Bury Everyone In Your Path: The Zimbabwean Theory

Now, this is a full-on rant. I am honestly disappointed with the way that we as Zimbabweans have been behaving. I think this is something that has plagued our nature for the last two decades. Now bear with me as I am generalizing a lot. Not all Zimbabweans who are here exhibit the behavior, but the lack of social justice warriors is making life difficult for all of us.

There was a bit of noise made on the internet about social justice keyboard warriors. These are people who easily get annoyed by something they see and they stick it on some form of social media and express their unhappiness with a situation. My problem with social justice keyboard warriors is that they will complain from the comfort of their homes where they have all the things they need. Most of the time they are speaking so that they are known to complain about things that do not really affect them.

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No place like home

I had a period as a social justice keyboard warrior, however, I tried to proffer solutions or advice, better yet I always try to disseminate information to my friends and anyone else bored enough to read my blogs and follow my tweets. As time went on, I started to realize that there are some things that my fellow citizens of this country need to know about.

So for those that do not know, the last 18 months in Zimbabwe has been an interesting journey. Zimbabweans do not want to realize this, but for the last two to two and a half decades we have been living a false life. The prices of goods and services have not been realistic as we haven’t had our own currency for the longest time, and when we were using the US Dollar, prices of goods and services were still incorrectly priced. Most Zimbabweans do not even know the true value of a US Dollar. I remember at one stage, a beer was USD$1, a loaf of bread was also USD$1 and a ride on public transport was also USD$1 from certain parts of Harare to the city center. How in the world are these three very different products and services the same price when they have different factors associated with their individual price breakdown.

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As a result, there have been strange things going on around the pricing of goods. To give you an example, there a sports club that I used to frequent. A shot of gin is cheaper than a can of tonic water. In fact, the tonic water costs twice the cost of one shot of gin. How does that even make sense?

So we now have a situation where suppliers of goods and services are profiteering from the struggling Zimbabwean. I appreciate that if an entity is in business, then their aim is to make a profit. I do not have that much of a problem with service providers charging ridiculous amounts of money for their services and goods. Competition (or what little of it there is in the Zimbabwean business landscape) dictates that eventually, those guys will reduce their prices because their products will move slowly as the consumer becomes wiser about their spending habits and looks for a better deal. Also if I feel that I am being ripped off by a supplier, I will find another supplier who provides a similar product at a price I am willing to pay.

The real problem I have is with the individuals in this country who are screwing the system and then screwing their fellow Zimbabweans. Of late there have been stories floating around about how Zimbabweans are making life difficult for each other. There is an Engen service station which I drive past on my way to work every day on Harare Drive. I recall about a week or so ago, as I was driving to work I saw a short fuel queue. I joined it and when I was at the front of the queue, I took out my bank card to pay before they put fuel in my car. They advised me that all payment platforms were down and that they were only accepting cash. I thought nothing of it, drove off and was annoyed for a little bit, but decided that I would have to find another service station. I didn’t think to ask to see the point of sale machines to verify.

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Somewhere in the Eastern Highlands

“I am not surprised the system is down. It’s so old and needs a lot of upgrading. It is not uncommon for the network to drop.” I said to myself. However a few days later my cousin then advised me of the same situation at another service station, except there were guys walking through the queue SELLING cash to people who wanted to buy fuel at a 30% premium. So basically if you wanted to put ZWL$100 you would have to transfer ZWL$130. What annoyed me, even more, when I heard this story was that the guys selling the money worked for the service station. Like what the fuck guys? So you BUY cash at a premium and then buy fuel from the same establishment. These guys were basically making money on both sides with no regard that the situation that ALL Zimbabweans are in. It’s not my fault I don’t have cash on me. In fact, the system was broken by individuals who were hoarding cash and as a result, the Banks had no cash to give customers because of the lack of deposits of physical cash. So why am I being punished when I go to the service station to buy a product using one of the legal tenders, only to be lied to and taken advantage of simply because I don’t have access to cash? This isn’t profiteering. This is straight-up robbery.

