Joe Black Sits His Exams


In class. Looking at bent heads and scratching pens, enraptured by the sudden change in mood from slackened reading to full blown revision. My desk mate has got about five books piled up on his locker. One hand is supporting his head while the other’s dipped into his trousers. It’s a favourite pastime of his. I don’t berate him about it. If he needs something to do with his hands, fumbling about his privates is a far better alternative than lighting up a ciggie. I am careful not to eat anything he touches, though. I aint that much into crotch flavour.

Everybody is busy with good reason. It is a few days to the mother of all exams. To those in the dark, those who are so far removed from life past their noses that they still think miraa is a cash crop, hundreds of thousands of students countrywide will be sitting for an exam that will determine a large part of their future lives ranging from whom they will date to the number of their twitter followers.

That reminds me, my twitter handle is @dshady9 and no, I don’t need your follows. Let me test the authenticity of reverse psychology. I’ve always had a feeling Freud was full of crap. Or whoever it was that came up with the reverse psychology thingy.

Its results have not been anything far from disastrous whenever I’ve used it on girls. Reason why I never get any mushy letters with ‘xwiry’ plastered all over them. Glad not to, though. I’d puke over the multi coloured hearts popping up at every other line and the copy pasted love quotes. Let me stop there, my girl issues would fill a thousand page book.

I’m talking, I mean, writing a lot aren’t I? It’s because I am nervous. No scratch that. Nervous is what I am when a doc is about to stick a needle up my ass. Scared is what I am if that doctor’s sexuality is in question and he might end up sticking a totally different kind of needle. Scared shitless is what I’m feeling with the exam rearing it’s ugly head round the corner, taking its time, like a time bomb, ticking away ceaselessly, each second pulling me closer to it so that it can detonate in my face.

Back to the KCSE, I don’t even know why I’m scared. Exams have never fazed me before. At least, not in this way. I didn’t even flinch when the pink English KCPE paper was placed on my locker and that’s saying something seeing as two of our number fainted. One was a girl. A girl in a dress. A dress that wasn’t too quick in covering up. When girls in dresses faint, they leave an impression. An impression that doesn’t do one good especially if they have a national exam to write.

I’m hitting the books hard, almost as hard as Shebe hits the bottle. You don’t know about Shebe, do you? He’s legend. Dude’s known by even the dogs back at good old Majengo. In my eighteen years, I’ve never seen him sober. His mouth gets more alcohol than an EABL distiller. These past holidays, someone told me that Shebe had died clutching a bottle of jebel as was his wish. I felt bad for him. How the hell would he make do in hell with no fire whisky to ignite his bones?

Then, one morning I’m going to buy milk when I hear someone singing a vulgar tune. I go to check. This, of course, is no novelty so I don’t begin lamenting about the souls lost to devil’s piss. I instead give him a cursory glance which is instantly replaced by a look of uttermost horror followed by a sprint that leaves my bones complaining bitterly in rapid Kisii. ’Twas Shebe in the ditch, having defied death to keep on drinking. Only the good die young, apparently. Or in this case, the sober.

My exam fright to do aint got nothing to do with preparedness. It’s more of the fact that within this past year, my reasons for attaining good grades have increased ten fold. Last year, I did not have any motivation. I did not think education as anything ground shaking. It was more like a pastime, something to keep me off the incessant boredom at home.

Right now, though, I might as well as be the kid with the most reasons to be in school. Excluding, of course, those kids who have burgers on their menu, huge screens for chalkboards and go for school trips to Paris.

To begin with, I’ve got a sponsor to please. It never gets lost on me that am seated here eating chapattis every week and showering with hot water because someone decided to pay my school fees. Folks, you can’t compare that to anything.

I got my grandpa, too. My grades have taken an about turn since I came here to the tune of convincing the old man that I’m the saviour that was prophesied about by his father before him. I reckon he be reading too much Ngugi but hey, you don’t go messing around with some beliefs.

I attend the Mackenzie Education Centre community. I’ve been top of my class all year and thus, every chap, shrub and crab expects me to pass. Starting from the director all the way down to Mwinzi, the school watchie. They’ve all taken my passing as a given. It breaks me to think of how sure they are of me and how unsure I am of myself.

