Conversating with a poet.

This month's willing accomplice (read victim) is Jodo, the man behind the Writers Club, the man I have been known to stalk on occasion.  Yes, I stalk the man, but only in the nicest way possible, and by that I mean I may have fawned over him in a most embarrassing fashion, such as I do.  Don't look at me like that, I gush and I'm proud of it, so there.  Ahem.  I could write some long winded explanation of why I love what, and how, he writes, but instead I'll tell you a story.  You know how I keep saying I don't get poetry?  Last month, he did a post called Kitendawili, a poem three lines long, three words in each.  I asked him what it was all about, all casual like, not wanting to look like a complete idiot, and he replied with three lengthy paragraphs, schooling me on bibi, babi and baba.  Ten words, three paragraphs.  To call the man fascinating is an understatement.  To wit, this conversation.  Heads up, if you don't speak Kiswahili, or sheng, you may need a translator.  I would have done it, but I'm lazy, and not particularly fluent in either.  And besides, I like how he sounds, the man has a flow about him.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the poet. 

ALEX: Are you up for a little poking into your mind?

JODO: Poking...isn't a polite word. ;)

Hahahaha... No it isn't, but I couldn't think of a better one. How are you this morning?

Nimeamka poa. Niliamka na tune ya 'My Way' - Frank Sinatra [see playlist] ndio iko on replay.

I'd never have guessed. Sinatra?

Yes. Frank. Louis Amstrong, 'Wonderful World' [see playlist], it's a good morning.

When did you get into Sinatra, et al? It's not something I hear many people talking about, I was half expecting you to say Nas or something such like.

When? No date, used to listen to my father's tapes of Jim Reeves, na pia I explore expression after. Sijawai kutaka kua 'many people'. Nas pia is on my play lists, ana poetry. Umeamkaje?

Niliamka poa, nothing playing yet, listening to the church across the road.

Church is good, ata kama church kills God.

Church kills God? Are you an atheist, sir? Or just not a church goer? Hahahaha...

Haha. I believe in God. God is Love.

But church isn't? Love, that is.

Zii. Church ni social gathering. Pia sio building, Christians wanajua 'the body is the temple of the holy spirit', unapata? God is love. Love haiwezi kua church. God si church. Christians husema the church is the bride of Christ.

That doesn't sound like the churches around these days.

What does it sound like ?

These days the building seems to be bigger than God himself. Churches seem to be all about the physical, material, love I don't see too often. Hahahaha...

It's what it seems. God resides ndani ya kila mtu, but hakuna kitu mpya chini ya jua. Si unajua, ama unakumbuka, story ya Jesus Christ akiturn violent? Love...you don't see often. Juzi nilikua napitia sermon on the mountain - blessed are the pure in thought, they shall see God. Ile story ya beatitudes, Matthew 5 hapo.

So God, faith, is important to you?


Why the smile?

Hio swali imenichanganya. Yea, faith ni muhimu.

Do you consider yourself a moral person? Don't ask me what moral is... :-)

Hahahahaha. Kali. I try, but no.

I ask about moral because of your job, you've written about it several times.

My job is immoral. :)

But you've managed to reconcile it with your morals?

Kitu kama hio. Sijui ata morals zangu ni zipi, tuseme principles...what's the difference?

I have no idea, to be honest, I suspect they're the same thing. Morals, principles...a code you live by. What are your principles?

Hehe...eish. Sijawai kaa chini kuzijua kabisa, but nathink kuna vitu siezi fanya, like taking advantage of an intoxicated woman. I think nilitoa hio kwa movie, but sijui.

Hahahaha... That's honest. The job, are you part of the system? 'Hii system ni ya majambazi...' I dont know where that came from.

Honesty ni principle, ama? Yes, I'm in the system...'part of the system' unamean?

You talk about the job, serikali, with some distaste, like you see how rotten it is, but then you're in it, and you seem to like the work. I guess I'm wondering if you're conflicted...

Nathink 'the system' ni ile report ya jana, that % kubwa ya wealth, or more, iko na watu politically connected. Watu wanafaa kujua serikali, but ni watu wanafanya country isonge. Serikali sio kitu, ni watu, serikali ni mimi na wewe. Watu wanahold the reigns of this thing inaitwa government, ndio wanamisgovern. Conflicted, yes. Sijui kusema adequately vile itaeleweka...samaki huoza ikianza kwa kichwa. Inaitwa civil service, but hakuna service...na kama iko, sio civil. Unanipata?

You're an optimist, Jodo.


Yes, really.

Nimeona umerefer to Mashifta...

What happened to them, or am I the one who lost touch? Hahahaha... Probably.

Haujapoteza touch. Hizi siku hawako sana, but wanafanya stuff. Niko eternally grateful to Kalamashaka nikiona Juliani, and the vibrant entertainment scene.

What do you think of the music coming out these days? Who do you like?

Nimetry kufikiria artistes wengine, but nimeona ni songs moja moja zao nalike.

