5 Life Lessons from the Geese on Teamwork

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
–Andrew Carnegie

“That exam screwed me over.” Is that a nod? A grin, from the familiarity. The feeling is mutual. At some point through our school life we have all used that phrase. Even the geniuses (you in doubt? There are Maths questions that are yet to be solved. Think they are smiling about it?).

Let me digress. I am in Molo (the place is an icebox. What are up to over there? That is a story for another day). We have a host mum (the world will never get enough of them. Is that a smile? I know, their love just melts away hearts). Now imagine those words (in a more modest language) came from her. Wait! Don’t jump the gun yet. She is a teacher. I see you. I also had this evil grin. I was going on in my mind like “Yah! Serves you right” (Father forgive me for my evil thoughts. Amen! Don’t laugh say the prayer also to save your soul). She even brought out the papers just to prove it.

Even in the desert you still find an oasis. Life among the lifeless. In the paper she did there was a question that had Milton Olson’s lessons on the geese. They made so much sense because currently we are working as a team. The following are the five lessons that you can use to improve your teamwork :

1. Lesson one.
By flying in a V formation, a flock of geese add 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Thus, people who share a common vision and direction can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

2. Lesson two.
When a goose falls from formation; it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. Hence, if we have such a sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we are going. We should be willing to accept and give help to others.

3. Lesson three.
When a goose tires, it rotates back into formation and another goose takes the front position. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing responsibilities. Just as with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts and resources.

4. Lesson four.
The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those upfront to keep up the speed. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater. The power of encouragement allows one to stand by one’s core values and encourage the core values of others.

5. Lesson five.
When a goose falls sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation to help and protect until it dies or flies again. They launch another V formation to catch up with the flock. If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

Teiya Oloilole


Run Away

“Now that I could not go back I was not sure, after all, that I wished to go forward. It was a miserable sensation.”
-Anna Freeman

“Run away with me,” he said.
“What about…,” she cut herself short. Too many confusing thoughts were racing through her mind.
“Don’t put too much thought into it”, he said. “Just run away with me.” The implore in his voice was apparent.

                                      * * *
Nashipai had to get up early that dull Tuesday morning. It was cold outside. She had no choice. Actually no one had a choice.

According to the Maasai culture, the women and girls had to wake up at the crack of dawn (pardon the cliche) to milk the cows.

Mt. Kilimanjaro was clearly visible at this time. Narumoru village located on the outskirts of Oloitokitok was just a walking distance to the Tanzanian border with Kenya. It was really hard to appreciate the sheer majesty of the mountain with the nail biting cold sending shivers down your spine. You have to concentrate your frozen fingers not to miss the empukuri and spill the milk.

At around eight that morning Teiya, her father, was outside his manyatta. The sun was slowly coming out. He lightly leaned on his walking stick. He was an imposing figure. He keenly watched his sons, they were all out watching as the cattle were led from their enclosure. Culture dictated it. All the boys were expected to be out. They observed rather than merely watch. Through it they were taught to pick out any animal that might have fallen ill during the night. They had no choice. Or was their father really watching them? Could it be he was marvelling at the number of his cattle, hence his material wealth. No one knew for sure. There were talks of him being a tyrant but those were always hushed.

The boys after breakfast went out to graze the livestock. Nashipai and her sisters were left carrying out various chores around the homestead. They had to go fetch firewood later on in the day with her younger sister, Seiyan. She had mixed feelings about it.

It was not like she had any reason not to want to go to fetch firewood. Aside from the risks. They had to walk to the forest located at the border. At other times they were forced to go as far as across the border. Now, it was all fun and adventurous. They passed through migombani. The name originated from the many banana plantations in the area. It was also equally notorious for harboring a huge number of drinking dens. You would find men and women all seated together enjoying their brews. Scenes like those could never happen in their community. Those were Chagas from neighboring Tanzania. They had to be on high alert when they got to the forest. It was illegal, and the forestry guys were known to be ruthless. There was also that other reason.

Had they made too much noise? By the time they heard the sound of crackling wood it was too late. The forestry guys had snuck up on them and they had nowhere to go. Phew! Korir was among those doing the patrols. That other reason.

Korir was the forestry guy she had met some few weeks back. He was a nice man that one. He let them do their business so long as he got the opportunity to chat up Nashipai. He seemed to have taken an instant liking to her. He had on his signature red slippers. She was confused. At her age she was not sure of what she felt. There was some joy. Beyond that, she could not fathom what was happening to her. The hollow feeling in her stomach was like nothing she had experienced before other than when fear gripped her. But it was not fear she felt. Her skin was burning. It was like a fire had been lit inside her and was radiating the heat through her skin. Oh Lord, what is happening to me? Am I falling sick? Could it be that? No. No. She tried her best to tame her rogue thoughts.

