(A KENYAN URBAN NARRATIVE: ON BLOGS SINCE JANUARY 18, 2006)
AND THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE BOOK SOME GIKUYU WORDS IS HERE.
I am typing this with one hand. My right hand’s middle finger is stuck way deep in the arses of naysayers who said I couldn’t write to save my Napshizzle; yuppie friends who wondered who read my mtaa blog. I pull that finger out, momentarily; smell it; cringe at the stink and shove that finger right up the arses of newspaper editors who wouldn’t touch my shit- even with a borrowed dick.
I know I have mentioned my pretend publicist- not the recent fine breasted one- N.M. N.M. the mercenary writer who I am told has now sold his soul to yet another NGO, a kind of publishing outfit or some other donor funded hustle to that effect. In 2004, after many nights of buying me booze and letting me sleep on his couch so that he could listen to my ‘hood stories, N.M. decided that I could turn them all into a newspaper column. It sounded like an excellent idea until he sent the stuff out to BUZZ.
What the fuck?
Thank God they rejected my stuff. Like where would I be now if I had written for Buzz- celebrated by the prepubescent? Maybe my only claim to writing fame would have been in knocking off my man Smitta Smitten off the ratings table. When I tell people that what got a lease of life on this blog was submitted to Buzz, they laugh in derision- at that juvenile rag of course.
“But Potash you are a writer”, they remark. Well maybe I am one and it is not that I would have ranked amongst the Copy Pasters on Kimathi Street that bothers me but the thought of how I would have had to work with an editor who cannot spell; who claims brag rights from having read The Da Vinci Code. How would I have worked with so called entertainment writers who do not seem to know what a groupie (see a piece on Ja Rule) is or who think that Collabo (see Shaggy Interview) is a word peculiar to whatever demographic group it is that constitutes ‘Buzzers’?
To the bulk of my readership, who wouldn’t tell Buzz from something your lavatory didn’t flush out, I am sorry I cannot find parallels in such murky depths. Those of my generation might remember Patch Dispatch- those Nairobi School scribblers, against Buzz, would take the fucking Pulitzer. Hey even the prison memoirs that the geeks at Starehe put out would beat Buzz 10- 1 in content.
But that is all a long time ago, seemingly, and I ditched N.M; continued to walk out to the EPZ, ever so rarely in search of Kibaruas and sitting juu ya mawe, ever so often trading stories, flambéing my brain cells and declining spermatozoa with Napshizzle; and writing woe begotten tales. I’d sit with Timi and the rest of what had come to be known as the Potashian Book Club- a book club that read more labels on varicoloured alcohol cans than books- and indulge in literature as we knew it. We were the neighbourhood’s philosophers and pseudo-intellectuals (yes pseudo-intellectual because we had no Ivory Tower from behind which to analyse disposed urban youth- which is what we were, anyway; no catch phrases to encompass our experiences and ultimately, no departmental chairs to back stab each other for).
We would sit and talk; then we would sit and wait. Waiting… waiting for a half-life. A half-life that soon became a pitiful metaphor for existence sans the luxury of a future tense.
Club Log: Yesterday we got drunk!
Always yesterday… the last meal… Only that drop of alcohol that has been imbibed can be known- Potashian Epistemology!
Then came January 2006.I got a loose gig packing boxes of contraband computer parts at a Muhindi sweatshop in Hurlingham. Every time the Muhindi went to the back of the shop to crap; eat the junk that put the stink into his crap; indulge in ritualistic self abuse; or whatever it is Muhindis do locked up at the back, his slaves would assault his bandwidth with porn downloads for future (ab)use. Not being voyeuristic in nature- my right hand has more sex appeal to me than all the pink cunt that a grainy, low resolution P.C. screen can throw at it- I had to find an interesting way to bullshit the Muhindi’ s clock-in formula:
Internet Forum Boards. Eureka!
I got onto this site that was full of armchair do-gooders of the Let’s Save Africa variety. I shoved their “oh but the dog food wasn’t exactly unfit for African… er… human consumption” up their Burger King enhanced arses. Someone noticed. Yeah, there was this old fogey saying that he was digging my thinking and that my writing was as tight as a picaninny’s arse… woah. “So what’s up with an online collaboration, chap?” he asked.
