Maybe there is some character building to it…

As i have admitted in prior musings, a lot of the things I tend to talk about are things that we mention in the pub with a few of my fellow patrons. A topic that became an interesting discussion was regarding bullying. Here in most Zimbabwean schools, bullying is something that happens. It’s almost like a dark secret, but most people know that some sort of bullying is happening. This is all the way from the teachers to the ground staff. In fact, depending on the school that you go to in this country determines the extent of bullying that happens.

The interesting thing is that it was also a time aspect. What I mean by that is it depended very much on the age of the seniors and your peers. Post independence a great deal of the bullying was more racial motivated than anything else. Majority of the seniors in a lot of the private schools were white. It was a new concept for them to have spent most of their school life around other white people, so when eventually non white kids started coming through the ranks they were picked on first.

It was not unheard of to hear that there were some kids who were put into trucks and tossed down stairs, or the worst that i heard was someone was put in a trunk and the trunk was tossed in a swimming pool. These are much more extreme cases. These are much more terrifying that some of the acts that me and my peers were subjected to. Of course these were incidents that occurred in a very different time.

All in all as you become an adult and start working, you become attuned to bullying. The bullying that we may get subjected to is mainly in the work place. However as an adult you are well in your right to say no. Not only in your right, but you have a voice to speak up. When you are at school, sometimes it’s not as easy to say no. You know that if you do say no, what could happen will be worse than what is about to happen.

I did realise one thing from being bullied at school. It made me and most of my peers’ band together simply from a shared suffering. It did instil some militaristic sense of order as we knew what lines we couldn’t cross. For some people it made us hate the school we were at more, some people hated the seniors because they got constantly picked on. We also developed a mafia-esq silence when approached by figures of authority higher than the seniors. Of course this all depended on the extent of bullying.

There were different degrees of bullying that i experienced at my boarding school. There was the occasional physical bullying. Most of that was more of a punishment for breaking the rules, or for a poor performance by people in my block. We used to have blanket punishments that the whole age group of a house would get. Sometimes it would be because of one person being stupid, but we would all get punished. Funny thing is, there would be some people who would hate that individual for making everyone suffer, but there would also be other individuals who would take it on themselves to help that person to “save” everyone else.

There was also the mental bullying which was at times worse, but it helped some people to problem solve. I remember this one senior gave me some money, and asked me to go and buy something from the tuck shop (it’s like a little shop on the school campus that sells soft drinks, chocolates etc). The list he gave me exceeded the amount of money he gave me. He then added that he wanted MORE change than the money I gave him. This was one of the weirdest responses and I remember looking at the money in my hand and back to him and asking him “How?” He was not interested in the how. All he wanted was results. I eventually paid out of my own pocket for his things, so essentially he stole from me. That was mentally taxing on my then young mind. I hated it and felt that it was annoying. Of course thinking about it now, if someone wanted to do business with me and told me to invest and they would walk away with their investment and me nothing i would say no immediately. Maybe that’s what that experience somehow in a twisted way taught me.

The fact is that if you are in a schooling system that encourages you as a student to look forward to being in your last year of high school, and also encourages respect for seniority, there will be some sort of bullying that occurs. Be it to the junior first years, all the way through to your peers who had “quirks”. I don’t condone it, but it does do some character building. There have been other sad stories that I have heard where someone who has been bullied eventually takes their own life to escape, and those are cases where i cannot agree or condone. Unfortunately, bullying will and always will happen in some shape or form. The hope is that it is kept within the boundaries of fun and does not turn into abuse.

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The beginning of my year

So as some of you know it was my age day on Saturday. I turned a year older. A step closer to the dreaded 30. Between me and my friends, 30 is an age where the wheels either fall apart or they come together. I think it’s because it’s a big unknown. I guess every year is a big unknown. The expectations of maturity are greater. More people asking when I am going to get married or why I’m not married yet, asking about kids. It’s funny when it comes from someone who is neither married or has kids. It’s as if they think that once you hit a certain age if you haven’t done certain things you are weird. Well I was born weird. Of course I am about to digress from the topic at hand so I will redirect the brain cell for the time being.

