All through our lives there are certain individuals that we look up to and aspire to be like. For some these people might be close family members, a beloved school teacher, or even the friend your brother brings home. For many, though, our role models, increasingly, are television and sports personalities or even film stars whose only claim for fame is that they are on the big screen.

Growing up I had my fair share of people I admired: from the aspiring lady architect who inspired me to bury my head in studies so that I could attend university; to a school mate who seemed to have it all together at such a young age and then there was Oprah. 

But as I studied my deen more there was my dearest Ustadha whose reading of the Qur’aan , impeccable command of the Arabic language and sweet disposition made me long to be like her.

Different outlook

Because we are human our needs and aspirations change as we grow older, as we pass through different stages of life, and as we discard old, outdated and sometimes incorrect beliefs.

From time to time I have found myself  pondering what it is I consistently admire in people that I would want as qualities for myself.

The answer came to me as I was looking through the guest list for an event I was attending. On the honour list there were people I would not necessarily admire because- like the film stars – they had nothing they were famous for except for being rich and famous. I wondered what it was that we were teaching our children- that someone was only guest of honor worthy if they worked at big money institutions or were related to society’s ‘big people’?

My Kind of People

I did not realize that the people I am about to mention were the source of my admiration until they became synonymous with the qualities I wanted to embody in my own life. I want to live life with enthusiasm and cheer no matter what destiny brings my way. I want to serve others and find contentment in doing that. I want to be fully, uniquely, unapologetically me. I want to be a symbol of thankfulness and gratitude and I want to create, grow, contribute and make use of my time so that when my time comes I will have no regrets.

In no particular order here are the people who consistently make me want to improve myself:

My neighborhood’s garbage collector: this man whistles and sings as he works. He pushes around his ‘mkokoteni’ full of waste and detritus with the same pride someone driving a Maserati would. He is polite and courteous to all and the neighborhood children love to imitate his call of ‘takataka’

The stench from the garbage does not faze him and from the enthusiasm he shows for his work it is obvious that he knows how important his job is. Unlike his counterparts who would charge you for the size of your trash, he takes the same paltry amount no matter the heaviness of your garbage.

Salame: a collective name I have given to all those ladies out there- and I am privileged to know quite a few- who go out to care and earn for their families inspite of terrible odds. They have health issues of different kinds, they have financial challenges, they are single mothers or they have deadbeat husbands and yet that does not change their personalities or temperaments. They smile widely, they are genuinely grateful for all they have which to some might not look like much. They push on even when they feel like giving up and calling it quits. They do not hand over their responsibilities to someone else even when they could use the rest.

To them I would like to say you inspire me.

I met a lady a decade ago who I will call the champion of the orphans. She works tirelessly to save, serve and educate the orphans of her community in beyond. She is almost destitute herself but her orphans come first. She has had to endure many an ordeal but she forges ahead by the grace of God. In my book she is guest of honor material.

Hababa: My maternal grandmother who passed on in 2016 at the age of 85. Hababa taught us the meaning of good old fashioned hard work and the beauty of the work of your own two hands. She taught us that waking up at 4am is not only possible but pleasurable. She taught us the beauty and integrity in hijab at a time when everyone was embracing ‘modernity’. She taught us generosity, the importance of taking pride in yourself and your home, the responsibility that comes with being someone’s neighbor and why you must always speak your truth. Hababa deserves a whole book in her name May Allah have mercy on her soul. Ameen.

Finally, I admire that one unique, special individual who always dances to the beat of her own tambourine. She who follows the dictates of her conscience no matter what those around her would urge her to do. She who is not swayed by the latest fashion, not awed by what’s trending and is not concerned what people will think of her as she goes about her life. She is the role model I point out to my children.

If we open our eyes and look around we will find heroes and superstars from everyday people that we would otherwise miss. People who make the world a better place by their good character, generous spirit and selfless actions even though they may go unnoticed and uncelebrated. It is them that we should model ourselves after.




I always wanted to be a doctor, a pediatrician to be precise. That was my childhood dream and I grew up admiring the white coat and the stethoscope on the neck. I wanted to save lives. I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. But isn’t that what many, if not all of us, grew up dreaming of?

We grew up being fed with the information that being a doctor is being a hero. Being a star more than superman or spiderman. It meant changing the world. We grew up watching series like ER, Grey’s anatomy, Scrubs, The mob doctors, House…and the list is endless… and we knew for sure this is it. This is what I want to become. Well, for me, that was before reality hit me hard and I hard to divorce the science and math world. Even so, I never really stop feeling nostalgic of my childhood dream. I would have had fun playing around with crying babies in the hospital oh without forgetting singing and dancing nursery rhymes lol is that even real? Whom am I kidding? ?

