In Summary
  • Months after finishing their college studies, they continued with their graphic design business.
  • Okumu had moved back home and Maureen was getting agitated over when they were going to get married.
  • Okumu, however was not in a hurry.

‘What would you do if you were not afraid?’ is a question popularised by best-selling author Dr Spencer Johnson in his book Who Moved My Cheese?

Pastor James Okumu, 45, knows a thing or two about fear and what exactly happens when one is unafraid in pursuit of his dreams.

He was in Standard Five when he encountered fear for the first time in his life.

“Towards the end of Class Five, we got a new Mathematics teacher. He was very strict and used to whip us with a fan belt. I would pee on myself on a daily basis because of fear. Every one of us feared him and in solidarity, my classmates offered me their sweaters to cover up my wet clothes. We dreaded this teacher’s classes.” 

BULLYING ATTEMPTS

Okumu’s high school life was pretty uneventful save for several bullying attempts which he was able to thwart before they could bear ugly roots.

“On my first day of high school, a Form Two student came over to where I was sitting with my friend and tried to bully us. We threatened to give him a thorough beating if he did not leave us alone. He scampered away. He did not expect us to stand up for ourselves,” Okumu says.

He admits that he was big-bodied as a child and this helped him scare away his bullies as well.

DATING AND COLLEGE LIFE

He started dating his wife soon after he reported to Kenya Polytechnic College to study graphic design and public administration.

“I noticed her as he walked into class and we instantly clicked. We became friends before we started dating.”

Towards the end of their two year course, they skipped classes increasingly and almost missed their final paper.

“We used to go to Gikomba market where we would buy second hand clothes and later resell to other students in college.”

They had also started a graphic design company where they made plaques with bible verses and bookmarks. Their target market was lunch time prayer meetings in towns. But soon, increased competition would force them out of business.  

Months after finishing their college studies, they continued with their graphic design business. Okumu had moved back home and Maureen was getting agitated over when they were going to get married. Okumu, however was not in a hurry.

WANTED TO EXPERIENCE LIVING ALONE

“I wanted to live by myself before I could commit to Maureen. I wanted to have the experience of cooking for myself and doing my laundry. To actualise my desire to have this, we started looking for a house. We settled for a two roomed house in racecourse estate that I paid Sh2,700 per month.” Okumu felt, at the time, that he needed to fulfil this stage of living alone before he could start living with someone. His fear was that once he got married without having tried it on his own, he would regret it and have the 'fear of missing out'.

Meanwhile, his wife moved in with her friend in Waithaka.

Pastor James Okumu and his wife Maureen Okumu pose for a photo in earlier years. PHOTO| COURTESY

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