Monthly Archives: July 2014

My meeting with Wole Soyinka.

Dated Nov 2006.

Yes, penned this almost 8 years ago. Time does fly.

Ex-student leader turned politician – Kingwa Kamencu

Two Caine Prize winners –  Binyavanga Wainaina & Yvonne Odhiambo

Celebrity blogger – James Murua

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The Kenyan in me just had to share this real account of my afternoon with self-exiled, Nobel Laureate, soon to be president of Nigeria(for real!).

To start with I must digress….the previous day I was meant to have coffee with an ex-student leader turned politician. Sounds familiar? She is also a writer but she stood up as she just had to fit a suit for a big event next day. Imagine my shock when I turned up for the event in my usual shirt and trouser!

The event which was dubbed “Moderated session” (what’s with the NGO-speak?) was meant to start at midday but was at last minute in our very African way pushed to 2.30pm .Had things to do at the office as I am just an ordinary Kenyan struggling to make an honest living (navumilia) but by 2pm was to ready to roll. I could not miss this for anything! Driver picked me up promptly as scheduled, we passed through the bank (grants to be signed, art is expensive!), then went to British Council to pick up my boss (meeting for more cash. clearly art is expensive) then proceeded to The GoDown which is funded by the Ford Foundation (clearly mzungu money hard at work for Kenyan art but what’s that about who pays the piper calls the tune?).

Anyway riding in a car with two Caine Prize winners (big literary award-cash prize=0.7M) and also the only celebrity blogger in town must be what they call fringe benefits of my job!

Get to The GoDown and as usual I’m amused by the fact that almost everyone here has dreadlocks (fad, trend or arty?). Polite meet and greet then ensures and there are more art big shots in attendance from film and soaps producers to globe-trotting writers to university dons all psyched to meet The Man. 

Out of the blue or so it seemed, The Man appeared and just like magic digital cameras and camera phones were unleashed (How else would you make people believe?) to capture the moment with The Man.

After a walk around The GoDown (practice for the presidency?) we are the ushered into the boardroom which is in a photo gallery (it’s an art world thing).I pick a seat as far away from the Man (mkenya wa kawaida only here to be a fly on the wall).The Man walks in and shock on me, people stand in awe then he tells us to seat. President anyone?

The session started with round table introductions. I chocked on mine – The Man does not know of Kwani!, Kenya’s biggest literary journal? Clearly homework is for the rest of us. I had tried to Google The Man but jambonet (as usual) let me down!

A powerful opening speech by my boss set the tone and the questions posed to the Man varied from how do you write? When do you write? Who do you write for? To humor, politics, sheng, structure of language, creative process all which the Man answered with wit, candor and an amazing show of brain power for a 72-year old. 

Time flew really fast and was thoroughly enjoying being a fly on the wall till the Man’s chaperone brought the talk to an abrupt end thus bringing me crashing back to earth. Now I know why they call it a “moderated session”. 

An impromptu autograph session then followed and it degenerated into a free for all photo-op. You should have seen everyone run around the table to position themselves for a photo with the Man. Then as suddenly as he had appeared the Man was off, most likely to meet another group of awe-struck Kenyans.

After the expected tea and bitings, it was an opportunity for the writers to sit and talk shop while for me an Art Outsider, it was back to by daily routine, its 5’oclock,got to get home, how to beat the jam and such mundane stuff. But for a couple of hours I had been an Art V.I.P and I think one could get used to this!

PS: 
The Man is tall, medium-built, and bespectacled, with an afro and bushy beard (100% white).No crazy arty look. (He is dressed in white shirt and trouser and half coat).His voice is medium-pitch, he has a ready smile and even readier scorn (clearly genius has no patience).He has an amazing memory, can switch languages at ease and is a natural comedian (quite a contrary to his serious books!).He struck me as a typical guka (grandpa) – fussy, short-tempered, and self-opinionated, stuck in his ways but with his heart in the right place.

PS: 
The Man has been approached by a very popular party in Nigeria (5m registered in two days and the party is not even registered) to run as its presidential candidate. He says he will run not because he wants to but just to prove a point to Obasanjo! (In Africa? Yeah right!)

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Wole Soyinka has confirmed attendance to the 2014 Storymoja Hay Festival.

His name is pronounced SHO-YI-NKA.

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GOD BLESS KENYA!

 


Fragment of a non-existent diary

Disclaimer:

Posted  this on the 1st of July 2oo9 on a different blog. Five years later who would have thought gossip blogs, socialites would be a phenomenon :-).

