Monday, June 26, 2006


"Many are spoil’d by that pedantic throng, who with great pains teach the youth to reason wrong. Tutors like virtuoso’s, oft inclin’d by strange transfusion to improve the mind, draw off the sense we have, to pour in new; which yet, with all their skill they ne’er could do."
Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism (1711)

As I have said before, I was brought up on Shakespeare and The Bible. The Bible was important to remind us of whose image was on the coin whilst Shakespeare, by being incomprehensible, was meant to make literature- and the quest for knowledge- abhorrent. The school system was designed to turn us into carpenters, like baby Jesus, and not what Taban Liyong called intellectual- intelligentsia- convertibles.
They would never teach us Ngugi wa Thiong’o because the realities mirrored in his writing were too close to home. Ngugi- and his ilk- was anathema because wasn’t in the business of raising intelligent revolutionaries.

Our history and Civics texts- inspired by Joseph Goebbels or George Orwell’s 1984, maybe- were, with their Presidential Press Service photos of the president building gabions, something in between the non existent KANU manifesto and government propaganda. They even made us read a certain book called Nyayo Philosophy written by a certain eminent and politically correct professor. (Fortunately, the only thing I learnt from the book is one perfect example of an oxy moron: Nyayo Philosophy.)

But all that is a long time ago. Way back when there was only one broadcaster whose brief was to remind us of our love for the president. And all that was before telling us who the president had hired, fired or gone to church with. That was all before the era of multiple TV stations. It was back when Kenya Times was as sacrosanct as the Kenya Gazette and was required reading by the Public Service Commission. Those were the days before Christ-how-did-we-live-without-it? - FM radio.

FM was the last straw that broke the back of Government’s budding complacency. The Government was suddenly awake to the fact that the youth had new heroes; heroes who didn’t even have roads or white elephants named after them. The Government also realised, at about that time, that there was a huge demographic escaping the inbuilt indoctrination mechanism of the Public School system. These impressionable youths were not merely in private schools but some a new kind of setup called International schools. It was apparent that the cost of a GCE at an ‘off licence’ Muhindi Academy was lower than the cost of a Government National School. (International Certification, or whatever, was therefore not the preserve of the children of flash in the pan bureaucrats who had discovered the destination of ‘missing files.’)

FM and a parallel system of education had distracted the youth from the most significant symbol of National Unity- the Presidency. Suddenly, there were a large number of youths who hadn’t pledged their loyalty to the president, sang the National Anthem and- atrocity of atrocities- Tawala Kenya. And FM was giving these juvenile hordes something to dance to that wasn’t, ‘Nyayo Philosophia Njema….

To say that Government was faced with a crisis of monumental proportions would be easily dismissed as this writer’s penchant for hyperbole, yet as Lord Byron would have it, truth is always stranger than fiction. As it is, any strong arm Government can only thrive not only through monopolising the executive, legislature and the judiciary but also the key superstructure element that is education- knowledge. A despotic state wishing to perpetuate itself must remain the sole purveyor of information to the masses. And here was FM radio usurping that role, by being the new Information Super Highway for urban youth. FM radio was a veritable Dooms day Cult.

Courtesy of FM radio, Kalamashaka had a runaway hit- Tafsiri Hii- and were being turned into national heroes by the youth. All of an easy sudden, here was someone telling the youth something they could relate to beyond the official- viongozi wa kesho- line of the Government.
What else could constitute a crisis for Government? Here was a bogeyman that no light- light covered with a bushel, obviously- of Commission of Inquiry or a new district could banish.

The Professor of Politics had to rewrite his thesis, nay, shift his paradigm...
Coming Soon: PROJECT DUNDA- A Governement Sanctioned Counter Culture

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


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…!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


One thing you should realise is that works in progress seems to mean, to me, stalled projects. I have noticed that since I posted the last excerpts, I haven't worked on those stories. The interesting thing really is that my yuppie friends all seem to talk about 'Vodoo Sex Bomb' that happens to say much about their perverted tastes rather than about that being my best effort ever.

Truth be told: I suck at fiction. Okay I have been working on it this year, but still. I am more of an essayists, which is evident in pseudonymous effort elsewhere. But my real forte is the vignette. Okay, I am not claiming to be good in that, but it is what my informal writing tends towards. (Numerous, episodic, narratives on those blog are sufficient example.) I have accepted to view my fiction the way some people view Mark Twain's,- that Twain was a rambler who has taken his place in the American Literary canon not because he was good writer but because he was a consumptive creative genius. I have ideas, I just express them in a structured way.

