Monday, October 09, 2006

Ntimama & Sukunli: Who is the smarter one?

Age and experience do have their advantages as u will discover with this little tale..........

Ntimama, Sunkuli, Debra Senaipei and Wangari Maathai are sitting in a train. The train suddenly goes thru a tunnel and it gets completely dark. Suddenly there is a kissing sound and then a slap!

The train comes out of the tunnel. The women and Ntimama are sitting there looking perplexed. Sunkuli is bent over holding his face, which is sore from an apparent slap. All of them remain diplomatic and nobody says anything.

Maathai is thinking:

"This Sunkuli is crazy after Debra. He must have tried to kiss her in the tunnel. Very proper that she slapped him."

Debra is thinking:

"Sunkuli must have moved to kiss me, and kissed Maathai instead and got slapped."

Sunkuli is thinking:

"Damn it, Ntimama must have tried to kiss Maathai, she thought it was me and slapped me."

Ntimama is thinking:

"If this train goes through another tunnel, I could make another kissing sound and slap Sunkuli again....

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Since the dawn of man, public wall have been used as a prime surface for the creation and communication of ideas. Artistic symbols like hieroglyphics and other cave writings have been used by groups to identify, exemplify and edify philosophy for an eon years.

The ban on Matatu grafitti is a sad one for me and I call it "The Murder of art". I thank a matatu poster for what I know about Che Guevara. The visual image on him on a route 58 matatu was an amalgam that evoked immediate response in me (of wanting to know who the hell he was). With matatu, came a phenomenon in grafitt, a visual expression. Grafitti artists yell out, not as immature youths, but rather as mature modern thinkers during a period of history when artistic dissent and creativity is stifled by an art world filled with dogmatic tradition and a media culture pathetically addicted to the consumption of messages and images designed to propagate the sales of consumer products. The ban comes at a time when the graffitists have come up with what is called "The Piece", a composed stick-up depicting words, background, characters, quotes and messages (like route 9's The Game).

Four major values of grafitti culture in matatus are fame (expressed by poster of the famous from Tupac to Mahatma Gandhi), artistic expression, power and rebellion. The poster art on matatus is one powerful forms of communication. Our public transport gives thousands of artists a cherished oppourtunity to proclaim ourselves to the world. Its an annoucement of our indentity and a testimony of its existence. The matatu grafitti artists have a voice which sings freedom, rebellion and original thought. They are the last breed of artist, the one that has made the full cyclical return to what was the advent of visual creation, the cave artist. Art, any art . . . is a difficult and sometimes lonely road to travel. It does take hard work, patience, and perseverance to see your creation come to life and this is what the government is killing, the dreams, the talent, the jobs of thousands of matatu graffitists.

I am still afraid of seeing my favourite mats "Casino aka Thuggish(had graphix of hiphop heavy weights RZA, Krs One....)" and "The Game" of route 9 and one which I dont know the name plies route 23 with a huge Tupac graphic at the back. There is also a route 42 called B.I.G. A route 111 called Nasty with a DJ John image at the back. Ours is a style that you will never find in any part of the world. Why do we have to kill this culture???????


I have read several article on use of Sheng in the dailies of late with utter dismay on sheer arogance displayed by those opposed to the language. I agree with most of the issues raised like the language being very different from one hood to another. But insulting it is out of context. I particulary found this quote from one writer very perturbing "Let Sheng be left to matatu touts, drug pushers, hopeless hip-hop musicians and school dropouts."

Creativity makes us (Youth) take existing words and transform them to Sheng to fit and describe our consiouness. Through Sheng we accurately express our thoughts and ideas.The conception that the youth must speak in English or pure Swahili to get anywhere is colonial/political old guard inherent aptitude. Its true Kenyan youths do not read and if we are to adopt a reading culture through Sheng, so be it. Write about Che Guevara to the youth in sheng and there will be more of his T-shirts in the streets. My point is, knowledge gained in whatever language is not inferior. I regulary use sheng and am not a drug pusher, a tout, a school drop out or a hip hop musician and am not lazy (as one writer claimed that the users of the language are lazy).

Hip Hop Musicians are not hopeless otherwise Krs-One and other artists would never have lectured Havard, Oxford or Yale. Tupac music would never be studied in Literature like it is in the States. Hip hop is a culture that is very misunderstood by many. To them hip hop is about guns, naked women/Bitches, clubing, drooping trousers and 50 Cent. Those that have this misconception are victims of media hog wash on Hip Hop. Hip Hop encompass not just rap music, but an entire lifestyle that consistently incorporates diverse elements of ethnicity, technology, art and urban life, a celebration of life and struggle. Lecturing those who are brain washed about this culture is equivalent to catching a leprechaun.