(A year later and after getting on the conference circuit; all these five star restaurant lunches and brainstorming sessions over hyphenated cocktails, I can tell the mzungu hustle. You know the fellow that wants that token African into the project to tell the native kids how to look sick enough for the award and or donor winning NGO photographer! I can tell that kind from a heated swimming pool length away, now and I can tell you that that fellow wasn’t that. But I didn’t know shit then; I was down for whatever. Really, I would have taken anything, well maybe a little more if the plan involved you shagging me in the arse!)
Then this guy told me something. Something more amazing than finding out that your daddy still has a mind blowing coital engagement with your happily married sister. “Potash, you could set up a blog, you know” said the old man.
“A blog” wondered P, the.
“Yeah, a blog… even an idiot like me can set up one, check it out.” Typed he.
That old fogey was John Powers. Mr. Powers, enjoy your fifteen seconds on my spot. Sir, you set me on the path to E-Penis enlargement, see how my online cred has grown! (Yes, a year later I have grown an E-Penis straight out of the Chamber of Internet Monstrosities.) It is so unfortunate that we Africans do not have souls and cannot express our emotions but you can take a photo of yourself looking eternally grateful and paint it black. Alternatively, I could drink a can of Napshizzle to your health- but then again my taste buds have been gentrified, lately!
Okay, move along sir. I know it has only been ten seconds but there is a pile of other egos in my massage parlour that I must deal with without eating too much into my drinking time.
Without further ado I present to you the people who were there, who have been there and who will be there in this journey from a neighbourhood wordsmith into ‘the finest writer of this degeneration’.
At the onset, I must dedicate every post to the street. The street might not love me as much as it used to but it is my heritage. Because of the street I had a story to tell. I got into all these new spaces not because I was a good writer- the heck I haven’t written shit in ages- but because I had street cred. I was this unknown kid with what others considered a remarkable story- an untold truth. I am given to immodesty but I will never take credit for that knowledge. I didn’t build it, I merely absorbed it; regurgitated it on this blog. From my street corner to the world- come feel this shit!
Special thanks and immense credit must go where it is due- The Potashian Book Club. You came, you drank, and you passed out. And in my stories you stay passed out; and the Yuppies and Development cowboys marvel: “But Potash, what can we do for these kids?” So they do the NGO thingy: conference, conference and more conference; only that this time they call this cat as the authority on Nairobi Underground! And my conscience goes up in smoke as I join them in shagging our shared whore- Africa- in five star hotel dinning rooms.
I must pay tribute to all those Kids we lost on the streets… I still look behind me, even as I write in the luxury of beach fronts and manicured lawns. I can hear the rattle of the G.K riffle… I can see myself running… watching you fall… pouring Napshizzle into yet another unmarked grave in Langata. You are gone but in my stories you live again!
This goes out to my man Jose in Kamiti or whatever jail you at now- too bad this new hustle got me too busy to keep tabs on erstwhile friends. The Third Caucus of Nairobi’s Finest, I am glad you let me in. Abdulla of Loki, thanks a lot for the autographed ‘Black Hawk Down’ Kevlar on street check off. And my man Dinda- the Street Pharmacist- that Locum post was a much needed brolly on a rainy day.
To my man Timi- still the cutest boy I know- I love you in more ways than I can say! Get your hustle on homeboy, but remember that writing is all we wanted to do. The Nairobi Anthology is still a dream I live for.
And finally, my appreciation goes out to the following people for making so much possible. Without them I would still be, just another kid with a blog:
M. Mbugua Kimani
And a last minute insert because I have learnt the art of sucking up:
To my Ardent Fans, Groupies and Stalkers, finally I have come to recognise you. Much as I spent so much time saying that this wasn’t about you, I cannot kick you out of my spot. Buy the fucking book when it comes out, else you are worthless to me!
To all those who are wondering why I forgot them, well i didn't. You just weren't an integral part of this hustle. And if you ask why I didn't thank my God and my Mother- go setup your own blog and thank your God and your Mother on every post!