Details aside, here is another extract, from a short story that might never see completion. This is another peculiarly POTASH kind of story. Like in Revelation there is also no decidedly Picaresque protagonist here- that being a hallmark of my vignettes- but rather the over riding themes of Satanism, Lucifer, The Dark Arts, and a profoundly Anti- Christian bias- that is a throw back to my most prolific era, Circa 99/ 2000.

Demons Are Forever

It is dark, outside. Inside my mud and wattle hut the sulphurous hues of the blazing fire cast eerie shadows against the four walls. A billow of hot air rises. Then another… and another…merging…then diffusing.
But I am shivering. I am cold. I am cold inside. Yet streams of sweat meander through my naked body and steam with a sizzle as they come into contact with the mat beneath me.
That mat took me four long rain seasons and three moons to put together. I had spent most of that time in the Nuba Mountains collecting materials. It was at the height of the siege of Juba yet harvesting the finest Nubian skin was an ordeal. An ordeal that I overcame, gradually, by at first making mistakes then intricately perfecting my methods.
Eventually, I had a mat; a fine mat that could put a smile- albeit a grudging one- on the hard countenance of my uncle Legelu. Legelu that was, once upon a time, a famous sangoma- a sorcerer and enchanter extraordinaire. Legelu who came merely one ritual short of demon ranking; one rank below the immortals. He, Legelu that would have earned his fair place in the Circle of the Immortals if only my father, who was his brother and called ne Legelu- meaning small Legelu- hadn’t dispatched him to Purgatory.
Purgatory! What an abomination that place would prove to be to the might and pride of Legelu. I have seen him spit and curse at his handlers there with utter contempt. They cannot touch him nor jeer him, and yet he is their prisoner. Being a prisoner in Purgatory hurts Legelu’s pride. If only he could return to this plane- for only one moon- he could earn his immortality.
Legelu must return to this plane.
Return he must, if it depends on me. He has to return but not necessarily for his own good, for I care nothing for him, but for mine. If I can make a Grand Master escape Purgatory, I will earn immediate immortality. Imagine all that without having to go through two hundred and twenty seven rituals all designed to make you fail!

Vodoo Sex Bomb

Reblogged just for kicks

“I want us together. Forever. I promise,” Victor coaxed. “When I get back to The State, I will send you The Green card”, he continued. “Then we can be together.” But Victor was lying. Lying just to get what men sell their souls to get. That thing that most crave, not to keep but to use and discard like dregs from a wine pot.He didn’t care the least bit for her. Neither did he care for any of the others that had slapped, scratched and stabbed each other just to have the honour of sucking his mzungu dick. They were merely tides of orgasm to him. Transient. Ebbing and flowing. Never counting for much more than just another notch on his totem.“Amee- neah, please”, he begged. Amenya Smiled. She always did when he mispronounced her name. “A-me-nya”, She pronounced it for him while dragging her henna hued finger- nail over his lip. “ Sawa”, he growled, resignedly as hot blood and much hotter semen pounded his urethra. ‘Sawa” was the only Swahili word he had cared to learn. Maybe because the natives used it to question, to answer, to describe- everything- he had concluded it was about the only word he needed to know.“If I say it right will you let me fuck you?” Victor asked, “ Let you fuck your moron brains out…” was closer to what he meant. She cocked her head sideways her eyes settling momentarily on a point somewhere above his shoulder. These African women could never look him in the eye. They had been taught to submit to their men. Taught to lie down at the drop of a man’ s pants- headache, menses or not. But what they did as they lay under you was no submission. They took you in. Engulfed you with a deep, almost pensive, sensuality. Captivated you with subtle oscillations of pressure. Asphyxiated you with diabolical gyrations as though they were voodoo dolls on rhino horn aphrodisiacs. Then they let you go. Centripetal motion. At times after being kept up all night, he tended to see it all as the vestiges of a primeval brand of feminism. Maybe that was their way of stating that just because the man was on top didn’t mean he was in control.Victor had known Amenya for all of two years. The first day he met her; he made her suck him off. Right there in his plush, new office. “So you are my personal secretary?” He had asked ogling the twin peaks on her chest, imagining them jiggling, dancing to the rhythm of her pelvic thrusts as she rode astride him. It all gave him a baobab-sized boner.“Let’s see how well you can receive my faxes,” he sneered, maybe more with his pulsing john than his thin lips. She obliged him. He on the hand carved Lamu Swahili stool; she, kneeling on the leopard skin floor mat.“Damn!” He thought as his wetness splashed her blonde weave, her hydrocortisone- bleached- face. “If this was back home, she would slap my ass with a mighty lawsuit, just for imagining her in my daydream.” So he slapped her ass and sent he on her way.This tour of duty would be the best yet. The relief agency he worked for, back in The States had wanted their own man on the ground. They had to have one of their own to keep a watchful way on the natives and their thieving ways. Here he was now, in the solar powered brazier they call Mombasa. Mombasa with its own easy pace; where a minute lasted an hour… an orgasm too.