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Somewhere in the Eastern Highlands

The fact that we do not have the ability to truly show some sense of compassion is the downfall of this beautiful nation of ours. I feel annoyed when foreigners say that Zimbabweans are the nicest people in the world. We are nice to visitors yet we treat each other like dog vomit. It makes no sense to me. The fact is that we have a LONG way to go as a nation. We have serious mindset issues that need to be addressed and changed, and we have to HONESTLY have some national pride.

For the longest time, Zimbabweans have made the fight between us and the ruling government without realizing that in the background we are fighting with each other at such a base level. We are the sum of all our problems and the solution to those problems. I am proud to be Zimbabwean but also ashamed at the same time. The dodgy deals that the government get up to are no excuses for us to do the same to each other.

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Chinhoyi Caves

Zimbabwe belongs to the people who were born in this country, and those who have lived here for so long that they know no other home. It doesn’t belong to a select group of people. It belongs to you and me. The citizens of this country. If there is rubbish everywhere its because we as a people do not care about the environment. It is our responsibility to ensure a future for the generations that are coming, otherwise, we will always be remembered as the generation(s) that let a beautiful thing die. Once we start to plan for the future properly, we will see a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, Zimbabweans need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if what they are doing is benefiting the bigger picture or is it just blatant greed with the disregard for everything else.

Let’s do better as Zimbabweans.

zw

 

 

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MISPLACED ANGER: A SHORT ZIMBABWEAN STORY

misguided anger

So lately Zimbabweans have been expressing a great deal of anger towards the current situations in the country. Now let us all bear in mind that there are a myriad of problems bedeviling this tiny country of mine. As time has gone on, it seems like it is a preferred position to always be angry about everything. There is a lack of positive attitude in our people.

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Zimbabweans should be at the last stage of formalisation but many prefer the brute strength technique

As a people, we feel that the government should be doing better, and we are suffering from an extreme lack of confidence in what they are doing. Confidence is not something that we will find overnight in the government or any government for that matter. I think that the world has changed a lot in the last decade. Believe it or not, we as a nation have also changed in some aspects, and in other aspects, we have not changed at all.

Zimbabweans in supermarkets be like this regardless of the price

We have become stuck on stupid because of the time we spent using the US Dollar such that we don’t know how much USD$1 ACTUALLY costs, there are some who truly believe that the USD is the currency we should still be using, yet all of the information points to that being one of the reasons why Zimbabwe is in the situation we are in now. We as a nation of consumers are only waking up slowly to the fact that there were retailers who were profiteering off us, yet we did not do anything other than misdirecting our anger.

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This butter must be amazing to be this price!!!

I do not intend on discussing my position of the recent SI142 as that requires it’s own separate blog, however when the government imposed the statutory instrument of SI142, Zimbabwean’s collectively lost their damn minds. Everyone was up in arms and were hurling obscenities about the government and what they were planning on doing. No one looked at the root causes of the problem.

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This was a local supermarket near where I live during the madness

The way I see it there are two problems (among many) that we were dealing with. The first is legacy issues. We cannot deny that the current government’s current problems are because of the previous mismanagement. Then there was the behavior of industry during this time of confusion. Industry was putting up their prices in some of their establishments faster than the exchange rate between the USD and the Zimbabwean Dollar. Now they needed foreign currency to import some of the things that they were importing and couldn’t access it from the banks, so they went to the parallel market to find that foreign currency. They bought expensive USD, and they passed on the cost to the consumers. At the same time, we had other shady individuals speculating on the exchange rate and helping to push up the rate, we also had individuals or possibly even organizations that were going and taking loans and going to the parallel market and buying and selling USD. This resulted in most prices in most establishments rising in some instances on a daily basis. Zol (my internet service provider) increased the cost of their capped package from $87 to $97 to $185 in the space of three months.

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A restaurant in Harare during the days of madness

Now, while all of this was going on, most people directed their anger DIRECTLY at the government to arrest the situation. I am not going to say that there weren’t ANY elements in the government who weren’t involved because I suspect that there were some members of the government, at different levels, who had their fingers in the pie also. At the end of the day, there were no innocent people. Instead of taking the retailers (who we keep in operation and give money to almost on a daily basis) to task for their behavior, boycotting certain retailers for their profiteering manner, or advising our fellow citizens of where to get the best deal, we continued throwing our money at the retailers, and complaining that it was the government’s fault. Yes, they are implicit, but they aren’t the ONLY people to blame.

