Been There, Done That: Recounts of a Lifetime Journey
by Rachi Ngaine, MSPA, CPA, CGMA
Christian Faith Publishing

"I invite you to ponder the highlights of trials and tribulations that God helped me overcome during the early stages of my 'lifelong journey.'"

Author Ngaine was born in Kenya when it was under the colonial rule of Great Britain, a child of a large family who earned their living and survived through hard work in what would seem to most readers as very deprived conditions. He slept on dirt floors in a grass-thatched hut with no toys, no medicines, and the constant attack of bugs and even rats. Work was the inarguable rule, and as the author humorously notes, obesity was practically unknown. His early task was herding goats. He believes these conditions, along with the Christian influence introduced by missionaries, helped to build strong character.

Ngaine was the first of his family and his village to pursue academic education. He ventured to the local schoolyard on his own and soon after was able to attend, somehow managing to pay the mandatory tuition (the equivalent of twenty-five American cents) with his mother's help. When his father was arrested as a member of the outlawed rebel Mau Mau group, Ngaine helped his mother manage their farm. A chance to go to high school arose. Afterward, still in his teens, he found employment with East Africa Railways and Harbours (EARH). Marriage to Beatrice, a young woman he met in church, was the next major step in his life. Struggling to support his extended family, Ngaine was able to move to the U.S. for university education through a series of almost miraculous events. Once he achieved high academic status, he obtained the visas necessary for his wife and daughters to join him. His wife's job for the Kenyan embassy in the States played a role in their ability to secure the much-sought-after "green card" denoting U.S. residency. For the next fifteen years, Ngaine worked as an auditor for the federal government.

Ngaine, now in his seventies, recalls his gradual rise from farm boy to federal employee with great verve, philosophical insight, and an enjoyable sense of humor. With a prodigious memory supported by return visits to Kenya after he was well established in professional life in the U.S., he recounts such occurrences as his circumcision—the "initiation into manhood" required for all males of his cultural group in their early teens—in accurate detail. His book closes with "Humourous Notes," brief vignettes of cross-cultural misunderstandings. One such event occurred when, on being seen with a certain male colleague outside of work, he was asked by a workmate, "Are you gay?" Based on the traditional meaning of the term, the author happily responded, "Yes!"

Ngaine's childhood struggles give poignant reminders of the deprivations suffered by so many who reside in the world's poorer countries and contrast with his high regard for American possibility and progress. Admirably, he has made use of his accomplishments to found a charity for needy families, both in Maryland, where he now resides, and in his birth village in Kenya. Such endeavors are doubtless based upon his strong Christian faith, which gently infuses his narrative throughout. Ngaine's book is significant in offering readers both here and abroad a realistic exploration of the courageous steps required to overcome a multitude of setbacks, achieve success, and give back by helping others.

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