Joe Black on the Cove


Obviously, I love Joe Black. Because he’s still at that point in his life where idealism triumphs action. A point where intention is a mere projection. He’s talented and he doesn’t even realise the scale of it. He plays with it. He uses his talent like someone who uses a spade to cut bread. He’s also like a child who sits before a candle, interrogating the flame, scrutinizing it and then touching it. I like that he is conscious of the lessons he learns even if he doesn’t know what to do with them. I love his innocence, that he can call me at 4:30am (twice, like yesterday) when he’s in Kayole Police station because he was in a bar and there was a brawl and the coppers showed up in their Subaru with wristbands and he thought, ‘ah I owe Biko a story’. I love that he’s still rubber, that he’s stretching and he’s testing his elasticity. 

Won’t you believe I’ve never met him? All these years? He’s been busy doing drugs and waking up in the arms of women of, uhm, great colour. I’m still sitting on our impending meeting because I don’t want to spoil the image I have of him in my head. All I know is that he’s skinny and he has very sharp elbows. For now I’m hanging onto the innocence of my fantasy. But I know I have to meet him soon. 

Mostly, unpredictable and unhinged as he is, I love that he comes through. All the time. And I enjoy reading him. Sana! I’m envious of the content he has gathered in life; the dysfunction of it all. One day he will write a book and it will be a real killer because who can make that shit up? 

When I tell him, ‘Joe, do you want to write something again on the blog?’ He will say, all gung-ho, “sure, what do you want to read?” I will pretend that I don’t really want to read again about this incredible life he has led because…the danger of a single story blah blah, but I really do. It’s astonishing what this kid has gone through and how he finds the language to tell it.  

“Write anything, Joe,” I tell him. 

People write about what they know. So I know he will always write about what he knows or what he knew; a debauched life. 

Anyway, there is a chance that I might be starting a mini series next week. I’m having my ducks in a row. 

Gang, Joe Black. [And oh, that title header was his]



Biko could interview me. He can sit me down, buy me a drink, a double of course because I drink like a fish and I’m only one step away from being Omosh wa Tahidi High and telling people, “kazi ni kuamka, kupiga luku, doing nothing!” I’m sad for Omosh, talent and all, the best natural actor I’ve seen in the longest while but here we are. I see him in church occasionally, when I go there and he’s a real God-talker, sings the loudest, worships his God with the loudest of voices, the utmostest of devotion and no one claps harder than Omosh. You can see the emotion in his face and the glory in his countenance. I hear he’s a drunk, from the grapevine, but I haven’t seen him indulge. I’d love to buy him a beer. Nah. A KC. Then listen to him, he has to have the most amazing of stories. 

Anyhow, as I was saying, Biko could have a sit down with me and ask me about my life, its aspects and all but no sir, Biko doesn’t think I deserve it. He don’t think I wanna be written about from his perspective, like he does with other people. I’m a child of a lesser God. Biko may be darker than a ballsack ( some chic told me I’m as dark as under the bed and that hit me because you can be dark, black and all but you can’t get darker than the darkness that exists under the bed), but I also wanna be interviewed and written about from Biko’s perspective. Flowery language, I can already see it, a big ass portrait of moi, with my mustache( I don’t have a full beard because testosterone be low, apparently, but I got a deadly ‘stache which I never get to keep because the chic I’m with absolutely hates it and it would seem I’m emasculated because why would I listen to a girl’s whims?). 

So there I am, Joe Blize, in all his glory, and I’m on Business Daily and Biko, with his crisp short sentences, goes like:

‘Mr. Black, how goes your days and how do you spend all these billions?’ ( This is a misnomer because Biko doesn’t ask these mundane questions but it’s my fantasy and I’ll make up whatever I wanna make and if you have a problem, sue me). 

‘Well, Biko, it’s hard to keep track. I drink, I race cars and I golf. Afterward, I take a relaxing bath at Mwea, by the canals and curl my hair while I stare at the sun and try to curve out all its mysteries.’ 

Biko: Nice. That’s a strange habit but well, you are a strange guy, and I would expect nothing less. Let’s get to the serious issues. What do you think about my forehead? 

‘I’m glad you asked about that. Top of my head, it reminds me of Yatta. Not the district, but the plateau. It’s big, it’s broad and it’s Shining. I could land a plane, as it’s an airport.’ 

Biko: That’s harsh but true. So, do you reckon you could play 18 holes on it? Be honest. 

‘Ummh, not golf but give me a racket and an opponent and we’ll changamka on some lawn tennis.’ 

Or, he could write about me on his blog and a pox on the newspapers. But, no sir, he wants me to write. Well, can’t argue against that so write I will, and right he is( y’all will have to forgive me for these silly puns and rhymes. They sound better in my head). 

A quick shout out to Magunga and Seth Gor, real ni***as, those. 

