Barua

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The president doesn’t know this, but he could just be keeping my farmhand, Boy, on a job. He’s been naughty, dishonest and not entirely productive, and I’ve been meaning to go down to shags and have a hard talk with him, probably even send him off his way – for good this time. But this partial lock-down, man. It’s a real cock-blocker because each time the president extends the famed 21-days, he postpones this looming meeting and over time my stand on Boy’s transgressions softens. The speech I had come up with for him looks silly now, out of touch, perhaps even petty. He, of course, is oblivious of this storm brewing and wakes up daily to feed his chicken while whistling under his breath. No worry in the world, at all. All hunky-dory. Meanwhile his only job – to keep the bloody grass green – isn’t going according to plan, at least not my plan. I’m not privy of his. It’s amazing how much grief grass can cause one. I’m in the grass-period of my life and I can’t seem to grow the grass I have in my mind. In my head grows a meadow, in real life grows a patch of failure. And because of this, I have new found respect for anyone keeping a green lawn.

In Nyanza.

Not Limuru.

Nobody should ever take credit for a green lawn in Limuru. That’s like taking credit for a baby’s first steps. I think you have to be a really horrible person to kill grass in Limuru. But Nyanza? That’s where your grass mettle is truly tested.

Anyhow, I blame myself because when the President stepped up to the podium in his gregarious shirt last Saturday there was no way he was going to hand any good news. No good news can come from a shirt like that. After he instructed that we all stay put, I thought to myself, What powerful prayers are these that Boy is praying back in the village? Because I’m tired of holding the axe over my head. Travelling plans dashed, I found myself talking to a guy I know, who we had been drinking with after lunch as we waited for the announcement. Let’s call him Willy. He was on beer. I had been on whisky for a minute and I was a bit pissy after the president’s announcement. How dare he choose human life over my grass?

Willy’s in banking and finance. A numbers guy. World social- economics guy. You must know the type; a bit pompous, a bit knowy, got some lip on him. Generally a typical beer guy. Typically, I don’t speak much and if I sit next to someone who loves to speak I will never bother to sneak a word edgewise. I’m happy to listen and nod and say, “no way!” Or, “Bollocks!” You can’t imagine telling someone “Bollocks!” just fires them up. And as long as someone won’t shut up, I see them as a potential story. This works for me.

Our drinks were sharing a stool between our seats and so it was only a matter of time before he got off.

“So, you’re a creative, right?” He started. He had almost put away six-packs already, so his forehead was shiny and his eyes danced a little like a night animal that had picked up a scent. I was three-doubles in and when I’m three doubles in, I’m in the phase of calm, I feel my soul stretched out before me. He asked. “What do you think your responsibility to young writers is?”

“Responsibility?” I asked a bit testily. Remember I was still sore from not being able to go to shags for another 30 days.

“Yeah,” he said, “To these young writers who look up to you!”

“I’m not responsible for anyone, my friend.” I said. [I truly believe that calling someone “My friend”, is derogatory]

“You don’t have a responsibility to elevate writing!?” He asked incredulously.

“No!” I growled, crossing my legs and then quickly uncrossing them after remembering that an Osteopath (This Is Nuts.. ) said one of my testicles was older than the other because of such habits like crossing of legs. “Don’t add responsibilities on my plate, my friend, I already have too much. I don’t need that weight. If what I do inspires someone to write, I’m happy, but it’s not my responsibility to – what did you say?- elevate writing? Jesus. You accountants!”

“I’m not an accountant,” he protested. “I’m in banking and finance.”

“Yeah, get a plaque.” I poured a drink. “Do you want some of this?” I raised my bottle.

“Let me finish my beers first, I think I still have two more left.” He said, shaking his can. “Look, you are a writer, a creative and I don’t know how that world is. But I want to know how your world is because I have two younger siblings that have taken this creative path and I don’t understand it and I need to understand seeing as I’m paying their way. I don’t think it will go anywhere, this creative pursuit, not in this country it won’t.” He shook his head. He had a neat fresh haircut, he seemed like the crazy type that cuts their own hair. “They can go to Europe and try it out there, maybe it will work, but here? Naah. I don’t think the creative work here pays. We are not there yet. ” He sipped his drink leaving a thin beach of froth over his upper lips. “Thing is,” he continued, “I don’t want to waste my money on something like this if it won’t pay off and beca-.”

“Pay off to whom?” I headbutted in his diatribe.

“Besides, I’m their brother, not their father,” he said, ignoring me, “I should be putting my money on things that will fetch me results. Things have a promise in this market!”

“Like finance?” I asked wearing my most sour expression, like overnight milk.

“Not necessarily, but something that is realistic and has a future!”

“Because creativity has no future,” I mumbled sarcastically, attempting to smile ruefully. “Bottom of the barrel.”

“Now look, JB, don’t get annoyed or take offense.” He calls me JB, which I like. “The reason we are having this conversation is for me to understand from someone like you who has been at it for a few years. I want to understand how this goes.”