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Another local supermarket in Harare during the madness

With prices like those Zimbabweans were like:

take my money

Recently, Paynet, which is (to my understanding) provides an IT solution to banks and other organizations to assist with the processing of salaries efficiently between the employer’s bank and the employee’s bank. I assume they own the license for the platform or they are a licensed dealer. So they had a contract or arrangement with most the private banks that their services would be paid in a particular currency which the banks agreed to. However recently, it turns out that the banks knew in advance that they owed Paynet money, and basically refused to pay the monies owed. This resulted in Paynet (rightly so in my opinion) suspending their services to the banks. Paynet fully explained where the bottleneck was and highlighted that it was not their fault. The customers owed money and services would be suspended up until the debt was cleared. Well didn’t the angry Zimbabwean come out baying for Paynet’s vital organs? What did Paynet do wrong? They are in business and are not a charity. They have salaries to pay, taxes, licenses and other obligations that we as citizens know nothing about. How do you keep on operating a business when your customers aren’t paying? Do you let yourself sink and keep the customers happy but not your employees?

 

Another example is the issue with some of the services that we receive from our local councils. There are some services that they struggle to provide because the overall infrastructure is so ancient. So most people do not receive council water to their houses (My parents haven’t received council water at their house since I was in primary school) and as far as I am concerned, it is not ONLY due to council’s ineptness (because we can’t discount that), but there are infrastructure deficiencies among other things. We are supposed to have trucks driving around collecting our trash. To my knowledge, the last time that my trash was collected was probably 2-3 months ago now, but at the same time, we have reports that the council bought iPads worth $23,000.00. Instead of us as the people demanding local government (councils, district offices) to be more accountable, we find it easier to blame the ruling government. We should be upset with the local government for going and splurging taxpayers money on such. Some people may chime in and say “Well people aren’t paying their rates so can you blame them for not coming to collect your trash”. I can’t blame them if they do not have the resources to collect our trash because people aren’t paying their rates. Don’t go and then spend money on iPads as an excuse.

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Zimbabweans having a friendly debate

We have to complete our evolution as a people. We have all being through some trials and tribulations. Some more than others. Some went to school with people who lost family members during the land redistribution that happened, others lost family as a result of the cholera outbreak, and some have lost friends and family due to the inability to cope with the situations they are trying to manage and what feels like a constantly shifting playing field. At the end of the day, we are ALL Zimbabweans whether we like it or not. Unless we start to change our mindsets, our behavior won’t change. Other people say we are the nicest people possibly in the world and I agree, but only to other people. To each other, we still behave as though it is a Mortal Kombat Tournament. You can tell by the way that people are quick to pick an argument as opposed to having a discussion and potentially learning something new, even the way that people drive on the roads without any regard for anyone else. We as the PEOPLE are the ones with the potential. We can’t even trust each other to do business together because everyone is trying to get on over the next person. The sum of us is greater together than us individually.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – George Orwell

 

Backwards or Sideways

Happy 2019 to you all. It has been a very long time since I had a chance to blog. I feel bad because it is something that I enjoy doing but haven’t had a chance to do it in a while.

Things have gotten really wild at home in the last four or so months. There was a pronouncement that made no sense made by our Minister of Finance which resulted in people losing their collective minds and suddenly charging exorbitant prices for products. Of course, none of our salaries have been adjusted and we are collectively seeing our bums. Prices in most places have more than tripled, there have been a few companies who have successfully held the govt at ransom and succeeded, however, there have been civil servants who have tried to hold the govt at ransom (most of the reasons made sense, though one of them didn’t) and they failed. It is hard to understand when our junior doctors are on strike citing unsafe working conditions in the public hospitals (no surgical gloves, medicines to name a few) they are threatened with being replaced with other doctors who are aren’t working, but when a company that produces alcohol indicates that they are going to start charging for their alcohol in real currency, the govt backflips to assist their business but doesn’t seem to do the same for our doctors. Sure we can get into arguments about the Hippocratic oath that doctors make. However, if the working conditions are not safe, then one shouldn’t work.