Going back to history when we didn’t have all these pills, machines and vaccines, even then, the herbalists were highly regarded. They were close to the king’s status. They were honoured and considered noble. Therefore it is no big surprise that more than 50% of the parents in the world want their children to be doctors. Doesn’t matter if it is a surgeon, a cardiologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, pharmacist, dermatologist, radiologist, dentist…you name it. So long as we have the ‘st’ at the end of the word then we good to go right?

We will all agree that the job done by doctors is a sacrifice that very few can actually take up to. Working over 24 hours, lacking sleep, operating for almost an entire day, dozing on the benches, missing out A LOT on family events and hanging out with friends…The course itself is too tiresome and going over a long period of time. It takes a lot of hard work, passion, dedication, energy, oh and college money to actually work it through. Perhaps this is exactly why they really deserve to be our heroes. But then the course of things in the medicine world started changing when doctors shifted their focus from the heart to the pocket. Doctors; is it by soul or by the money? This is where we got it all wrong. When our heroes valued the money more than humanity.

I usually wonder sometimes when I see very poor people getting really sick, I wonder, how do they get through to get their medication? Of course God doesn’t neglect anyone. He always brings ways for us during our hard times but apart from that, how do they survive? I mean, seeing a specialist of any kind let’s say neurologist or cardiologist costs one almost four thousand, five thousand, for just an appointment with the doctor. Just to look at his face and hear his golden words. No, don’t get me wrong. Yes, these doctors very well deserve it. It is their hard work. It is their hard earned money but this disqualifies them from being our heroes any longer. And this is how poor people die miserably in their homes because have you ever thought what this four/five…ten thousand is for them? That could be their entire salary. That could be the food plus school fees plus rent plus water for the whole month. That could be a fortune for them. And then that is not all. After that you tell this same person in a something that looks like a clothe because it can’t even be regarded as a clothe. It is similar but it is not. It is rags, they are in torn shoes and have rough sore hands. You tell this same person to make almost four tests which would cost them maybe another two thousand without forgetting the medication that would also cost them another fortune. What are you tying to tell them? Go away? Because of course you are chasing them away with your prices. You are indirectly telling them ‘you deserve to die miserably because you can’t afford to see me’. It is telling them ‘this is not your place to be’.

This is how we see poor souls crowding in Coast general and many other public hospitals desperately trying to get help. Anxiously waiting for the time when doctors would leave their private hospitals to come have a peep at them in the public hospitals. This is how nurses treat them like ‘you ain’t gonna tell me nothing. You are just here by our mercy’and treat them worse than the street dogs. They still come though. What should they do? This is the only place they can find a little bit of humanity left. So they wake up while the world is still dark and quiet, rush to the hospital to be the first in line and then wait and wait and wait for hours before the honourable doctor walks in to serve them. You see the fatigue, the helplessness, the anxiousness, the sickness on their faces all at once. What happened to our heroes?

But I will tell you this, although many doctors became what they became so as to acquire their current bank balance, there are some who continue being legends of our times. There are some who have put humanity at the front before money.

There is a doctor in our neighbourhood who is so kind; so humane that you would just be amazed by his nature. He works with his wife in their private clinic and over the years I saw this doctor not charging a shilling to patients whom he wasn’t able to establish their illnesses. He doesn’t charge the patients before but after. If he couldn’t assist you or if he just asked you to do a few tests he doesn’t charge you for talking to him.
I have seen him treating poor people several times free of charge. He sometimes even gives the medicines free of charge. He treats others on credit when they request so. I have seen him showing utmost kindness to his patients and I swear I am a witness to how much he and his wife prospered over the years. They opened their own maternity clinic which also keeps expanding with time. I have seen how God blessed him and his family. And it makes me think, if we just had a few more private doctors who served their communities whole-heartedly and with humbleness, how then would we have over crowded public hospitals with desperate patients crying their souls out for the pain? I am not saying the government is not to blame for not establishing more and proper medical institutions for the less advantaged communities but let’s accept it; we can always do better when we stand for humanity; when we support and help each other.

If you are a doctor and reading this, this is a challenge for you. Are you really the hero you claimed to be? Are you satisfied and proud by how you have held that title of a ‘doctor’? Are you a doctor by the soul or by the pocket??