Lately, he seemed to be getting serious. It was like he was courting her. He also had some crazy ideas. They talked for sometime. Seiyan watched from a distance. Then he blatantly said it and caught her completely off guard.

“Run away with me.”

That was thirty-two years ago.

                                          * * *
  “Mum…mum, see what dad bought me,” Claire is shouting. She is happily dancing around.

Nashipai watches as her last born daughter struggles to catch the wind with her new kite. She is seating outside their newly built house. She is in full view of their farm. It is the rainy season and the landscape is covered in a lush of green. They were going to have a bumper harvest. Korir is on the other end of the farm. He seems to be fixing something. Exactly what she does not put too much thought into it.

“Head over to your father,” Nashipai says. “Let him show you how to properly fly that thing.”

Watching her go, she cannot help but think to herself. Was I right to run away to my happily ever after?

This is the present.

Teiya Oloilole

Crack of Hope

“Because what’s worse than knowing you want something, besides knowing you can never have it?”
-James Patterson

“Five raised to the power of two…,” the teacher said.

The clack of the chalk on the blackboard irritates Ng’enoh. He adjusts uncomfortably in his rickety chair.

He stares blankly trying to pinpoint the crack on the wall that let in the sun. It is still dark outside. According to his watch it is 4 o’clock in the morning. He considers going back to sleep but the goat skin doesn’t hold a promise of any comfort. He decides against it. The night runners have not even finished their rounds. This thought assures him of some company out on the road. Why do they run? What are they running towards? Why does anyone run? Are they running from something? We all running away from our miseries in one way or another. Right?

Today, he has to catch the bus. He does not have a particular destination. Any will be just fine. Can I possibly get away? And go where? Any place that is not here? He rummages through his thoughts trying to see if among the rubble lay a solution to their current predicament. He has missed a button. He mutters a curse under his breath.

He is the first born in a family of six, three girls and three boys. The perfect symmetry. We don’t choose our families. What if we could? Blemishes. The snoring of his little brother brings him back to the present. He feels his way in the dark trying to find his only pair of shoes. Theirs was a dysfunctional family.

Bomet is unusually cold in July. Baby making weather they called it. The biting cold has numbed even his feet. His worn out shirt with a torn collar is still wet in some parts. The sweater he has on is only a formality it does not serve any purpose. He quickly walks through the dark almost breaking out in a sprint. Faint lights approaching from a distance gives him a glimmer of hope. He wants to stand right in the middle of the road. He starts to frantically wave the bus to stop.

“Dad I need money for my school fees.”
“Chukua hii majani chai, kwa saa ii sina pesa,” the old man says leaning down through the driver’s window. The black paper bag hangs in the air for a second. Hesitation. He considers walking away. The anger boiling inside him has completely paralysed him.

He stands on the side of the road confused. The red lights fading in the horizon cuts a piercing ache through his heart. He tastes blood on his tongue. He can feel the pounding of his heart. He considers tearing the paper and scattering the tea leaves to the wind. The thought of his mum stops him. She had sat distraught by the fireside as the tea boiled on the fire. They didn’t have something to eat. The sugarless tea on the fire would have to suffice to get them through the night. The future seemed nothing but bleak. The hopelessness written on her face was unmistakable. She had held back her tears. Rage.

Why can’t they just find a way to fend for themselves? Do I have to do everything? He looks back through his side mirror at the fading figure of his firstborn son. He shifts to a higher gear and accelerates. That large tract of land that I left them with let them do some farming. He wants to reach out and feel the one thousand shilling note sitting pretty in his pocket. His second wife will surely prepare a delicious meal tonight. He smiles to himself.

He hates Maths. There is nothing worse than trying to focus in the afternoon. The classroom is hot. He clenches his fist to try fight off the hunger. There is no rumbling. An empty stomach full of air. The minyoo in his stomach must surely also be on the verge of emaciation. They are probably frantically looking for a way out. Where do they go? There is no excrement. His lunch box is gathering dust at the back of his desk lost among his books.

He tries to focus on the lesson. He wants power. The power to change his past. To undo his present. Rewrite his future.

Teiya Oloilole

An Open Letter to the Damsels… (The Epistles #10)

“There is nothing like the truth, there is what you think, what the other person thinks and what the world remembers.”


Dear Damsels,

Ssshhh…I have a secret to tell you (I hear you girls love secrets). It is from the deepest and darkest parts of my soul. Henna. Yes that one. Ever had something confuse you? You can’t really make up your mind. That is my predicament on henna done on nails. At the start, when newly done it is exceptional. Then time happens. The fading starts. Something about that process bugs me. Who is with me on this one? Anyone? Compare it to love (you could substitute it with interest. I hear some of you are non-believers. Whatever tickles your fancy). Sends chills down my spine just thinking about it. You?


