Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku

Overcoming Buffaloes in Our Lives
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Issue Number: Volume 1 No. 2

Publisher:                      Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku

Date of Issue:               January 27, 2002

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  1. Dr. Kituku’s Commentary:  The power of identity

2.     Change of Mental Attitude

3.     How to ask for What You Need When You Need It

  1. Something About Living and Working With Cultural Differences

5.      Red Light Signs your vision is not aligned with what you are doing

6.      Points to Ponder: As You Plan to Move Forward Without leaving Your Family Behind

  1. Stay Tune With Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku

8.      Don’t Miss It! Dr. Kituku’s article, Unused Air Conditioner is in Special Edition of Bits & Pieces

  1. Resources Available Kituku & Associates for Parents, Managers, Trainers, Pastors and  Students




The power of identity


I draw a powerful lesson on the importance of identity from a very disturbing experience.


When I was in second grade, the 40 pupils in my class were divided into four different learning groups.  The first group was composed of those who were termed as the best in the class, from number 1 to 10.  The name of this group was lions.  The second best group, the elephants, was composed of those pupils who ranged from the 11th position to 20th.  The third best group were the Giraffes.  The worst group, the donkeys, were those children who didn’t do very well in exams and ranged from the 31st position to the 40th

These children in the worst group - the donkeys, were treated like donkeys.  They were despised. They identified themselves as donkeys.  This early identity sealed their future success. I can’t tell you where any of those students who were in the donkeys group is. I can’t remember if any of them ever persevered until high school age.  They dropped out of school before high school or failed the high school entrance exam. 

The lions were treated like the lions, and they were given challenging programs.  They were given those things that made them feel like they were contributing better than anybody else. Today, they have better jobs and are making a significant contribution to the society compared to the others.

In high school, we were randomly assigned to different classes, A, B and C in our freshmen year. But, before the start of the junior year, we had to do preparatory exams in physics, chemistry and biology. The 40 pupils who did the best were assigned to 3-A.  The second best group were assigned to 3-B.  Those who did not do well were the 3C’s.  We used to call them Sodom, based on the Biblical condemnation of the city of Sodom. 

Those pupils who were in Sodom were basically condemned by the system.  The identity of failures relegated them to under use their potential and creative. The identity was based on the presumption that they could not do well, and somehow, they thought and responded accordingly - all because they did not do well in physics, chemistry and biology.  Most of them failed our final high school exams. In the year I did my exams, only one student from 3-C managed to perform above average, the rest in a class of 40 failed.  However, he later became an alcoholic and died recently.  I have no clue where the rest in that class are.

Those who went to 3A and 3B did well in the final exams and most of them are successful. They became teachers, engineers, agriculturists and philosophers.


Identity is one quality of life that can be molded or destroyed.  But, if you are reading this, bear in mind that as an adult, you have the power to recreate your identity into a positive one, not based on your past but on the future you can have.


Attributes that help build a positive and dynamic personal identity are many.  Here are few attributes: a loving parent; and a student-of-life not constrained by superficial categories.  See yourself as one who is vulnerable but with the ability to bounce back; child of God; productive worker; peace maker; effective communicator and one whose thoughts and actions are geared to a fulfilling future yet who enjoys the present by letting yesterday’s wounds not cloud today’s sunshine.



Who are you?  Is your identity, your inner-self defined by past or current circumstances, or is it defined by how other people perceive you?  It is true that we are all unique and one’s identity cannot be narrowed down into a category.  We have the ability to define our own personal identity that is free from circumstances or other people’s opinion.  It is that personally defined identity that gives one a sense of purpose in this world. A well-defined identity leads to a dynamic life, well-established unique purpose and dreams. With a well-defined identity, there are no limits to what you can accomplish. If you know who you are, what your purpose is in this world, and you put your faith in what you do, you can even surprise yourself.



Your unique talents, gifts and experiences, when recognized and used with confidence, will propel you to higher levels of performance, and ultimately bring you intangible and tangible rewards.


You are the most important resource in this world for your mission, and the identity you develop for yourself is an asset that will guide you.  The second important resource is the same for everyone - TIME. Success depends on how each individual uses it.  TIME. Identity and time are inter-connected. One can either languish in the miserable identity of yesterday or flourish with the identity of present and future fulfillment.