Let's start with Juliani then, educate me, I only know a couple of tracks, and even then kijuujuu... Is he as good as they say he is?  I keep reading that he's the real deal, ki Kshaka, conscious music, not kapuka like akina Prezzo. Then again, Ksouth had a track called kapuka so...

Kapuka serves a need. It is from the Ksouth song that baptised some songs as so.


Yea. Now am feeling low.

Why? What did I say, man?

Nimethink tu 'consciousness' haiko valued, na more knowledge more grief. Nimeamua kusikia 'Loliwe' ya Zahara [see playlist].

Beautiful song.

The lyrics pia ni fine tu sana. Simple. Ulikua unaulizia music...

...to figure out your writing, you reference music constantly.

I write to a beat. :) My heart beat.

Brilliant line. I will steal that. Hahahaha. Speaking of heartbeats, two women feature on the blog, recently at least. Your grandma and an unnamed woman. :-) Do you like writing about love?

Love. It's all I write. :)

This is why I like talking to you, never a simple answer.  

That's a simple answer. No?

No, it's a poet's answer.

Remember that Dylan quote - a poet is a naked person...

Bob Dylan I'm guessing. Writing about love, in all its forms, is it a poet thing?

Sijui about poets, najua tu there are two kinds of writers – poets...and liars?

Now that you have to explain. Hahahaha... Are you saying truth is poetry, or is it the other way around, poetry is truth?

Hehe. I picked it up from an old movie. Sasa umeamua za logics, design ya akina aristotle... Jesus aliulizwa na Pointius Pilate, 'What is truth?'

Na akasema...


Hahahahaha... Talk of truth always reminds me of Jack Nicholson, 'A Few Good Men', “You want truth? You can't handle truth...”


Luo. The elephant in the room these days it seems. From what I've been reading, being Luo is complicated. There's a Luo renaissance going on. Part pride, part anger, part shame...

Renaissance... I like that word. How is being Luo complicated?

Now you man, si I'm asking you?


Is being Luo any different from being Kuyo, or Kenyan for that matter?

Haven't been a 'kuyo'. :) And there is nothing like 'Kenyan', tutafika tu one day. I think sisi wote tuko different, individually na culturally. Kuna vile we perceive things as a group, and as we are percieved... But stereotypes pia ni a sort of laziness... Nikiparaphrase 'Up In The Air', it's faster na easier.

So, is the renaissance I'm seeing, reading, an attempt to refute the Luo stereotype?

OK. The Luo kuna vile wamebebwa na vile wamejibeba. Ukieza control mind ya mtu, utamcontrol.

Hang on, wamebebwa na wamejibeba?

How wako perceived and how they perceive themselves, kitu kama hio.

How do they perceive themselves?

Is it not evident in how 'they' carry themselves? Pride. How they are percieved - arrogant. Hio tu nasema ni juujuu, but there is more to it than that, unafaa utafute sociologist aseme. It is presumptuous of me to claim kua authority.

It's not about authority, I'm asking your opinion because I think your opinion is valid, useful. Why is it so hard for us to talk about tribe?

Hapo sasa. Nilikua nikuambie, now you can't avoid politics.

Why should we avoid politics? We both spend a fair bit of time throwing stones at politicians no?

Inarudi kwa kitu nilisikia kama wa Kshaka akisema, 'Kabila ni mbili tu - maskini na mdosi'. Politics is too important a thing to be left to politicians. Tulianza kuongea system na wealth inafuatana na power, mostly political. Unacheki ni cycle tu. Haufeel fire flani ndani yako? Truth si kitu easy. :) Uliquote Hollywood, 'can't handle the truth'.

You don't put much stock in tribe do you? From the Kshaka quote, sounds like you see past the myth.

Tribe ni muhimu from the point of view ya identity, a sense of belonging. Tukiongea ata kilinguistically, hii kilami tunaongea i.e. English, ni mother tongue ya England, French - France, German- Germany, Chinese – China... Think Maasai. Think names.


Hio ni part ndogo tu, but it all adds up kua culture ya mtu. Think Jews, Orthodox or non practising.

Now that's tricky. Their culture is entwined with their religion, actually, the religion is what binds them together. European, African, American...all Jews, but different cultures.

OK, that's tricky, true, but even within hizo communities wanaishi, kuna vile wako different na wana associate to each other as one. Religion yao kwao is a big part of their culture.

It's an all the time thing, not just on Sunday like the Christians. :-)

Hehe. Una ubaya na Christians.

Hahahaha. Uchokozi.

Eddie Griffin hulike pia kuwachokoza. Christianity ni kama convinience, ama ya kuandikwa kwa C.V.

You know. I'm bothered by people using religion as an excuse for...foolishness...

Foolishness is a human right. :) What sort of folly?

The folly of being passive, refusing to question, forgive and forget, love thy neighbour. What if my neighbour is a thieving idiot? Hahahaha. We have digressed... Tribe, identity, culture. Are we doomed as a country to remain separate but equal? Kila mtu na chake and God for us all?

