HOW TIGHT IS YOUR SIEVE? By Mwangi Ndegwa

" This is the second time you're giving me tea with a lot of tea leaves residue!" retorted the client angrily. " I might consider looking for...


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” This is the second time you’re giving me tea with a lot of tea leaves residue!” retorted the client angrily. ” I might consider looking for another Kibanda where they know how to prepare tea well!” This incident happened in Kibera, an informal settlement in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.

Life in these settlements is very different from the rest of the world. They have a more rural approach to life and living, despite the fact that they are within major towns. What they consider hotels are structures made of iron sheets or cutsoffs from timber mills. Rules for dinning etiquette are a foreign thing there. Tea bags are still alien things there so when preparing their tea, they use tea leaves from a tea packet which is then added to boiling water. This makes the sieve a very important equipment within these establishments. These structures cum hotels are popularly known as Kibanda (singular) and vibanda(plural). NB: Kibanda is a Swahili word meaning a simple and temporary structure. These establishments come restaurants, prepare local dishes using locally available ingredients and served in a similarly simple manner.

Wafula was employed in one of these vibanda owned by Mr. Juma. His duty was  to report to work very early in the morning, clean the Kibanda and then start preparing food. Top of the list was tea which is in usually very high demand in the whole of Kenya during the morning hours. Wafula had worked in Juma’s Kibanda for close to seven years to the point where he knew all the clients who frequented this Kibanda and even their favourite dishes. When one of such clients entered the Kibanda, all he or she needed to do was call Wafula and shout “kawaida” meaning “the usual” and Wafula would go ahead to serve out the order.

As is normal with constantly used things, the sieve started to wear out because of constant usage. Soon, it developed some holes which would let through some tea leave residue. The feel of this residue in the mouth is very irritating and this was what had triggered the angry reaction from the client above. This was made worse because it was the third time that this had happened.

Fortunately, the proprietor Mr. Juma walked in and saved the situation. He calmed the angry client and promised to replace the worn out sieve and also promised the aggrieved party a complimentary cup of well brewed tea.  At this juncture, it’s important to note that the container that holds the sieved liquid has no control over what happens above there. If the sieve allows residue, the recipient container faithfully does its work of holding the contents.

We human beings have a very important part of us called the mind. It’s work can be likened to a cup or a glass. It has no control over what gets in there. Clean or dirty, it’s work is to receive and hold. This part of us is very faithful and receptive. Once anything lands in there, the mind at once starts its core work of processing it, giving a refined product. If we allow negative or poisonous things into it, it will process it and give out refined poison. What we need to do is to filter anything that we allow into our mind and make sure that at all times, it’s only the beneficial that gets access into our minds. That way we are assured that our lives will move in the right direction. We need to set a very tight sieve in our two main mind input mediums namely the eyes and the ears. We need to sieve and filter anything we listen to and anything we watch and read, failure of which, will eventually show up in our lives. To read more posts by Mwangi, click HERE    

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