Joe Black Is Back


I like Joe Black. I really do. He’s something of a prodigy. I sometimes email him and ask, “Joe, how’s it going?” And he will go to a cyber, somewhere deep in the slums of Majengo in Kitui and reply my mail with some very long prose, updating me on what’s been going on with him. Joe’s emails are sacred. I often read them more than twice. He has a brilliant mind and a fantastic turn of phrase. And he’s genuinely an interesting kid.

Then I thought to myself, how about I make Joe Black a constant writer here?  If I enjoy his emails that much, won’t the Gang? I bounced that idea off his navy blue face and he said sure, that sounds like fun. Only problem is that he has no laptop and to write he has to go and haunch over a 1976 monitor in some hot cyber, with half of Majengo reading his emails over his shoulder.

So I called Ms. Lilian Nganda over at Microsoft and asked her if they have some brand new laptop that nobody is using over at the shop that we can give this boy and Ms Nganda said, “Acha I look around and see what I can do.” When Ms. Nganda says “Let me see what I can do,” I always consider it done.

And do she did. They will be shipping a brand new laptop to Kitui for Joe Black to post remotely from Majengo. I think he will kill it.

Thanks Lilian and  thank you Microsoft.

Gang, remember Joe Black?

Joe, karibu tena.


You are at Majengo, right? Let’s say it’s your first time and you are just a missionary looking to spread the gospel. Or maybe you are a salesman- the ones with bad teeth and heavy accents, not the slick ones- seeking to find market for your male enhancing drugs.

Chances are, you’ll trudge down the main road disinterestedly and when you see a fancy resort on your left, Reflections Resort, you’ll immediately feel thirsty and want to pop in for a cold one. Well, don’t. Not just yet. The journey will have tired you and your throat will be feeling parched, crackled like a sun dried tobacco leaf but walk on a little bit further; past the kibandas and gossipy mama mbogas, past the clustered stone houses around and the kids playing under their canopies, past the heat and the dust and the lust till you see a dilapidated water selling kiosk. There will be a cranky, old mzee called Kimwele selling the water and accusing every customer of having stolen from him or harbouring an intent to do so. You might hear some foul language but don’t let it deter you. Not even when he tells the downtrodden residents to go ” fetch the water that flows down their mothers’ cracks.” and acts as if he is finally tired of their pilfering and is never going to sell them water again “even if they came with the government on their backs.” Or till Kingdom come. They are just empty threats. The general agreement is that he won’t be around to see it.

They won’t be moved. And neither should you. They will hang by with their jerry cans and wait for Kimwele’s tantrums to run its course, fetch their water and get back to their hovels with forty litres on their backs. Do you know how far you could walk with forty litres on your back? It is safe to assume you wouldn’t make it past mid-life crisis. Kimwele will keep ranting. Nobody minds him anymore. It is common knowledge that he used to be a renown peddler in his heyday- a true Pablo Escobar of his time- and it is just all the blunts he deadened in his youth haunting him, messing up with his faculties.

Climb on the hilly path past Kimwele’s kiosk and sandwiched between it and his residence, look at the dusty expanse that is Majengo. Really look at it. Take it all in. Like the first sip of aged whiskey, let it permeate your jaws and gums, feel the fiery liquid sting your teeth and resist the temptation to swallow quick. Savour it.

As far as estate names go, Majengo is the commonest one I daresay. There is a Majengo in Kitui, Nyeri, Mombasa, Nairobi. Hell, there could be a Majengo in Paraguay for all I know. I don’t know why these places are called Majengo? Does anyone? It’s not that they have that many buildings, no? But there is an image associated with all the Majengos. A stereotype. For instance, when you hear about the Majengo in Nyeri, don’t you immediately picture a roughed up residential area with more drinking dens than houses? Its pubs full of drunken men with colourfully checked shirts and hats boasting to each other how they aren’t bossed around by their wives, how they slap her around if she dares question them. Don’t you see the same men sauntering and slouching by the alleys in the evening, struggling to beat the curfew because if they don’t, the curfew(read wife) is going to beat them up proper?

But I am sure the Majengo in Nyeri is a fine place full of sober men of the soil who shun devil’s piss and have progressive support groups where they talk about, and occasionally, swap hats. Their wives are sweet things who keep to their businesses and mind their warus. They just don’t like a man who prefers the bottle to them. Such a man is made to understand that family comes first and when he does not conform, the farm tools, the pangas used to trim the warus, come into play and when it does, the men hastily see the point (see that?).

