Tuesday, September 12, 2017
In our scattered little villages where I grew up under the tutelage of my late Grandmother, there used to be a neighborhood baddie who harassed all of us. This happened when we were pre teens. Like all the bullies he was generally stupid, if by stupid you mean lack of common sense present in all of us medically certified sane. He had a body like a hippopotamus, a gait like a gorilla. His skin was a hide of a crocodile. As young ones , he used to lord over us. By lording over us I mean harassing us big time; especially those of us who are of slight built as most of my friends were by then. As you'll know with all village boys, herding cattle was our main activity on weekends or when the schools closed for holidays. We would huddle together as a group of young small boys and play all sorts of games in the veld. Marbles, stick fighting or impersonating different characters we used to see on television. Acting out the impersonations of the then hit drama series, Shaka Zulu was our main staple. It was fun, I tell you. We would cluster in groups, with our bare chests and faces smeared with clay just like in Shaka Zulu or we will go swimming to the nearest dam. Everyone of us looked forward to these games in the veld. Some times we will be gone for the rest of the day without going home. Hunger was often forgotten in such instances. But in all of this fun there was one major blemish that disturbed us. It was in the name of the towering George with cracking heels baked with dirt. He would come sauntering like a peacock, biceps bulging and his neckline as if filled with concrete. Ohhh man, George the bully will spoil everything!One thing about him was the grave lack of social skills. The language of violence and fighting was the one he understood quite well. He would come between us with a sneer plastered of his pimply face and laughing that sinister laugh of his. With the voice full of authority he will pick up some loose soil in both of his hands and go like "<i>Dingaan , Themba come here. If you Themba are not afraid of Dingaan slap down this piece of soil off my hand. If you don't then it means you're afraid of him."Mind you Dingaan was his barrel- chested foot soldier who was not afraid to crack open the poor boy's skull with a stick or a stone. To safe face you'll have to fight even though fighting was not your thing. As I have said, me and my company were a peaceful, playful lot. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. With malice, stupid George would lure us into fighting. We will watch at how a poor defenseless boy will be battered. I survived this excursions because of my Uncle who was respected in the neighborhood and we got television at home and nobody wanted to be on the bad side of my uncle by beating me up. So we will watch this onslaught on poor fellows who had nothing of substance to safe their skin. Thuu...thhuu...thwaa!! The fists will fly. In most cases the contestants will be unevenly matched, with the side kick Dinngaan taking the upper hand. The unfortunate kid will be hammered with fists and often blood will flow. At times it will be said. Sometimes the weakling will have a surprise on his sleeve and we will cheer when he stood his ground against the bully. It was stupid George's way of entertainment. Honey combs will be taken from us when we have harvested the bees and George will enjoy most of the honey. Word on the street was that he was quite dumb at school. He ended in grade four whereas most of those kids he use to harass are doctors, accountants and established professionals. Not George who is still hung up with his teen years. His stories are still characterized by the way he used to harass us. Hmf! I guess it shows that his mental capacity has still not risen above his once cracked heels. yes, George was that kind of guy ....until he met his match one day. This came in the form of one boy named Ronnie, but to us he was nicknamed Stone. With lean thighs like the famous Zimbabwean Olympiad, Maria Mutola in her prime stone arrived from the please(Farms). Jesus,he was a nice piece of spicemen.Many said his diet included skimmed milk with porridge everyday, for the White Farmer took off all the cream from the milk to make butter. Skimmed milk and porridge was Stone staple. He was a horse rider of note could and ride a horse on bare back . He had two stallions that belongs to his father. Yes, I remember those....Weeskind (Orphan) and Boesman (Bushman). Stone was a picture of pure muscle. It happened that George the fool and his side kick beat up Stone's cousin while he was looking after the sheep. George was engaged in his usual antics kicking and slapping up the poor boy. The young boy told his cousin Stone what had transpired. Some days passed with nothing happening. One day Stone arrived at the veld just at the right time. You see, Stone like to wear shorts to expose to bulging thighs of his but this time around he opted for the long trouser. Being a good soul that he was Stone could be mistaken for a bangbroek (a wimp) because his younger cousin was always in the group that was beaten by George. The small boy told Stone and some days passed with nothing happening. On that day when Stone arrived he calmly looked at his crying young cousin and asked what was going on. Up stood George with a mealie cob on his hand "Yes, diplasi, a bo re gwaa!". (yes, a fool from the farms get off my face) and slapped him. He should have never said that or done that. We only just heard earth- shattering rhhuuu and dust rising up. Just like in the famous Chinua Achebe's novel when Okwonkwo was throwing down the great wrestler, Amalinze the Cat George was thrown down. He misjudged Stone's shortness of built and thought could do what he was known for. He stood up the....Rhhuuu again This went on for a while. Stone had not for once raise his hand to hit him. He just let the earth do his job for him....by throwing the bully down like a piece of wet rag. Now, this is what happens when a bully had met his match....he becomes a wimp. I remember George, dusty and with quivering voice say ..."He monna Stone o mpusha yang yong? ( Stone how are you pushing me). Then the response was "Ke go pusha stadig" . (I am pushing you slowly). That day George and his side kick lost the fight. Their honey combs were taken, their mealie cobs taken and Stone let every other kid who was once beaten by the bully to have his revenge. He was whipped with sticks and fists. It stopped wen the bully started to bellow. From then onwards we lived in peace ever after...the fun was back. Up to this day George do not wanna talk about that incident every time I meet with him. His is a bit civil now. I guess it took his match to make him human again because he was an animal.....
