Gilbert Mwangi claims there is not much to be said about him, but we disagree. Maybe because, from his blog, you can’t help but feel you know him. He has a personality that you can’t help but relate to. Someone you can call ‘friend’ without needing to meet him. He writes about unties was Harrier the way we all know them to be. He is the original family guy and credits most of his successes to his family’s support, and it shows, by how he writes about them in his blog and socials. He says that at 40 something, he is still trying to find himself, which resonates with most of us.
“Like a frigate, I am sailing around the globe, looking for the isle of self. I sing to keep from wailing. I write to keep my hands from trembling with indignation. I am nobody’s darling. I am an outcast wearing the contradictions of my life around my body. Like a marathoner wearing his country’s flag after winning the race. When I am not blogging, I look for a smile in the moon, a wink in the stars, and His face in the sun,” he says. And we think it is beautiful.
We asked him a few questions, this is what he had to say.
Give us a brief profile of yourself.
-40 something-year-old writer, dreamer and literary enthusiast. Trained in English Literature and Sociology. Lover of words. Happily married in my own way. Father of three.
Share something interesting about yourself.
-I wrote my first book just after a campus-an anthology of poems. I expected to make lots of money and buy a Sony ghetto blaster with a CD changer- a huge thing then. The book was bought by only two siblings-my mom and my uncle. And none paid in cash. I was devasted. Years later I saw the symbolism of it all-they were among the few people who believed in me. Family always is.
What was your first phone?
-A humongous Alcatel that ran on 3AAA batteries and had an aerial the size of a Safaricom mast.
What attracted/ inspired you into blogging?
-I liked sharing stories on Facebook. But I wanted a bigger platform seeing that Facebook is limited to 5,000 friends only. A blog provided that.
Why the name Drum Major for your blog?
The name ‘Drum Major’ comes from Martin Luther King’s famous speech-The Drum Major Instinct. Drum Major refers to that man who leads the band when an army is marching. I visualize my blog as a ‘Drum Major’ for stories.
What accomplishments are you proud of most?
-I recently got engaged to edit a biography for a Kenyan American who is running for a very big seat in the USA.The man’s confidence in my writing skills-based on the stories that I share on my blog and Facebook-buoyed me.
From your posts on FB, you write mostly about your experiences with your family. How has your family shaped your life?
-I am the old school type that cherishes extended family connections like fussy aunties, pleasant uncles with a whiff of gin in their breath and of course my immediate family. My first stories revolve around them-and so are my beautiful experiences. They are both my anchor and my sails.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
-Introspective. Bookish. Cynical.
What is your fav food, song, book, movie?
-Food-minji and rice with a slice of Murang’a avocado.
-Song-Feeling Good by Nina Simone
-Movie-Scent of a Woman.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
-Classical Greece. I am mad about Greek myths and legends.
What is the weirdest food combination you have ever tried?
-I once added some whiskey to some camel meat I was cooking while working in Wajir. The meat was tangy to the last piece.
If you were not a blogger, what would you be instead?
-A movie Director. The silver screen has always fascinated me.
Of all the posts you have ever written, which one is your favourite? why?
–Wajir by Bus. One, it’s true. Most beautiful stories are. Two, it summarizes my colourful life in Northern Kenya-and by extension, life in general. In most ways than one, life is like a bus journey.
What scares you most about the future?
-The imminent death of the physical book. Reading one in 2030 will make one look like an alien.
Any interesting hobbies, obsessions?
-I have this crazy obsession with classic cars. (We understand. They are a thing of beauty.)
Is there a quote/mantra you live by?
-Whatever you are seeking is also seeking you. Can’t recall the late poet who said that though.
If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
-Johnny Bravo because he is a pleasantly ambiguous character. He is hunky, muscled but lives with his mother. He wants women to date him but always fails successfully. His adult humour is always off the hook. And oh-he is loosely based on Elvis Presley; one of my pet celebs.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
-Life is a bully-this was from my uncle. The advice braces me not to expect life to be easy on me, thus making me ready for any hurdles.