But before you travel to Majengo, let me tell you how I got here because the last time I checked in- if you’ll recall- I was down at the Coast, shooting breeze and soaking up the sun, with weather-beaten fishermen and waves for company. I was brooding over my results and feeling robbed by KNEC.

Well, I’ll let you know that I didn’t sit my ass in the sand all day. I got a call from my boy, Kajembe, who listened to my sob story, bore my expletives patiently and later bought me a drink (not mnazi). He went on to explain to me, in detail, what a sick system we had and how the rot was slowly permeating into all aspects of jamii. He went into this frenzy, that caught me in its fervour and all worked up and fueled by the devil’s piss, we went daggers at KNEC, TSC, KPLC and every other corporation we could think of so that by the time we were on SRC, Kajembe had broken down and was crying bitterly. Seeing as I wasn’t that inebriated, the onus (hehe) of sobering him up fell upon me. A feat that took a lot of cajoling, threatening, cursing and finally resorting to assuring him of my eternal support in fighting against the system.

“Yeah, man. We’ll go to courts, we’ll occupy Tom Mboya. No, we won’t be chanting ‘ my system, my choice’. Of course, we’ll recruit the gang,” I would intone.

A hangover and a couple of pills later, I pondered on the results, called up my consigliere and we decided to go to the mattresses (If you are a chic and you get this, you are the real MVP). We went heads on with KNEC and demanded a remarking. Of course, I let it be known that it was not personal, just business. But the blighters beat me at my own game, taking their sweet time with the remarking so that by the time they released the results in mid-September, I had long shed my ire and KNEC’s spot in my bad books had been replaced by the long queue at the bus terminus among other hindrances which Nairobi bore in abundance.

A few days later, after the ‘ Hat in Hand’ article, I got a call from Nairobi. The good peeps at the Insyder, a teen magazine, had followed my work and wanted me to write for them, could I avail myself for an interview at 8:00 Am Monday? I said I would. It was Saturday. I packed my bags real quick, electrified at the prospect of working, putting down pen on paper and having my work read by a thousand teens. Mum took me all the way to the bus and waved me away.

Like every other high school student, I had wanted to appear on the Insyder. You have to know that the magazine really is a big deal with high school students. Owning it and smuggling it to school was a preserve of the cool crowd. It was OUR magazine and we viewed the schools that were featured on it with a tinge of envy, having long came to the conclusion that we were too remote to even deserve a mention in the esteemed publication.

Once, some guys were caught by the lens prowling the streets and when their pic was featured in the Back to School category, they were elevated to the status of demi-gods. They walked on their own, feeling superior to the rest whose faces were not grand enough to be featured in the Insyder. One of them, Johnnie, carried a cut-out of the page and would use it to earn brownie points with chics telling them how the cameramen had been impressed by him and had vowed to use him as a model for other shoots once he was done with schooling. The chics would fall over their faces and suck up to Johnnie, the male model, Insyder’s darling boy while we watched and grew jealous of the smooth lying blighter, knowing damn well that the only shoot Johnnie would ever pose for would be a mug shot.

Sunday found me in Nai. The journey had been tiring and my shoulder was inflamed because the lady I had been seated next to had preferred to lean on me- all pounds and ounces of her- and I didn’t have the heart, or the strength, to push her away.  I spend the day clipping my nails and having my hair done. Tidying up my act and working on my speech in front of the bathroom mirror which made my Auntie curious as to why I was spending so much time in the john. I finally pieced it together when she took her shampoo off the bathroom shelf.

On Monday, I was jittery and all nerves, dreading the ordeal ahead of me and wishing I hadn’t listened to teachers and Google, both of whom make interviews seem like near death experiences, where you have to be on your guard all the time lest the interviewers decide to throw you a curveball and you, in your utter unpreparedness, ride on it, all the way out of prospective employment. I found myself at the Teenwise Media Limited offices, seated in the conference hall, nervous as a woman of the night in church but my jumpiness gradually gave way to confidence as the interview progressed and as I stepped out onto the streets of Kileleshwa leafy suburb, I had the job. You should have seen me, prancing down the alleys like a moran that had come back to his manyatta with a lion’s head slung across his back, ready to start a family.