Living here in Komarock is tricks. I’ve been through so many ups and downs that I miss the chaos that came with addiction. I could write and talk to y’all, gang, about my life but it’d be flimsy, facetious and why would y’all care. What does it matter to y’all that I’m here stressing over Esther that we used to live, and do drugs, with, at those lodgings in Park Road? 500 a day and you gotta look at the money or you’ll sleep on the stairs. But Black, you handsome son of a bitch, brilliant writer, perspicacious musterbater, why would you lower yourself and take yourself down to those despicable  levels? You might ask. Drugs, my friend. Drugs and an inordinate lack of self respect. Lord help me. 

I called Ishmael yesterday. Ishamael was this Liberian dude that I met when I was living in dens and he was the coolest of guys. Cops used to bring him drugs that they got in raids so he could resell to his fellow West Africans but my G was a certified psycho. I have no idea how they used to deal with him. These are Pangani cops and anyone who’s been around the block knows that Pangoo is no cell you wanna be in, it’s worse than Central. Hell, it’s even worse than Kamukunji and that’s saying something because at Kamukunji rats nibble your ass and where have you seen rats in cells? 

So, Ishmael used to slang heroin and always made me swear that I’ll never use that stuff. Well, I’d swear, but at the same time I’m injecting him with the stuff. He’d pay me a thousand to shoot it up his leg because the veins on his arms, and body, had all collapsed. I got so good at it I’m pretty sure I’m better than some nurses. Nothing makes me madder than a nurse, or doctor, who can’t find a vein. Ish taught me well. It was going good and all, at least I was making money, unorthodox as it was, until I couldn’t find the veins no more. Remember, I was shooting up his legs, by the angle, and I had to give it to him slow, and it was an intense process. Getting a good vein alone took me almost half an hour,  shooting up was another hour because you gotta shoot slow otherwise he’ll overdose, and fire me and I’ll be out of a thousand a day. Well, the veins zilipotea and as cool as Ishmael was, I couldn’t begin sticking a needle into his dick because that’s the only place that veins were left. I may be broke, willing to do anything but I have to draw a line somewhere or else who am I and what do I stand for? 

I miss him though. 

Who I don’t miss is Mark, some Nigerian from Port Harcourt who led me, mired me, into heroin and made sure I was an addict so that he would have someone to share the costs with. Mark, fuck you, wherever you are. Ishmael was very against me doing heroin but Mark was always on my case. He’d get so mad when he’d see me drinking and be like,

‘Joeee, why you wasting your money?? Do drugs.’

And I’d reply, sheepish as hell, scared and disoriented,

‘But Mark, Si I do drugs? I smoke weed.’ 

He’d get so worked up, all a in dither, foaming at the mouth and shout, 


Fuck Mark! But I’ll have to say this in a small voice, ( sotto voce, is it Biko?). 

We’re chilling, smoking cigarettes then my G will say this, in the most Naijest of Naija accents you’ve heard, I can’t put it in writing because I hate it when writers try to capture dialogue and it’s subpar ( Forgive me, I have high standards). 

‘You see my mum, naa? She has money. Call her and tell her I’ve been arrested. Let’s chop the money, na.’ 

So I do. I get into my cop mode and don’t forget I’m cursed with a nasal voice but I have to act cop-ly so I tell her Mark has been arrested for drugs and he has no permit and it will be so tricky if he gets jailed but I can help her, and I can help him too, and all she needs to do is send KES 200,000. She gets so worked up, she’s crying on the phone, begging me to make sure her son won’t get arrested then he rots in Kenya  and she doesn’t have the money but she’s looking for it immediately and can I please just hold off from putting him in the cell because he’s a only son after his brother died from a Fentanyl OD and I’m there feeling so guilty I wanna tell her it’s a lie, it’s all a scam, but at the same time Mark’s there looking at me with so much glee I don’t know if he wants to kiss me or something. 

She sends 150k and begs me again not to put her son in jail. 

Mark buys 20 grams of the purest of cocaine from some woman in Parklands. He gives 5k to his girl ( A Ugandan Banyankole who tried to get it on with me and I would have accepted but I’m afraid of Mark coz that’s a crazy negro) then he gets a room at Blue Don’t forget he hasn’t given me a cent. I’m easy. We chill. 

Mark makes five lines of the Coke, smokes four, leaves me with one. I can’t talk to him. My nigga is so paranoid after every snort he looks under the bed, by the windows and he’s not talking to me. Everytime I try to holler at him he gets so irritated, tells me to shhh and he begins looking under the bed, outside the window and deep into my eyes like I hold the secret to where Uranium is, in the Congo. 