Pumpkinication – The feeling that one is about to turn into a pumpkin. Usually followed by a sense of helplessness. Reason for turning into a pumpkin are not always known or clear. (Ensign’s Book of Made up Terms)

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I somehow imagined that this is what I was going to look like

My birthday every year is something that I find hard to describe. It is always random. Some weird shit almost always happens.

This year started off civilised. On the Friday night (day before the actual day of pumpkinication), I went out for dinner with a few people. It was at a restaurant called Carriage Halt. The décor of the place was quite pleasant, the food was pretty good, the drinks menu was passable and the service was SHOCKING. Oh my days…. It was actually ridiculous. I’ve had to reorder drinks when I have been at a bar and the waiter is overwhelmed by the people around him also trying to order. But we were in a room so technically this dude was supposed to be OUR waiter. I do suppose that every food outlet has good and bad days. Theirs was especially a bad day. That didn’t put a damper on the dinner because the company made the night, not the restaurant or the food or the tequila shots with chilli at the bottom. The company made the night. (The tequila chilli shots did result in me almost losing my stomach).

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Thanks to Bibi, beer pong was mobilised…

The following day I had a braai/bbq at home with friends and family. That was a standard affair. People came and left and came again. It was good. Of course I couldn’t help shake the feeling that I had turned into a pumpkin. I spent a lot of the night walking around restlessly like there was something I was supposed to have done. I couldn’t figure it out none the less. Of course it eventually came to my attention what it was. For the first time in YEARS, i was a little upset that some of my friends who had said they would come to the dinner and the braai didn’t come. I then became even more upset when i figured out that in my newfound age i had suddenly grown feelings.

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Some of these items would also be in my trolley in the even of The Zombie Apocalypse

Feeling’s I never used to have on my previous birthdays that the fun was had by those present.

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To the left beer pong being set up. To the right gents setting themselves up for whatever they spent the rest of the night doing

It made me sit down, rethink and maybe also reinvent myself. But i realised that I like me as I am. I will say that I have learnt a few things over the last year of mine.

  1. There is nothing wrong with exercise. It helps to confuse one’s liver
  2. You need to figure out how to be happy without the person who makes you happy.
  3. Forgive people for the things they do to you. Never forget their faces
  4. I need to spend more time just with myself
  5. The Last Of Us is an awesome game
  6. It’s nice to have goals and dreams. It’s better to want them
  7. Losing friends isn’t as bad as FaceBook makes it out to be
  8. Life isn’t all puppies and lap dances
  9. Fights and arguments are two different things
  10. This feelings thing that I found is kinda wack

With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone – Oscar Wilde

Is there a definition of normalcy?

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It’s for your own good….

This tends to be a difficult topic to approach as there ends up being a lot of people who jump back and get all defensive. It’s not meant to be a finger pointing exercise, but i will finger point a little bit. We are in the year 2013 (according to the world calendar), and still there are people who are stupid enough to still make racist comments and think it’s all but normal.

In a country where the majority of the population is black, it’s really mind boggling that there are still white people who will speak about black people in a demeaning way. Now I can almost all but accept some of the older generation of white and people. They grew up in a different time, and they don’t or maybe can’t accept that black people are people as well.

The white people that confuse me are the ones who went to the top private schools with black people, some of these guys were lucky to then go and study in SA, America, Australia, the UK and Asia, and were forced to integrate with people of other cultures and races but STILL refer to some of the black people they went to school with as “My black friend Michael; My black friend Thomas; My black friend John.” Is it necessary to specifically mention “My black friend….”? Is this to try make it seem to other black people and white people that they are progressive and open minded? It makes you think that on their bucket list they have “Have a black friend”. Is it necessary to point out that your friend is black or white for that matter? Is there a specific reason for that?