Nothing had prepared me for the corporate world. Nothing at all. Straight off the corridors of high school, where we were all arrogant, horny jerks, I was thrust into this other world where decorum ruled and pristine suits were the order of the day. My first day at the office was a fiasco. No one knew me save for the design guy Elias and his proclamations of me being a fantastic writer did not elicit the wowed response he thought it would and he resorted to label the rest of the office as an ignorant lot with no interest in affairs beyond their Instagram.  It felt like the first day in high school again. Only, I wasn’t surrounded by enthusiastic first timers like me but old hands, grown up people who were glued on their monitors, thinking of their rent and kids and diapers and side dishes and lifestyle diseases. I felt so alone. Gawky teenager caught in the web of adults and lost in the sea of weighty grown up issues. I, however, caught on real quick and within two weeks, I was already integrated into the job place and was cracking dirty jokes alongside everyone else.

The work was tough and plenty but I did not mind. I was averaging six articles daily and it felt good writing again. It was even better when I tackled a controversial issue and stirred an online debate among the teens. I recall when the strike fever was on and we were doing a series of investigative pieces on the cause of strikes in high schools. It was an issue I felt strongly about because I had been on the forefront of the revolution back in high school. I wrote about my wild highschool tales in this space, many thanks to Magunga (High School and Life Thereafter). My former school, the one I had been expelled from, had razed down a dormitory and it made big news among the locals because the school was not known for such rowdy behaviour. I had the time of my life penning the piece. In writer’s lingo, I flexed. Went all out and pointed out every reason why the seemingly well behaved students had burned down property and implicated the deputy and the principal very heavily in their rogue behaviour, piling most reasons reason for the strike on them.

Using my first hand experiences, I espoused on the wrongful expulsions and suspensions, the curtailed students’ freedom, the retention/detention and degradation of weak performers, poor handling of disciplinary cases. Hell, I even cited their choice of dress as inflammatory to the students. I closed it off with a strong recommendation that the school’s admin be immediately re-shuffled with a dire warning of unforeseen consequences if the two were retained. Then I properly signed it off with all my three official names so that if they read it, which I knew they would, they would have no misgivings as to who wrote the article. I posted it on Facebook, tagged the school, the principal and the deputy in their both personal and official accounts, the governor’s office, the alumni association, the Ministry of Education and every other education regulatory body I could think off then reclined on my seat.

Feeling like the king of England at the close of business, I went to Club Mist, overlooking Odeon, and downed three bottles of Tusker Malt. I drank to the look on their faces. I drank to the memories of them telling me I wouldn’t amount to anything in life. I drank to vindication. I drank to the turning of tables and when I was a little tipsy, on my way out, I tipped the waitress and proclaimed, tongue in cheek,’ A Munuve always pays his debts’.

Later on my way home, I felt bad about it and pulled it down, just as well, it had not attracted that much buzz.

The one thing that I took a long time adapting to was the female presence. Having attended boys only high schools for the past four years, I had virtually forgotten the decorum of handling myself in front of females. No one had mentioned the hot colleagues who sit next to you, ever so often smile at you and while strutting about, carry your gaze, and to an extent your life’s aspirations, along with them. There was one. Olive skin, a mix of deep browns and light shades of ebony, pretty face with just a smattering of pimples on the left cheek, pearly teeth- white as grace- and the best ass in all of Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa. She sat right in front of me and all the other guys were in consensus that I was a lucky bastard; view, line of sight et al. Before I got used to it, and that was quite some time, every time she stood up I’d entirely forget the storyline I was working on and would have to start over again; having been totally and irrevocably ass-struck. Folks, that ass could move mountains, it could bring a smile to your face even in the throes of a nuclear holocaust, it held the secret to inner peace, it was a sanctuary for lost souls, a confessional on which a million fantasies had been laid bare, it was the hope of a better tomorrow.

You couldn’t hit on her- not with that ass. Hit wasn’t the word for her. The word, rather the phrase, was knocking. Yes,knocking on heaven’s door.

Later, I came to know her well and discovered that she had a brain as impressive as her derriere and a personality warmer than her smile. Nevertheless, she still elicited sighs from a brother, reprehensible odes to an awe-inspiring marvel-ass.

As the months drew on, I would meet a lot of Kenyan celebrities, interview a horde of wannabe teenage rappers who believed their rhymes would take the world by storm, vain girls who wanted to be featured as WCWs or appear on the cover page, and youth entrepreneurs who had risen above many odds and were now rolling in cash. I would cover many events from prestigious unveilings at Sarit Centre, Sirville Lounge or Kempinsky to mundane high school functions at far flung corners of our nation. I would come to first meet Magunga at a Coke Studio recording, bored to death by all the fuss around Neyo and sulking at Anyiko for not replying to his emails ( it’s called curving old mate). He disappeared (probably off to score points with Anyiko) and I later found them with Ian Arunga, plotting on how they would call an Uber cab and I had to excuse myself from my moneyed blogger acquaintances and walk to Ngong road before the fares were hiked and hopefully be in town before their bloody Uber cab and for two thousand less. I would come to appreciate how much of a job writing really was and what working for an agency entailed. As my assigned tasks grew and grew, while my earnings remained steady, I grew too grumpy and slouched to work every morning depressed and exhausted, more so mentally. Felt like I was going through a midlife crisis.