“I don’t think you want to understand.” I told him. “I think you have made up your mind. To be ignorant.”

“I haven’t! Trust me. I’m a very open-minded guy. But I know what can work in this market and what can’t.” He said. He had on a very white t-shirt. Spotless. I made a mental note to ask him later how he launders his t-shirts.

“You know we all can’t be in banking and finance.” I said, crossing my legs and thinking, oh screw that ageing testical, I have two kids already, I don’t need it, it can age all it wants. “Not all of us can be good at things that are marketable.” I scratched the air in quotes. “Some of us just want to play a guitar or paint or make pots or write movies. It will never make sense to anyone else but them. And you don’t have to understand it. You really don’t. That’s too much pressure on you.”

“Aaahh JB, don’t get pissed. Let’s talk like intellectuals.” He said, leaning in with an oily smile, knowing that he’d found my buttons.

“I’m not an intellectual. I’m…a creative.” I said. “The intellectual is over there,” I pointed at my brother who was engaged in a very intellectual task of pouring tonic water in his whisky.

We proceeded to have a two hour long argument about career, happiness and choice. He stuck to his guns and I stuck to mine but we shared a whisky and a very beautiful conversation mostly fueled by his ignorance of the lure and beauty of artistry and my frustration and silent scorn at his ilk who use calculators at work. I was also the one with a chip on his shoulder, I will admit. He was a mostly livelier debater who used long endless paragraphs without commas. I told him that perhaps he needed to listen more and speak less if he wanted to learn about people like me and he said, he didn’t need to listen if he was on the side of reason and I sighed dramatically and said, “Well, this conversation is akin to seducing a goat.”

I don’t know what that meant. I didn’t have time to think about it. I just said it. Have you not said something ridiculous during an argument that didn’t make sense? At that moment, I was distinctly aware as we fenced that I would write a letter to people like him the next day.

So here goes.

DEAR YOU, YES YOU, THE NON-BELIEVER OF CREATIVES.

There is a boy I mentor called Eddy Ashioya. Twenty six years old, thin as the devil’s shadow. He goes about his life in those very skinny jeans, torn in parts, and doesn’t reach his ankles. He describes himself as an “Urban post-industrialist metro-sexual straight black male” but twists his nose at men who drink Tusker Cider. He wears a wrought silver ring on his little finger. His hair is a thick, wild mangrove left to find its true qi. You wouldn’t mistake him for an ultrasound technician.

He’s got a long narrow face, framed between bones of secrets. A face between a boy and a man, just at the casp of blossoming into full manhood but just shy of it. A reluctant face.

He rides Safe Boda and lugs a mysterious rucksack on his back everywhere he goes. It could well be a parachute, who knows? Whatever it is, I’m always afraid to ask. He’s a lover. I can tell a lover. They are too weary in the hearts, too thin under their chests. They are capsules of fear and insecurity because they give too much and they never could define enough.

He’s been dating the same girl for six years, to mean since he was 20. A girl called Nincy. A girl with no piercings, who loves purple – like he does. She’s the practical one and he’s the romantic. He thinks he’s hilarious but what people think of themselves is their business. He‘s a copywriter in an ad agency. He lives in a bedsitter that he loves. Understands gadgets. Calls me “pops,” because he thinks I’m very old but I don’t care because I know more about life than he does and that is more useful that knowing what an SEO is. Or what Application you can use to sign a document from your phone.

He loves words, Eddy. He’s so passionate about words sometimes I think words might come out of his nose as blood. I admire his hunger. I recognize his hunger and I’m secretly envious of it. It’s beautiful and raw and he thinks words are like rocket propelled missiles that can make holes through walls. And they can. He keeps sending me his work to read but even when I don’t he keeps sending more. Determination. Commitment. He hides between his sentences, showing his reluctance to truly believe he’s a writer, afraid to fully succumb to his love because great love sometimes comes with great heartbreaks. So, he uses his words to dance with his reflection. His words are his mirror. That’s how he sees himself.

Last week he said, Biko, I’d like to see you. So he came over to my house with his knapsack clinging on his back like a pet monkey. He was supposed to be over at 11 but he came an hour late. I gave him an old barbed speech about time keeping, about respecting your time and others time yadda yadda yadda. He wore what looked like a grin because he seems to wear a grin all the time. It’s how he shows his cynicism to the world. Plus, he’s a millennial. They are born brave, aren’t they?

He apologized and said, “I was late because I was looking for your favorite drink.” He retrieved my favorite single malt from his knapsack of secrets and said, “I made some money on the side and I wanted to say thank you for holding my hand.” If I was a girl I would have said, “Awwww.”

Instead I looked at him, feeling my heart swell with something weird; pride, gratitude, whatever. I struggled with expressing this feeling; the natural thing would have been to hug him, a man hug, the rough type where you slap each other on the back until someone swallows their tongue. But I’m not really that guy who hugs, it just doesn’t come easy. I wasn’t hugged. I especially don’t know how to hug men.

