The Iron Curtain

Warning: Long post ahead.

I reached out to Joe Black. Remember him, the prodigy boy from the slums of Kitui who came here with his dazzle and muzzled his way into your hearts with his lively prose? I said, “Joe, readers have been asking me where your ass at. I thought they would stop but they keep asking where the great Joe Black at. Do you want to write a guest post for next week?” He said, “Well, sure. What should I write about?” I said, “Anything you want. Tell us what you have been up to? How is life in Uni, drugs, cross-dressing, girls, stuff…”

So we set a Saturday deadline. On Friday he asked for an extension to Sunday end of day. I said sawa because I know the nature of writing. I travelled. Sunday midnight I whatsapped him a reminder and last night I got a whatsapp from him reading:

“Biko I don’t know how to put this but I’ve run out of juice. I’ve been struggling with copy till now and I still can’t come up with something worthy. I don’t think I will be able to make it for this week’s post. Too rusty. Need more time. Sorry for the inconvenience mate.”

I understood, even though he didn’t append a comma between the “inconvenience” and “mate” What is a comma amongst friends? I mean, why let a comma come between mates? (See what I did there?)

It’s 3:48am in London as I write this from my hotel room. I have only caught 25 winks. The guy who checked us in Mowlid was this very pleasant Somali guy with a heavy British accent and a hairstyle that reminded me of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I’m with another dapper gentleman (and great conversationalist) called Shukri Nunow who works for Turkish Airline. He upgraded Shukri and I to the top most floor.

During check-in I heard them talk swiftly in Somali, “hakru budakah hukri haaack haaajhaack, eastleigh, aye? Aye? duulimaad dheer, aye aye…Ilaah ha idiin barakeeyo, aad semeyn sida halkan ka shaqeeya, aye eye? Mashallah..aye, bananas, yes, two bananas, aye, aye, ayuu aad u jecel yahay banaas, laakiin waa Luo….aaa sarirta jilicsan…mashallah…mashallah…”

I thought they were fighting but then Mowlid touched his heart humbly, bowed a little and boom we got an upgrade! He turned to me and said, “You are all my brothers.”  

“Aye!” I said.

Hell, for an upgrade I will be anyone’s brother. Even sister if you want.

And so it’s with this fantastic view of London at 4am (I never close my curtains when I travel) that I woke up to read Joe Black’s whatsapp while in bed. I understood him completely. First he was having performance anxiety because you guys have put him on a pedestal, second he had let his talent to sit inactive for so long without nurturing it and he didn’t know how to get it up. Maybe he had found other passions. Maybe Uni had taken a toll on him. Maybe he had gotten bored of writing and moved on to gardening. You never quite know with these millennials. They imagine that the world will always bend to their whims, that the universe owes them shit and by God, they will get it. That, by  narrow extension, is the folly of modern youth, this complete faith in the world’s ability to align towards them, not the other way round.

We wrapped up a successful “Bikozulu writing Masterclass” last Saturday at the Crowne Plaza. (They have a new wing called The Annexe; four floors of meeting rooms, office space and accommodation…) This was our 10th class. The masterclass is a revolving door of budding writers who come in wanting to pursue writing seriously. They are diverse; folks in communication, people in transition with their careers and want to take writing to another level, media students keen on print media, new mothers who want to start mommy blogs, an occasional bored housewife with money and time to kill, people who want to author books, sponsored people from marketing departments of corporates, people who want to confirm how large my forehead is so that they can one day tell their grandkids about its sheer size and how it choked all the light in the room, and people who want to start specialised blogs and so are keen to find out if it writing is lucrative and is even worth their time.

It always promises a very interesting mix of people. (Register for June class by emailing info@bikozulu.co.ke). There is always a feminist in the class, a much older woman with teenage kids, a student, a born-again, someone on career transition, NGO person, bored person, another bored person, someone troubled etc.

I love the class because of this diversity and how human beings come with their stories tugging along like jaded shadows. In our previous class we had a girl with mental health issues who wrote dark things. In the last class we had a girl who declared she suffered from depression and battled alcoholism. She wore a choker twice to class. I can pick these types out quickly before they tell me their stories; they have that faraway look in their eyes, they say a lot with their clothes and when they laugh their laughter normally sound like the snappy crack of a whip; a moistureless laughter. They come to escape through writing and the most beautiful stories, I have learnt, are written in (and from) darkness. Happy people make for boring writers. Mostly.

Almost all of these students who come for the Masterclass have something in common. They think it’s going to be easy. That they will get into that room and I will tell them this deep secret that will immediately shift something in them and when they leave the room they will be excellent writers. The truth couldn’t be further, because nothing comes easy. At least nothing important.

We all want things today but we don’t want to put in the time. We don’t want to go to the trenches, or to use the words of the Godfather, we don’t want to “go to the mattresses” and fight it out. I told a lady in the last class who wants to start this Motherhood blog that she will have to post stuff every week for at least two years before her blog even starts showing as a bleep in the vast wasteland of blogosphere, and she was taken aback by that.

This blog is going to be 7-years old this year, some people forget that we started at the basement in what we lovingly called High School, a pre-First-To-Comment era when we were a small community and we knew each other and we borrowed salt from each other. A ton of people have since moved on, more moved in.

I have always stayed here, putting in work even during days that I didn’t feel like because I loved it and I’m passionate about it and the other option is going back to Kendu Bay and fishing but there is hyacinth now, plus my mom isn’t in shags no more. So we slog and we put our backs into it. And it pays off, slowly at first, then rapidly.

The students who come to the class come to “learn” how to write because there is great redemption and salvation in writing. Writing is like attaching two massive wings against your shoulders. You can fly. You can go to places people can’t reach you. Sure, weed might do that as well, but weed might also make you remove your pants in the middle of Muindi Mbingu Street. Writing won’t.

The most beautiful thing that ever happened to me is my writing. It’s made me meet tons and tons of wonderful people and some really pretentious ones who I’m sure are wonderful in their own way. It’s opened numerous doors for me. It’s made me see the world.  It’s given me confidence. Most importantly, it feeds my children, and clothes them and takes them to decent schools. It’s made me buy things I want to buy and drink the whisky I want to drink. It’s made me be in the room with people I otherwise wouldn’t even be in the same building with. Two weeks ago I interviewed Peter Ouko who was in Death Row for 18-years and he said, “It’s an honor to finally meet you. I read you while I was in Kamiti.” And it touched me to the core. I almost hugged him but I was strong.