I decided I needed a break, needed to see gramps and most definitely didn’t want to hang on a tight, tired edge all the time. I packed up and left for Kitui and that’s what you are doing in Majengo, above Kimwele’s water kiosk, taking in the view.

On November eleven ( I know, 11-11), it will be exactly three years since I came to this platform, under the invite of bikozulu who believed in my writing and was positive you, the Gang, would too.  In those three years, my life has taken many turns I hadn’t thought of. My ambitions of being a writer were cemented, I found me the best readers in the world ( Le gang- a crowd that is thankfully devoid of robots), I found me a super mentor ( Chocolate man), I stumbled onto an immensely blessed sponsor, I finished my high school  education, I did my final exam, I made new friends and met new people, I got a job, I got out of a job. It’s been and still is a journey.

The remarked results did not reflect much change, I went up a point to 59, B- but they gave me an A in English which was in order, there was no way they could have robbed me off that one I bet. I have applied for a Bachelor of Arts in Literature at the University of Nairobi which I have a hunch I’ll be accepted into. Gramps disposed off some land to the government and, bless him, allocated the proceeds for my campus education. They will cater for my first year at the campus and I’ll have to look for more as I go on but that, at the moment,  to quote Kamwana, is a non issue. My kind of plan is the one that I make up as I go on.

At 19, I haven’t learnt much. I am still as clueless about life, and women, as I was at 17. But, from my story and countless others, it has been evident that the world would be a dark and dreary place if we didn’t keep dreaming. Or as Chocolate Man says, if we didn’t “keep writing and feeding ourselves with words.”

Sorry I rambled this much; a forehead somewhere told me I’d Smartika na Airtel if I told long winded stories. Airtel, what say you? There is no single red car here in Majengo, make me famous!

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  1. Omera, now that you have decided to mulika me like this, si you at least switch your phone back on? I have been meaning to talk to you over a cold one. Perhaps talk matters bachelorhood. It was awesome hosting you on my blog.
    But usijali. One of these days someone (at Nation preferably) will read what we write and give us space to write.
    P.S. if Anyiko reads this, and I never get a call from her, I will come for you.
    P.P.S. Ian was to pay for that ride. Not me. But it never even happened.

      1. How old are you again?? My best read in the longest time!. Hope you get that admission..and the call lad. Write some more…Gotta keep an eye on this one, Forehead!

  2. Joe is that guy. The one whose work I look foward to reading. He is more of a Biko photocopy but I like his work.
    Of course he comes after chocolate man in my heart.
    The Magunga I am watching you closely too

  3. hehehehe Joe Black, Kamwana kaa musyi…i love your work. The notification email came up that your here and i forgot that am an employee of this company to read your writings (cannot say blog, this is not your blog its Chocolate Man’s blog)…

  4. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that you are just 19 and out of high school! Your writing is exceptional. How the gang missed you Joe Black; Welcome back and feel at home. Thank you Chocolate man (ahem) for bringing back Joe.

  5. Awesome Biko!Karibu Joe Black, quite a road you’ve taken there.But all is well, Brace yourself for another lifes adventure into the university.Onus- you used! Kweli Joe Black umekolea!

  6. And just yesterday i was wondering where Joe Black went to and what became of him…then today its a post about him. Talk about coincidence…!!! You have many fans out here Bikozulu…always keeping up with the blog. Thanks for making our days.

  7. Ah, Joe you might be 19 but your soul is old. Wishing you all the best in your future and don’t change! Except for the better that is. You were born to write and tell stories.

  8. Aww..welcome back Joe Black..,u got me emotional somewhere..
    &yea,..where i’l get the money to top up Is a non-issue.
    keep going.!
    Avoid alcohol though,
    wish u all the best..

  9. See you now. Drawing me out of the shadows. I dont much Mr. Black but of this am certain,Keep writing. Whatever you do,keep writing. If for nothing else then write to free your soul. Write.
    Ps. Biko God bless you. For being a positive influence and taking a chance and eventually becoming an agent of change. May another do for Tamms and Lil Kim what you did for this here boy. Blessings.