This surely shows that we have misplaced priorities in this country. The misplaced priorities extend further than just the govt. We as a nation of people also have very misplaced priorities. We are all suffering in our own ways, but when I spoke to some people, they were more upset about the fact that this beer producer wanted to charge in hard currency and not in the funny money we have. They seemed to be unconcerned with the fact that the public hospitals were under-capacitated in terms of staff and tools. It almost feels as the though the govt decided that if we as a nation sober up to the actual plight that we are in, the nation would descend into madness. Well, we are already deep in the madness as it is.

Unfortunately, the hole that we are in as a nation is deeper than we realise. The fact is that we do not have the forex reserves to properly operate (The reasons why we have a shortage of forex is a debate for another day.). Everytime forex comes in (be it from tobacco or gold or the mythical diamonds that we have in this country), it is used to cover a gap. The earnings we receive shouldn’t only be used to bridge gaps otherwise that’s all we will spend our time doing. It means that there is no development happening in the various industries.

Sometimes I feel like the govt is like a student. When I was a student I used to live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t earn much, but I knew that by the end of the second week of the month I was skint. What’s funny is that I actually had a specific attitude to the little money I would earn. I had two monthly expenses which I used to pay as soon as I got paid. I would pay for my monthly transport ticket (my justification was that now I could travel to university and work) and I would pay my monthly phone line rental (I could call people). After that, I would have one or two nights out with the boys and then I was screwed. I wouldn’t have money to buy myself anything nice or do anything other than going to the pub to watch football or going to a bar. For me, that was allowed because I was a student and I didn’t know any better. A govt can’t exhibit such behaviour. They aren’t a student… or are they?

Like it or not, there are many issues that need to be resolved if we are to ever go forward in this country. There are some issues that I won’t even go into because I have limited knowledge about some of the subject matters and they would need their own analysis. I do foresee the govt having a torrid time playing catch up with the private sector because they left the likes of public transport to the private sector, the setting up of the fibre network also to private players, they let a mobile money platform take over payment methods in this country without having any control over them, and the mobile network providers erect their towers around the country without having some control over it. Now before I get attacked for what seems like the singling out of a particular company, please bear in mind that these are just a few examples that came to my mind.

What is worse is that the govt has let the nation become ruled by service providers who do whatever they want, charge the prices they want to and there is no reprise for us as customers, all the while we are being to taxed to hell and back by the govt with their 2% tax. How can this be a conducive environment to live in. We have no real consumer protection other than the small groups that we have to set up ourselves. We have a crisis of confidence in the govt because they simply do what they like without consulting the people who it will affect. Sure, some may say that the govt doesn’t need to consult us and they can impose anything they like. However, buy-in from all stakeholders is required.

At the end of it all, we may say that we are in 2019 in Zimbabwe, but in reality, we are very far behind. I still believe that we require a few things if we are ever to call ourselves a proper nation:

  1. Accountability for everyone
  2. Transparency from those in positions of power
  3. The WILL to actually change the way that we have been doing things.

This year is going to be one hell of a ride. Ultimately all we can do is try and remain positive through it all, tighten the belts and be ready for anything. At the moment there is no crystal ball that can tell us where we are headed. The way I see it sideways seems to be the only direction that we are going in. Sideways might be me being optimistic. It may be a slow slide backwards

 

 

 

Dreams Can Come True

At the beginning of this year, I told my wife that my goal was to find a new job. For the last six and a half years, I have been unhappy with the situation with my soon to be old job. I won’t go into many details because this is not about my old job. This is about perseverance.

From the start of the year, I decided that I would apply to at least one job a day. I signed up for dozens of websites online and I uploaded my CV all over the place. The interesting thing is that I had also spent a little bit of time updating my LinkedIn site. The first three months were hard because I was applying for every job under the sun that I felt I could actually do. I didn’t get a single bit. It was quite disheartening because it seemed as though no one was biting. Ultimately, I tried to continue sending my CV all over the internets.

Fast forward seven months into the year and I had slowed down a little bit with the job hunt. I had become busier on the site that I was working on and had been given more responsibilities that I had to take care of. It did also mean that I was not looking around as much as I was at the beginning of the year.