The Good Lord has blessed me abundantly because of writing and so when I see kina Joe Black, folk with great potential let it sit, it pains my toe.

I mentioned that I’m in London as I write this. Yeah, yeah yeah, the Brits finally gave me a visa. Old hat, guys. I don’t know if I  would have made it to London had I continued working in a medical lab. Maybe I would have, maybe I wouldn’t. I will tell you how ridiculously rewarding writing is by explaining how I ended up here in London.

Listen to this.

Barclays Bank of Kenya have introduced this amazing product called the Multi Currency prepaid card. Because I travel quite a bit I have used various pre-paid cards and I’m versed on how they work or don’t work. Most have dollar, Ksh and British pounds. This one holds Dollar, Euro, Rand, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen and the Ksh. You go to Japan and use this visa card and the card automatically detects which funds to utilise saving you those ridiculous conversation rates. So travelers and business people can use it. You can save your money for travel there, instead of waiting for November to ask, “What can we do in Dec?”

Plus if you have overspent you can always whatsapp someone back in Kenya and have someone load it by Mpesa. “Jamo, si you Mpesa 20K into this card, I’m sort of stuck here kidogo.” Then Jamo will ask, “I hear a chick laughing in the background, who is that?” and you will say, “Huyomoto.”

“Nani moto?”

“Huyomoto.”

“Ati ni moto?”

“No, that’s her name, Huyomoto, si you know these Japs and names?”

“Ooh, sawa. Get me a fridge magnet.”

“Ye with small needs.”

The beauty is you don’t even have to be a Barclays account holder to get this card, because really sometimes you just want to stay with the devil you know.

How do I come in? Barclays Bank put some money into this card and said, “we want to send you to London to shop, but you have to use this card and see how it works. Tell us your experience.”

So I said, sawa, but how will I get to London? Surely, not by boat.

Enter Turkish Airline.

They go to London via Istanbul. Four flights daily from Istanbul. They offered to fly me down. I said “Business class, I hope?” (Because now I’m spoilt) and they said, “Of course. Check out our CIP business Lounge in Instanbul, it will blow you away.” I thought to myself, yeah, right, I already saw Qatar’s Business Class lounge in Doha, what else can come close? I didn’t dare tell them this because people catch major feelings when you say somethings. They might not even talk to you forever. They might put up a small photo of you in all the loos in their planes saying, “Turkish Airlines does not and will not do business with this gentleman. (And we are using that word with our tongue in cheek). If you see him in any of our planes, please report to the nearest security desk. He’s an ass.”

So I asked the guys, “Where will I stay?” They said it will be taken care of. Initially these guys called Kwese had bought tickets for a premier league match to watch Wanyama play. We were to watch it the other weekend but my priority Visa delayed so I didn’t make it. (I suspect that was the Queen’s people reminding me who’s the boss. You can run your silly blog, but we are the Brits… mate!).

So my job was to come to the UK, shop, eat and write about it. That’s it.

You see how kind writing has been to me? I mean, I keep experiencing things that keep blowing me away. For instance, Turkish Airlines were right, their Business Lounge in Instanbul is a surreal 3,000m2 monstrosity. I think airlines are now just comparing their cojones; who is going to build a shinier and sexier lounge.

The CIP has two floors and can hold up to 2,000 passengers in a day. They have showers, billiard room (you Kenyans call it pooltable hehe. When you cross seas the name changes), business center,  private relaxation rooms that are darkened and have stars in the sky to soothe you to sleep because you are a honcho and you work so hard and you deserve silence and comfort. There is a private infant room, where you can hush your wealthy baby and breastfeed him without creepy people staring at your boobs. Their is a complete movie theater that plays movies. (Complete with popcorn,) There is a section for playing golf, with a green carpeted tee. They call it the Turkish Open. I mean it’s ridiculous. I saw execs, sleeves folded, teeing off as they burnt time waiting for their flights.

There is a media hall where you walk in and there are these numerous screens telling you what part of the world is talking about what on social media at a glance. A massage room which you don’t really need because their business class is so large you can raise a family there let alone sleep comfortably. They have this formula one race car track, where executives are allowed to become children again and race each other on a small track.

Then there is a napping room, darkened and clean white Egyptian cotton sheets sijui 1,000 thread count (because if it’s below 1,000 you will dream of monsters eating your plane midair). Then there is the food and drinks and wine everywhere you look and chefs in white grilling and blending and searing and mixing and a grand piano plays from the middle of the room as people wheel bags about and smell their wine under well coiffed and cultured eyebrows. Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul is such a show of  might, privilege and opulence that the Huffington Post called it a “destination in itself.”

When you sit there with these wealthy and accomplished people, it changes you and it changes how you look at life. It makes you feel small and that lights up something in you, not a fire, but this candle that doesn’t go off even in the wind, this hunger to get better and ask for better for yourself and from life. You demand from life. We have to demand from life because then life knows we want it badly.

I remember getting off the plane and going through the Fast Track at the immigration in exactly 5mins while a mass of humans, ‘the watus’, waited in winding queue, because when you are in Business Class what you don’t have enough of is time. So they save it for you. Even the immigration guys in Heathrow talked to me in a way that immigration doesn’t talk to me when I travel economy, because who would want to sneak and disappear into their kingdom on a business class ticket?

I remember telling Shukri that money accords you such greater flexibility and saves your time and gives you comfort. “Once you travel business, it spoils how you look at air travel again, it changes how you travel economy because you know how much better it can get.”  

Yes, you know how people live on the other side of the Iron Curtain, which is what I call that curtain that separates business and economy.

Would I have been exposed to these luxuries had I stayed in the laboratory, bleeding people, peering at amoeba in people’s stools, handing patients plastic bottles for them to bring warm urine samples in them, taking vaginal swabs, trying to find fat baby’s veins to bleed them for blood samples, breaking news to bewildered girls that their PDT tests came out positive and they will be mothers? Or staring at malaria protozoa through a microscope and it staring back at me defiantly with a cocky shrug. Would all these have happened?