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
When something unusual happens sometimes you're lost for words to describe what had just transpired. The enormity of the whole thing render you speechless. This blog entry is extremely personal because what follows here happened right in front of my eyes. My love for languages is born of its ability to label things, which will make you, therefore, to deal with them. Its power to describe phenomena and give meaning to things that we're at times unable to deal with them. What I'm about to write in here has the possibility of being explosive. Well, in any case, if it fails in that regard I would have taken off my chest this thing that has eaten at my soul for all these years. The incident happened in my early teens, say, when I was about 7, 8 or 9 years. It affected me greatly as much as I would like to think it affected those whom such evil was inflicted on them. Let me say upfront that I will shy away from naming individuals. You know how it is with such sensitive things... The incident happened when I was in grade 4 or 5. By then teacher were much revered souls. Demi- Gods who were presiding over us. We worshipped the ground the walked on. We feared them. Even on weekends when you're not at school you used to run for dear life or hide when you saw your teacher coming along the street. Not like the kids of today who are protected by a panoply of Rights.Today's kids smoke, experiment with alcohol and engage in various things with careless abandon. Yep, the golden age of Facebook and Twitter! Corporal punishment was the order of the day then. A teacher could smack you for the smallest misdemeanors and you could do nothing about it. You cannot even report him or her to your parents. They will say "uku'laile, Kushuk'uthi awulaleli eklasini" ( Damn right, it means you don't listen in class). They will even smack you for telling on the teacher. Man, that period was Spartan. We were the unlucky bunch. Grew up at the wrong time when South African Society was largely backward, I dare say. Well, this incident involved my former teacher. His evil deeds were mostly directed at girls. You see, our class in the mid-80's was large enough to fill 40 plus kids - both girls and boys. The teacher , an elderly fellow with toothless gums who always smelled of tobacco was with us everyday. He taught us Afrikaans language. Man, I use to hate those Afrikaans periods, precisely for his sick behavior. When the pervert teacher came to our class he preferred to mark out our books right on our desks. Impeccably behaving teachers marked our books right in front of the class or took our books to the teachers room to mark them. Not this creep. Remember those school desk in the time of PW Botha? Yes those. They could accommodate two or three people with them sitting comfortably. This suited the pervert perfectly. Mind you, in class we use to sit two- two on a desk. Two girls on a desk or two boys on a desk, with horizontal rows where it made possible to walk among the desk. Yeah man, apartheid school furniture. Those my age knows them. The bastard will methodically go row by row marking our books. He was quite smart that toothless bastard. By sitting next to a girl child he would thrust his hand right between the poor girl's thighs and rub. This was done stealthily with no one noticing. Those of us who were observant enough were far too much afraid to say anything about it. He was the teacher, remember! Another thing was not knowing what to do with that. We did not know that she was violating the poor girls though it felt wrong. And who to tell about such things? Everything was shrouded in secrecy. Man, that evil old man destroyed many a young girls in my class, let alone other classes that the son of bitch taught. I mean if he was behaving like that in our class what about other classes that he taught? The bastard wracked havoc! All in full knowledge that we will do nothing and the girls were much too ashamed to tell anyone. I use to see girls sitting rigid, frozen with a dirty hand stealthily thrust between their thighs. It felt dirty every time I witnessed it. In my young mind it felt wrong even though I could not rationalize it. Every time he would come to the girl I used to love I could feel bile rising at the back of my throat. I learned some few years back that the old creep is dead. I wish he burn in hell. The perverted sick bastard got away with terrible murder, right in front of our eyes...or those who were savvy enough to witness his wicked behavior. Years back when I left high school and moved on to Johannesburg I used to picture the bastard. My wish was to punch the bastard when I later learned what guys like him did was against the law. He has done much damage to innocent girls. I bet those girls, young women now, are still affected by that incident many moons away in primary school. The sexual exploitation they suffered at the hands of the leering creep is unforgiveable. I still feel dirty when I think about it....*ahem*
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
