Jackson Biko, commonly known as Biko Zulu, is one of Kenya’s finest writers if not the best. He’s a columnist for a number of popular magazines including Saturday Nation, Business daily, Kenya Yetu, KQ’s Msafiri, True Love, Safaricom’s Option and travel Africa. He also owns a blog- Bikozulu.
Being a writer myself and an ardent fan of Mr. Biko’s work, I managed to hook up with him for a brief chat in a bid to find out what makes him so good and so consistent. Here are the 12 quick questions I asked Jackson Biko.
What’s the origin of the name Zulu?
I just think about the name a lot, I don’t really know its origin. I coined it ages ago..10 years ago to be precise. So the origin must be my mind.
At what age did you start writing?
I started dabbling in random poetry at the age of 22 but really got into writing at 24.
You are mainly a lifestyle writer, are you sometimes tempted to
write on other matters such as politics or sports?
No. Not politics. But sports is lifestyle so yes, I can dabble in sports even though my interest in that principle is passible.
Your blog, Bikozulu, won the award for “Best Creative Blog”, in the
Bake Blog Awards. How did you feel given that you only ventured into
blogging not so long ago?
I felt thrilled, surprised and honored. .
If you weren’t a writer you’d be a?
I would be an advertising copywriter.
Where do you rate yourself as a writer?
In what terms? The question isn’t really precise I’m afraid. But I think I’m beyond ratings.
Who’s your favorite novelist?
I’m not much of a novel reader but Tony Parsons is up there. (Tony Parsons is the author of the multi-million selling novel, Man and Boy. He’s a British journalist, broadcaster and author.)
Do you feel that modern age readers appreciate mainstream writing
more than classic literature?
Good question. I think so. And this attitude has got something to do with timeliness and the need to relate with the literature of the day. Many readers find it hard reading classical literature nowadays unless it’s a requirement in coursework or something. Understanding classical literature requires much study and revision. With the emergence of the internet, many readers don’t think they have that time nowadays.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are watching movies, writing and reading magazines. .
Is love overrated or underrated?
It depends. If you are in your late teens or early 20s it’s gravely underrated. But I’d say if you are my age- 35- it’s grossly overrated. Young people should embrace love or else when they grow old, they might never even find love for themselves.
Are there any articles you wrote that might have thrown you into deep controversy?
I wouldn’t say deep controversy, but there is always that odd article I might do in Man Talk or on my blog that can get people really talking. It’s normal
What’s your advice to any young writer who wishes to surpass what
you have achieved?
Stay hungry, write more and be sure to read the times. Be appealing to your readers. Don’t write the right thing for the wrong readers.
Any parting words for everyone?
Life is very beautiful when you do the things your heart calls out for. Follow your passion. Yes, that’s a cliché but it’s true. Things always work when you follow your passion.