To be clear, getting here has not even been about talent. It’s been about dedication and consistency and passion. In that order. (God, naturally is the first in that order, and he knows it. Donge, Nyasaye?) It’s been about showing up and putting in hours, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and not falling off the wagon no matter how uncomfortable it felt. You show up and you put out your heart in the soil and God waters it. But first you have to hand God that seed and you have to help him help you grow it. Can I hear an Amen, people?

Joe Black is a highly talented boy, I tried calling him on Whatsapp but he lengad me because he thinks he has disappointed me and I’m calling to give him a hiding. Since he won’t pick my calls, I will tell him (and this young generation of millennials who want things to happen TODAY). That talent means shit if you don’t work on it. A hybrid seed won’t grow if you don’t put it in the soil and water it daily and prune it and weed it. Put in time. Don’t listen to folks who tell you to work smart, that is rhetorical garbage. You are young, talented and you have wifi, work hard, damn it! It never killed anyone.

And a lot of young folk write to me and say, “I admire your life, how can my blog get me those things you do?” And I want to tell them that, first, (why do some kuyos say firstly? Ama it’s just a Muranga thing?) nobody’s life is ever as good as it seems online, and secondly, there are four years I did on this blog without making a single cent or going for a single trip as a result, just slogging away, daily.

The tragedy? One day Joe Black will show up at Pearly Gates and God will ask him as the Big Book says, “What did you do with the talent I gave you?”

“I wrote on Bikozulu’s blog.”

God will roll his eyes, turn to the angel on his right and mumble, “Jesus, man!”

The angel will say, “I’m not Jesus, he’s gone to the loo.”

God will say with a tight jaw. “I’m God, don’t you think I would know if you were my son?” then turn to Joe Black and say, “Apart from this…”waves his hand dismissively, “…Biko guy’s blog, what else did you do with your talent?”

Joe Black would stare at his feet like a schoolboy while God taps his foot impatiently. “Nothing?”

Then Joe would start sobbing and God would take a deep breath and mumble, “Oh God.” (Hehe).

Joe would be led away by someone in sandals, where upon Jesus would come back and sit on his right side and ask, “What did I miss?”

“Joe Black.” God will say.

“Oh, the guy who wrote on Bikozulu’s blog?”

God would then pinch the bridge of his nose tightly like he’s having a bad headache and say, “Will you guys stop calling that guy’s name here. It’s such stale vibe!”

246 thoughts on “The Iron Curtain”

  1. Victor says:

    Aye….lets read now

    • Roland says:

      Firstly, first commenters have to be good for something, right? They help chaps like me that are too lazy to scroll past the comment of the one that came first (heh), those that think they came first but didn’t, the other hundreds of comments (Dear Kenyans, How did you develop such a vibrant commenting culture? Please teach us Ugandans your secrets! Or is it just here?), or even just press the end keyboard button just to get to the comment form.
      2. You should skip the long post warnings when your writing is so gripping. At the end I was like, ‘Huh, long read? This is probably what it’s like when a guy promises a chick that he’s a stud in bed and then comes first after a few minutes.’
      3. Listened to you when you were in Kampala a few weeks ago and you emphasized these same points. I know I’ll get here one day. Just need to get this consistency bit right. I’ve been failing the last two weeks. Before that, I’d managed to pull off a month of weekly posts but recently, the jobo is making all kinds of demands from me and over time I’ve realized I draw blanks when the job is being so whiny. But today, today I started what was supposed to be a short FB status update about alarm clocks. 15 minutes later, I was still writing and what was supposed to be a 140 character status update (so it could fit on twitter too since I set up my twitter to pick FB updates) had grown into a 500-word beast that looked like it had ambition and wanted to turn into a full blog post. I was giddy with excitement. I was in the zone. This is how I produce my best stuff. Fwaaa, out of the blue, just like that. Abrupt brilliance. I looked at the pile of unread emails in my inbox and interrupted my furious typing to give the screen a middle finger. My flow was rudely interrupted after the boss called me into a meeting. I really wanted to show him how magnificent my middle finger is but my better judgement overruled my vanity and I abandoned my typing to see what new crap my whiny job wanted to throw at me. The meeting resulted in some tasks I couldn’t put off so I went about my corporate donkey ways. When I finally got a break, I reached for my pocket to get my phone and resume my alarm tale. But you know how it can be for us who have affordable Tecno (sounds more respectable than cheap)phones. The poor things sometimes heat up when they have to many apps open for too long. And since they are already affordable, they don’t need the extra negative publicity for doing a Note 7, so you have to clear up the apps once in a while to increase their life expectancy. Mine had over 18 apps that had been open since the previous day and I was beginning to feel the effect of all these open apps and their data by the way the temperature and weight in my pockets was increasing. Ate my valuables are in the area code so I needed to clear apps before the future of my bloodline was compromised. You can never be too careful. So, yeah, I cleared my apps. In my tired mind, the facebook app where I was typing my storo would be the only one to remain open and I could resume writing without the clutter of the apps making the phone freeze all the time. Phone with this feature have this dramatic way of clearing the apps. It’s like it’s making it rain apps into oblivion…
      4. This is why I’ll never be good at twitter. It’s now taken me over 20 minutes (I’m still at it 45 minutes later. Just passing through again for basic editing purposes) just to write this comment.
      5… it was after the phone had gotten rid of about 7 apps that I realized how fucked I was. The FB app was also going to be cleared with my mini essay still incomplete and unsaved. FUUUCCKKK. I almost threw the phone at the wall. Not in anger, but in an attempt to stop it clearing the fB app and over 30 minutes worth of writing. Thankfully, my common sense prevailed over despair and I survived losing both my phone and writing. But I was devastated. 2 weeks of zero mojo and now my comeback had been sabotaged by a rookie error. Fwakini.
      6. Thanks for the reminder, Biko. And thank you to Victor for commenting first so I could reply his comment with a much-needed rant.
      7. I don’t even know why I’m numbering my thoughts. The fatigue is real, yo!

  2. lio says:

    first to comment

  3. Allen says:

    First one

  4. Ms. M says:

    Great piece sir

  5. Kipkoech S says:

    Top 5

  6. marie becca says:

    I almost gave up on today. Sigh.

  7. Mohammed says:

    warning. long post ahead. lemi go jogging before reading

  8. Sang says:

    Long post. Good. Lemme save it for the evening.