“You shouldn’t have,” I kept saying and he kept saying, “No, I wanted to,” and I said, “You need the money,” and he said, “I do, but I also need this.” And I felt a great sense of gratitude, not because of the whisky but because of his gesture, the thought behind it. He’s 26 years old, he could have done a million things with that money, but he bought me my favorite drink. I removed the bottle from the box and held it by her waist, looked at it adoringly, feeling her weight in my hands and thinking to myself, “your weight is perfect, you are seductive af. I could drink you right here, right now, before this boy. But I won’t.”

“What did you do with the rest of the money you made?” I asked him.

“I paid my rent and did house shopping for my girlfriend.”

“You romantic racoon!” I joshed. “You responsible, romantic weasel.”

He grinned cynically. He has a strong grin, covered in layers and layers of wit, cynicism and sarcasm. But you need a shovel to see all that.

“Do you think this writing thing will work?” He asked me at the end of our chat, avoiding my eyes, because he’s still at the sad artistic stage of erroneously confusing insecurity for betrayal.

“Do you want it to work?” I countered.

“Yes, of course!” He said. “You know I want it to work.”

“Then it will work.” I said. “You are a good writer. I think I have told you this before.”

He’s a very sensitive boy, Eddy. But art is sensitivity. It’s who you are. It’s you without your skin. Without bullshit. The sun shines directly on your heart .

There are boys like Eddy, scores of them standing at this great shore of decisions, this rubicon of artistry, wondering if they should take the plunge and swim across and if they will make it safely to the other side. It’s the question some of them grapple with every night; if this will work. If this is the path. If they can do it. If it’s the “right choice.” And sometimes it only takes one wrong word of rebuke to upset the balance of the weaker ones. Then they tumble and end up working in procurement.

We all can’t work in a bloody bank. Or build bridges and strong beams. We can’t all be good at strategic thinking, whatever the hell that is. Or look into mouths and teeth the whole day. Or midwife babies. Or “build capacity.” Or listen to people’s chest through stethoscopes. We all can’t hang a lanyard around our necks and have proper email signatures and “out of office” messages.

Some of us, boys and girls like Eddy, will want to take a different path. They want to make trousers and dresses with their hands. They want to carry guitars on their backs because their hearts echo with relentless music. They are hounded by their own ache to make things with their hands and minds and spirits. They want to make films and furniture and apps that think for you. They want to draw, animate, make Youtube videos of cats and shit. They want to illustrate the world through cameras and paint emotions only they can read on canvas. They want to be “gamers.” To mean, they want to choose their own happiness. And choosing your own happiness, one that people don’t understand, is scary shit as it is.

And when we tell them, “You are so smart, why the hell do you want to write about food! You can do anything!” You are telling them that what they love isn’t something. That it isn’t enough, they aren’t enough. But you don’t have to understand their happiness or their choice. And no one should dictate anyone’s happiness. So what if there has never been another food writer who made it in this market? It could be them. So what if making jewellery “doesn’t pay”? Maybe they will be the one to change that, maybe not. Should people who heed calls of creativity give up because there lack credible precedence?

As we debated with Willy last Saturday, Nyashinski’s jam, “Free” started playing from his playlist. I said, “Do you know this guy’s history?” He shook his head dismissively. “We used to listen to this guy in Kleptomaniacs, remember? When they had those bad over-sized clothes we used to wear?” I said. “Then Nyashinki took off to the US for a sojourn and when he came back he came back with birds in his belly, these beautiful birds that sang so well? Did you ever imagine that he’d be this good today? I don’t know his story but art is a journey, my friend. It’s stew. Some take ages, some are ready immediately. Some get slapped in, others don’t. It’s fight or flight. And the difficult things are the ones we fight for never the easy ones.”

How can we, for instance, play songs of artists we love, that bring us joy and create memories, yet we don’t look at them as vital? As necessary? Art, creativity isn’t something you “do in your spare time.” It’s your very core because it brings you happiness.

Tamms loves cooking now. She bakes decent muffins. OK, they are not ati kick-ass, but she’s getting there. She also makes burger patties and rice and guacamole. “How did you learn to make cinnamon rolls?” I asked her the other day and she said, “Er, YouTube?” then looked at me closely to see if I knew what YouTube was. She never wanted to be a chef. She wanted to be an actor when she was 9, then a singer at some point and then a doctor, then she wanted to be a mother [yeah, I know] and now, for the past two years she wants to be chef. Who knows what she will want to be when she’s 15, or 20. Maybe she will want to make pots or grow medicinal weed. Maybe she will want to pursue shit that I don’t understand, shit that makes me afraid for her “future.” Or maybe she won’t even know what she wants to be; she will just sit in her room after high school, tweeting crazy shit about the climate change. Or she will buy binoculars to follow migratory birds all over Africa and I will ask her mom, “Is there a white story in your family tree? Maybe someone down the line, a child of a Mau Mau, who went to work for white settler as undercover?”