I have a few white friends from high school who i know do not see me as “My black friend Tongai”. They just seem me simply as “Tongai/Tongs/Tongi”. There is no reason for specifying my race. Neither do i think that if they wanted me to come to a house party/braai/gathering that they would invite me and tell the host “No he’s an alright black guy”. Maybe that’s why I only have a few very close white friends from high school. We all considered each other to be friends. I know the people who I was friendly with when it suited me and also them. They are some of the ones who I am not worried about what they are doing in their lives. The few white people you see at my wedding (if you are lucky enough to come ha ha ha) will be the ones who are my actual friends.

I hate racism. It’s stupid. It makes me wanna spit at someone in disgust. It also makes me wonder how intelligent some of these people are. I am not saying that only white people are racist. There are some black people who are racist as well.

As far as I am concerned there are a few kinds of racists.

1. Blatant racist

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Whaaaattttt!!!!!

I don’t really mind the blatant racists. They come out and say “I don’t like white/black/coloured/Jewish/Indian/Somali/German/British/Afrikaner/Arab people.” Full stop. That is their position. You can try debate with that them if you have the energy. Alternatively you can do the smart thing and LEAVE THEM ALONE. They may be a little ignorant, or they may have their own deep rooted reasons. The fact remains; you know exactly where they stand. They may be polite with you, but they won’t try act friendly.

This kind of racist only becomes difficult to stomach when they are now preaching about what is so wrong with the race they hate.

I’m not saying that the monkey chants done by the Spanish, English and Italian football fans are acceptable. It doesn’t get any more blatant that that. That is FUCKED up (sorry for the language). Its worse that the television channels that are broadcasting are simply turning the volume down so that we at home can’t hear anything.

2. Polite/Passive racist

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Ignore the little flag in my pocket…

This is as far as i am concerned one of the most infuriating kind of racist. I can only speak for myself, but the one thing i realised about being in the UK, was that there were a lot of polite racists. These are the people who ask certain question, or make statements and cloud them in polite conversation. I lived in a little “village” on the outskirts of London and Essex called Buckhurst Hill. It was typically a leafy suburban area, predominantly white, with typically a working husband, house wife, 2.5 kids, home-owners and dog for good measure. I remember one night I was on my way home from university on the tube, and this rather drunk guy looks at me and asks:

Him: Where you getting off?

Me: Buckhurst Hill

Him: No… You don’t live here…

Me: Ummm yeah I do…

Him: Really?? I’ve never seen you around

Me: Well I’ve never seen you around

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Hey buddie….

At this point I turned around and put my iPod back on and acted like nothing had happened. I walked home from my stop and kept replaying the conversation in my head. It was when I got home and called one of my friends that he actually said to me, “Dude that guy was being racist.” My only thought was “Damn that’s the most polite racist I’ve ever met!”

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Don’t act like my friend if you don’t like me or accept that I live in the same neighbourhood as you.

  1. Group think racist
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Let’s jump off the cliff! It could be fun

“My friends are speaking about another race a certain way. As there are more of them than me, I will have to agree with them regardless if i don’t agree with them, or if a friend is there who may feel offended.” We went to high school and university to grow up as adults who have some sort of sense of individuality. We don’t need to always agree with the group. If all you can do is agree with the group, for fear of being looked at differently, then you haven’t actually grown up. The group think racists are the ones that are 100% spineless. They are neither blatant nor polite. They just go with where the wind blows. Stand for something or fall for anything.

  1. Ignorant racist
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JUST SHOUT REALLY LOUD!!!! It will also make people think you give a fuck

The ignorant racist is the one who acts like everyone is equal and will fight against racism but only when it serves their purposes. Sometimes the ignorant racist is someone who you went to school with, you played sports with them, you may or may not have met their parents and vice versa. However this particular racist continually makes comments such as, “You black people” or “All blacks are”, or ever worse what was recently said to me in a random conversation “Water world wouldn’t make money because hoeties (black) people can’t swim.” Now this last statement that was said to me by a white guy I know, someone who I have known since primary school.