  9. Chepkonga says:

    Beautifully written… You could pass off as a motivation speaker as well..

  10. Miss Dee says:

    Long yea, but I enjoyed reading.

  11. Gudy says:

    Aye..top 10..??

  12. Njambi says:

    Good read. Overnight success is a dream unless you’re playing Lotto every single second of your life!!!

  13. Geraldyn Nduruka says:

    So really, this exemplifies what you tried drilling into our heads for those three days! Thankyou Biko, you’ve shone a light that only a mentor can. You’ve been brutal, but rightfully so. See you at the top, and that’s if I survive my years in the trenches.
    Blessings.

  14. Kasina says:

    Okay?

  15. Judy says:

    Beautiful read

  16. Susan says:

    Am envious of you! The BBK multi currency prepaid card and Turkish airlines business lounge in Istanbul have been added to my bucket list. I am dreaming big because I want to be big, as my pastor would say.

  17. Jane says:

    I promise to work hard!

  18. Christine says:

    Oh oh Joe Black. U should have ised that comma.

  19. Stevete says:

    This is motivational in a way, I guess I gotta stop sleeping on my talent now

  20. Jennys says:

    Beautiful piece.So true

  21. jo says:

    Where did Stale Bread disappear to?

  22. Hadi says:

    You should add a what’s app sharing icon.
    Nice read

  23. Kasina says:

    The truth couldn’t be further, because nothing comes easy. At least nothing important.
    We all want things today but we don’t want to put in the time. We don’t want to go to the trenches, or to use the words of the Godfather, we don’t want to “go to the mattresses” and fight it out.

  24. mukami says:

    …You demand from life. We have to demand from life because then life knows we want it badly… Thank you Biko.

  25. Anne says:

    Timely advice for those of us with an ambition to write but encounter writer’s block every single minute!

  26. Vinnie says:

    oooh. classic.
    my God!

  27. Ali says:

    Really! guys first to comment thing needs to end. It is too highschool and we are way past it.

  28. Mak'Omondi says:

    Great advice, work hard, Malcolm Gladwell says we should put in 10,000 hours before we can master anything

  29. Lawrence Ndegwa says:

    Nice read and very true. You have to work hard to get anything good.

  30. SueM says:

    Words to live by.. beautiful piece Biko

  31. Kioko says:

    My new year’s resolution was to register my domain and get back to writing. We’re now in March and my procrastination is getting out of hand. Sometimes all you need is a wakeup call, even if it comes in the form of a kick up your ass.
    Nice read, made me feel guilty but it’s what I needed.

  32. Rashid Mzee says:

    To be clear, getting here has not even been about talent. It’s been about dedication and consistency and passion. In that order. (God, naturally is the first in that order, and he knows it. Donge, Nyasaye?) It’s been about showing up and putting in hours, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and not falling off the wagon no matter how uncomfortable it felt. You show up and you put out your heart in the soil and God waters it. But first you have to hand God that seed and you have to help him help you grow it. Can I hear an Amen, people?
    Amen Biko, Amen.

  33. Nyambura says:

    You are speaking directly to me. Thank you this piece is very timely

  34. abdullah omar says:

    oh jesus!what a piece!

  35. Catherine says:

    Wow. Joe Black heed these words

  36. Ruth says:

    Damn! Masterpiece!

  37. collins Mwakio says:

    I wish the classes could run from Friday to Sunday
    ..thanks bro…i love your prose

  38. Connie says:

    You have your feet on solid ground Biko. I like how you process and visualize things.

  39. Khami says:

    “Check out our CIP business Lounge in Instanbul, it will blow you away.” Where are the editorial ladies? CIP or VIP?? You still are Chocolate Man. Amazing writer.

  40. pau says:

    Quite a rebuke for Joe Black huh. Maybe you should be getting frustrated more often so we get more of these long posts

  41. GHOSTREADER says:

    Ghost reader,I see what you did with that ending,Joe bounce back.Hilarious,the Somali convo I read it in that accent,my ribs are aching.

  42. Carol says:

    Awesome read Biko as always! Had to google the Turkish airlines lounge in Instabul. Wah! All in all you deserve all the perks that come your way. Toiling hard definitely pays. May God continue to bless the work of your hands

  43. Nayomi says:

    Passion, consistency. Nice piece Biko

  44. Lisa says:

    I agree, Joe should write, says the Gang and myself

  45. Mukami Kathambara says:

    Jealous much! See you on the other side of the Iron Curtain Chocolate man!

  46. Nesh says:

    “Joe, readers have been asking me where your ass at…”
    Biko,stop! You are a Kenyan and not a black American . what happened to “Joe, where are you at?”

  47. Levis says:

    You write so good, at times it makes me sad, happy but this got me challenged. The talent part is what I don’t know yet.
    Long post warning excites me

  48. Kevine says:

    That convo at the pearly gates though…

  49. Morgan says:

    Awesome!!

  50. Watitwa says:

    Killer piece!

  51. Carol says:

    I guess when you have a story, You can spin one out on short notice! Great read Biko…. It sure was worth seven years of practice!

  52. Lily says:

    Joe Black, we will wait patiently for you to get your groove back, it always come back! rest assured. But as Chocky man said, keep listening to the music/beat and don’t put the pen down too long.

    As usual Biko, loved the read.

  53. Yvonne says:

    Sorry foe being a grammar troll, but it’s conversion rates not conversation rates.
    Amen to everything else.

  54. Gilbert Nyarondia says:

    What an inspiration. Good article like always Biko

  55. Elisha says:

    I am inspired, to say the least.

  56. Joseph says:

    Biko you’ve really worked your way up. Man…that piece moved me. Now I’ll write till my nails fall out.
    http://josephreignsblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/what-the-wind-took-from-us/

  57. Mike says:

    Waambie mzae. It’s not just the millenials wishing for stuff. Hard work never killed anyone. Waambie.
    Kazi njema jo!

  58. Mumbi MuchirI says:

    Good one… and no less a than 1000 thread count doesn’t give you nightmares.

  59. Cleopatra says:

    You can fly. You can go to places people can’t reach you. Sure, weed might do that as well, but weed might also make you remove your pants in the middle of Muindi Mbingu Street. Writing won’t. Mako! mako!