But I will not question her choices that bring her happiness, I will not discourage her ( but I will bitch about it in bars over drinks). I will support her even though I will not understand those creative pursuits. Because only the very brave beat their own path. And that shit is lonely. And often it takes time, commitment and great passion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like everything else.

It’s not easy. They need affirmation. They need validation. We all do, but when you are a budding artist who has chosen a path most might think is ludicrous you need someone to say something as simple as, “yes, you can do it.” You need an ally, a positive whisper in your ear. It’s not only a validation to your art, but to your love. Because we tend to love the people who love the things we love, not those who fight and break them.

***

Also, does anybody know what makes grass happy?

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209 Comments
  1. no good news can come from a shirt like that !
    I love this piece ;it’s ok to live a life that others don’t understand ;whatever sprinkles your donuts

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    1. ooh, about donuts. reminds me of this tutorial i’m

      currently following on YouTube about donut making. not

      the baking dough and deep frying, no, a virtual donut. its
      getting confusing i can tell, hold on! its stuff about 3D and animation design. its a lonely path, but well, only the brave beat their own path

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  2. Haha well this is such a good read not everyone will choose happiness because you want to fit in a certain way of life

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  3. Oh, Biko! You have just summed it up for me. I wish I could share this a gazillion times, ‘Because only the very brave beat their own path. And that ****is lonely.’ This is me and my baby, @ZAAZPress. We have our secrets and we can be lonely together, but we are very very very happy! Thank you, Biko.

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  4. Good timing…..

    Just when I quit my Job 3 months Ago to Focus on myself…. Yes, it’s crazy, How Could I quit especially during this Pandemic period… It’s Tough, I know it’s not easy … My resignation Letter, I had to indicated I needed to try New challenges, I needed to go out there to Risk ……. And I don’t Regret, it’s tough but I know I’ll pull through

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    1. this is so me..i needed to find myself again.was so under utilized and realized am not growing as i should.

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  5. Ah Biko, you want to tell me that Boyi is still not doing his job? Even after you gave him another chance? Sasa huyo amezidi pia yeye.

    This piece speaks to my heart. Really does. Thankyou so much. No one should dictate ones happiness

    And yes, calling someone my friend is derogative. And calling someone you don’t know my dear. And slay queen. And mrembo. And…okay bye!

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  6. Today, you have evoked a longing I had long-buried. You have caressed my soul’s desire to birth beauty… Oh, for strength and courage to beautify the world. I will start with mine.

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  7. This, here, is some real deep talk. Thanks pops…. Ati Tamms looks at you to see if you know what’s YouTube, lol

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  8. This is a wonderful piece..I love how your words dance around and hit you unexpectedly. That young writer’s actions are endearing. And that farm hand of yours, you need to fire like yesterday.

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  9. Chicken shit and water for the grass should help. Writing this sentence reminded me something about people having hands for certain jobs and good or bad blood and by extension, bad mouths and bad or evil eyes. This is up for debate.
    I am quite sure Boy’s chickens are eating the grass.

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  10. “….they want to choose their own happiness. And choosing your own happiness, one that people don’t understand, is scary shit as it is.”

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  11. It’s the question some of them grapple with every night; if this will work. If this is the path. If they can do it. If it’s the “right choice.” And sometimes it only takes one wrong word of rebuke to upset the balance of the weaker ones.
    Perfect read, I hope we all have the courage to pursue what we love and support those close to us a’s they do the same even if it makes zero sense to us✍

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  12. My son chose being a chef, I love great food so I wasn’t about to argue, haha!
    Yes, we should support the arts, as long as one is passionate about it.

    Btw JB, after seeing the osteopath, is your back now okay?
    You should have given us his contact info.

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  13. Happiness matters most. I am on my way to my happy place. I retired at age 33…… to be a farmer, with zero experience. I have no single regret. I always look forward to a new day. When I can wake up to go put some seed in the ground. Water it and wait to eat, and of course sell to the hungry market. I can comfortably say, I now love what I do. Did I forget to mention that business is booming!!

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  14. Thank you Biko you made see life differently every time. Actually I write but damn my writing sucks do you think I can beat it?

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  15. [I truly believe that calling someone “My friend”, is derogatory]

    I’ve always thought the same. I hate that phrase.

    Thanks JB.

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  16. “….. Because we tend to love the people who love the things we love, not those who fight and break them.”

    Great piece.

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  17. I enjoy reading your pieces.And yes it’s true we need to encourage those who dare venture out of societal mode.Otherwise they will go through life doing things they hate and being unhappy and spreading unhappiness.