I don’t know where the money goes. Or the coke. I get so worked up, so hyper, that I can’t deal with Mark’s shenanigans so I go down to the bar, I cuss at the DJ but he swings at me and gets a good right cross on the chin ( breaks a teeth) but I swing at him also and it’s a tussle and the manager comes and chujas him. So, I’m left on my own with the barmaids and they are scared until I play rock on my phone and proceed to dance like a maniac. Soon enough, one joins me and we have a good ol’ time and get it on by the counter but I’m so coked up I can’t even cum and I find Mark locked himself up in the bathroom. I get him from there which is a process but soon I’m regretting all this stuff because he goes to his chic, demands the money and when she begins explaining to him how she has spent it he slaps her so hard she gives him 4k. At this point, I’m done with Mark and all his bullshit so I go knock at Lilian’s but she’s got a man that day, a chips funga, and she don’t wanna deal with my bullshit. I end up going to Dandora, getting it on with someone I shouldn’t and it gets so messed up when Mark comes with crack and I don’t sleep for five days. 

If Biko will let me, I want to write weekly. My life has been, and it still is , fucked up but I enjoy writing, it’s therapeutic and carthatic for me and I suppose I can scribble for people who enjoy reading me, like I enjoy reading Biko. Oh, and I’ll be glad for fan mail. Email me Gang, tell me what luscious hair I have, or whatever. [email protected]



HA-HA. Luscious hair, my ass! God, I love this boy. He really does remind me of Charles Bukowsky. 

One quick thing before you go off to make taxes. Do you all mind subscribing to this blog on that ka-button on the right? At least for those who haven’t. I want to be sending some updates soon. Nothing serious, just strange fantasies I have of Toni and things. I promise they are not PG.

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  1. Joe Black, you write really well. Witty and playful. It’s very enjoyable to read you. Could you kindly share how these experiences have shaped you and your perspective of life? Thank you.

  2. Not me clutching my pearls the entire read, but also thoroughly enjoying myself because Biko is right. Joe Black is an amazing writer! I hope Biko agrees to the weekly blog.

  3. ” Let’s get to the serious issues. What do you think about my forehead? ” Aaahh. this like has KILLED me!!

    Also, I love love love you Joe Black!!

    And I think you and Chocolate Man will have amazing chemistry. Just meet up already!

  4. Biko, make our lives easier and give a regular Thursday column to Joe Black, Eddy and the girl who went to the north pole (Gloria?).

  5. Hey Joe Black!!
    Wow Wow! Ngai!
    Your stories are insane and you write beautifully.
    You’re growing on me . If Biko agrees to the weekly writing, please don’t disappear on us cos we might get withdrawal symptoms ( I might’ve gone too far with that. No?)

    Hey Biko Baldy.
    Still waiting on the book update ( No pressure though. )
    I don’t mean that

  6. Joe Black please don’t get sucked into the vortex of drug abuse/misuse. You’re a brilliant young lad with a whole life ahead of you.
    You can build up again, settle down, have a lovely home with kids and a good career. Don’t waste your path. Being on the straight and narrow is not so bad.

  7. Please Biko make Joe Black a regular writer. I daresay he’s the best of all the part time writers you’ve had on this blog.

  8. Joe, I remember reading you when you were just in form three. Please get fresh, scrub up, get back to school (we can always do this) and run with that degree. Tafadhali

  9. Its awesome reading about Joe Blacl again. Its been a minute.

    I second on the idea of his weekly gigs…. We can do Tuesday and Thursday.

  10. Smart chap skinny tall man.
    I rem when Choc man introduced you. Breath of fresh air, still are.
    You rocked our hearts and blew our minds with the capture of your words.

    I pray your darkness, (yeah, pun pun) is turned into your greatest strength.

  11. The boy has a way with words, with his musings.

    Been an ardent reader religiosly for 5 years now. So subscribing is easy Biko. Am a Kenyan grinding in Kampala.

  12. I don’t post my comments here but today I’ll have to post because that was such a brilliant read! Joe Black your writing is rich and I would love to read more in the coming weeks. All said, I hope your path ahead gets bright.

  13. Best line here
    “Well, the veins zilipotea and as cool as Ishmael was, I couldn’t begin sticking a needle into his dick because that’s the only place that veins were left. I may be broke, willing to do anything but I have to draw a line somewhere or else who am I and what do I stand for? “

  14. Sad to say but I like how Joe does his thing better than Gloria with an h or Eddy

    Joe just lets it fly from his brain direct to that paper like diarrhoea, damn he is messy and captivating…the part where he said let’s get into serious matters and went ahead to ask about Biko’s forehead, hahaha.

  15. Your storytelling prowess is truly remarkable, and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the world you created. I can’t wait to read more from you in the future!

  16. Drug use and addiction makes me sad, so sad – there’s no glory there. So my enjoyment of Joe’s writing is swallowed up by all the sadness and pity, lots of pity.

  17. There is always something about drugs and rock bottoms. For some inane reason, they also leave us with an admirable underbelly. You find a guy,a total drunk, but kindest guy to the bone. Or a coke addict who is brilliant. Drugs guys, drugs!! They are not good, but they gave us Bukowski and Hemingway

  18. Oh my, ati he gets mad when a nurse or doctor cant get a vein! eyes rolled (because I have missed veins myself! ) The nurse or doctor misses lines because sickness does things to the body. I would listen to his annoyance if he managed to inject those collapsed veins on the arms. But anyway, back to a good story