Suddenly I received a message through my LinkedIn profile suggesting that I apply to a certain role. I didn’t even think twice and applied immediately. That led to an interview and another very long wait to hear back. During that time waiting to hear back after the interview, I lost my mind a few times. I used to get excited every time my phone rang, depressed when it did and it wasn’t the phone call that I wanted to receive. I learnt the best way to stay positive was to continue applying and not to spend the whole time just hoping that something was going to happy. In life, you have always move forward, backward never, and to remain positive at all times.

Eventually, I received the phone call that I had been pining for. It was an offer that I couldn’t turn down. I had to take it, and I did. Now I have a different set of emotional madness happening now. First, it was the fear of leaving what I have known for the last six and a half years. Then there was the fear of stepping into the unknown. However, in life, you have to keep moving forward. Backwards never, sideways only to avoid danger.

There are many lessons I learnt from this whole experience. I learnt that if you want something in life you have to try. Trying should not stop until you achieve what you want to achieve. Nothing in life is impossible. The only obstacle that is waiting to get in your way is yourself.

I also learnt that it is important to give yourself yearly goals. It also doubly important to either write it down somewhere so you see your goal or to marry a wife who remembers for you. At the end of each year, you need to look at your goals and see how you faired. It is important to also ensure that the goals are SMART.

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I also learnt that it is important to be professional when you leave your old job. The worst thing that you can do is to leave your past employers with a bad taste in their mouth about you. Now, this is pretty debatable because there are some employers that treat their employees like shit. It is important to remember that you never know if you will cross paths with your employer again. You may have to go to them for business with your new job and could lose out on that opportunity. It is better to explain why you have decided to leave and to try and avoid getting too emotional about it.

At the end of it all the biggest thing that I learnt is that in life if you really want something, you need to go out and get it. No one is going to do it for you if you also do not put in any effort and try as well. You have to be more like Neo. Believe!

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Divorce in The Zimbabwean Context

Marriage in Zimbabwe is a weird institution. I say that because here in Zimbabwe there are a lot of hang-ups regarding it. For all intents and purposes, most people speak about it being a union, but it gets treated almost as a right of passage. In 2017 (in Zimbabwe of course), some women are looked upon differently if they get to a certain age and are STILL not married, or if they have a child or children out of marriage. There are a few other examples but today that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about divorce in the Zimbabwean context.

Unfortunately, due to the make-up of the human person, divorce is something that may occur. By nature, males and females are very different and with that in mind, there are some people who are simply not a match. I can’t tell you what makes two people a match, but there are simply some people who are not and should not be married. They, however, decide to try anyway. Ultimately that is their choice. In the same way, if they decide to divorce it is also THEIR choice.

In Zimbabwe, however, there are certain schools of thought that are hard to agree with. I was talking with a colleague at work and having a debate about divorce a few weeks ago. I told her that I didn’t think that divorce was an awfully bad thing if it was done for the right reasons. She responded by telling me that if someone gets married in the church, in front of their friends and family it is their responsibility to see that marriage through till death. I asked her what one should do then if one of the partners is unfaithful and could put the other at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. She responded by saying that they would need to work it out.

I feel (as a married man) that one should try by all means to be in a happy marriage. If the marriage is now becoming a danger to your health (physical and mental), then one should do whatever is necessary to protect yourself within the means of the law. In this instance, I would say that divorce would be the best thing to do in order to protect yourself. However, that is just my opinion.

The people who suffer the most from divorce are not the parents. The parents are adults who decided to get married and then decided to try and make each other happy or decided to make each other miserable. The people who suffer the most from divorce are the children (if there are any). There are some things that I have noticed about divorce in Zimbabwe.