    1
    1. Oh God auto correct. I blame my ‘capacity building’s career

      I meant all I want to do is Google ageing testicles…there got there at last

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  18. Plenty of water, and manure makes grass on your side greener, turning those on the other side of the fence green with envy. Where there is adequate rain spread through the year, the grass roots for its nutrients deeper and wider. It becomes a task in such places to keep it well trimed, to avoid a haggard lawn. In Kisii/Nyamira in Nyanza! grass does well with minimum effort, unless your reference of Nyanza is THE Luo Nyanza.

    1
  19. ‘Should people who heed calls of creativity give up because there lack credible precedence?’
    This line is one I should write on my tshirt.

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  20. I have 5 children. I have had conversations with them on marriage, church vs come we stay, careers; mainstream, white cooler, creative hands on. Sexuality straight, gay… Yeah not evolved enough to get to the BTQIA! At the end of the day, they choose their lives, I just want them whole. At the end of the day all I can do is bitch in a bar, okay on a sofa and let them find their path, while I remain the umbilical cord that keeps them grounded. Thanks for this, it touched a chord.

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  21. Water. Water does make grass grow.
    But just like art, your grass affair may only make sense to you. Your farmboy may not get it. He’s probably thinking “Naah. I don’t think the grass work here pays. We are not there yet. ”

    Off to check out Eddy’s page.

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  22. I am a mother of two sons… I am a scientist… and they both chose to pursue stuff I don’t understand… music technology and gaming… this helps me put things in perspective as I encourage myself to support them. Thanks for the article..

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  23. This article is so timely and it just brought a smile to my face. I think artists are incredible, being a “capacity builder” my self I have always been envious of the creative mind.
    My dear friend who was chef just passed ,he was abroad so we do not even know if his body will be returned to Uganda. It was so sudden he died in his his sleep. I have not been able laugh. But this article and the dark humour made me happy. Let me tell you no accountant is able to do that. In fact they break us so that artists can build us back.(My friend the pastry chef would have made white chocolate to make the pain go away).
    So thank you Sir for making a terrible day more bearable.

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  24. For the grass, top dress with red soil and a bit of manure. lots of water, and i mean lots on alternate days.
    Thank you for validating that young man. We all need validation it means alot.

  25. I needed this. I also don’t see myself as an artist but I love words. They burrow into me so deep. I recently created a blog and I have been doubting if it’s the right decision.

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  26. I can’t get over that statement of seducing a goat . The way that creative mind coins such a thing should have made your banking friend understand the need for creatives.

    This is encouraging, for all of us out here eking our own unique paths.

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  27. I’m in my final year of campus. I am a developer (apps and stuff) and I’m scared shitless. You have no idea how much this means to me. Thank you,JB.

    3
  28. Completely offmark on this one Biko..first, youths’ highly impressionable minds are oftentimes not ripe to make lifelong judgements.It would be an abdication of parental responsibility not to mould and guide your kids.Two, this kind of hedonistic postmodernist thinking is what is unravelling and corrupting western societies like the US. U cant always choose pursuits that bring pleasure to just yourself..later “self” expands to include family etc, people u r responsible over. Lastly, one needs to consider societal sophistication levels like your accountant friend argues..how many of our 50M countrymen for instance appreciate jazz music or other art forms enough to pay for it?…In your own admission, u may not b an intellectual but there in need to balance views..like it or not, you bear responsibility over the potential impact your published sentiments carry..just saying

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  29. Still stuck on the title……do you plan to write a letter to your boy (addressing it c/o your local primary school or church)?

    2
  30. ‘In real life grows a patch of failure.’ Why didn’t I think of writing that? JB, you elicit writer envy and admiration. Eddy Ashioya is a gifted writer, just checked his blog. Keep up with the mentorship- elevate writing. Ahem.

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  31. A bottle of whisky is female! Never stop learning! Thank you Biko… this is amazing!

    Truly yours,

    Rwandan Fan.

    4
  32. “Don’t add responsibilities on my plate, my friend, I already have too much. I don’t need that weight. If what I do inspires someone to write, I’m happy, but it’s not my responsibility …

    I’ll have you know, Biko, that I consider myself your responsibility. I’m your other Eddy, working in the shadows, borrowing the light from your oh-so-brilliant writer’s brain. When I’m awarded the Pulitzer, your name will be somewhere in my acceptance speech. Masterclass 17.

    https://bloomerscafe.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/lifes-bloopers/

    1
  33. God knows I needed to hear this, JB! I have a younger brother who’s like Eddy – I constantly find myself having to improve on my affirmation and validation skills, so that I don’t kill the dream he bears within, of joining the NBA.

    Thank you for this timely reminder JB!

    1
  34. Biko, your Barua has fulfilled your responsibility to young “creatives” (I’m in Finance and I don’t understand what the term means). But leave Limuru grass alone. It requires a creative to grow a lawn when the weeds sprout day and night…Because only the very brave beat their own path!

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  35. This is a great piece especially during these difficult times. You have spoken directly to my heart as a parent. Personally I have been having this feeling where I always want to influence my daughter’s choices, especially those that affect her ‘future’. Like imagine her choosing archeology as a major?

