Wednesday, April 18, 2007

IN BABYLON I TRUST

I have been called a fraud. A child of privilege trying to pass himself as the voice of the scions of the Proletariat- the herald of Nairobi’s dispossessed majority. A product of Kenya’s most elite academies- the best schools in the Republic- claiming to be an alumnus of the Streets; a self made pseudo-intellectual. That and many other things that remain the inconsequential opinion of The Few who suddenly finding me holding my own in their circles desire to drag me into the exclusive folds of their glorified embrace. They endeavour to claim me as one of their own but first, as they say, I have to drop my bullshit stance and face up to the stark realities of my yuppiness.

How do I make them understand that I come as a package; that what I bring with me is not mere baggage but the sum total of my heritage?

Yet in other circles, the circles of the Insignificant Others where I cut my teeth, my name is no longer praised but spat out like last night’s tuksin. “Behold,” they chide, Potash the sell-out riding shotgun in the cream SUV and the exotic bitch not seeing her stick shift for that self publicising dick. But the dick cannot see beyond the bottle of Jack Daniels.” Maskini hapati…, they murmur to each other punctuating their snide vitriol with gut wrenching gulps of Napshizzle …na akipata… si unamuona!

But you know what I have resigned myself to? It is the fact that I can be many things to many people but only one thing to myself: me. A certain Latina Academic- or whatever that gorgeous creature of Boricuan extraction might want to call itself- tells me that my street voice is my real voice. So whose voice is this I speak in now, my doppelganger’s?

I am sick and tired of this talk of Potash lost his voice. Like what the fuck was I destined to be, Vox Clamantis in the Ghetto? When I declared myself a voice crying out in the wilderness, preparing the way for the messiah, I meant that I was preparing the way for me, myself and I. I was the messiah to come and now that I am here, I say verily unto you: I was sent by me to save me.

I cannot save the ghetto. What, and keep the North’s surplus labour out of employment? Who am I to fight the onslaught of the development industry as they, armed with all the poverty eradication jargon that the conscience of Global Capital can buy, scramble for a corner of my street to raise their mayday flags from? Saving the Wretched of the Earth is the White Man’s Burden. (Remember Kipling?)

The best I can do is allow myself to be a foot soldier in their communications departments and save myself by taking a pittance for working under a Communications Consultant who earned his Save Africa credentials from his many years working as a janitor in the offices of the Bullamakanka Gazette in Nowhere, Australia and who cannot tell Kenya from a map of Kenya.

But I haven’t taken that NGO job yet. All I am saying is that I wouldn’t turn it down. I have said time and time again that I am not a believer. Believers die poor, a situation that would be in my case a waste of one of the most entrepreneurial minds of our generation. A generation that doesn’t have much time left to live if the jeremiads at the United Nations can be taken for their word on our life expectancy. A generation that has no chance of bearing successors if all those women screaming for the abolishment of our beverage of choice- Napshizzle- are to be seen as a testament to our libido or the lack thereof.

Maybe I will not live to see forty three but I can increase my chances by getting out of the way of stray bullets. That still leaves HIV/ AIDS to contend with and as that goes, even though I still cannot afford premium brand condoms, I can now have women who can afford to buy condoms in the flavour they want to have me in on any given night. Besides, the great difference between leisurely coitus sans interruptus in a yuppie’s boudoir and frantic sex in a phone booth is that, in lieu of a condom, you can always take a hot shower a la Jacob Zuma- he is negative you know- afterwards.

The important thing to me in the end is that I never romanticised poverty. I never glorified the streets. I spoke about it all because that was the life I knew. Those who want to stand there and mourn the angst-ridden tales cannot possibly claim to be my well wishers. It might seem, to many of you, that somewhere I began to sound too aspirational, nay, pampered. That is not because I have become those things but simply put, somewhere in this literary journey my anger began to dissipate as gradually the light at the end of my tunnel became, seemingly, more than the flaring torches of rampaging mungiki.

I soldier on, the lure of Capital guiding me on like a pillar of smoke to a manna sated Jew in the Sinai, grappling for every tool, through means foul and fair, that will help me navigate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There isn’t a thing that changed in my philosophy. I still will not rant and rave about Them, Babylonians, vs. Us, whatever we call ourselves. I still refuse to appreciate the concept of babi and still maintain that it is the most superfluous word in our urban lexicon.

I continue to insist that babi in its usage on the street or the slums (damn I hate the word Ghetto) and low income neighbourhoods of Nairobi is a metaphor for diminished self-worth and a nod to communism. And I am not a communist- damn I hate communists- and only poor Kenyans seem to subscribe to communism, well and some lazy Muslims who continue to wait for Idi.

***

My heart bared and my feet numb with genuflection I now lay prostrate before the god of lucre. “I have said my three Holy Shillings and pray thee Great Capital, accept my humble offering: my writing.” I have no pretensions. I refuse to suffer beneath self-imposed glass ceiling of Babi. I want to look, to reach out beyond my corner of the street into the other side. Into the Westside. The Best side.

Maybe, as you said, I do not write as well these days as I used to. It could be that the greatest words I ever wrote were the scrawls I made with shit streaked fingers on the walls of Choo Namba Nane: Kanjo Mavi! Or the charcoal squiggles on the crumbling cardboard walls of my lean-to. The unmetred rhymes pencilled on the back wall of Mama Pewa Pewa’s shebeen as we shared a wank, a joint, a gaff while we peed and or abused her prepubescent daughters; my dirges to dignified life. But who cares? Who would have read all that apart from you and I as the wit and turns of the phrase continued to languish, in myriad bits of incoherency, in the ossified brain cells of the semiliterate Urban Detritus we knew? Not that anyone has read it yet, but at least they now know it was written. Because they listen when I tell them it was.

Maybe stripped off the angst, my writing is nothing but a god with feet of clay propped up by those who discovered me. The words that I once layered with meaning are now mere handholds for a grappling, vacuous mind. Suddenly the word Come has no ‘Viral Transmission’ and ‘Yet Another Unwanted Pregnancy’ encumbrances. It is just another keyword to keep the fan mail coming: Shag me Savage, the Mancunian redhead will scream… on and on ad infinitum.

I started blogging because I was angry, now I blog for the fans who need their dreams of being my future sex partners kept alive. I am not yet custom paid or custom laid, I know, but I am close enough to that place to smell the plastic in my wallet by the bedside and the smell of friction as my dick meets yet another willing pussy.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was all rather unexpected. b x

Kaunda said...

I said I'd send you a book. I haven't yet. Sadly I consider my buying tobacco a necessity. Soon I promise.

Oh and let it be said I never thought your writing isn't as good as it used to be. Write!

POTASH said...

Hey white dude; with you no quarrels. I know you are reliable.
Uhm, white chick... it is about the peter Moore book, did you pick it up in London? Tell me so we can keep John in his tobacco habit. Just like mine it is not negotiable...lol.

aegeus said...

....I am not yet custom paid or custom laid, I know, but I am close enough to that place to smell the plastic in my wallet by the bedside and the smell of friction as my dick meets yet another willing pussy.... I love the way you write...keep the posts coming!

Frankie said...

u write boldly, is all i can say, and long too...

bantutu said...

Am cumming am cumming for goodness sake....You are good fot my loins...Nauache kutuchongoa!!!