  60. captain says:

    Weh! Jb amechomwa Mbaya. Ka comma kange okoa ngori mob. Lakini Biko umedi#£a point. Some of us would kill to get them opportunities that so easily slide onto some folks’ laps. Maybe the stars don’t align themselves properly for us,maybe our parents hugged us too much or maybe not enough. I don’t know maybe our foreheads…you get the point.
    If and when life swings one your way,blast out of the field. In the meantime Keep your feet steady, your head down and work on that swing. Someday you too will tell us about the silk coverlet on the other side of the iron curtain.

  61. Benjamin Allan says:

    Thanks Jackson.Silent…Thanks

  62. jacob says:

    Its true,
    When you sit there with these wealthy and accomplished people,
    it changes you and it changes how you look at life.This hunger to get better and ask for better for yourself and from life.
    You demand from life.
    We have to demand from life because then life knows we want it badly.

  63. ike says:

    Only Biko could describe this vividly.I have been self employed for 8yrs,I am a true testimony to dedication,consistency and passion.Always show up even if there’s nothing motivating you to.Joe Black,please show up.Going back to fish in KB is indeed no option Jackson….’ford oketho nam’

  64. Unknown Warrior says:

    Biko please don’t give up on Joe Black…. He just needs some motivation and this post is part of that. Joe Black, bro,please take heed to Biko and put your back into it. We have faith in you and your ability! Please don’t let us down.

  65. This Joe black guy, should really do something about his talent. Not every one is as lucky as he is when it comes to talent. https://ekichir.blogspot.co.ke

  66. Jim says:

    Great Stuff ….motivation Repackaged

  67. David says:

    Thanks Biko..

  68. Moreen says:

    Read this with bated breath! How sobering!Best one yet, mate.

  69. Milka says:

    Loved this..totally awesome. Some lessons I’m learning the hard way

  70. Kola says:

    I feel like I am Joe Black. Just that I am not a writer but I’ve let something else slip through my fingers. Let me catch it before it falls and shatter. Well said Biko!

  71. Yes to this…
    “When you sit there with these wealthy and accomplished people, it changes you and it changes how you look at life. It makes you feel small and that lights up something in you, not a fire, but this candle that doesn’t go off even in the wind, this hunger to get better and ask for better.”
    And this…
    “To be clear, getting here has not even been about talent. It’s been about dedication and consistency and passion. In that order.”

    Blogged for two years before the little rewards started trickling in. I agree, one has to be committed, and not throw in the towel when they notice only their family and friends are reading. As well controversial topics will drive traffic to a site faster than soft topics.
    For newbie bloggers; if possible blog daily or weekly (hard to do so when you feel your brains are fried or you lack inspiration). Also guest post alot. Then move the blog to a proper domain and work your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
    Millennials like Joe Black are a sharp bunch, and not afraid to take risks. Some of the millennial nerds are earning a pretty penny just from having mastery of google algorithms, and being in step with any changes google makes. As they say, “No longer the laughing stock, geeks are now inheriting the earth.”

    • Blogging consistently is hella hard. I do it but then give myself long breaks as rewards. Anyway when I get the hand of it I am going to make a full-fledged site for me. Then Barclays will pay me to go tour Berlin now that Biko already went to London.

  72. Ben says:

    Here here to working hard and showing up

  73. TheBlackKennedy says:

    I remember when the blog was still in the “pre-First-To-Comment era when we were a small community and we knew each other and we borrowed salt from each other.”

    When we were still with WordPress.

    • TheBlackKennedy says:

      ” Sure, weed might do that as well, but weed might also make you remove your pants in the middle of Muindi Mbingu Street.” And that too…

  74. joy says:

    no one has ever died because of work;
    timely piece.

  75. churchill salmon says:

    i had to read the whole of this piece,nice article man,JB should read this and be motivated because the greatest guy with the greatest forehead cares about his future

  76. Suleiman says:

    Dedication and consistency and passion…., that’s the only way to succeed. And yes forget this ‘working smart’ it’s in deed a rhetorical garbage..

  77. AIRRA says:

    A nice one. I was almost giving up on today.

  78. Snowmann D'Afrique says:

    Wandafu wandafu read.

  79. Mr Mogeni says:

    A fine peace
    Been inspired

  80. Suleiman says:

    I would join the masterclass strictly to see your big forehead. To get a narrative to my kids in future…

  81. Rachel says:

    Biko, let me be your proof reader.

  82. Peter Osiago says:

    Whoever trained us to sit back and wait for good fortune to come falling onto our laps. I want the life for me too, but putting in the work…that’s the hard part. Just what I needed though. Thank you, Biko.

  83. Arimartha says:

    Thank you Biko, this is quite the ‘grip-on-shoulder-body-shaking’ that Joe Black needs. Not just him, I bet! I know for a fact that a few more scales fell off my eyes just now!
    But, we can’t all be writers…I bet the guy in the lab could make a world famous discovery if he works hard at it too…no?

  84. jmutonoh says:

    but do i say!!! You can write…

  85. Gerh says:

    money accords you such greater flexibility and saves your time and gives you comfort

  86. Riri says:

    That conversation at Pearly Gates makes me one really guilty ass. Sleeping on talent, the reason behind it is procrastination, too much love for comfort and fear of ridicule.

  87. Aisha says:

    Hahahaha… The Somali though much if it is true but some words I guess are Russian and not Somali. We must add bananas in our conversations because they say, “if you want to kidnap a Somali write free bananas and rice in the van that will ferry them to the warehouse.” The word is “Haye” not “Aye!” the former looks like we have got some good cheering sense.

  88. Maxwell says:

    Brilliant.

  89. Rahab says:

    Nice one…

  90. kennedy says:

    Donge Nyasaye!!

  91. Orash Bony says:

    Biko you said conversation rates.

  92. Ronald says:

    This means a lot to me. The HARDWORKING part. I can draw, paint, and write. Most recently I’ve been programming. Oh boy, my laziness and procrastination is on its own level. Today I haven’t done a single thing to the affect to build any of the four things I know I can be great at.
    The good thing is that hardworking is not intrinsic or intangible. I believe it is action and reaction for the hours I ought to put in my craft.

  93. Mary says:

    Today article was brilliant. This is an eye opener to me too.

  94. AJ says:

    NICE READ BIKO

  95. Chrenyan says:

    One great thing about this piece is that the title kicks in so far down. You’ve been on the plane and looked at the iron curtain before you know what it is.