    1
    1. Nabwire, you will be shocked at how many scholarships are available out there for aspiring archaeologists, anthropologists, musicians, curators etc. The thing is in this country, there is still glorification of careers like doctors, bankers, lawyers that it has made our youth think those are the only profitable careers.
      There is a wealth of information on the internet in terms of career options and where one can end up if they aggressive enough to fight for what they want.

      2
  36. You are heaven sent! This piece is a timely one and it brought balancing tears to my eyes. Every creative whether new or old in the game needs to read this. I will share this to all my creative friends. Thank you!❤

  37. This really hits home for me. Having been forced to stop acting as it was wasting my time in High school only for me to end up as an Accountant in a desk 20 hrs a day. That shit is depressing!. So I drown my sorrows and watch all Netflix shows thinking of what could have been had I taken the path less taken.
    Now I advocate for the creatives! They need all the support they can get coz it takes a lot of strength to do what’s best for you as many will not understand

    4
  38. You have so much about your grass. Have you ever asked yourself that the problem might not be the gardener. Planting grass is a science. There are several types of grass and you might have planted the wrong variety for a lawn. I would like to sort your grass issue

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  39. JB, the fear that your child will be one of the countless thousands who don’t actually make a living in the arts is real, nay, palpable. It is compounded if you, the parent, grew up in poverty and mathematics are what’s paying your bills… It doesn’t help at all when you know that your friends who pursued “fashion and design” are languishing. You can literally see the monster of poverty that was biting your heels growing up, starting to wink enticingly at your child…

    6
  40. i think oyur farm hand may have read this and now has a heads up. …or someone in the gweng will tell him of it…bad move…30 days… laws of power JB!!!

  41. Nice piece Biko. Faith in God and an undying passion is what we need as fuel to keep going.
    For the love of single malt

  42. “creativity isn’t something you “do in your spare time.” It’s your very core because it brings you happiness”.Honestly I think this is something that Bob Collymore (soul rest in peace) would 100% say about art even though he was in business.
    Creatives work from the heart.
    Amazing read.

  43. …only the very brave beat their own path! I love that. Great story of encouragement.

    As for the grass… talk to it…. or so I hear from green-fingered people.

  44. There is a boy I mentor called Eddy Ashioya. Twenty six years old, thin as the devil’s shadow……
    I follow Eddy on facebook and i can attest to the great way he writes.

  45. Art, creativity isn’t something you “do in your spare time.” It’s your very core because it brings you happiness

    That spoke to me, the entire article did

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  46. Also, like Manson says, sometimes just do things for no other reason than to do them. Do them because you can. Because they exist. Write because there’s writing to be done. As George Mallory said when asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest: “Because it’s there”.

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  47. Wow! What a great piece, full of wisdom. I love reading your stories. Keep it up and keep inspiring and whispering to them you never know who is listening.

  48. As a young creative in Nairobi who recently took the plunge and is currently swimming through the deep seas, this article is just opportune. Thankyou for your work chocolate man. Always a great read.

  49. One day I found myself a banker. Call it hustle, desperation, whatever.. Growing up, I always had my compositions read out to others, or hanged on walls. I did literature in Campus, even studied creative writing but talent like an unused tool grows blunt. These I can barely write a correct sentence in English.
    I vouch for creatives.. be bold to curve your own niche

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  50. Always an awesome read.
    Now…that grass.
    Arid and semi arid Nyanza grass will require tonnes of manure, mixed up with that red soil. Once the grass is up, water is the only other thing you need, and constant weeding before you have a carpet. Buy a lawnmower already, I can see your grass in my head too

    Give that moron another chance. Maybe 2020 really is his year.
    Thanks Zulu

  51. People that have found their passion and craft take it for granted sometimes; but it is arguably the most powerful thing to happen to someone. Second to your birth. As someone who is still searching, he should know that he is very lucky and I wish him all the best as he masters it.

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  52. People who have found their passion and craft take it for granted sometimes; but it is arguably the most powerful thing to happen to someone. Second to your birth. As someone who is still searching, he should know that he is very lucky and I wish him all the best as he masters it.

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  53. Art is meant to be admired, not understood, by those who aren’t in its embrace. That’s why I absolutely love art in all its expressions,whether music, food, paintings… All forms.

    So… JB… How does Willy launder his white tees?

  54. Biko,
    I say free yourself from this fixation with your farmhard, and learn to respect him. Coz that is his trade, and you don’t know it’s Bynes.
    Yes. Just like we need free our creative energies, in our selves and our chiy, to wherever their hearts fancy. But keep an eye, discreetly

  55. My 13 yr old daughter tells me English is boring and it hurts me to the core..I know how she cannot get anywhere without a good grade in English. So I try to get her interested. Do you think I should share this story with her? Somebody advise me.