  10. ” Folks, that ass could move mountains, it could bring a smile to your face even in the throes of a nuclear holocaust, it held the secret to inner peace, it was a sanctuary for lost souls, a confessional on which a million fantasies had been laid bare, it was the hope of a better tomorrow.”

  11. Good stuff…”Hit wasn’t the word for her. The word, rather the phrase, was knocking. Yes,knocking on heaven’s door”..
    You had me laughing loudly there..

  12. Look at Biko taking all the credit. We’ve been asking about you Joe Black. Can’t wait to read more. Oh while u were away, Biko almost became a tranny

  13. you going places Joe!then we’ll follow you and want to be associated with you for the fame. All the best for now, am your fan already, smitten

  14. looove it. its a good comeback article…’a munuve always pays his debts”LMAO. i shall be laughing to that all day…

  15. meen joe black i dint feel you hte first time i read your previous articles but ave got to give it to you that am impressed right now, keep writing i think the sky is the limit fi you…big up

  16. I have never been one to comment on the numerous good articles I come across from the above mentioned forehead, but today I had to get off my lazy ass,or is it fingers,(IL leave the word play to you experts) to commend you on a job well done!! You have good things ahead of you,I firmly believe this will be you ‘Visa denied’ moment, and don’t worry Mr. forehead I’m still an avid fan :).Congratulations on how far you have come,keep the fire burning

  17. I am not an MVP but at least i got why your aunt removed the shampoo from the bathroom 🙂 At least Kitui has been placed on the map.

  18. Welcome back Joe Black you were missed.
    And yes it seems there’s a majengo everywhere, there was one somewhere deep in the bowels of the Rwenzori mountains.
    A settlement with buildings made entirely of asbestos.

  19. What a wonderfully worded, intricately woven (past articles and present-onus) beautifully long, uninterrupted (hehe) read. I loved it. And I am definitely a MVP. Jackson Biko is the Don and Joe Black will be Don Michael. Welcome back Joe Black (interesting they have the same initials). :-*

  20. Hey Joe, awesome read. You say you haven’t learnt much at 19 but when you get another job and look back at Teenwise Media, trust me, you’ll realise how much that co. taught you. Both good and bad. Cheers little brother from another mother.

  21. I have never been one to comment on the numerous good articles I come across from the above mentioned forehead, but today I had to get off my lazy ass,or is it fingers,(IL leave the word play to you experts) to commend you on a job well done!! You have good things ahead of you,I firmly believe this will be you ‘Visa denied’ moment, and don’t worry Mr. forehead I’m still an avid fan :).Congratulations on how far you have come,keep the fire burning

  22. Good one Mr Black! I see yo haven’t lost your mastery with discriminations. You definitely a chip off the Chocolate Man. All the best as you join campus. Limitless opportunities await you. PS: Check the meaning of avail!

  23. Welcome back Joe. Such good read/writing for a 19 year old (Taking into contest the 19yr olds we have nowadays). Keep it up

  24. Joe! your writing is superb! “Folks, that ass could move mountains, it could bring a smile to your face even in the throes of a nuclear holocaust, it held the secret to inner peace, it was a sanctuary for lost souls, a confessional on which a million fantasies had been laid bare, it was the hope of a better tomorrow.” … that got me lol-ing on the office…. my advise to you: when you meet someone like her/or her again, when you more experienced at life and such, marry her… I did!

  25. Ay Jakom aka Chocolate man, thanks for bringing back Joe Black.
    Joe B,keep up man and start saving while at that age.

  26. and to add on, i must be one of those ignorant jamaas Elias was talking to Joe about. I don’t know where I have been, missing out on all these talent oozing on this blog… lord have mercy. but i am catching on slowly. iko subscription fee ya kujoin “the gang”?, haha, i’d gladly pay. This feels like a family and I am proud to be in your midst peepz. Regards:-)

  27. Its an honour Biko and thank for the opportunity.
    Microsoft aspires to empower every person and organisation to achieve more. Am sure Joe Black will be more productive with the extra time.

  28. Aaaaaawesome Joe! Loved this piece.Ahem to your Gramps.Make him proud n yes u will get to UoN.One day,ur realise that company gave u more that fired shoulders.Thanks Biko,Always.

  29. nice work, as long as Biko’s ramblings but you had my attention. At 19 i envy your life experiences. at 26 you could bet am as prude as a 2 yr old. good job, me likey #heir-apparent and to chocolate man God bless your big heart and of course your forhead

  30. Biko, you must be this young man’s protégé. And based on your pieces, he has done a very good job on you. And he is only 19.

  31. Anyone kind enough to share the link of the initial article(s)of Joe Black? I so love this. Bless your soul and may life bring with it great tidings.