    Thanks for reminding all of us that it’ll take 52 straight weeks of consistent posting, plus another 52 straight weeks of consistent posting, to show up as a blip on the blogosphere. Work is the ultimate differentiator, and I thank God that it is work that sets apart the great ones, and not talent. I think that’s fair.

  96. Mukuhi says:

    Funny the generation first to comment doesn’t know you ridicule them because they are too lazy to read! Now I have seen there is a race to top Five… The way you marry all these stories with such humor is beyond me. You Biko are a master and thank you for the inspiration to work harder and be better at my art.

  97. AJ says:

    BIKO you should one day post your photo on the blog so that the gang can view your forehead which i would so much love.GRANT ME THIS ONE WISH BIKO.

  98. Hassan says:

    …the most beautiful stories, I have learnt, are written in (and from) darkness…

  99. @clif_the_tall says:

    Pearly Gates convo got me like* Insert your favourite meme*
    Great piece. Totally loved it.

  100. John says:

    Biko, I just wonder how some of us would have grown over dependent on your articles for daily dose of life would have survived if you got stuck in those abject laboratories staring at some bad ass protozoa for the rest of your life.
    Felt like you were addressing me in this article,cheers.

  101. Teesoh says:

    Nice read Biko. I dreaded the part that you announced that it’s going to be a ‘long post’, since you know ‘patel’ is always snooping around for someone who seems to be too relaxed. Anyway, get me a fridge magnet too, mate.

  102. Lumbzy says:

    I saved the article for my lunch break so I could savour it and indeed I have. Thanks for the motivation Biko. Picked this line from some movie, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” and I think it captures everything you’ve said. See you on the other side of the iron curtain.

  103. Biko, Firstly, why are you attacking Murang’a people?Hahahaha! Deep message right there.

  104. Joy says:

    Haha I knew you would write about the chocker.
    Looks like London and the economy flight has done some good for you.

  105. wayward foe says:

    I was going to come on here and tell you that the younger generation busts its ass every day and that we know that patience pays and that we must till the soil and receive nothing back for it is the curse of man, but that we must till.

    Then I read work hard and that work smart is rhetorical garbage. And yes, oh yes it is. Every time I state a goal that needs monetary capability I say, “guess i’ll have to work hard” and I’m told, “work smart instead” and i want to scream at this person. I don’t know whether people think if you work smart you won’t have to work hard. I don’t know if they think the two are mutually exlusive. I don’t know if our definitions overlap. I don’t even know if they’re just fucking with me. Joe Black is 19? That’s not a millenial they’ll come up with a name for them once their peers in America have buying power and cultural currency. Us millenials have lived long enough to know by now that we have to work hard- but that’s not true because so many times I will be told to work smart.

    Nice piece, glad you got to London. Barclays is the shit

  106. Oscar Ogutu says:

    That talent means shit if you don’t work on it. A hybrid seed won’t grow if you don’t put it in the soil and water it daily and prune it and weed it. Put in time. Don’t listen to folks who tell you to work smart, that is rhetorical garbage. This article is so inspiring. An amazing read Biko.

  107. Ombok says:

    Thanks…for putting this out.We all need to hear this from time to time.

  108. mumo says:

    ” A hybrid seed won’t grow if you don’t put it in the soil and water it daily and prune it and weed it. Put in time. Don’t listen to folks who tell you to work smart, that is rhetorical garbage. You are young, talented and you have wifi, work hard, damn it! It never killed anyone…………” this is sooooooo on point Biko

  109. Mercy John says:

    Never commented, but this one hit the nail on the head. Great read Biko.

  110. Kay says:

    I’ll admit I super scrolled through this article/advert..nway dreams change.maybe joe isn’t into writing anymore.he is in uni probably getting laid and boozing away like most of us did at that point in.our lives.he is basically getting material from living.when he is ready he will come back.no pressure joe.no rush.

  111. In a big way, Biko you have lit up my spirits. Bless you chocolate man. Sometimes I write and delete and write and delete and I feel like poop. Quitting becomes easier with each article. But then a cute lady will reach me on Facebook and say I wow her with my words and I get back to it and other times I read of Biko’s fancy trips and I think, “Yaaas, Imma get there someday”.
    So, firstly, good job being a beacon of hope and then si you m-pesa me some of the cash in that Barclays card? I can bring you nyonyoes in return.

  112. humcarson says:

    nice work Biko

  113. Jackson says:

    You just made me sad for not chasing my talent, is the saying your never too old to learn something new true?

  114. Tracy says:

    You have spoken to my spirits, as a millennial and an amateur writer. It is a blessing and a curse to be of this generation. However, the works always draw the line between the wheat and the chaff.

    I am in my sixth year of blogging and can attest to the long time it takes to scratch the surface of the blogging world.

    Nevertheless, there’s space for all of us to succeed in writing (and blogging).

    Thanks Biko.

    https://tracygesare.com/2016/12/15/the-space-between/

  115. Neno says:

    You show up and you put out your heart in the soil and God waters it. Amen!

  116. Jay Jey says:

    Hard work and persistence it is.
    Enjoy the fruits Chocolate man.

  117. chalo says:

    Take home….consistency, dedication, hard work. Will endeavor to always turn up. Shukran.

  118. Erick Wabwire says:

    Wow, work hard!!!! It won’t kill you.

  119. Rose says:

    Kuwa mpole Biko… you never know where JB is… there are things that can suck out that creative juice for real. Hopefully, he will pick up the challenge

  120. Hey Biko!
    First of all, you were never really a scientist, thats why you wouldn’t enjoy medical lab science. Then, you are right. Happy people make for boring writers. Nice piece as usual.

  121. EggLayer says:

    Biko, don’t forget the Thames.
    Also the hallowed grounds in that land.
    It’s ever a treat. Thanks to your pun and drifts.

  122. Naomi says:

    You know how they say after a church service that ‘today’s word was speaking to me’? That’s how I feel after reading today’s post. Thank you biko; this was a masterclass on its own. I guess we also have Joe Black to thank for running out of juice and missing the comma.

  123. Benson Kimani says:

    If there is secondly, and thirdly, it goes naturally that we start with firstly.

