OF CHAPATIS AND THE INNER BATTLE OF OUR SPIRIT AND OUR FLESH

Choma
Source: Kibandaski

I attended a very liberal boys’ boarding high school, that allowed us all manner of privileges undreamt of in the thousands of secondary schools in Kenya. For one, we were allowed to wear ‘home clothes’ or civilian attire in school outside of class hours. We could carry snacks and any kind of grub to school. We did not have corporal or what was termed as ‘unusual’ punishment such as kneeling or caning. We could leave school any day of the week after classes, so long as you were back before 6pm, and enjoyed so many other privileges that I would often wonder when a prankster would emerge from behind the bushes and tell us this was all a hidden camera TV show.

The surprising thing is that as students we rarely, if ever, went overboard in indulging our freedoms, regardless of the fact that our school was, and still is, located only 3km from the Nairobi Central Business District. Self-discipline and self-leadership were emphasized all around, and we were expected to police ourselves in light of the trust endowed upon us by the institution.

However, a worrying trend soon cropped up amongst the ‘boys’ (an endearing term the administration and prefects used to refer to us commoners/non-prefects) that had the prefecture employ various spying and intelligence gathering measures reminiscent of the KGB and the CIA. And all to curb students on a permanent Mecca to the neighboring township to acquire some mysterious, addictive controlled substance.

As a junior student, I recall hearing in whispers of the clandestine visits made by the daring senior boys to the adjacent, rough neighborhood known as Ziwani. The shanty town was notorious as a den of all manner of criminal activity and was one of the few places we were unilaterally banned from stepping foot on as students. These boys, however, were not ones to be cowed by simple warnings of ‘gang activity’ or ‘violence’. Not when there was a greater treasure to be mined from that sketchy neighborhood, not even at the pain of punitive punishments or even threats of suspension and expulsion from the school.

My simple, naive understanding of rules as things not meant to be broken meant that for the longest time, I avoided any visits to Ziwani to sample the famed contraband. However, peer pressure being the unrelenting motivator it has always proven to be, I found myself one day disguised in a hoodie skipping over open drains and ducking behind buildings as my ‘friends’ led me to some place called Kwa Nyaga(Nyaga’s Place). I remember us walking along a row of seedy looking, rickety, wooden structures and entering into one dark and smoky wooden shed. Being a visitor I didn’t say anything for fear of…everything. So my guides into this underworld yelled out their orders like perfect regulars.

“Nyaga! Choma mbili!” (That one is untranslatable, trust me)

I did my best two maintain my composure and look as gangster-ish as I could as we waited for a few eternities. Finally, the much-awaited, painfully-sought, risk-inducing offering was set before us. There on two large, metallic platters sat a steaming tray of the sketchiest yet most appetizing bean stew I’d ever seen, interspersed with chopped up pieces of chapati and some avocado. As I sat there dumbfounded at the feast before me, my friend snapped me back into reality.

“Hapa hakuna kuzubaa, uking’ethia hutapata any, he said as he and our counterparts tore into the meal with a gusto that would be the envy of many a hyena. I promptly dug in and thus began my initiation and lifelong dependence on chapo-dondo as a life-sustaining drug.

A DEGREE IN LEGUMES

It’s crazy if you ever sat to think about how much food we ingest. I suppose it’s even crazier if someone decided to calculate exactly how much chapo-dondo they ate in the five years they were pursuing their engineering degree. I’d go as far as saying that it would be beyond crazy for anyone to agree to sit and witness this spectacle, but hey, who am I to judge?

 

An Investigation Into The Quantity of Beans and Chapatis Consumed By Myself in the Course of Pursuing my Bachelors’ Degree

Let a serving of Chapati be two standard kibanda chapos = Ch

Let a serving of bean stew be a plate of barely fried kidney beans swimming in a sea of water or reddish something = B

Let Ch = 125g

Let B = 250g

Assuming that I ate chapati and madondo (beans) every weekday (which isn’t an assumption), that gives us 5 days a week of consuming this delicacy.

Considering the average semester has about 13 weeks, that means I had (13 x 5 = 65) such meals a semester.

I attended 12 semesters in my degree programme – 2 for every academic year and 2 extra for internal attachments.

That means that I consumed, with a very conservative estimate, (12 x 65 = 780) meals of chapo dondo.

We can round that up to 800 meals to tidy up our arithmetic, and to be more true to reality.

Now, to get precise quantities, we have

800 meals x Ch = 800 x 125g = 100,000g = 100kg of Chapatis (1600 Chapatis!)

800 meals x B = 800 x 250g = 200,000g of beans = 200kg of Beans

Now, I’m not too sure what to do with these figures. Frankly, it’s a little worrying that I put my digestive system through the arduous task of processing all that wheat and grain.

But it’s also revealing – of yes, my leguminous proclivities, and more – my reliance on good food that I enjoy to make it through the day, the week or even a whole degree program.

NOT ABOUT FOOD

Being grounded in the material, physical world, we often forget that we have a nature that transcends the visible. We are in fact souls and spirits that inhabit a body. Not merely bags of flesh subsisting on Nyaga’s exquisite delicacies.

With the same passion that I feed my body buckets of beans to nourish it, I must endeavor to fill my spirit with what’s good for it lest it grows weak and dies. That is however easier said than done.

The tension evidently is that man’s spirit and flesh are stuck in a perpetual tug-of-war for pre-eminence in anyone’s life. Most of us load up on thousands of chapatis, many on illicit sexual habits or addictions, others on hedonism and exaltation of the sensual. All of us struggle between letting go to our more base, fleshly passions or submitting to God’s rule in our lives.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:16-18

When we realize that we are spiritual beings, we soon see that the path God calls us to as believers in Him is to be guided by the Holy Spirit. We cannot afford to be carnally minded as we were when we did not know God. A life transformed by the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit –  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

A life guided by the flesh bears its own (poisonous) fruit – sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things of that nature. (Gal. 5:19-21)

Friends, the Word of God is clear on this: those who live by the flesh will not inherit God’s kingdom (Gal. 5:21b). They will not reign with God in His eternal kingdom. They will be cast out of God’s presence to suffer judgment for their wrongdoing. But to those who walk in the Spirit, a crown of glory is promised. (1 Peter 5:4)

But what if I do not know this God as you say I should, what do I do? Do I conjure up this ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in my life? Do I do try to be a better person? Do I quit my evil habits?

As well-intentioned as you may be, that is not the path to righteousness in God. God’s righteousness is not attained by effort and willpower. It is not a human achievement. It is a work of His Holy Spirit in your life. All the spiritual blessings promised in God’s Word are meant for those who submit themselves to a relationship with God by believing in the birth, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, and the path to salvation offered by Him on the cross (John 3:16).

This new life in God of spiritual blessings awaits you if you are willing to forsake the flesh and its temporal pull on you and instead embrace the eternal Holy Spirit of God, and the promise of God’s kingdom.

 

God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 (CEV)

 

Shalom!

9 thoughts on “OF CHAPATIS AND THE INNER BATTLE OF OUR SPIRIT AND OUR FLESH

  1. “The Fundamentals of Christianity by Selian Saruni. Over one billion sold.”
    (Season 6 Episode 5)

  2. 🤣🤣🤣composure and look as gangster-ish as I could as we waited for a few eternities. Finally, the much-awaited, painfully-sought, risk-inducing offering was set before us.”

    God only knows the anxiety and tension that gripped me as I waited for many many many eternities wondering what was to be set before you!😂🤣

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