Ignorant Racist
Ignorant Racist

The reason why I think he is ignorant is because he feels that it’s OK to make what I would consider as a derogatory term, regardless of how long I have know you, and it be OK because “I’m not like other black people”. I told him that I deserved an apology, and he looked at me and asked why? I was speechless. I asked him in which world he thought that was an OK thing to say? He said because he knew me, then it was OK. I asked him what if he didn’t know me. He said if he didn’t he wouldn’t have used that word. I asked him why and he couldn’t give me an answer.

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Good question…..

Ultimately everyone has to honestly just accept people for being people. In Zimbabwe we like to talk up the whole working together, one nation, together we will prosper. One of the reasons why we are not progressing as fast or as far as we should be is because of that fact that people think they can’t work together regardless of race or religion. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this is a capitalist world. Money makes the world go round.

What’s the point in me being racist to someone, if at the end of the day i am going home in my Mazda 323, to a cottage in someone else’s yard, when the person i am being obnoxious to (who by the way did nothing but walk into the room and try order a drink) is going home in a better car, has a better job and clearly is more intelligent than me? I don’t know these days….

This says it all…

The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. – Oscar Wilde

Horror Tales

Fairy tales have always been something that I thought were told to instil some feel good feeling and give hope to kids. Or maybe just to put them to sleep as quickly as possible. But have you ever properly analysed some of these stories? I was thinking about it and some of my friends said that maybe I should have a bit of a rant about a few of these horror stories and talk about what I think about them honestly. I have decided to pick a few of them and I think I will start with the Cinderella (Only because I know the story off the top of my head)

  1. Cinderella
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The Clean cut Disney version

Once upon a time, there was a widower who married a proud and haughty woman as his second wife. She had two daughters, who were equally vain and selfish. By his first wife, he’d had a beautiful young daughter, a girl of unparalleled goodness and sweet temper. The stepmother and her daughters forced the first daughter into servitude, where she was made to work day and night doing menial chores. After the girl’s chores were done for the day, she would retire to the barren and cold room given to her, and would curl up near the fireplace in an effort to stay warm. She would often arise covered in cinder, giving rise to the mocking nickname “Cinderella”. Cinderella bore the abuse patiently and dared not tell her father, since his wife controlled him entirely.

One day, the Prince invited all the young ladies in the land to a ball, planning to choose a wife from amongst them. The two stepsisters gleefully planned their wardrobes for the ball, and taunted Cinderella by telling her that maids were not invited.

As the sisters departed to the ball, Cinderella cried in despair. Her Fairy Godmother magically appeared and immediately began to transform Cinderella from house servant to the young lady she was by birth, all in the effort to get Cinderella to the ball. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Translation: She was a step daughter in a family, and her step sisters and her step mom didn’t care about her. She was abused… a lot, sent to sleep without food probably, wasn’t allowed to bath, made into a slave. I don’t want my kid to think about that possibility in life. I don’t want to think about it. The poor child was abused. She was abused so much that she dreamt up a fairy Godmother, to come and give her clothes and a pumpkin carriage. Ok that’s just crazy. Poor girl cracked under all the torture. Now the other random question I just thought up is, was it a fairy Godmother or a witch? I mean who rocks up in a pumpkin. You mention pumpkin, and I think Halloween.

It makes me almost think that maybe the poor child resorted to some good and proper psychedelic drugs. She managed to dream up this elaborate story of her going off to a ball, meeting Mr. Charming, dancing, leaving before midnight (standard curfew. She was on drugs), ,dropping the shoe and then this dude looking through the whole of town with her shoe and getting people to try it on? And this guy was like “you are the most beautiful thing on this planet. Will you be my princess” and he never knew a single thing about her? I think this is one I may avoid letting my kids hear. Making them think they can leave their shoe at the club and some guy will come and be like “Yo! You left your shoe. Let’s roll…”

  1. Little Red Riding Hood
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Behind you!!!!

This one is just dark. I don’t even have to ask wiki for a synopsis. If you need a reminder of the story click here. So this chick gets sent by her mum to go see her granny. As she is walking through the woods to her granny’s house,(On her own by the way. I mean who lets her kids just walk through the woods on their own. What kind of parenting IS that?) a wolf sees her and says, “I know where she is going. Let me dash to her destination, eat her granny and if I am lucky I will eat her.” Off races the wolf, murders a poor old lady, covers up the crime, and decides to impersonate the granny with the hope of eating this poor unsuspecting girl. The wolf fails and is shot. Dead. By a hunter. The end.