  1. Children do no choose for their parents to divorce: I say this because there always ends up being an argument about who should take care/keep the child. Surely it should be more about raising the child together. The parents do not need to be able to stand each other or even converse with each other, but when it comes to issues of THEIR child, they have to put all the petty differences aside and agree. They have to be the adults in this situation and make joint decisions. They both got divorced, they should BOTH raise the child. One should not have more rights than the other, and the other must not give up those rights because it’s easier.
  2. Children are not pawns. This is not chess, this is their life: It can’t be that Parent A holds all the cards (unless there are extenuating circumstances that result in the child being kept by Parent A and not Parent B eg drug abuse). This will do nothing but sow discontent between Parent A and Parent B. It will always be about getting one up on each other. The child should not also be used as a bargaining tool. One of my friends was telling me about how one of his cousin’s wife was demanding money for the upbringing of a child he never had access to. His dilemma was that whenever he met his wife’s demands (money for fuel, to get her hair done, holidays), he would then have access to his child. To me, this sounds like a bit of bribery. It is obvious that as a loving parent, he then was willing to meet the demands in order to see his child. This will never work, but the sad story is that in Zimbabwe this is actually happening.
  3. The death of privacy and decency because of the wrong use of social media: More than five people have told me that social media is going to be the end of a lot of relationships. I agree. The crazy stuff that you see online these days is shocking. Every day you are bound to find someone ranting about something completely inappropriate and private on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. There is no need for anyone to tell the world how much of a useless person Partner A was or is being with regards to the upbringing of a child. Honestly, the internets do not need to know about that. If you as a Parent A, feel that Parent B does not care about a child, telling the world is not going to make the situation better. Furthermore, telling one side of the story will not help anything either. That is not a cry for help, that is simply a cry out loud to let people know that your life was never going to be private. Somethings can never be unsaid. Be the bigger person. Talk about the weather, what’s on TV, politics, football, the colour of the sky. Keep the home issues at home. Not on the internets.
  4. Children have impressionable minds: Parent A or Parent B (whoever lives with the child) can paint whatever picture they what to of the other parent. This can result in certain things being said about one parent to the child. The child is likely to believe what they are being told if they are told enough and very soon they will believe that. Parents need to be careful.
  5. The over-involvement of extended family: In Zimbabwean black culture, the extended family plays a big role in marriages. They are involved in everything from the bride-price negotiations, to the wedding organisation and sometimes funding. Also culturally there is an idea that it is good for certain select members of the extended family can act as mediators in divorce to try help with certain negotiations. Emotional support should be given. Outright demands (financial and or otherwise) should not be made because they are the grandmother/grandfather/uncle/aunt. We are supposed to act as a support network, not as though we are as entitled as our sons/daughters/brothers/sisters/nephews child. We should be ready to stand up when necessary, not to stand up on behalf of. It unwittingly shows a desperation that does not look attractive to anyone if we try and stand up on behalf of.

What do you think? Let me know…

 

Adult Colouring Books

 

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Cover page of the book

So this turned out to be a really good buy! I was wondering around a supermarket near my parent’s house in the capital city looking for something random to buy alongside the six pack of beers I had in my hand when I bumped into this bad boy. You can’t buy beer in the supermarket before midday without a cover story. This book of Mandalas was the perfect excuse to also buy a six pack of beer. FYI I moved from the capital city to a little town for a year or so. When the project that I was FINALLY over I was moved to an ever smaller little growth point known as Ngezi. My wife and I debated for some time with regards to moving to Harare. However, after a very short debate, we agreed to stay the hell away.

 

Anyway, I have digressed. I picked up this colouring book for a handsome price of USD$5. I paid a further USD$6 for pencil colours, a sharpener and an eraser. I never thought that I could find a hobby that is so relaxing. I am not a very artistic person, but I do know the kind of art that I can dig. The designs in the book are exciting to watch as you get colouring.

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My wife’s ink pen Mandala

 

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My ink pen mandala
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My wife’s pencil colour mandala
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My pencil colour mandala
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My colour crayon mandala

As you can see none of them are complete and they are all a work in progress. I will post some pics of the completed works of art. It has been a very interesting experience. Most of the time I find myself saying “it’s coming out wrong”. I then remind myself that it is art so it will come out the way that I imagine it. It has been helpful in aiding me to appreciate some of the things that are art and taking a little more effort to try and appreciate them.

For those who are living and working in stressful environments (Like MOST Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe), I would seriously suggest getting this book and letting off some steam.

Beer also helps.

I’m Deleting Snapchat, And You Should Too — Thought Catalog

Saulo MohanaSnapchat is the prime example of what happens when you don’t have enough people of color building a product. In recent history, in the Audacity of Whiteness: Snapchat released a blatantly racist yellowface filter, which excessively slants your eyes, rounds cheeks, and adds buckteeth for good measure. The company maintains this filter is “anime-inspired.”…

via I’m Deleting Snapchat, And You Should Too — Thought Catalog