My days on the slippery world of Corporate - dog - eat - dog madness were still born. They ended one night when I fell down due to exhaustion, over work and the general stress of doing tedius work. Summarizing thick legal documents and the general tedium of writing up reports was not my idea of fun. Add Office politics to the mix... and having that was supposed to be an internal communication sent to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Yes, the powers that be could CC clients with every nugget of internal communication to humiliate you. It set you up as an inept moron who could not get the job done. This put paid too any notion of enjoying yourself in the space, especially when you are made to feel useless and stupid. I have always had an unhealthy relationship with nerds. They drive me up the wall with their demonic work ethic. I tried many times to emulate them but fell flat on my face each time. This is not, in any way, to suggest I'm a slacker. No. I put effort...humanly possible effort, that is. I remember one particular nerd back in Varsity who used to irritate me a lot when it came to typing up our assignments.(Mind you, this is a Third-world South Africa where students don't own personal computers but rely on the University computer labs to get job done). This chap will go overboard....endlessly poliishiiing his work nonchalantly while we waited our turn in front of computers. Wether you will miss your deadline didn't seem to bother him. He will be sitting with toooonnns and toooonnns of reference books while you poor souls had to do with secondary information like the internet or less weighty books. This often made me pass sarcastic remarks that getting an A plus in an assignment should not be a matter of life and death. That by getting himself approved to study at Varsity was enough to tell us about his academic mettle. I even went further to say that getting a good score in an academic paper only meant that you were good at copying others' opinions. Which is what I think academic referencing is anyway. It does not encourage originality. It is an acceptable way of stealing other people's pearls of wisdom. Where is independent thought in that, huh? Now, back to where I was before I got sidetracked. Oh yes, the choking corporate world! It sucks big time! Which is why I have given it a middle finger. It use to bore me to tears listening to all that pseudo-middle class talk of buying cars and houses. On credit, of course. Yes, it had to be on credit. Or the morbid fascination with the need to be seen at the hip and happening places. Clubs, restaurants, gyms, you name it. Yawn!. How I wished to be far away from such conversations. How I crave meeting up with the real world out there and have meaningful conversation with different faces. Yes, I wanted to meet faces and places. My break from that boredom came around the start of 2015 when I decided to join an Organization undertaking Social research. Since joining research field my eyes had been opened up. I have met and sat with the down and out, interviewed thugs and prostitutes. The whole lot Their stories had thus far been enriching in my life. I remember one day in Durban township of Umlazi where I got nearly robbed of my gadgets. It was a group of young men who were smoking drugs. I just found myself in the house and I could not find a way to extricate myself from such potentially dangerous scene. I had to think on my feet to safe my life. Or when I met a hopeless young girl who told me point blank that she tried to commit suicide on numerous occasions. Or a white girl who in Mpumalanga who told me how she was repeatedly raped by a group of black guys. Such stories left me with tears in my eyes. Others were so inspiring. To see a person face his or her desperate situation with courage encouraged me. It taught me the value of life. I cannot reveal the identities of individuals due to research ethics, but then I must say those individuals made me value my life. No matter how insignificant it can be. It offered me the chance to experience life in all its forms.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
I grew up in Apartheid South Africa in the Mid'80s. Now what is interesting with that time was the chasm between black and whites. Growing up in my grandmother's rural homestead I had a lot to learn about human relations. Grandmother, Ennie Nompitimpti Nyauza was one formidable woman. Nompitimpiti means traffic to those uninitiated to the Xhosa vernacular. Grandmother a force of nature as her name implied. she drank a lot, took snuff and was generally energetic. Neighbours in our small village used to brew sorghum beer for her specifically, call her and let her have a time of her life. Drunk, she would come home and harass us all. She would tell me in her drunken stupor that "Yes, I'm struggling with you here while your wayward mother is having fun in Johannesburg. I buy shoes for your, pay your fees at school while nobody cares about you suka![get out of here] " But all in all gradmother was a lady of the people. One side of her that never failed to amaze me was that she was also deeply spiritual. Said