  32. Nice read. Long but nice. Bro, you have a bright future ahead of you. I think of all the guys who have written here, Joe Black’s style is exceptional and very similar to Biko’s.

  33. Joe Rateng’, this is good omera! I can assure you some of us have been writing for years but you are def among the best talents we have in this country. Just stay focused and don’t let your talent- and the tipple- bring you down. That is the curse of the profession

  34. The notification got me in screams…Navy Blue Boy Back*Tongues Out* Keep up….I’m the proudest now….KAMWANA WE SHUJAA!

  35. For sure they couldn’t rob you that A. I just love the way you describe that lady…I am ass-struck. All the best in University of Nairobi

  36. Joe Black, confess your true age! Or, are you one of those old souls in a teenager’s body? This is quite impressive coming from a 19 year old.
    Keep writing. Don’t allow our accolades to enter your head; a common snare of many a talented teenager.
    Your future in writing is so bright, it can make a bat blind.

  37. Joe writes with such maturity, I can’t wait to read him in 5 years..!I suspect the reason Biko likes him is that he writes in the same way, it could be what he wrote in that exercise book before he got the nudge from his neighbor. I got the mattress bit so MVP me :)and the ass that is a hope of a better tomorrow, that’s hilarious!

  38. Oh Joe Black! Welcome back! The gang missed you. And you have a bright future, please don’t over cook your liver and kidney, everything in moderation. Biko thanks for making Joe Black a regular! As a UoN alumni you’ve got more than what it takes to light up the Lit Dept! Best wishes my friend…..

  39. Joe Black is proving to be a very keen and attentive apprentice. And Biko or is it #Chocolate Man is proving to be a good mentor to the mentee. This is kinda symbiotic relationship. Joe Black You can write. Go! Go! Gooooooo Joe. Sky is not a limit, its just a beginning.

    P.S. Magunga you caould have invited Joe to ride in that cab. That was so mean of you two. LMAO, just kidding.

  40. welcome back n I can’t believe you are 19 you are a patient one to
    write like that awesome piece n I’m looking forward to seeing more
    from you

  41. Wow! I am really blown by this. This is an exceptional display of talent and mastery. And it’s not,like many of you say ‘…for a 19 year old’. It is brilliant writing. Period. Age regardless.

    From his narrative,you can tell he’s wise beyond his years but still going through all the ups and downs of teenage. With a mind like his, and at his age, I bet he mantains many fronts to fit in with his peers because like most prodigies, they wouldn’t understand his talent and the burden it sometimes weighs on him.

    Keep writing Joey boy; don’t let the stint at Insyder deter you. It was a learning experince. You are a good writer,that much is evident but even the best of us let the desire to prove ourselves get to us. I like how honest you are with yourself. Hold on to that trait, son. It will come in handy.

    Thanks Biko for giving his sea blue behind a chace.

    PS: That ass really drew the inspiration out of you,eh?

  42. Anyone who got this??? “A hangover and a couple of pills later, I pondered on the results, called up my consigliere and we decided to go to the mattresses”

        1. Had to go to ‘urban dictionary for this one lol!
          going to the mattresses
          Going to war with a rival clan or family. Used in the mafia. Its when a mafia family sends someone out to get someone apartments and some mattresses for the soldiers of the family to sleep on while they hide out in safety, waiting for a call to do something.

      1. @Ann This is in reference to Mafia family wars. During a gang war, the soldiers stay in “safe houses” set up by the Family, instead of in their own houses – in order both to keep dependents out of the line of fire and to ensure secure communications. These safe houses are apartments, the majority of whose rooms are filled with mattresses for soldiers to sleep on. Thus, to “go to the mattresses” is to begin a war with the other Families. Another explanation comes from the novel: during a gang war, both sides would make use of vacated apartments owned by the crime family in question at key strategic points in the city. The apartments would be used to house soldiers that could be deployed to conduct “battles” between the families at a moment’s notice. Because the war could go on for months or years, the apartments would be outfitted with mattresses for the men to sleep on. There would probably also be a phone in the apartment so they could be contacted quickly to move to an area to conduct family business.

  43. What a nice piece….love your style and very impressed ati you write this good at 19 whaaaaaat. Pray tell what the mattresses are about, am no MVP hehe

  44. ‘Going to the mattresses’ . loved the Godfather reference.
    If Joe Black can write like this at 19 , what of when he is Biko’s age?