  124. Volpushon says:

    I can’t remember how I heard about this blog, maybe it was through Caroline Mutoko, I read kidogo, then for some reason I checked out. This is a good article to reacquaint.

  125. dinah says:

    dedication,consistency,passion!!!
    Nice read,always.

  126. Muthoni says:

    I needed to read this post. Reminds me how many things I have been procrastinating when they should have been done yesterday. Thank you chocolate man. Dedication. Consistency. Passion
    http://www.treatsonabudget.co.ke/all-you-can-eat-offers-at-these-top-5-joints-in-nairobi/

  127. JB says:

    Read the book ‘Grit, the power of passion and perseverance’ and it embodies your article. Success isn’t about being smart but about putting in the time even when you do not feel like it… persistency. Read it if you get a chance

  128. David says:

    You are the best

  129. Kax says:

    Awesome! You the bomb Biko, could read anything from you, anytime. Keep ‘me coming!

  130. Nick26 says:

    LooL! The last part about heaven and your name being mentioned is hilarious!
    Nice piece Biko,hard work and sweat and passion can do wonders.I can attest *fist bump*
    Alafu I have to check out that longe in Istanbul one if these days.cheers,mate *I remembered the coma. Hehe

  131. Claire Angoye says:

    Awesome piece Biko…you are not only amazing but an inspiration. Joe Black will wake up on reading this!!

  132. Ayazika Phillips says:

    “I will tell him (and this young generation of millennials who want things to happen TODAY). That talent means shit if you don’t work on it. A hybrid seed won’t grow if you don’t put it in the soil and water it daily and prune it and weed it. Put in time. Don’t listen to folks who tell you to work smart, that is rhetorical garbage. You are young, talented and you have wifi, work hard, damn it! It never killed anyone”

    Am moved Biko nice piece .

  133. marits says:

    This one was awesome, as for Joe being on a pedestal, hi Joe? It been a minute.. You know what you won’t know if the article is shit if no one else reads it. Just write, we read, say its shi, write some then write some.. Before you know it we are hooked..

  134. Moses Auma says:

    The art of putting in time and hardwork. I promise to make a difference

  135. Mitch Maina says:

    Thank you Biko for being a humorous and big inspiration through this post.

  136. George Fundi says:

    What a nice way to end, start the day, loved it, you are undisputed

  137. Zack Mwangi says:

    Nice piece Biko.

  138. Wahito says:

    Long post?
    Really I can read Hunger games trilogy in two and you call this long?
    Rant!Rant!
    Nice read,great even for the two years I have read this blog I have never commented.Got the pen of an angel,you know.

  139. tweety says:

    very inspiring. good read as always.

  140. Joseph Omwenga says:

    Indeed.

  141. Rih says:

    well in Biko! Well in!

  142. Hilda says:

    “..because who wants to sneak and disappear into their Kingdom on a business class ticket? “..This week’s post is so inspirational. I don’t read stuff twice but this I have. It speaks to me a lot. Keep up the brilliant work,Biko.

  143. Angela Darcy says:

    Good read mate

  144. Faraji Chipinde says:

    dedication and consistency and passion. well written.

  145. Lilian says:

    Amazing….

  146. Wangeci Karuge says:

    …and God would take a deep breath and mumble, “Oh God.”
    I think God just laughed at this line and said , ‘Really Biko,really?’

  147. Min Krasi says:

    So true Biko….one needs to put in the hours! instant fame doesnt last!

  148. Kisenya Jesse says:

    Timely advice to the millennials! It takes time to perfect a skill. Just like it takes practice along with a good coach to become a great pitcher.

  149. Patrick Ojil says:

    Awesome Piece !!! Life is indeed one convoluted journey, but talent must be nurtured consistently before it bears real fruits
    I hear Michael Jordan would remain behind alone after excruciating hours of
    practice to shoot 100 free throws….practice as they say, makes perfect !

  150. SN says:

    Biko dare I say it sounds like you caught feelings. Let him be, perhaps he will wow us with a bestseller in a couple years. Enjoy the shopping!

  151. Angy JT says:

    Just one small thing… “Their is a complete movie theater that plays movies…”

    Best reaction Ooh God! (Can feel the hehe from here:-))

    Iv slept on my talent far too long. But I don’t want to go back to the darkness that inspired me. I’m happy enjoying life, the writings all in my head. (

  152. Sheilla says:

    Now I really want to fly business and got to that Istanbul lounge .

  153. fred mwilaria says:

    Nice read. can never get enough

  154. SK says:

    “hakru budakah hukri haaack haaajhaack, eastleigh, aye? Aye? duulimaad dheer, aye aye…Ilaah ha idiin barakeeyo, aad semeyn sida halkan ka shaqeeya, aye eye? Mashallah..aye, bananas, yes, two bananas, aye, aye, ayuu aad u jecel yahay banaas, laakiin waa Luo….aaa sarirta jilicsan…mashallah…mashallah…”
    Why i read through this (in somali accent) beats me, laughed the whole while though.

  155. Wacukah says:

    Instanbul or Istanbul Biko…

  156. Rael says:

    And may it be that any time I am distracted from the goal… let this be the piece I run to. Biko I want a fridge magnet 🙂 . http://www.shesatomboy.net

  157. Joy May says:

    Am i the only one who noticed you missed the difference between “There and Their”
    PS – Am applying for an editorial role Biko.

  158. Esther says:

    I’m one of those who got sluggish and stopped writing all together. Thank you for the reality check plus solving my travelling problem(Multi Currency prepaid card).

  159. Nimo says:

    “I have always stayed here, putting in work even during days that I didn’t
    feel like because I loved it and I’m passionate about it”
    Moral of the story find something you are passionate about, then it will not
    feel like work… then you will peek through the iron curtain

  160. That talent means shit if you don’t work on it. A hybrid seed won’t grow if you don’t put it in the soil and water it daily and prune it and weed it. Put in time. Don’t listen to folks who tell you to work smart, that is rhetorical garbage. You are young, talented and you have wifi, work hard, damn it! It never killed anyone….You were talking to someone with funny names like Ninja and a clueless Hunter with a WordPress account in the name of Tales Of A Hunter!

  161. Jenny says:

    Brilliantly written, talent, when nurtured takes one farther than they ever dreamed. I hope Joe gets his mojo back, he ain’t stale, too young for staleness.