I got you too. Thought I’d forget you? You guys have been the confidantes I don’t have in the real world. I write about my life. Not because I have that colourful a life(if I did I would have a ‘ Keeping up with Munuve’) or because I’m that good a writer but because I know I’ve got an audience here. They’ll always listen to me and they’ll give me advice and at the end of it all, I’ll be like ‘Man, what wouldn’t I do without you?’ If I could, I’d take you all for a cruise round the Pacific with Biko’s forehead riding on a separate boat. By the way, success cards are already flowing in by the masses.

Our education system is designed in such a way that a piece of paper could make you or break you. A certificate, regardless of whether ’tis issued by the KNEC or some geek at river road is what you need to realise your dreams. Unless you got cash. The doors that dough could open are countless. Notice the similarity in pronunciation?

I want to pass this exam so I can go to campus. I want to pass this exam so I can look back and say I made it. I wanna pass this exam so I can be going for holidays in the UK and if I’m ever denied a visa, I’ll take my woes to Biko along with a bottle of Johnnie Walker, by then a greying old man at his home in Kendu bay, and tell him, ‘‘ Baba, they used the word ‘onus’ on me. ’’

It’s pretty late. I’ve been writing for hours. The wind outside is howling loudly, coming in in gusts and riffling the pages, just like life, flipping us back and forth, not giving a damn about who we are and what we tweet about, messing us up at will. OK, I should get to bed. Waxing lyrical is never a good sign.

Wake me up when November ends.


[Photo credit: Flickr]

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  1. All the best Joe. The world out here is not as crappy as they make it. It is 7 times crappier. But you, you got the right attitude on the rocks towards it.

    Slay them doggone papers, slay them!

  2. Dude I i love your way with words! I wish you all the best! I already have faith in you!

    And I also want you to be denied visa so that you give us your “onus” version!

  3. Wishing you success Joe Black. The fact you can write this while at high school speaks a lot about your potential. You should have posted your address and I would have sent you a card. No need for me to say it you will make it and the fruits of your hard labor awaits you.

  4. Success in your exams joe…. you sound sharp enough… maybe even sharper than most of the people who will be marking your exams…..

  5. Hahahahahah you made me laugh out so loud, my colleagues wondered what was happening to me.
    Joey (i prefer calling you that), i have you in my prayers and i got your back.
    And please honour your promise by taking me along on that trip, One day soon, you will be able to and i want to be the first person you will invite. Why? because i believe in you.

  6. All the best Joe. But remember to have well constructed, grammatical sentences in paper three…the slang will overshadow your brilliant creativity (unless u quote the sentence) and I can bet you’ll pass and be bigger and better than Biko. (no offense Biko)

    (PS Biko: Please tell Joe to take that advice of paper 3 seriously…)

  7. Baba Kim , You must be proud as hell of your adopted son.I know I am! November will be over soon and you will be standing in the light soon. Biko start looking for an internship to keep this one out of mischief next year before he joins campus.

  8. Buda Boss! your head is in the right place, I get unsure of myself sometimes, but then i look around and see all the people who believe in me, and i tell myself, They must be seeing something in me, i may not see it but I choose to believe it. Now, the whole school cant possibly be wrong about you, Yours is not the fear of failure, its the fear of success, Go On, give it your best, earn your place at the table. ,

  9. All the best Joe! The entire High school here awaits you in November and more so to celebrate your victory next year February.

    Biko, this Boy could have been your lost son. He’s you!

  10. I think we should start calling you Mighty Joe Young cause you’re as formidable as that gorilla…jokes aside all the best Joe Munuve! 🙂

  11. All the best, fear is good sometimes.

    BTW, keep them hormones in check, join a choir or something after november coz I sense we might have lady problems of a very different kind, once you are let loose on campus!

    What with all that overflow of sexual hormones!

    Biko, do something..