The earlier excerpts are here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


tIn furtherence of a theme...
The other day I was reading Shakespeare's King Henry VIII. It called to mind something I read many years ago on that King and his role in the founding of a national church for England. (That now brings a new idea about the Anglican Church in Kenya and as they say; God willing, I will talk about it later.)

16th Century Europe saw the Christian world in a great turmoil precipitated by a heightened disdain for Roman/ Papal excesses. Though the question of "Doctrinal Orthodoxy" as spearheaded by the amiable Martin Luther and the fanatical John Calvin, was at the root of an emerging protest against Rome, the impetus for the split in the Body Catholic came from self serving political ambitions in Christendom. Various Kingdoms and Dukedoms across Europe were now conscious and cavetous of the lucrative homage accruing to the supra-national Papacy.

The circumstances in England for instance that led to the English fall out with Rome and the subsequent sacking of Cardinal Wolsey, who was both Lord Chancellor and Papal Legate, were in no way ethereal. King Henry VIII was married, under special Papal Dispensation, to Catherine of Aragon who had been his late brother's wife. The loyal couple failed to bear a male heir to perpetuate the Tudor Dynasty of the Henry's which led the King to believe himself a victim of the curse in Leviticus 20:21. To evade this he sought to divorce Catherine. Furthermore, the King was in love with Anne Boleyn (Rendered, Anne Bullen- Katherine's maid of honour in the Shakespearean play).

Pope Clement VII refused to sanction the divorce because that marriage having been solemnised via special dispensation, to allow a divorce then would invalidated the earlier dispensation. (Think about it in terms of Papal infallibility.) The English King's desire for the other woman and a male successor, unfortunately proved of greater importance than reverence for Papal bull (small B, there!) In order to have his way, he declared the Church in England independent of Rome and made himselt the temporal head- that Vicar of Christ thingy, I would say- of the Church in England.
Obviously there being no doctrinal conflict with Rome, the fall out being merely born of personal and political expediency, King Henry did not envisage any Reformist deviation from Roman Orthodoxy. Infact for purposes of strengthening his influence and power over England, King Henry fronted the new Church as being Reformed Catholic. The strategy in it was that by being Reformed the Church owed no allegiance to Orthodox Rome and yet by being Catholic it wouldn't lean, doctrinally towards the Protestant throngs in Geneva. As it seems to me, the English King had in one Machiavelian act of shrewidity declared himself Englands sole purvoyor of that which Karl Marx would latter refer to as "the opium of the people."
In so few words, I cannot draw the picture that is in my mind now but I seem to have gone back to a question in the previous post of the Christian Heritage to civilisation and such things. But particularly, the arguments, especially by our parish priest that christianity is the true religion and that is why it has spread far and wide. That to me just speaks tonnes for the colonialising influence of "boxed" christianity. In truth Christianity spread because it was the favoured religion of every worthy Imperialist since Constantine, because it preached allegiance to the state and giving to Ceaser what is Ceaser's.

And later day Charlmagne's abound. I mean, to the world, the conflict in Sudan for instance is packaged as Islam versus christianity. It is the only way the bible belt will allow it' s tax dollar to flow that way in the relief truck that follows the Humvee.

And even the war in Iraq is nothing to me than a Crusade. The choosen of God have always found Bibilical precedence (or is scriptural basis?) to loot, plunder and conquer Canaan, wherever it may be found. (Numbers 13:17). The Judaeo-Christian ethic that is ordained by a jealous and belligerent Yahweh is what has kept the philistine Bible-thumping George Walker in business and the "peasant privates" dying for God and for Country.

Isn't it possible then that the Christian Emperor is created in the war-like image of his God?