It's not a country thing, it's human. Cry, beloved country? :)

Why cry when I can mock endlessly? :-) Any thoughts on Boniface?

Boniface Mwangi. Yule alisema 'ameretire' from activism juu ya selfishness yetu, watu wa kenya? Thoughts...about nini haswa?

About his 'activism', retirement, selfish Kenyans...

He played his part. Kuna ile poem ya lauryn hill, 'Motives and Thoughts' [see playlist]. Story ni yeye ndio anajua nini alikua ameset out kuachieve, hadi aka choka. Siri ni ya watu watatu, 'shetani, mungu na wewe'. The backstory. Ametushow that activism ni choice.

Do you think of yourself as an activist? I know its become a bad word these days, but I mean it in the simplest sense, agitating for change. :-)


Have you always been?

I want to believe I have.

How old are you Jodo? And do you play bball? Hahahaha...

29 in may. No, I don't play bball.

You can't be called Jodo and not play ball, that's an...oxymoron? I'm from the Michael Jordan era, clearly.

Actually jodo ni martial art, ama ni a short bamboo stick inatumika kwa martial art ya Japan.

Are you a karate expert?

I'm no expert. An admirer of arts. Nilijoin karate club in high school as a buffer for bullies.

Born and bred in Nai?

Nairobi born and bred.


Hapo sasa.

You've done a couple of posts about the other side of the highway, is there a divide in our lovely city? :-)

:) The city in the sun.

Because other cities have no sun. Ha! We are quite special, us Nairobians.

Unique. We feel special...or think we are.

Pride. Seen as arrogance. :-)


The divide, is it east and west, or rich and poor?

Ni universal. Nikiendeleza what umesema, east - china- poor - bad...west- good- rich...

But west has poor too, and east has rich.

True. Kuna place ya the rich na the poor everywhere, like birds of a feather.

Our governor, any progress being made?

Nice traffic lights...

Hahahaha. Very fancy, no?

Uliniita optimist. Fancy. :) This is a city!!

Not a city, THE city. In the sun. With a park.

Hapo sawa. Haha. Progress...sijui. Ama hana PR machinery poa.

Unlike Alfred?

Phd in journalism, but at least kuna steps made. Hata hivo, swali ni expectations zetu ni nini, as Wanairobi.

That was my next question, what are you hoping for?

Better days. :) Clean city, clean streets. Security. Planned developments. I want more. Traffic iwe better, affordable housing for all, maji...and so on.

Do you know who your ward rep is?

'Mbunge wangu simjui/ alidisappear after election/ lakini najua zikikaribia zitareappear kam christ resurrection!' - Kshaka

Hahahahahaha...so true. I know my MP...

:) Good, knowledge is power. I know my president.

...nilimwona TV kule Kisumu akishughulikia mambo ya party elections. :-D Ward rep I have no clue.

Hahahaha. Pole. Inaitwa democrazy.

I blame myself...

Don't. Why do you?

Kidero invited the public for consultations for the budget, but I'm too busy, no? Then I complain I wasn't consulted, na consultant simjui? My fault.

It isn't a coalition government, inakaa kwetu it's just an attempt for show. It's all our fault, our leaders are a reflection of us. However, I want to know that what I say will be taken seriously. Ati mwanamume ni effort. Tsk.

How to get heard, that's the issue. Pull a Boniface with foam babies, or Omtatah with chains. Or Jodo with poems...

First, true revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within." - Saul Alinsky. Second ni the education, na the unlearning of all we've heard of. Politics as politricks...is a dirty game. It. Is. Not. A. Game!

But a cynic would argue that life is all a game, pata potea.

It is. But then again it isn't. :)

Hahahaha. It's complicated.

We need to redefine what 'politics' is.

What is politics, issues or competitions?

Politics, sijui ni nini. By definition, wanasema ni vile tunaeza get kugovern, vile power inaeza tumika kushare resources.

But we can't all govern, can we?

We can all govern. We all govern. The basic unit of government is the family. Our contribution iko from nyumbani, to shule, to work na hivo.

So, rethink our politics, infiltrate the system, rebuild from the bottom up, as well as top down?

Haha. By any means necessary. Rethink ourselves and the role we 'play'. ;)

Last question. What question haven't I asked, that you want to answer? 

Haha.... Naskiza Susan Boyle singing 'I dreamed a dream' [see playlist].

Your playlist is bloody amazing, so random. :-)  Continue...

Sijui swali ipi hujaniuliza na ningetaka uniulize.

I have one, why do you sound like two different people?

Huh? Aje hivo? Hehehe.

On the blog you're the Queen's English spouting poet. On email, and now chat, you're the guy from across the way. You're bilingual. :-)

Hehe. Nikiwa campo, ata nishawai kushow, when a friend heard me speak English alisema ni kama am speaking in tongues.

Is what I'm saying...

Hio swali sina jibu.

I know, that's why I asked. :-) Thank you for your morning sir, it's been really good.

Imekua poa, thanks sana. Blessed. Something random, a prayer: God bless the work of my words.