Atrocities. The world is full of them. Friends with benefits. Is that a frown? The scum in the society coined that word. Did I hear an Amen? Can I address it now? Is that a yes? Either way, according to the urban dictionary they define it as, ” Two friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment.” Yeaaayy!!! No. Someone asking for me to be lynched?

From a guy’s point of view. It is an agreement made between two consenting adults devoid of feelings or attachments. I recently asked a friend of his opinion on the matter. This is what he told me, “Teiya think of Fwbs this way, I go borrowing salt from a neighbour, I am in no way obligated to serve them the food once it is ready.” (Hahahaa…that definition cracked my ribs. No. We are not laughing? You don’t find it funny? Someone has already volunteered a lighter. Pardon my manners).

Let us be done with this guy. Leave him be with his obnoxious mindset. Wait up. Please don’t go. Please. What kind of human would I be if I didn’t go seeking a girl’s opinion (hear it from the horse’s mouth). I posed to her the question. Why do girls give in to this fwb thing? (kindly, put some gusto into the next lines. That fire in your belly should be present. If it is your kind of thing, get on your feet and preach). A girl will like a guy. The guy will seem not to be interested in anything past friendship. So when the suggestion for fwbs comes along she grabs it. Why? Because the girl still has hope that in some strange way this will make the guy fall for her (there was a sparkle in her eyes. This baffled me).

Ladies, men are creatures apart (I hear in some quarters they are spat on and referred to as dogs). After extensive soul searching I found the reason why men love the concept. Imagine living in a rental house without having to pay the rent, the electricity and water bill(tough economic times. Even the government can’t finance its own budget). Is that a smile? No. A frown. Disgust even? My darlings we did not write the rules. We simply follow them. Is that fair enough?

In conclusion, apparently sex has to have a meaning to you. You just don’t do it for no apparent reason. Sorry ladies but the sentiment is not mutual. You cannot use sex to make a man fall for you. Sad state of affairs. Anyone still want to lynch me?

Teiya Oloilole.

Teiya Oloilole

3 Life Lessons I Learned from a 3 year-old.

“The great mystery of the world is not where we come from but where we are going.”

Nakuru. If you are already thinking about a party (I see you. Yes you. Seriously, how many times must this statement be repeated, ‘don’t drink and drive!’). Unfortunately, I was not there for a party. Official business (makes me feel old). I met this amazing lady, Rachel, she even promised to join the blogosphere soon (be sure I will inform you of it. The more, the merrier. Right? Besides, diversity would solve a lot of world problems *wink*).

Gilgil. One word I think would come in handy when describing the place is ‘The Army.’ They literally fill the town (there is even a whole area named ‘Sierra Leone’ after some war the army fought there). I met this little princess, Lucy (funny how all kids are royalty). On first encounter you would be pardoned for thinking she is a quiet being. I hear ladies do about 7,000 words a day, she easily does that in just one night. She is the perfect example of a chatterbox that you don’t want to smother to silence.

Who knew a three year-old could teach on life? Who even knows about half of the things that happen in this life? She taught me three life lessons :

1. It is never that serious.
One minute she will be happy and grinning. The next minute she is crying and wailing with tears rolling down her cheeks. You will make her cry and in between the tears she will still give you a grin. Think of life in that way. There are happy moments. Then there are the sad times. Both don’t last forever.

2. If life gives you a lemon…  
She scours the whole house for anything she can use to play with. When she comes across something she can use, you never hear her complain that it is not suited for what she intended to use it for. She makes it work. In life strive to make whatever is handed to you work. Make lemonade (but I find that ending to be somewhat socialist. How about if given a lemon, plant the seeds and start a plantation, and sell the lemons for a profit. Capitalist mindset).

3. Life is messed up, but in the end it’s still worth it.
She laughs. She cries. She walks. She crawls. She jumps on tables. She speaks in gibberish. At the end of the day thinking back if given another chance I would not have it any other way. Life can be a bitch (sorry for the explicit word). Today, it is smiling on you. Tomorrow, it gives you a cold shoulder. You wake up each day uncertain of what life has in store for you. In the end, if given a second chance, a big chunk of your life you would not do it any different. 

The best part. She will be all over the place like she is possessed. Five minutes on her mother’s lap she is out cold. Sleeping beauty. Reminded me of knockouts. This week the world lost one of the greatest to ever live. #R.I.P Ali.

Teiya Oloilole

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