Knowledge about oneself is the benchmark of success. Ask yourself these simple yet profound questions:


What influences your thoughts and your behavior?


What holds you back when you want to live a better life?


What skills, gifts and talents separate you from others?


After recognizing these attributes, the next step is the education or training that will make them useful to the rest of the world.  Remember, your uniqueness is only unique if it adds some value to your quality of life and other people’s lives. Honing your talents or skills provides you with the competency you need to overcome the obstacles in your path of success.  In this path, there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance.


Change of Mental Attitude


The late president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, once said, “My contemplation of life…taught me that he who cannot change the very fabric of his thought…will never be able to change reality, and will never, therefore, make any progress.”


Unless one changes from seeing himself as a failure, to seeing himself as a successful person (someone with a mission only he himself can accomplish in this whole world), dreams and aspirations disappear whenever a slight obstacle presents itself.  Change of mental attitude towards ourselves, self-knowledge, and positive affirmation, is the first step towards personal success, be it spiritual, professional or social.


Evaluate what holds you back and what propels you to peak performance.  What gives you the momentum to go beyond self-doubt, past failing experiences, critics, and unexpected life turbulence?  This understanding will give you the energy, the power and the will to change your thoughts, habits and associates as you begin to live a life of definite purpose.


Charles Swindoll says it better than most of us when he says:


“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company…a church, a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past….  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude….  I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me, and 90% of how I react to it. And it is with you….  We are in charge of our Attitudes.”   

--Charles Swindoll



How to ask for What You Need When You Need It


Success in personal and professional endeavors depends on how you ask for what you need.  Many people live below their potential because of inability or fear to just ask for information, counseling or other helpful resources. 


To learn what happens when you ask, regardless of your feelings of inadequacy or what others think about you, there is an African folktale about a King’s daughter who was very beautiful. All young men wanted to marry her. Privately, they expressed to one another how each desired to have her as his wife. In that community, there was a poor boy who had tattered clothes and was despised by the other boys. They left him when they went hunting, swimming or grazing. He was not their type and they were ashamed of being seen by girls with him. One day this poor boy met the King’s daughter and asked her to marry him. She gratefully accepted the proposal. The wedding day was announced and the village young men couldn’t wait to learn who was to marry this beauty. On the wedding day they saw the poor boy become the lucky groom and they wondered how she could have chosen him out of all the young men. Her answer was, “He asked.”


·       Know what you need and why you need it


·       Have an idea where to get it, from whom, when and why


·       Know how other interested parties are going to benefit from what you need


·       Communicate how your idea/plan can benefit them and how you plan to execute it


·       Tell them specific ways you think they can be partners in your project


·       Give them options


·       Provide information on when you want to begin


·       Have no hidden agenda


·       Accept their explanation as success for you in case they can’t provide you with what you need


·       Use acquired knowledge as your leverage for the next project




Something About Living and Working With Cultural Differences


In the Kamba community where I was raised, weight gain was a sign of blessings and a positive aspect.  It indicated an abundance of material blessings. Leaders with this blessing were considered powerful.  Ample women’s bodies were preferred and suggested the amount of peace and harmony found at home.  Things haven’t changed.  When my mother visited my family in Eagle, Idaho in 1996, she gained some weight. Gaining extra pounds was a highlight of her visit.


In 1988, when I was new to the American culture, I told a friend, “Wendy you must have had a great year.  You are blessed.”  Wendy inquired why I thought she was blessed.  With no hesitation, I said, “You are Fat.”  Oops!  Fortunately, Wendy acknowledged the African perspective and graciously educated me on the American one.


This was not my only cultural shock.  As a youth growing up in Kenya, I learned that eye contact with elders was a sign of disrespect.  Hugging or kissing in public was a cultural taboo and unheard of among people of high morals.  The aspect of men being in labor rooms with their wives at the time of childbirth was, and is, still inconceivable for many Kamba people.


Many newspapers and magazines have printed articles on the lack of cultural difference awareness and the impact this has played in keeping talents out.  Several recommendations on how to improve an organization’s image have been presented.  However, success can be guaranteed only when people learn each other’s cultural heritage as we become aware of the challenges and opportunities that are ahead.