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Cute the old Looney Toons end theme song

I mean… how is this happy? Why would I wanna tell my kids about this morbid story about a murdering wolf, an irresponsible parent and a random guy in the woods with a gun? Seriously?

  1. Rapunzel
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That’s apparently Taylor Swift btw

A lonely couple, who want a child, live next to a walled garden belonging to an enchantress. The wife, experiencing the cravings associated with the arrival of her long-awaited pregnancy, notices a rapunzel plant), growing in the garden and longs for it, desperate to the point of death. On each of two nights, the husband breaks into the garden to gather some for her; on a third night, as he scales the wall to return home, the enchantress, Dame Gothel, catches him and accuses him of theft. He begs for mercy, and the old woman agrees to be lenient, on condition that the then-unborn child be surrendered to her at birth. Desperate, the man agrees. When the baby girl is born, the enchantress takes the child to raise as her own, and names the baby Rapunzel. Rapunzel grows up to be the most beautiful child in the world with long golden hair. When Rapunzel reaches her twelfth year, the enchantress shuts her away in a tower in the middle of the woods, with neither stairs nor a door, and only one room and one window. When the witch visits Rapunzel, she stands beneath the tower and calls out:

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair”.

Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook beside the window, dropping it down to the enchantress, who would then climb up the hair to Rapunzel’s tower room.

One day, a prince rides through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he searches for the girl and discovers the tower, but is naturally unable to enter. He returns often, listening to her beautiful singing, and one day sees Dame Gothel visit, and thus learns how to gain access to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel is gone, he bids Rapunzel let her hair down. When she does so, he climbs up, makes her acquaintance, and eventually asks her to marry him. Rapunzel agrees.

Together they plan a means of escape, wherein he will come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visited her by day), and bring her silk, which Rapunzel will gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan can come to fruition, however, Rapunzel foolishly gives the prince away. In anger, Dame Gothel cuts short Rapunzel’s braided hair and casts her out into the wilderness to fend for herself. When the prince calls that night, the enchantress lets the severed braids down to haul him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, who is nowhere to be found. When she tells him in anger that he will never see Rapunzel again, he leaps from the tower in despair and is blinded by the thorns below.

For months, he wanders through the wastelands of the country and eventually comes to the wilderness where Rapunzel now lives with the twins she has given birth to, a boy and a girl. One day, as Rapunzel sings while she fetches water, the prince hears Rapunzel’s voice again, and they are reunited. When they fall into each other’s arms, her tears immediately restore his sight. The prince leads her and their children to his kingdom, where they live happily ever after. (Courtesy of the all mighty and knowledgeable Wikipedia)

Translation: First of all, who gives away their unborn child because they have been caught stealing a PLANT!!! THAT’S POOR PARENTING AGAIN!!!! It’s as if in the past ages giving unborn children away was common practice. Once again we find that this poor girl was abused. She was locked in a tower; her hair wasn’t cut (which is very unhygienic. How the hell did she brush it), her spirit was broken, she lost all her social skills as the only person she saw was this Dame. No mention of the Dame bringing her food or water so one must assume she ate her hair in order to survive.

It’s no surprise that she agrees to marry the first person she meets. She doesn’t know any better. Who knows what he got up to when he went to see her at night, especially as she didn’t know any better. Of course her hair being cut after her secret lover gets caught was no surprise. What better way of punishing someone than by taking away their only source of sustenance.

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A more racey version of this hairy lady (get it???)

He goes blind and becomes a vagrant roaming the lands, till he hears her singing, gets his eye-sight back and BOOM happily ever after. At least this one actually sort of has a happily ever after to it… regardless of the abuse of the poor child.

This is the sum of my thoughts with regards to fairy tales. If you agree, let me know. If you don’t agree, let me know.

“Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.” – Oscar Wilde