  162. simotien says:

    someone once called us a ‘Makonde generation’. should we want something, then we want it NOW. thank you Biko. I felt guilty reading this, and ama be patient, put in the hours and work hard while persevering through it all.

  163. A.J.O OKOYO says:

    This got me having this feeling, who knows it? This that hits you hard in the head after an inspiration. I’ve been to your class- the students. When you retire, kindly refer all these to my blog. Tell them you gave to me all your wit. Man you are going places. Places I see myself. I’m still the young-un who goes to Google at your word. Somebody wish me luck

  164. Ythera says:

    If you know Joe Black, please ask him to read this and keep writing.

    I collect fridge magnets too Biko. Tuko wengi.

    Gripping piece as always.

  165. paul says:

    amazing stuff

  166. Kennedy Ngei says:

    Awesome piece as usual…what wouldn’t I give to have such an impulsive mind..then again.

  167. Carol Ohonde says:

    Different….

  168. Nonnie says:

    Awesome read as usual….great advice thank you!

  169. Eddah says:

    Hard work never killed anyone!

  170. Mugabi P says:

    A nicely put clarion call Biko.(will the missing comma thwart my wild dreams of being your blogger mentee)
    However, i am not too sure about hard work not killing anyone.
    Personally, i die daily so that laziness and inconsistency does not get the best of me.
    But we have gots to work hard because worth having comes easy.

  171. Victor says:

    If these socialites who take pictures evrytime while visiting London, Dubai, Paris…name were to reduce their experiences in writing, a lot of people would travel just to have the same experience. Thank you Biko

  172. Jay says:

    Wondering between Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington who would have done justice to this inspirational monologue…….
    “I understood him completely. First he was having performance anxiety because you guys have put him on a pedestal, second he had let his talent to sit inactive for so long without nurturing it and he didn’t know how to get it up…..” Not to to blame you Biko but maybe as his Mentor you should have been checking on his progress from time to time. Hope he gets his writing mojo back.

    “Joe Black is a highly talented boy, I tried calling him on Whatsapp but he lengad me because he thinks he has disappointed me and I’m calling to give him a hiding. “…..So it is official this word “Lengad” has been included in urban dictionary!

  173. Kokilox says:

    Long post for who? Enjoyed the read as always. Also the parable of the talent..was that what it was?

  174. Eugene says:

    Finally got to read this.. You just ssaid “Their”, instead of “There”… Really Biko?? You also insinuated that the young man could not, “…get his talent up…” . Maybe his problem is actually getting his “talent” up…

  175. Melissa says:

    This really inspires me as am an amateur…just started blogging a few months ago and as you said it’s true..we want things happening now for us without putting a lot of effort
    So thank you

  176. pe4rrs says:

    can I get a link to the Joe black article?

  177. Mwakisha Makoko says:

    Amen brother! this piece left me in stitches and it truly is an eye opener as a friend of mine once told me “In art it’s 5% talent and 95% hard work and practice”

  178. R says:

    The somali in the post makes actual sense!!! as always really good post 🙂

  179. Mercy says:

    You did justice to Barclays Bank while emphasizing on things we take for granted such as talent. Maybe i should join master class. It sound differnt! Ohh and the brits who nyimad you visa the other time, i hope someone read this post hehehehe i think umerevenge yako yote Biko. I daresay that when i grow up i want to be like you….being paid to shop in London. Mayooo the 30%luo in me would go bonkers.
    That Somali conversation though! sounded hilarious.

  180. ces says:

    An incredibly fabulous read!

  181. Kinaga says:

    It’s the first time I am commenting on any of your pieces. Normally, I just read, laugh a lot, sometimes stop to think, and then leave. Until another new piece comes up. But today you’ve spoken to me. To my heart. You’ve called out a fire I’ve tried to kill when I cannot avoid it. Thank you Biko.

  182. Gocho says:

    I always read your blogs with wikipedia, google and a dictionary by my side. Not much of a writer myself, but I appreciate literary work done at its best. keep doing what you do Biko!

  183. Njeri says:

    Joe Black rudi nyumbani kwa maana Biko anakumiss na anakupenda kama choma na kachumbarai

  184. Alice says:

    Biko go easy on the poor guy. He’s young. He can’t (yet) reason the way you’re reasoning or see things the way you do. You’re a mzee now that’s why you have all that wisdom (he he). Also please remember not all writers will make it big the way you have. Some should probably not quit their day jobs.

  185. Lucas says:

    The iron curtain separates the cattle section from the honchos…

  186. The Sponsor says:

    Joe will be back. Bigger and better. I have no doubt. He made his promise.

  187. Then Joe would start sobbing and God would take a deep breath and mumble, “Oh God.” (Hehe)

    Biko you should be given a pulitzer on ingenuity if it exists hehe

  188. Nobody says:

    By the way say hey to Huyomoto when you get in touch..
    Nice piece Biko

  189. murio wa kimani says:

    that UG guy is hilarious, new hobby alert- reading the comments too. biko quit ingiliaring murang’a chaps men

  190. murio wa kimani says:

    someone cc that joe black blog post, i.kinda sorta missed it

  191. Lydia says:

    Hey. Nice read. I am trying to get the dates for your june class and the charges for the same. Kindly advise

  192. Xelar says:

    Never Disappoints.

  193. mum diana says:

    joe black am precise of the lecturer’s strike kwani whats keeping you busy

  194. Am challenged, I write almost 5 days in a week but I think am not doing enough. As you said, young, energetic and with Wi-Fi, working hard never hurt anyone.

  195. sam says:

    Joe black received such a tongue lashing, kiubeste tu

  196. Sunayia says:

    Aah Biko! You did it. Again.

  197. Bryson says:

    Wow this piece is really encouraging

  198. Brio says:

    Ai Biko, si you said you elewad him, but what a toungue-lash!! Much as it is a sobering for me also, but lakini! Jowa!

  199. Josiah says:

    Haha, firstly, let me confess that as a 22yr old kuyo, I have never thought of ‘firstly’ as a problem.it’s been kinda my thang,so this truth feels like a buzzkill.
    Secondly, hehe.I never knew its a Murang’a thing.!!!
    Thirdly,I’m off to rehab for this lil ‘adjectively’ addiction with first,second and third.

    https://doinsights.wordpress.com

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