As the world becomes a global village, there is an increasingly diverse customer base.  This calls for a common cultural background or understanding between an organization’s representatives and customers and the need for and creation of international markets.


On the other hand, an organization that promotes an environment for living and working with cultural differences reduces mass exodus of talented employees, maintains high morale and low absenteeism, and avoids discrimination lawsuits and legal fees.  People of diverse cultures offer different perceptions and abilities in finding innovative solutions to business problems and in creating a broad range of goods and services.


We need to incorporate cultural differences into our values and respect our own individuality and that of others. Living and working with cultural differences can’t survive as an organizational concept unless everyone adopts it as a personal value.  Organizations must spell out that cultural diversity is neither a disguise for quotas nor a synonym for affirmative action.  It is not a program, nor is it mandatory.  There are no legal penalties for refusing to acknowledge the value of a culture that is different.


On an organizational level, each individual can channel and promote cultural differences by being open-minded. Nothing can happen until people communicate.  Therefore, we have to communicate to understand one another.  Avoid making assumptions about others.  Admit ignorance and ask questions.  To value other cultures, we must begin by learning about our own culture.  Individuals should be experts on their own cultural development and willing to share their expertise with others. In this case, one has to be sensitive to cultural differences of others and not hypersensitive about his or her own. Confrontations based on differences can be avoided by focusing on similarities.


We need to bear in mind that cultural differences don’t divide people.  People’s inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences does. Now, my children, who are growing up in America, look at me directly, hug or kiss me anytime, and I was present when my son was born.  I loved the experience, but I didn’t tell my mama about it!  We can learn from other cultures and incorporate positive new aspects into our own lives.




Red Light Signs your vision is not aligned with what you are doing


  1. Constant job-related stress and/illnesses
  2. Dread going to work
  3. Arrive to work late and watch the clock for time to leave
  4. When you cannot show what you have done in the last three months
  5. Call or even think of calling in sick when you are not sick
  6. When your identity is entirely tied to your work
  7. Work environment and relationships are damaging your confidence
  8. When you find you are moving ahead but leaving your family behind
  9. When you don’t feel like adjusting to meet new job related challenges
  10. When you don’t know why you are working


Points to Ponder


As You Plan Move Forward Without Leaving Your Family Behind


  • There is never a U-Haul truck following a funeral procession hauling the deceased person’s earthly belongings. Money and all material blessings should not be a source of marital anguish.


  • Appreciation, effective listening, time-shared together, encouragement, gifts (the best gift is your commitment) are some aspects of communication that holds a marriage together.


  • Children are additional blessings. The best gift you can give your children is to love, respect and honor their mother or father, plus being a good example.


  • Parents (in-laws included) are invaluable gifts. It’s advisable, however to cleave to your mate and let all other relationships be secondary. This is not parental abandonment.


  • Satisfying intimacy is a function of a healthy relationship where there is security, commitment, companionship, and in-depth passion. 



Stay Tuned With Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku


Stay Tuned With Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku, host of “Buffaloes in Our Lives" a TWO hour weekly radio program, aired in the Northwest area on KBOI 670 AM, Saturdays at 7:00 a.m. Read Dr. Kituku’s newest articles in, Zidaho.com, Idahopress.com, Idahostatesman.com, Argusobserver.com, Times-News Magic Valley.


Did You Miss It?


Dr. Kituku was featured in the Presentations Magazine, September 2001


Dr. Kituku’s work was included in the same book, Families Can Bounce Back, Compiled by Diana James, with Tim LaHaye, Co-author of Left Behind.

Dr. Kituku was recognized by National Youth Storytelling, November 2001 in the area of “Young Tellers” for his Book East African Folktales For All Ages From the Voice of Mukamba (August House publisher, inc).


WATCH! WATCH! WATCH February, 2002 Special Issue Bits and Pieces will included Dr. Kituku’s story


The Date Is Set: May 23rd-24th at Boise Double Tree Riverside Hotel: Dr. Kituku’s Popular Seminar-

Thriving in the 21st Century:How to Bring Success, Balance and Customers into Your Organization

Don’t miss the early bird’s discounts and benefits. For more information visit WWW.KITUKU.COM or call (208) 376-8724



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