  12. Biko, i bought some book, KES100, no change. It gave me that hangover thing you once wrote about. I could give it to you, perhaps you would enjoy it like i did, perhaps you would toss it aside, but yet again, it would only be 100 bob tossed aside. The book is called ‘There are no children here, the story of two boys growing up in the other America, by Alex Kotlowitz’ If you feel it, follow back then DM @fetishbishop (did you notice what i did there, learning from the best), i will pass it to you

  13. For a moment there, I was confused before I realised it was Joe Black.

    🙂 great read. you will ace! Success JB

  14. All the best Joe Black. Pass that paper and just remember those of us of the Christian bent are rooting in your corner with prayers…

  15. So thrilled at your strong motivation to do well and the reasons for it. You’re halfway there already, and we believe in you too.

  16. Oh Joe Black! We wish you all the very best in your exams. Do not be anxious for anything but in prayer, let your request be known to God. I am praying for you.
    Your future is bright young man. We are with you!

  17. All the best Joe. pita hiyo mtihani. greatness awaits you.hope to see more of your brilliant writting here when the exams are done. that is kama Biko wouldnt have kicked your out for making fun of his forehead hehe

  18. unlike you, am a fan of crotch flavor …. hoping that u don’t take your scared shitiness in the exam room…i love you but i love Biko more….i mean the other way round

  19. The jitters are a great thing son, means you really care about what you are about to undertake.All the best.

    A success card is on its way…and I will be praying for you.

  20. This article is just awesome, that part on crotch flavor and Biko’s forehead riding on a different boat just killed it for me, all the best in your forthcoming exams Joe, unless the devil compromises the examiners, am confident you will get very good results.

  21. JB relax and let all you know shine on those papers! You my friend has your whole life ahead of you!! All the best JB, you will do it!!

    Biko now you have to use this brilliant brain after Nov and before he goes to Campo!

  22. Joe all will be well,..and some excitement wells up in me everytime I read you..with two (fore) heads ridding separately,..there no limit to this literary fun galore!

  23. I think I like this Joe Black kid. Anyone who can take a jab at Biko’s forehead gets my thumbs up. All the best Joe Black. May the ‘onus’ be with you.

  24. i rarely mean my LMAO but joe …u had me with this one…im literally laughing hysterically at the office. which means my boss knows am not working…heh heh ati “aint that much into crotch flavor.”LOL
    “take you all for a cruise round the Pacific with Biko’s forehead riding on a separate boat.” -@biko this is what happens when u complain tOO much abt your becomes a punch line ..LOL

  25. Biko: May God bless you beyond measure.

    Sponsor: What you have done for this young man is very noble. You have turned his life around. This is one less boy in the streets. You may or may not realize it but your actions have and will change his family for the better. May God bless you abundantly and make your cup runneth over.

    Joe: I love your rawness. I don’t even know you but I know that You will pass your exams. You are brilliant. I wish you all the best and may God bless you as well. You’ll be in my prayers.

  26. “If I could, I’d take you all for a cruise round the Pacific with Biko’s forehead riding on a separate boat. By the way, success cards are already flowing in by the masses.”

    Ouch! This is just cold!!! 🙂

  27. I have been following on Joe Black and I just love his journey. It’s a journey of determination. Wish you a bright future ahead.. I hope to continue reading more about u r life in here.. kudos

  28. Regardless of what happens when they give you that result slip next year, you are going to do well in life. You have seen what is possible. I don’t wish you luck; luck is for those who don’t prepare. You have prepared. You have put in the long nights and early mornings.
    So just go get em kiddo. Go get em!!!

  29. “I wanna pass this exam so I can be going for holidays in the UK and if I’m ever denied a visa, I’ll take my woes to Biko along with a bottle of Johnnie Walker, by then a greying old man at his home in Kendu bay, and tell him, ‘‘ Baba, they used the word ‘onus’ on me. ’’ – You Gotta Love this kid… Nice one Biko!!

  30. So after reading everyone’s furry some guys were asking.., no DEMANDING for Joe Black.Had to check it out and I agree we need more of this guy!! Great writing

  31. So after reading “Everyone’s Furry” some guys were asking.., no DEMANDING for Joe Black.Had to check it out and I agree we need more of this guy!! Great writing