An upmarket hairdresser asked me: “Potash, you cut your hair and got those foppish pinstripes, and gallivant about town in shirtsleeves and cufflinks on weekends….and claim to be a hustler?” Others insist that my blog is the populist grandstanding of a true blue capitalist gone to dogs. “Why, they ask over ‘premium rate ‘ Tuskers, can’t the son of a bitch , if he thinks he is so clever, get an NGO job push paper and a souped up VX?”
In a word: “Why isn’t Potash getting himself paid for pretending to change the world instead of ranting about it to a nonchalant audience on that there internet?”
Unfortunately this blog proves the wrong forum to address their queries because- occasional excerpts from my fiction not withstanding- this blog is not about me. I insist that ideas herein postulate- the general message so to speak- are bigger than I. What I seek is not self aggrandisement but rather, self expression. The only reward accruing to me from blogging, at present is the cathartic experience I derive from writing.
As I said to a certain mainstream journalist; blogs (can prove) important in bringing focus to local issues and telling the stories that do not find their way into the mainstream media. Such stories do not find a forum because editors believe that they will not sell, or probably the mainstream lacks in its employment such writers as would be passionate enough to tell these stories.
In essence, then, A Kenyan Urban Narrative represents to me the telling of one such story. It examines the realities and aspirations, or the lack thereof of Kenyan urban youth who constitute a significant demographic group and are denied a worthy place in the court of public opinion. To a great extent, the narrative sticks to the idiom and imagery of the protagonists- a quality that would not survive editorial intervention in other media. That particularly is the most powerful tool this media has given me, the ability to tell it as it is /or as it appears to me without being limited by the sensibilities and prejudices of editors and their readership.
The point is that whether or not my rise in the world proves as meteoric as of that other one who rose from an officer cleaner in the boon docks to consorting with the rich and infamous, there are those truths that will remain- as a great statesman said- ‘self evident’.
Whether I am in Kangemi or across the bridge in Loresho, Baba Toto will still be gatting into Toto’ s pants again and again. (Only change being that Toto will grow older. Naturally, there will be a string of siblings sired in quick succession to replenish Baba Toto’s ageing ‘paediatric harem’. Even a couple of boys… who knows? Maybe Baba Toto will die of a long illness bravery borne- cholera; typhoid; your run of the mill Third World diseases that they live by.)
Whether I am sitting outside Mutua’s Kiosk waiting for Timi to pass me the sports page from yesterday’s paper or I am at Kimathi Street editing that paper, the illiterate and the semiliterate will still constitute a significant demographic group in this country. That I have a meal doesn’t mean that millions will no go to bed… to floors… to pavements hungry. The roof over my head is only over my head and not over those of a collective.
Of course the economy has grown; what with the killing you made applying for KenGen shares in the names of your grandmothers and cousins of twice remove. Yes, the economy has grown- the kadogo Economy of , “hii sukuma ita sukuma wiki?”
And the democratic space has grown too, now any five star hotel can host ‘stakeholders deliberating on political empowerment.’ You can hold brainstorming cocktails to review a Karura Forest’s worth of Green paper/ White Paper and call a news conference to sigh: ‘wamama… wakulima… vijana tugutuke!’ But politically, Wanjiku cannot afford the luxury of engaging her mind; she can only engage her relief food needs!
… I am not writing about my Kenya or yours; I am writing about the real Kenya. The Kenya that keeps the wheels of the Aid Industry turning on tropicalised suspension. The Kenya that still remains a mere statistic in your grant proposals: 56% living below the poverty line… 2.4 million youths lack ID cars… the hordes of the unemployed… underemployed…!