her prayers every night when she went to bed. I struggled with these different versions of her. Another fact is her unusual yet cordial friendship with one farmer called Oom Nagel- an Afrikaner boer who use to come to our village and sell everything, from wood, milk potatoes and tomatoes. Mind you, this was at the height of apartheid. Oom nagel with his battered lorry will come every week...toot!, toot! toot! He will hoot. "Ouma melk, tamaties, dikgong (wood) he will advertise his wares as he drove slowly down the street passing our home. Well, you might ask why is this relevant? Here is why: around that time we were taught to fear the white man. He was the baas. The system afforded him such power over the natives. Hey! Not to my grandmother. She could bargain with Oom Nagel each and every time, complaining that his wares are not to good standard. Grandma was able to get her points across each and every time, and each and every time she won. She would buy a load of wood from the old white man and if she was not happy with something she definitely let it be known. "Hhayi, izinkuni zaka Nagel zi manzi. Zenza umsi." [No,no,no, Nagel's wood is wet. It does not burn and it smokes a lot].She would say this in no uncertain terms. Or maybe she would complain "Nagel's milk is watery. It does not have cream at all. I won't buy it next time". Now Oom Nagel was an old man himself...with peeling heels, craggy face that was papery as though it is a scone with too much self-raising agent in it. Week in, week out Oom Nagel will come, and every time grandma will buy something. In my young mind it appeared as though they enjoyed each other's company and the banter that always developed between them was something to behold. Oom Nagel will never pass our house without calling out grandma. It was unheard of then. For a white man to be so cordial with an uneducated African old lady. It taught me one important lesson- that friendship can cut across the colour line...and that human beings are one and the same after all. It does not matter the language you speak. If you can be able to find each other's souls then the world can be a better place.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
I very much like the saying. It captures everything about me though I am not being anything near narcissism. I know how the very use of the word tend to make one appear such. Let me point out from the start I am very far from that hated state. Well, human beings like to talk about themselves, isn't? I guess its got a lot to do with the very nature of our existence. We exist precisely to make meaning of our lives. Our sense meaning, by its very nature, tend to be subjective. That is the conclusion I had made ever since I was able to differentiate wrong from right, and form my own opinions. Do I sound redundant? Well, forgive me for committing this cardinal sin. I, Themba Joe Nyauza who is, by the way, not narcissistic had realized I am attracted to the very simple things in life. The other day I was with a couple of friends on a research trip in Cape Town where we happen to visit the V&A Waterfront in the city. What is funny is that every time we were there I tend to fall sick. I would feel bloated and gasping for air for no apparent reason. Even the food on various top-notch restaurants did nothing to whet my appetite for the so- called "good things in life". Everything around me felt stuffy and I feel trapped. I longed for the open clear air by the sea not that air - conditioned environment. One of my friends even thought there was something in the air of this world class shopping mecca that made me sick. I would like to agree with her. Talk about dancing to a drum of a different beat... Funny enough, to those with me I could see they were all starry eyed. Their went "wow" like Alice in the wonderland. I could see their eyes taking in the décor, terribly expensive clothes and whatnot. They were so enthralled by this spectre of capitalism at its zenith. Like kids in a candy shop...or make that a toddler in TOYS R US department store. It was the same at the glitzy Cavendish Square and Access Park shopping paradise. They were flitting from store to store fitting this clothing item, trying this wrist watch and feeling the comfort of this high-end sneaker. Man, it was heady! Myself I did not enjoy any of this. Poor me... I only became myself when we were in the Townships around Cape Town where I was able to immerse myself in the local culture. Or when we visited famous land marks like the Chapman's Peak, Ostrich farm and the majestic table mountain. Now that was something that captured my mind. I was like wow!! I enjoyed trying out the local cuisine and tasting a juicy, succulent piece of steak prepared over coals by the locals. Long street downtown was another spot that I enjoyed immensely. It may be due to its bohemian disposition that made me feel at ease I don't know. Tasting different brands of craft beer was quite an experience as well. I guess these mumblings point at nothing but the fact that all that glitter is not gold. At least to some of us. It is anything but. Adios....