Re-blogging here to remove the cobwebs from this blog.

Writing here will resume soon. Hopefully.

Enjoy!

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I am a 2nd year student of French at the university. I plan to be a radio presenter and became a celebrity. I know all these people and if they can hang with me then they can work with me, right? I have an interview with that hot male presenter tomorrow at his house and I need to look hot for that. What to wear, how to look? But that is for tomorrow. Today, do I go to school? Hmmmm, let me call my best friend and classmate and find out if she is in school or has got plot.

Let me tell you about me…Am 22years old,life is bliss, credit, hair, men and of course the rave and drinking on any given day is all I am about. I have no source of income but since I am pretty and hot then that is no issue. My parents provide for the basics and then the rest is up to me. Have a steady (or not?) boyfriend who lives in the right side of town and drives the right kind of car. He thinks I am The One but clearly he is mistaken. Still have places to go, people to meet and things to do. So marriage or any commitment is in the very distant future if ever. And again this body is not ready to push let alone carry a baby for nine months. That’s why after I got my accident three months ago, I got one of my service providers to pay for a procedure and flush out that problem. Oh,by the way I had quite a scare this weekend..i was three days late and thought I had had another accident but they finally came so now I can rest easy.

As for the steady, I rather like him and he is able to support my lifestyle so for now it’s all good. But as for love and all that mushy feeling, no, that’s not me! Apart from the steady boyfriend I have a couple of other fans or should I say service providers because their purpose in my life is to provide what I need when I need it. They are all at my beck and call and when I call they run. After all don’t they all hope to get a piece of this fly ass? If only they knew! But disposable income they got and so clever they think they are, so it’s all fair games, no?

I had a fight with my steady over the weekend and I need some TLC which for me is alcohol and a crazy night out. Let me start texting the various options and see who comes up fastest with a fun plot.

My best friend gets back to me and says she has no plot but she is skiving the rest of her classes and idling in town and I should call her up when I get plot. My pal is not very pretty but she got a fine body and brains. So she is good for dancing and conversation which all these service providers seem to want a girl to provide. She hangs around me a lot as am better socially connected but since she is better academically then we both gain.

The texts are coming fast and furious and I pick one. He has been asking for a drinks date for two months so I reckon he has waited for long enough and his wallet will be easy to open as he will want to impress me.

After calling up my best pal and telling her where we should hook up I flash the lucky (or unlucky?) service provider and once he calls back I tell him where I want to meet him and the time. Me and my best friend meet up and after window shopping-oh my! we just discovered a great place to buy shoes-we finally strut in one hour late. The guy is all smiles even though he must be seething inside. A softie he is. So much potential to fleece him I think.

We give our excuses and order for our drinks. Today we are not taking our usual Smirnoff Ice Reds, we are taking Famous Grouse on the rocks! Small talk is provided by my best pal and I just seat there and look innocent and desirable. I off course pop up occasionally and ask the lifestyle questions…where do you work? As a what? Where do you live? What do you drive? The guy has no idea of my intent and answers all these questions without guile. Poor man!

After a couple of hours and a pity story of me been sad I come up with the idea of going for Karaoke at a trendy out of town pub. Guy tries to wiggle out but I flash him a smile and my bedroom eyes and he is toast. We take a taxi and off we go. I am already on phone texting to find out who is at the pub we are heading to.

Getting there, the pub is kicking and the karaoke is in full swing. My best pal also can sing beautifully and the “offer is sing and get free sambucas ” so of course she will sing but the service provider still has to buy Famous Grouse on the rocks.

As my best pal sings, dances and small talks the service provider I do my lap of honor. You know how it is, a girl has to be seen and see people. How else will I prove tomorrow I was at the kicking pub last night? Lap of honor consists of checking out the potential service providers and also touching base with existing service providers and thus getting dates for all of next week! Every so often I go back to the table and chat up the original service provider, can’t be seeing to be a lousy date because one thing I have learnt is never ever burn bridges.

After one hour of my technical appearances the original service provider decides he has had enough and says is time to leave. This is when the party is really getting to climax so I tell him he can go and leave us. He clears the bill and gives me money for a cab. Of course I am a bright girl so I ask him for money for my best pal’s cab too, the fact that we are next door neighbours notwithstanding! Still trying to impress me, the guy off course coughs up and leaves us to jienjoy.

To be continued…
(Disclaimer – This is just me having fun with words. All characters and occurrences are fictional. Any resemblance to anyone or anyplace is wholly coincidental. The to be continued is fictional too!)


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