meat of people’s lives.
I believe :


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Forgiving My Father


Forgiving My Father

For anyone who grew up without a father.

I am proud of you

In the middle of a conversation, a colleague told me I am very proud of you, of course, it felt good, but I wanted to place the feeling on the right shelf so I asked why? She said “you travelled to check on your sick father even though he wasn’t in your life” and then she asked “aren’t you bitter, how did you come to terms with letting him in?”

Half a conversation with my father

The questions were a key to a room I had left locked for a long time. It thrust me black to the first time I sat down with my father in an attempt to have a conversation and ask tough questions.
When two men are involved, a drink is always a good idea for my father and I it was chai rangi (black tea) and mahamri. We sat in a local kibandaski [street eatery] facing each other, a wooden frame playing the role of a table, separating us. surrounded by the warm south coast air.  He sat on a plastic chair while I sat upon layers of anger that I had stored for years in a plastic bag to preserve so that when I decide to unleash it would have warm stench.

The mahamri once bitten twice chai, the teeth were sharper today and so were my eyes, senses and intuition I wanted to unearth the truth detect any lies and read non-verbal communication and body language this was no friendly tete a tete this was a grilling the likeness of which they pretend to have at integrity house while grilling corrupt politicians.

Looking at him, I could see the horses of old age were fast racing towards him and he was too slow to get away. Looked at his face and then looked into my mind for the image of myself stored there, when they say the fruit does not fall far from the tree I wondered what the person would have said had he seen us, for us there is no tree and definitely no fruit falling. we look nothing alike.
I looked at his hand as he took a puff of his preferred poison (cigarette) I saw veins intertwined like cables crossing each other in a server room. I followed those veins and each of them took me to painful road I had crossed in my life.

The first one took me all the way, to how life had squeezed me like a towel, and all those days I woke up and walked with a longing for a father.

The 2nd vein took me to all the stories I had heard about alcoholism, abuse and domestic violence. How one day while drunk he came home found mum cooking chapatti removed a shoe and placed on top of the chapatti. With my love for chapo I just asked he wouldn’t have done it on spaghetti? Or pasta?

The 3rd vein took me all the way to a time when I was in class three do you know how it feels when your classmates are talking about their fathers and you have nothing to share I mean what will you share about a father you only see in pictures? and then one day I go home for lunch and there he was he looked just like the pictures, of course I had seen him when I was a child, a memory I couldn’t rely on. The joy I felt I couldn’t go back to school on time so my mum asked him to escort me to school and talk to the teacher and he did but just a few steps past the gate he slapped the life out of me I don’t remember what had caused it but all I remember is I just ran to class half in pain and half in hope that a classmate would catch me in tears ask about my predicament and I would have gladly said that my father slapped me just to have a feel of it; being a member of “ my father club “

The 4th vein took me to a time I was about 7yrs old I was walking with my mother selling milk in a place called kariadudu suddenly a guy appeared and started punching and head-butting her, for every punch I took the pain with her I just stood there in rage but not able to even swat a fly, it happened so fast I didn’t know what to do other than cry. 20yrs later, I come up with a better idea I should have hit him with stones.

The 5th vein took me to 2003 I was in class 8, in school I had no friends, as making fun of me was part of school’s sports, for I was short, I was dirty, and I was a hawker, selling milk door to door and at home my mum feared nitaharibiwa (peer pressure) then a boy was transferred to our school his name was/is Gabriel his family and friends had no enough time to pronounce it in full, so they just called him Gabby. He was all I was missing he became my best friend in school and my mom approved of him. He taught me how to fold trousers like his father had taught him I hated that I was learning to do this at 15yrs and I wished my father had taught me. I became very close to his father so much that when he fell sick and weak I used to take him to the toilet and take care of him and for the first time in my life I had a father figure together with a father feeling

I follow the 6th vein in pain but in the middle I just feel now more than ever I want to hear his side of the story.

I try to have a conversation but I quickly figure out my father is taciturn his vocabulary is mostly 2 to 4 words, no, yes, okay, don’t, fine and for a moment I just wish we could donate words like we do blood.


I look him straight in the eyes and in them, I can see pain or confusion or something like it I want to know about his upbringing his story what happened? Does he ever miss me? Us? Has he ever lost sleep about it? I have lots and lots of questions I look to the one with the answers but he seems to have more questions than I do. I decide to dig within and reflect I look at him and see he is a sum of all he has been through maybe he did the best he could with whatever he had.
I remember our neighbors, families that had both parents, they didn’t have to go sell milk like we did, we wished to be like them, they seemed perfect, but looking back now I am thankful for what we had/were.

One of them was baba Julius our next door neighbor we watched TV there the first people I saw cooking meat without mixing with sukuma wiki (Kales) you say read meat is harmful they dry fried theirs brown, wee but Mimi sikuwa nakula kwa jirani (never ate at peoples houses) I admired this family a few healthy children, smart house, school fees paid on time good clothes and they had shoes, they also used to go upcountry as soon as schools closed especially the long December holiday. The wife and kids would be gone the first Saturday schools closed.  As soon as the bus was ignited baba Julius turned the house into old Trafford and like a footballer he played ball with whoever he saw unmarked he brought home different women everyday when the wife returned she couldn’t say anything after a while he started loosing weight at first you would have mistaken it for toning and even ask what’s the secret, but after a while the belt could no longer hold the trouser and the shirts hang loosely it started raising eyebrows and gave gossipers a topic. He stopped going to work, here is where the soup got thick he always had a tough stance against his wife working and used all means necessary including blows. A short while later he died the burial was a mixture of grief and ceremony but even before marehemu azoee kaburi (immediately after burial) his family came and swept the house they carried everything, but the wife and kids and now mama Julius had no husband, had a house with  nothing in it, no job and painfully no work experience or networks and above all no knowledge of where to turn to.