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  56. “And the difficult things are the ones we fight for, never the easy ones.” Let people chose their happiness. Thanks for this letter.

  57. Amazing posts. It’s like it’s meant for me, am on such a daring yet equally strange path. Great piece. The testicle thing though, Now I can’t cross my legs peacefully.

  58. Am happy anytime i read your articles you see life realistically with a fresh pair of eyes and make scence when you choose a topic. This came at the right time because my nephew came up to me the other day and told me i want to be a gamer. He watches and plays and researches and even knows how much his persuit will cost him and just needs me to speak to his mum my sister in love and explain to her that he will make money and that his path in tourisim was not in vain and that she did not waste her money in tuition. I just understood something i didnt before all he needs is someone to believe in him. Thank you Biko

  59. I thought to myself what powerful prayers are these boyi is praying back in the village…if I was a girl I would have said aawww loool

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  60. That affirmation is important. Not only to artists but to anybody who is thinking of doing something constructive. It can be anything. That was a beautiful peace, thank you.

    And Biko, have you thought of using urea on your grass? What Urea Does to Your Lawn. … Proper fertilization with urea will create a thick, healthy and green turf. However, if you overdo it, the urea fertilizer can dry out or burn the lawn. Overfertilizing causes a buildup of salt in the soil, which is drying and can turn your lawn yellow or even brown in spots. So follow the manufacturers instructions on the pack.

  61. You guy! You’re just a master with the pen. Gifted hands.
    I love how you play with words.

    “You romantic racoon!” ….. “You responsible, romantic weasel.”

    “Because we tend to love the people who love the things we love, not those who fight and break them…”

  62. “Because only the very brave beat their own path.”

    You wrote this with your heart. I hope and pray that Willy will read it. Powerful and sharper lines. Thank you Biko

  63. Be my mentor too? I don’t have a creative bone in my body but I want to be described the way you described Eddy.

  64. Literature is alive. It courses through our blood and that is art, it changes us forever. Art is equally beautiful. Indeed, not all of us can fit into those tiny boxes called offices, fighting suits and contracts.

  65. This is deep… I still don’t have an idea of what my sons want…. Still can’t see it… But I know, I will support them… The youngest one said…. When I finish school and college… I will build a house for you two,then build my own… The eldest said… Mimi nitawakalisha kidogo….. Sina haraka… I didn’t know what to say… Amen! Or Shindwe!

  66. You just created creativity here. Such an inspiring read. And when all is said and done, your grass will surely grow.

  67. Sure,the millennials are thirsty for validation because they have unique insights like my Siz wants to venture into making diaries

  68. “But you don’t have to understand their happiness or their choice. And no one should dictate anyone’s happiness”
    Such a good read

  69. Everyone needs a cheerleader., Someone who can vouch for us and our abilities even when we can’t see it. It is indeed scary, scaling a path not so popular…. The inner battle kills even faster than those doubts from the society. I pray we learn to validate ourselves first….. Especially ‘us’, the ‘weaker ones’

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  70. I have never commented on any of your posts but this resonated with me. Eddy really sparked something in me: that I am not alone in this world of curiosity and insecurity. Thank you Biko! This is golden.

  71. “But art is sensitivity. It’s who you are. It’s you without your skin. Without bullshit. The sun shines directly on your heart.” There’s still hope for us living in our small big world while doing what we love.Someday we’ll get there. Bless you Biko.

  72. Met one of these guys. Brian (one good Brayo in the bunch)) Bukatchi. Shared his dream and followed it, since then he has been my go to example of.following your heart…

  73. Even as a creative, i needed to read that. Sometimes its difficult to even understand what youre doing and its so scary but thats ok. Thankyou.
    Sorry about Boy

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  74. JB is great id say just that but noo, after a couple of reads i cant pick a suitable adjective,,
    I often wonder how it is for people who meet or rather have met you before ,you know being a recipient and then meeting the sender,,,,(in cases of anonymity),,are they in awe ??is it weird?i really wanna know
    I read some blogger’s posts and they are top tier and all that,then the other day i saw them somewhere and i heard them converse and the feeling that came with that,,all i can say is you dont look at them the same way and not in a degrading manner or any negative way,at times its so grand until you want to make chocolate tea and you ask yourself WHAT WOULD JACKSON DO?put his sugar or chocolate first knowing very well it amounts to the same end result chocolate tea,,only sometimes we question whether it is from the same clay that God created us or for some he actually meal prepped and took his time,kuna kuumbwa na kuundwa,,,he said he was no intellectual,,
    Great piece Creative

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  75. “Because only the very brave beat their own path. And that shit is lonely. And often it takes time, commitment and great passion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like everything else.” #this is deep shit!

  76. A friend sent this to me.
    First of all, I’m glad there’s someone like her around me.
    I’m a rapper. An English rapper in Kenya. I don’t know the last time I related to an article the way I did this one, midway, I almost got emotional, almost shed a tear. But I didn’t, coz I’m scared. Like everybody else in art is, scared to express themselves fully.