  45. welcome back Jack Black. and don’t worry, most of us dreading to get to our mid 20s still haven’t the slightest idea what we’re doing… good plan tho

  46. Hahaha ur Aunt removing the shampoo frm the bathroom.. ur sick Joe.. and the reference to Game of thrones.. nicely done.. really impressive piece from a 19yr old. lets have Joe as a Wednesday regular.

  47. One thing is for sure, you get better in writing when you start it early in life. Boy, keep the humour flowing and don’t over indulge as you get to your twenties. Good read…

  48. “I packed up
    and left for Kitui and that’s what you are doing
    in Majengo, above Kimwele’s water kiosk, taking”
    in the view. I love how you left me here taking in the view as an old whiskey, feeling stranded and forgotten, but later came back to me. Asante sana.

  49. Welcome back Joe Black!
    Chocolate man, it seems we now just need to fill Mondays and Fridays, i will give you a hint… Nduta and Hanafi boy! Mmmmhhh…what say you?

  50. It’s like watching lion King in word time, a young Simba (joe) walking in the paws of the king Mufasa (Biko) Joe is the New Black!

  51. At 19 JB( not the chocolate man who brought us the smoking private)hahaha…dwarfs my literature classes at UoN even before he enrolls.All the best.Prof.Indangasi would love to have you.Your writing is a mirror sentence to Biko.Keep writing man! its your forte!

  52. oh Joe:-)..good to hear from you again.. you are destined for big things..I will never believe you are still 19 though..not with that kind of writing!!

  53. “Folks, that ass could move mountains, it could bring a smile to your face even in the throes of a nuclear holocaust, it held the secret to inner peace, it was a sanctuary for lost souls, a confessional on which a million fantasies had been laid bare, it was the hope of a better tomorrow.” I feel you Bro. Welcome back Joe.

  54. Joe Black is back! I simply adore your writing style. Your story telling technique is pure genius. You’ve definitely got it.

  55. How old are you again?? best read in the
    longest time! Hope you get that admission, young man. All the best. Hope to read more from you.

  56. Joe is Black!..

    Brother, you’ll go places. Keep on keeping on and go slow on the cold bottle. A hot cup of tea/chocolate/ coffee always tastes better..

  57. Such a good read! To imagine you are just 19! You are blessed and super talented. The article was so good I read it twice.. I hope to see you here more often.

  58. That description of Majengo and Kimwele is on point. Keep up bro. Ask Biko to link us up, I can advice u on that literature part and UON that is if it takes long to come by.

  59. Wow Joe Black and Choco-Choco le forehead! #capturelegang.
    Am I the only ones who relishes these articles with trepidation that the day I want to revise and the blog and FB have not made it to the next communication fora I’ll be in a fix? Any plans to put together some books? PLEASE???

  60. When you started describing the girl, ‘..that ass could move mountains,, was the hope of a better tomorrow,’ et al, I expected you to annoy Biko a little by signing it off with, “Hey, that ass was fine than Toni’s”.
    You would have ruffled some feathers.

  61. why i could swear the house next door is ours i could give it a number too.but for safety reasons thanks joe for redeeming us watoto wa mtaani.from garbage you can get good cabbage

  62. “A Munuve always pays his debt” for some reason this seems to be the funniest phrase in the story…seriously chest thumping

  63. Good to have you back Joe. On Airtel, if they gave Biko a (ahem). Lets see whether they can up their game and warm up to you?eh Good read!

  64. Geez! At 19! And all the depth, at some point I thought Biko was holding the Pen here. Well done, keep at it. Continue dreaming. absolutely great read.

  65. now i feel ashamed to proclaim am 19. before this post, it would have provoked a ‘aah… you still have a long way dear’ but now?? am challenged *sigh*
    Am more of a sports lady, dear Joe Black, oh its ON! hehe

  66. mmm. mice one. one coin two sides. Side one chocolate man. side two joe black. kid you got time. biko got friends at high places. He will see you through!

  67. Wow!!This is truly amazing…superb writing.Cant believe you are actually 19,your writing and view of life is very mature.Keep it up

  68. Joe Black.
    It is so nice to have you back. We missed you big time!! At 19, you are way more mature than you seem to believe.
    I love your gramps… I don’t care if you guys hug each other, just give him a bear hug from me! Please never hesitate to come back to the gang if school fees hit a snag. Biko is still smirking from a recent encounter but he’ll come round if need be. If he refuses, we shall do a ‘Haki Yetu’ thing here. We’re the Gang in High School after all.
    Biko, thanks for bringing Joe Back, and for making him a regular!! How we had missed him!