For a moment I just thought of how my father’s leaving had toughened up my mum how she had literally broke her back to make sure we never slept hungry and I wondered what would have happened if he were there would we have ended up like the Juliuses?

I was deep in thought when a bus with loud hooting and heavy breathing interrupted me ( by the way what do we call the breathing of a bus in motion, the, “ummmchaaaaaaaaa

The bus was on its way from Mombasa to Lunga lunga Kenya Tanzania border and I escorted it with my eyes wishing it were possible to book a ticket for the questions I had and the anger I have held on to for long ivukishe border if only wishes were buses.

I come back from dreamland back to the veins and the painful roads I had traversed and in retrospect; I find that all those painful roads taught me lessons that have become a source of strength. The person that I have become all that I know the rich experiences I have been through, the way I view the World the passion I exude, the skills I posses, have all come out of this and like instant coffee I flip the other side of the coin and now am thankful for everything for he gave me a good name, when I was young, ladies used to tell me aki si ukona jina supuu  ( you have a nice name) you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself Hassan Hamza (its crispy, fresh, tantalizing lol) I wonder why no one tells me that now.

The best thing I got out of it is, Islam I did not inherit it from him I did not grow up a Muslim but him being one led me to researching about it and was amazed it’s the best thing to happen for me in this world and my ticket to the next life, so I pray.

I write this on my way from Msambweni Sawa Sawa beach a walking distance from home, I have been here for a week to check up on him after he suffered a mild stroke his left leg and hand not functional, he has to be bathed taken to the toilet can’t walk but Alhamdulillah my elder brother and I, his only children but who grew up with their mum are here among other family members to nurse him. Amidst all the heat, the she said and he said that come with family gatherings I just feel the breeze and determined to take care of my father like a son should
Afterwards I think of going to our local kibandaski order coffee and vitumbua my favorite. The kitumbua once bitten twice chai

I share this with a lot of respect for my old man not with the intention of painting him as a bad person but some painful truths have to be shared for healing purposes for myself and others who have been in similar situations.

The French have a saying “ tout comprendre c’est tout pardoner” To understand all is to forgive all, of course it’s not easy and sometimes you can be taken advantage of but it’s a god place to start, as Barbara Hunt said : Forgiveness is for you – not the other person. It’s something you do inside yourself that you feel in your body and heart that releases you from your past and frees you to live life fully

Forgiveness is not forgetting, forgiveness is remembering without anger, for anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

So forgive your parents your kids your siblings your friends. Pick that phone make that call send that text its no guarantee that they will respond positively but do it for you.

#Tunaweza !!!


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House of Hope


House of Hope

I came home from school countless times, found my mum had adopted either a mad person or a homeless kid, she fed and clothed them until their people were located. Despite being, a single mother of seven and small-scale businesswoman which meant hand to mouth provision she did that with a lot of passion and dedication. This has been one of the greatest lessons of my life, that you can impact the world however small.

Therefore, I founded an organization called House of Hope to continue my mother’s legacy to make the world a better place.

My name is Hamza Hassan Madonga, I am, a team builder/ corporate trainer, mentor, entrepreneur and a motivational speaker.
I was born and raised a few metres from korogocho the second largest slum in Kenya, my mum a single mother of seven was a small-scale business woman who together with me and my brothers sold milk door to door 3 kilometers everyday through scorching sunny days and rainy cold nights she made sure we had a hot plate, and although a school dropout herself She also made sure we got an education.

I attended Ngunyumu primary in school then Korogocho Glory secondary where I was the fifth {not in exams} I.e. when I joined the entire population of the school was, four students, It was the cheapest school in the area but the one my mum could passively afford although I spent more than a quarter of a term home due to fee arrears.

Life after high school was not easy in a community full of crime, drugs and other vices I was about to indulge in such when a friend of mine introduced me to a community based organization, the #youthmirror, my ambition led me the knowledge and membership of #KOBA #ozoneyouthgroup, #pacicificartsandtraining, #Nzumariafrica, #WAYAN, #R.Y.I from this I got networks, experience, knowledge and even sponsorships and joined college: Nairobits {IT/ SRHR}, Unity College of professionals {social work}.

In this community serving organizations I met so many inspiring speakers Onesmus Musau Musau, Victor Omondi to mention just a few and that’s how I got the urge to speak and inspire people from similar background and even beyond.

This year I joined the Pepe Minambo Motivator academy, and met myself at the age of 27, I learnt that my life is my message to the world all I have to do is make it inspiring.

I share the same thought with Les brown “if we inspired our kids as much as we put them in margarine adverts we would have a world full of geniuses” The world needs more inspired people and more talks on the same, strive to inspire someone today make it your goal.

My favorite quote: ‘The rest of my life can the best of my life, only if I make it, in shaa Allah. Call me up for custom made motivational speeches, corporate team building/training etc

Stay happy stay hopeful


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