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Talk about the concept of Ubuntu principle to anyone who is not an African in a true sense of the word then you're bound to be met with some snorting through the nose, especially in our race obsessed South Africa. To cynics it is like you are Thabo Mbeki misquoted as saying HIV does not cause Aids. Well, what do you expect? We are the nation that perfected apartheid and racism and called it "separate development". The cheek! Bigots in our midst when you utter such a word they be going like "what do these Africans think they are? I am here to tell you that Ubuntu-botho (Humanness) is a universal principle shared by all of us. Yeah, I mean that! This principle became clearly shown in aftermath of the recent runaway fires that ravaged the greater part of Kynasna in Cape Town. The way people of all hues rallied together to help the victims of those fires is a case in point. It was heartening to see people donating clothes and foodstuffs to help the unfortunate victims. Watching the evening news these passed few days my belief in this principle had been reinvigorated. Strangers were willing to help those in need, be it through clothes or blankets, especially when one thinks of the biting Cape Town winter in this time of the year. I am here to tell you that the United Nations was founded on this principle. Right?! Ohh Kay! Even the evil systems of apartheid and colonialism was predicated on this notion no matter how perverted they were. It must be pointed out that though these systems were divisive and hated at most, they serve the basic need of some sort. Protecting and making sure one of our kind is well taken care of. Whatever way you wanna look at it this systems were basically designed to protect "those who like us". A broerderbond (brotherhood) of some sort if you like. This is my layman's take on these systems anyway. This principle is pervasive right through the entire human population. Talk European Union, NATO, African Union and the like. All these institutions are undergirded by this basic principle in their conception. Looking out for "one of my kind" is the motto. Even the lucrative Development Aid programmes that offer hefty renumeration packages to aid workers are primarily guided by this notion. At least that is the understanding, regardless whether evidence on the ground seem to point at something different. The overriding aim is to seek to help another human being, right? Anyway, this is not pretending to be an academic piece but just rumblings of my restless mind...
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
What all the fuss about this rat-race to achieve? The need for achievement had reached fever pitch in recent times that one can only label as mind-blowing. Many among us about to burn out. Phaa! Out in the ether of nothingness. This headlong rush to become has reached epidemic proportions and with it goes our most basic element...simplicity. A very fulfilling way of living in my book. Most people around me are infected with this 21st Century malady. Why? Where did we go wrong? How did we lose the plot? I am sitting here and mulling over this as we speak. Well, achievement is a good thing if it only make us better beings. But this?! No ways man! It has become our obsession. I happen to share a house with this one guy who seem to be afflicted with this madness. Thwaa! It hit him in the face while he was sleeping one night, it may be. I don't really know. The workaholic housemate of mine is going straight to an early grave. Working from Monday to Sunday, up by five O' clock in the wee hour of the mornings and coming back in the early evenings. Jesus Christ of Nazareth! To make what? An extra buck so that he can buy that car he is always talking about? Oh please! It pathetic way of existing. For a piece of scrap metal. Jeez! He has become what I had picked somewhere in my Sociology class the other time. A cog in the forever whirling wheel of the grand capitalist system. Trying to become a bigger cog in this dog - eat - dog pathetic system. It is so sad when I think he could be taking time out to enjoy life. To feel sunlight in his face and listen to the beautiful, angelic sound of Enya crooning Carribean blue on the sound system. Watching all this unfolding in front of my eyes I sometimes feel choked. Precisely by watching nice specimen of human beings losing their selves in things that have no value in the greater scheme of life. My guiding principle in life is that no one will remember my material achievements when I die, but they will most probably remember the time I spent with them. When will we be able to enjoy the simple things in life if most of our lives are taken by this senseless need to achieve? To be more? Huh? Damn right. My plan is to go out every now and then and enjoy the open veld. I want to feel the fresh air of the savanna beating softly against my face. To listen to the distant sound of thunder when the rain clouds gather. To hold a small, feeble lamb in my hands. Enjoy its softness on my face To feel the soft sand on the beach under my feet with water breaking against the rocks. To see a genuine smile spread across my friend's face as we sit talking...watching the sun going down on the horizon. Such a pointless rush to nowhere is getting stuffy for my liking. It has turned humans into robots with numbed senses. And as empty vessels we watch life passes us by. Numbed by our innate need to keep up with the Joneses even if it means working our fingers to the bone. I'm sorry such pathetic existence is not for me. Nah! Thanks, I will pass.