A Quick One



Biko is away, again.

He’s somewhere, in some country where dance moves are all about showing off your knee strength and where they couldn’t pick a single city to become their capital so they picked three (if you’re reading this, imagine three Nairobis, then close your eyes and weep in rent prices).

Okay, enough about trying to sound clever.

He’s in Cape Town.

But he’s having fun. I can tell from how bourgeoise his messages have become and from the pictures:

of yachts parked by white sand beaches and calm deep blue waters

of streets with pink and yellow houses with bushes of flowers growing on balconies or creeping on their walls (do you know how good life has to be to have flowers voluntarily creeping on your walls!)

of restaurants with minimalist, expensive arts on their walls and where waiters call you ‘Mademoiselle’ or where couples eat in uncomfortable silences such that when you accidentally knock your cutlery against your teeth you get- how to say- panique attaque? (Imagine, if you will, the elaborately ritualized- yes, and etiquette obsessed- formal society of the English royals, or the Jane Austens or of the high families of the Venetian societies).

In short, he’s a show off, because how many people do you know who go off to celebrate their 46th birthdays in cities where coffee cup prices alone could pay Eddy’s house rent?

Oh, the unforgivable thoughtlessness of the man!

But, I’m not jealous, at least not that much. I know life will balance. It often does. Like that time when his middle finger swell like a ripe lollipop with pus, or when he could only type squinting his bad eyes or simply for the mere comfort of knowing he’s not dancing because at 46 which knees do you still have left?

That brings us to where I (Gloriah) am, or befittingly, why I am not taking advantage of his indolence to talk about myself in one of those long stories of mine.

Short answer: ayuoro thum Lamu

Long answer:

Oh, boy, don’t I have a story for you all.

Growing up, minwa ne okwera awe serora gi jothum (my mother has always warned me not to sero musicians).

And by Jove, I tried.

At least until about a week ago when I learned that Brian Sigu was playing in Lamu, and I looked at my finances and I said aisuluh and got on a plane. But fate is fate, and I somehow got myself invited over (I may have, admittedly, used the ‘I write for Nation Newspaper’ card) to where the band was being accommodated – a vintage Swahili house called Hijani house, squeezed in the way houses in Lamu can be squeezed and beautiful in the way they can be beautiful, with a deliciously crazy British-Kenyan proprietor whom I christened the Patron Saint of Bad decisions and who falls, deeply and convincingly in love with different women each of the nights that we have been out for concerts.

So, I can’t write. Not with all these beautiful emotions and rawness dancing around me.

Some of the mornings, I have woken up to symphony (is that the word) of random musical noises (some of them elaborate soul moving vocals and some, just random incomprehensive guttural voices but still perfect in some inexplicable way). And Brian (whom I have tried to avoid at all costs because you know me and my utter lack of self-control) is quite something (that I haven’t comprehended yet).

With him you never know what to expect. Sometimes I wake up early to catch an hour of quietude before the rest of the group wakes up and I find him by the balcony, sat crumpled in a corner like a string-cut puppet, and I don’t say anything to him for fear of jerking him into life with my words because you never know who will be there, in his skin. Some mornings, his laughter roars beyond walls and when someone goes to complain that they are still sleeping, he will hurl nasty but funny insults about the person or where they come from, i.e.,

Jo Kano tek to otar! (People from Kano are the way they are)

Itar ka wi gari (You’re as ashy as the roof of a car)

Yawa Viktor Pizza ok cham kamano. In irade mana ka ondelo. (Victor, you don’t rado pizza like popcorns).

Some of those mornings, he will randomly stop in the middle of his hearty laughters and he will look at me like he’s just seeing me for the first time, and he will say (to no one in particular):

‘Nya gem, kendo ayudo ni in Nyako ma weche ne tin kabisa’

(I have noticed you’re a woman of few words)

I’m not from Gem, I’m from Seme, and I have reminded him once or twice before, and I certainly am not a quiet person, but I just smile and say nothing, because you know, some moments are better devoured the way the are.



Also, I know we are both indulging our indolence (Biko, because he still claims it’s his birthday and yet it passed last week, and me because, you know, pathetic self-control) but sign up for the masterclass here and we promise you’ll hear all the stories there is when we get back.






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  1. Straight from hip, you (Gloriah) are getting better with words.

    This is your first writing that I have enjoyed without qualms, despite it being no story at all.

    To more as such. Cheers

  2. Nice piece Nyar Seme, I have enjoyed reading it.
    When I ‘grow’ up I also want to unflinchingly make those bold decisions like flying to the location where my favorite musicians are performing. In the meantime, I will continue weeping in fuel prices and learning to tolerate the people who got us in this mess in 2022.
    Happy belated 46th Birthday Biko!

  3. Moons ago, there was a young man who went by the name Joe Black. He was occasional guest writer and some kind of Biko’s protegee.

    Any one here who knows, what happened to the then young man?