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January 24, 2019

G-Spot: When my lack of small talk caused me to ignore a famous star

In 2000, when I was still a fixture on Nairobi’s clubbing scene, It Wasn’t Me, a great dance song with the worst advice ever, was a huge hit.

(Yo’, man) Yo’

(Open up, man) What do you want, man?

(My girl just caught me) You let her catch you?

(I don’t know how I let this happen) With who?

(The girl next door, you know) Man

(I don’t know what to do) Say it wasn’t you


I have a story about the singer. Five years earlier, two of my cousins had brought a friend back to Kenya on holiday from school in the UK, and while their friend was a nice enough fellow, he had one audio cassette on which he had recorded his favourite song of the summer: ‘Boombastic’. After a couple of long drives during which the song played constantly, I must say I grew heartily sick of it, just as I did a couple of years later with Celine Dion’s Titanic theme My Heart Will Go On, which was omnipresent on every radio station. 

However, I digress. In 1998, I was sitting in the upstairs section of my favourite bar in Westlands, lost in thought as I contemplated my fast dwindling pint of beer. Some old friends were sitting at the corner of the bar, but I wasn’t ready to join them yet and they knew well enough to let me be until I was ready to socialise. 

While I was sitting there disturbing nobody, a stranger came and sat next to me and tried to initiate a conversation. I was in a bit of a mood and really couldn’t be bothered to engage and my one or two grunts in reply to his small talk seemed enough to discourage further chat. Soon enough, the fellow’s friends came and rescued him, taking him into the dining area.

Immediately my unsuccessful interlocutor got up and left, my buddies, who had apparently been watching the whole scene unfold, came rushing up to me to ask if I knew who the person I had just ignored was.

I was perplexed and it showed, and when they shouted in unison that my mystery barstool mate was called Shaggy, I baffled them more by looking blank and asking, “Shaggy who?” I could only recall Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Eventually they said the guy who sung Boombastic, but as I had never bothered to find out who had sung the song, I was none the wiser until a couple of days later, when it was reported in the newspapers that international sensation Shaggy had performed at a well-attended concert in Nairobi.

Needless to say, by the time It Wasn’t Me came out, I was a big fan. However, if I was to ever meet Shaggy again and he reminded me of that night at Gipsy, I swear I would deny everything and say: “It wasn’t me!”

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