7 days earlier…
On Sunday, actually.
Alfred Magode (the Huruma anthem ninja) picks my CD from Vitex Records. We also burn the projects for Vioxii’s much anticipated remix “Ubongo Sio Kofia” for him. Listening to Romi’s verse, I chicken a little. MC Spook, Romi, Funzo and a couple of Soulja Boy influenced boys are kicking some freestyle. I and Romi exchange cynical looks as the boys yell hooks like, “I get money, pussy, nigga/I get, money, pussy, nigga/”. Well…Even chickens get free punani but they don’t go cluck cluck about it. Anyway, it is just music, right? Yea, whatever, mayne.
He (Magode) later texts to say the CD couldn’t work. That is bad for business. Meanwhile, Mtu Real releases his joint “Hawawezi”. That joint bangs like an angry judge. “Kaa fisherman na’drop lines na hooks…”
On Wednesday, Ian (the guy behind Slam Africa) and Mufasa give me a call. I rush from work. Meet them up at Town Hall and we talk nothing else but poetry for 3 hours. First meeting the two. And I’m impressed by their down-to-earth personality. They share bits of wisdom as far as poetry, fame and money are concerned. They are from Nairobi. They know the tricks of the game. I pay attention. We talk hip-hop. About Vigeti’s comeback to be specific. About how comebacks are tricky. How spoken word is saving grace for rappers who can’t flow right with the beat. How poetry can be professional. And I had to ask Mufasa if media exposure has interfered with his essence of art. It hasn’t – never will. He affirms. Ian is appalled that Town Hall is not given to young artists in this town for free. Politics. We mention Abbas and Saul Williams and Lemon and H_art the Band. How You Tube has influenced spoken word in Kenya.We talk of a major poetry show in this town. No beans to spill yet. Details coming soon.
Friday evening at 8 pm. A former colleague gives me a call. He is in town from Kericho. He has money to blow. He picks me up and rolls wheels to town amidst evening traffic and loud “Kanungo, Kanungo, Kanungo…” music. Just to let you know he is the man with the plan. He has a new car, two phones and he is Luo. Nyongwa, muhfucah! Every club from Signature, Spree, Belasco Lounge… is jammed. There’s freshers’ night at 411. Hiyo ni ya watoto. He says. He hates the noise. We dive into a pub. Niggas shooting pool and smoking shisha. Boring. We club hop for a couple of minutes. We eventually decide to settle at Who’s Pub, next to Sosiani Cinema. Then akaamua kuchafua meza. Literally. Till 4 am.
Saturday morning. Karuga (chairperson FHOK) calls over for a youth forum in Moi Town campus. He wants a poetry reading. Denoski (organizer GENESIS poetry) also calls for a video shoot by Sayare TV crew at FHOK. Busy day already, huh? I and Kenn meet up. We roll up to Town Campus. There’s too much echo in the hall. We roll out as a call asking for tickets comes in. Denoski says the video shoot is botched too. What to do? To Winstar for last minute rehearsals till 1 pm.
I head back to the block. Needed sleep badly. Snooze till 3 pm.
One Night Stand with Vic and Kenn Edition
Speakers and mikes on set. Akua Naru’s “Poetry-How Does It Feel Now” is on repeat. Melanin 9’s “Love’s Stencil” crossfades to set in the ambience. Poetry lovers are trickling in. New faces everytime. Aileen Atieno and her skateboard walks in. She is all smiles and dimples and “Wewe ndio Wudz?” type of vibe. Jeeze, I must be editing my profile pics too much…When she performed “Sex with my Father”, the audience roared. I snapped away with Caetry’s camera. Chege Mbugua in his kitambi and fake Maasai lesso is all smiles. He is the guy who designs our posters. Mufasa and Ian had said something about the posters, though.
Timothy Quiyan walks in in baggy jeans and Timbs. He quickly pulls me aside and we walk out of the building. He had something up his sleeve. (Word is bond, son). Professor Fred Mbogo (the playwright and humorist you are yet to meet) is arm-folded in glasses backseat next to Love Poems with his (Love Poems) new girlfriend to whom he read a looong poem about lips, boobs and behinds. And banging against the wall. And climaxing.
Crypto is a rare portraitist and sketch artist. He showcased an amazing pencil work of popular people from Albert Einstein, Omar Shakur…Kamasutra positions, Gothik fonts that can be read upside-down…crazy drawings that formed part of our stage décor. Get to view his work in our photo gallery.
The stars of the show, Victor Ochomo and Kenn Miringu arrive in style. I mean, well-dressed and 30 minutes before the end of the show. That is how stars groove, you know. They come late and talk to nobody except their phones. Bro, that kind of lifestyle, you dig? (Mom, I wonna be famous too when I grow up). The two are backstage chilling. Ochomo had a black batman shawl over his shoulders and he looked like he was about to swoop down the 6 floors like that dude from Gotham City.
Brian Bolo has to be the latest kid on the block. As far as spoken word goes, he is impressive. I have watched him grow. Really. Then Oeba (who Elenah Kim mistakenly called Amoeba) wowed the crowd with his heavy weight punchlines. Timothy did his thing too followed by Mayuu, Love Poems, Nyaguthii Grace, Cliff Ze Poet with a Swahili verse, M n M, Antonio Gobarchev, Scriptwise, Aileen Atieno, Elenah Kim and of course yours truly had to hit the stage before the powerful duo were ushered in with a standing ovation.
Superman vs. Genius
Both poets are brilliant. For one, the choreopoetry (search You Tube for stuff like “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide”, “When Winter Comes” and such) thing was unexpected. The transition from one poem/poet to the next was seamless, fluid, well-rehearsed and entertaining. Ochomo alias Simply Dysfunctional, opened the stage with ‘Superman”, a poem about suicide then fused into Ken’s ‘Genius’, a poem about ego. A total of 9 well crafted poems and monologues made the evening worthwhile. There was a standing ovation as Kenn gave a bow and everyone was treated to a meal courtesy of One Night Stand and Eldoret Poets Association.
Two people were conspicuously missing this evening: Ordinary Mind and Oyatsi. The former is somewhere in Sudan hustling, drinking and ogling at ladies in niqaabs while the latter was caught up in Nairobi for God-knows-what.
But that didn’t dampen down the mood. Because you know what? Mufasa!
Mufasa was a happy surprise that got everyone running back to the hall as he walked in with his signature cap, scarf, jacket and that I-am-a-son-of-a-woman smile. Before he could even catch a breath, shouts demanding for a performance reverberated through the hall. He then, from eons of stage experience, took as away…
Everybody wants a selfie with him. Cameras, phones click. Click. Click.
He is a force to reckon with. He is proof that poetry/spoken word can be greater than mere words on a page. On behalf of the whole ONS crew, I would like to thank him for showing up. Like I said earlier, greater plans are in the pipeline. Watch the space!
10. 30 pm.
Out in the cold. Waiting for vehicles and people. Aileen on skateboards. Did a few stunts on the tarmac. The UoE guys crowding in a Nissan. The rest of us headed to different directions. Chege asking me for Aileen’s number. What?
I gave him the Frank Underwood stare from House of Cards then told him my phone battery was off.
[Fades to black]