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  77. Try good ole tonic for the grass, they drink it all up. As usual, your word play, moving plot and punch lines have made me squinting my eyes at my minute font worthwhile. Also, I am off to seduce a goat. Amazing piece.

  78. This spoke straight to my soul. Reading it at 5.am,with everything quiet and peaceful. I think I have found my favourite piece yet. This was mine. Thank you Biko. Thank you. It feels like my affirmation. Everytime I need to hear some words of affirmation, I will come back to this piece.

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  79. Such a great read…Im a finance person too,have been for over 10 years now & I hate it with all I am.I have always been a creative but in our campus days that wasn’t an option so here I am.I hope I will gather enough courage to do what I love someday

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    1. Am trying to cover up my laugh lest i leave my colleagues wondering what’s there to laugh about in accounting. There is courage in pursuing what you want and i applaud Eddy and all out there who have chosen the creative path. Thanks Biko for the great read.

  80. for your grass use tobacco dust they will thank you and provide a soft cushion for when you want to sit on the ground….

  81. Bless the path less taken for it holds virgin sights and experiences that only you have seen and will tell off when others seek to come down the path you cut to have the experience you wrought, but alas! they will have none for everyone has to cut their own path and indulge their senses in the virgin sights and sounds that await. Bravely, fear, doubt is a requisite for this path I have discovered, but it is a strong ally once you set upon it no matter the forks that come up on your way you stick it out for you know nothing else and want to know nothing else.

  82. Best ever … i like the kind of diction chiselled carefully to bring about meaning. Nimesoma kila kitu hPo juu i need more

  83. I was crying all through this barua. Thank you Biko.

    Yes, creative shit is lonely, and I’ve been told I have a mzungu heart for all my wanderings.

    “Some of us, boys and girls like Eddy, will want to take a different path.”

    My creative path has brought me the deepest joy and has made me suffer the greatest pain.

  84. Because only the very brave beat their own path. And that shit is lonely. And often it takes time, commitment and great passion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like everything else.

    Deep

  85. As someone who’s venturing into writing this is super helpful and encouraging,, The beauty of art is not only to be seen but to be felt in its deepest form.

  86. “You are so smart, why the hell do you want to write about food! You can do anything!” – such a typical comment from Africans who dont understand passion over societal expectations

  87. I am sorry, Biko (and other emerging artists) that following the artist path is often such a lonely journey, while it might innately be part of the creative’s journey, I know it would help if there were more affirmation along the way. The real narrative here should be that artists are courageous to chart out their own paths in a country that tells them different.

    When did we get brainwashed as a country into thinking that only white collar pursuits were worthy? Where has our education system failed us if after writing all those compositions and inshas, the point was for us to all to end up working in banks!…..that’s a whole other conversation I know!

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  88. I can totally relate to this amazing post. After I finished high school I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue, so I did BBA procurement. Later while in campus I knew that I had a passion for graphic design and design field in general. I knew this because I used to draw when I was younger but our parents tell us to pursue courses that are marketable and so I ignored that. High school and campus time is an essential period in a persons life as it helps them discover your career because of the people you interact with. Grades these days are not very important if one doesn’t have character and confidence. This is what I have learned from my experience.

  89. we tend to love the people who love the things we love, not those who fight and break them.
    For the artist who is afraid to take the plunge

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  90. Eddy is thoughtful…and so are many creatives by the way….Nincy is a lucky girl…(at least while it lasts).
    Your aging testicle though…now I don’t know what to think of men who keep crossing their legs…I’ll never look at them the same way again…
    I also can’t beleive you’ve put up with that farmhand till now…lockdown or not….
    or just maybe its the ‘thoughtful aspect’…

  91. But art is sensitivity. It’s who you are. It’s you without your skin. Without bullshit. The sun shines directly on your heart.

  92. I think parents to millennials should get to read this article…maybe just maybe it will help them understand some of the choices their children make.

  93. I wish my mom thought like you Biko when I wanted to pursue music as a career, but in my days, music was a past time and now I work in a profession I relatively like, while I pine for music.
    Parents, support your children’s dreams please.

  94. Curious about any poetry platforms in kenya. Please recommend some. The heavens speak i was stoned when i decided to read this….lets just call it Gods plan….and the weed heavens help line.lol!!

  95. Out of all your stories, this one resonates the most with me. It brings to mind the day you gave a “lecture” in our class about your writing and the journey that brought you to where you were…..most impactful. Thanks, again, for sharing your life’s passion. Godspeed!

  96. Jay-Z ft Pharrell * So ambitious *

    … They said wise up, how many guys
    You see making it from here
    The world don’t like us…
    I’m different, I can’t base what I’m gonna be off a what everybody isn’t
    They don’t listen

  97. second time reading this. first as a creative that joined the “voices of reason” …now as a creative that gave up the normal path. And both times i still learn. Thankyou.