  69. Biko… The man’s got talent!!! I have had to severally check the meaning of some words on google :-).. He is a true legend in the making

  70. Biko… That’s great. Should be what we mean by mentoring and holding somebody’s hands. You should be smiling wherever you are. I almost thought you wrote this article. And yes without a platform like this, such kids’ talents will never see the light of day. It’s just good. I’m in a stage in my life where I credit so many things to those who held my hands when nobody cared whether I swam across and made it or sank. This kid will thank you later. Big. Believe me.

  71. You said 19 right? Man you are gifted. At 150yrs am sure i wont be half as good as you even after reading all of Chocolate man’s (feels as good writing that name as it is saying it) articles to that age i guess he’ll be 185 by then. Keep writing i’ll keep reading

  72. Goddamn! Bless you Joe Black, Bless you! Please stay long, I like you just fine. And every one else seems to agree.

  73. I truly can attest to this guru’s prowess in writing. In those few years that I had known u before u got expelled I had not seen such artistic pieces written by any of my peers. Your writing skills will take u to much greater heights. Kudos!

  74. Am impressed that at nineteen you know what “to go to the mattresses” is, considering the movies that 19 year olds are watching…. Welcome back! Which Corleone are you?

  75. Joe this one just nailed it man……next time talk about ‘site’ bro..yu know its more like majengo Mann…big up for the good work…it just nailed it

  76. biko are you sure you were 21 when you dated that girl who was gaga about rhythm ?
    Joe Black great piece, hoping the laptop will be used for purposes like this and this only.Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  77. Woooooow. I come from Kitui and Kitui Sch right in Majengo made me who I am today. He couldnt describe majengo anf Kimwele any better. And at that age i’m ashamed of my many years and no legacy. All the best young man.

  78. I admire you young fellow,at 19 you have more experience in life than most people will in their lifetime.
    keep up the struggle and when you receive your letter from UON for a Bachelor of Arts in Literature,take time and Sip at the fountain of knowledge.
    your street smart and the book knowledge you will receive at UON will make you a man and a successful one at that.
    All the best Joe black

  79. am not a reader.. but Joe Black you have definitely made me realize that I have missed a lot. you are not just good at writing you are awesome am perplexed by how you write.. Nice job Bro

  80. I cant believe am back after reading this just yesterday. And as if that is not enough I Googled all Joe Black Articles from way back in 2013 last night. That is what sent me to dream land. Joe….you are going places.

  81. Just a coupl’a things:
    1. Welcome back Joe,do not be fooled by Chocolate Man,we all but took to the streets to demonstrate your return…But thanks Biko all the same
    2. He who strives for mastery is temperate in all things….cut off the alcohol buddy,save your brain cells and liver
    3. You shall be great at this,so keep at it.

    Finally,i’m so proud if you for learning,this early,when to get off the rat race……when it stiffles the dream and makes it harder instead to do it
    Good luck young G

  82. He has definitely taken a jab from Biko,,hehehe good read. I can only imagine you at 30 or even 25. how much better can u get?good job.

  83. Best Read in Months… Thanks! This reminds me of some old Biko Blogs…before he turned Chocolatey… not that I mind but…Joe Black. You’re the isht!

  84. This left me inspired;
    ‘He went into this frenzy, that caught me in its fervour and
    all worked up and fueled by the devil’s piss, we went
    daggers at KNEC, TSC, KPLC and every other corporation
    we could think of so that by the time we were on SRC,
    Kajembe had broken down and was crying bitterly.
    Seeing as I wasn’t that inebriated, the onus (hehe) of
    sobering him up fell upon me. A feat that took a lot of
    cajoling, threatening, cursing and finally resorting to
    assuring him of my eternal support in fighting against
    the system.’

  85. Joe good writing. ati if they came with the government on their shoulders!!! more of this kimwele chap please. just hilarious!

  86. Its all been said up there…and true… we missed you

    yeah.. its a non-issue..always has been… today’s what relevant

  87. I can’t believe a 19 year old can write this well..

    6 articles a day, they were really overworking you! A break was sure necessary.

    All the best in your brilliant future, Joe Black!

  88. I can picture the ”as” and its not infront of me yet. You left such a glorious view for Kitui jerricans…ai yawa!

  89. Hey joe welkam back……..Biko thank yu 4 watchin ths catapillar turn into a batterfly!!JB….ur work is out of this world ….l am lovin every bit of it …but bado keep paddling kamwana utafika mbali tena sana……thank you 4 placin our kitui(majengo)on the map……….see you @ home with the red airtel car!!!If yu get lucky…ambia kimwele aendelea kuuza maji