I am a Zimbabwean. I am guilty of some of the things I am going to list here and I hate that I am like that sometimes. Taking a step back from the way we do things in Zim has given me some perspective on a few issues. This of course doesn’t mean every Zimbabwean is guilty of these things. And I am not suggesting that we just stop being us and do things like they do in other countries but learning a thing or two from other people who do it well can be a good thing. Here are things that I absolutely cannot stand that we, Zimbabweans, do;
We cannot mind our own business. Let me start by telling a true story. One day I woke up unwell and my brother and friend drove me to a pharmacy at Marimba shopping center in Belvedere, Harare. I went in my pajamas and stayed in the car, My brother got out to go into the pharmacy and my friend stayed with me. There was a car parked next to us and in there was a woman who kept staring at us with a look of disgust. We tried to ignore it until my friend couldn’t take it anymore and asked her why she was staring and she was actually propping her neck to take a good look at me. Then she started to scold me because I was out in public in my pajamas. How this affected her, I still don’t understand but she got really mad. I even had a robe over my pajamas and they were not the revealing kind anyway. But I was in a car! Even if I was walking about in them whose business was it except mine? You walk in the streets of Harare with a weird hairstyle, people will not only stare but they will talk “loudly” about you so you feel as uncomfortable as you possibly can. I am deliberately avoiding giving an example of someone wearing a mini-skirt because that’s a post for another day. So how does someone’s bad hairdo affect you? Some people will go out of their way to make someone uncomfortable because they are speaking in English (because you are trying to be a coconut (black on the outside white on the inside, in Zim they are called “salads”). How does someone speaking in English bother you? I went to a bar last weekend and there was a lady there, hippie looking, wearing a black dress and an apron! She wasn’t working, just a patron who thought it was a cool look. She was doing her thing on the dance floor without a care in the world, a guy there was wearing a backless onesy, again not a care. No one stared or cared. Maybe me because my Zimbabweaness takes over at times. BUT people of my country will not let that go. And it’s everyone, men and women alike who make sure they let you know that you are not looking as good as they want you to . Why can’t I walk barefoot in the CBD if I want? What business is it of yours if I decide not to comb my hair or iron my clothes? Human beings everywhere will always have opinions about odd looking stuff and sometimes giving someone a second look is natural but going out of your way to make that person know your opinion is unnecessary, really.
We have zero pride in our nationality. Living in South Africa, I have seen a lot of Zimbabweans who do everything they can to hide the fact that they are Zimbabwean. I hear them speaking with some weird accents so that they cannot be identified as Zimbabweans. Why do you think you look better speaking with a Nigerian accent? It’s a good accent, for Nigerians, not you. Those who live in Cape Town mimic the Cape Town “coloured” accent! WHY, pray tell!? I hear some Zimbabweans in South Africa pronouncing three as “tree” or film as “filim” because they hear some South Africans pronounce those words that way. We taught you to say “three” and “film” properly back home, what is the matter with you? Some people have even changed the way they spell their names, Kudzi is now Qudzie. I know a guy called Tonderai who will hate you enough to kill you if you call him Tonderai or Tonde, he is now Tony. And what about proud moms of children who cannot speak Shona or Ndebele? I understand that we want our kids to speak English well because it’s the language they will learn everything in and if you live outside Zimbabwe they need to learn more English than Shona/Ndebele. BUT it’s the pride that little Trey pronounces Shona words wrong or cannot speak it well that gets to me. You would rather teach your child Spanish as a second language even though you don’t live in a Spanish speaking country. Why not teach them a Zimbabwean language as a second child so they can be able to speak to everyone when they visit Zim? Many parents find it absolutely cute when their kids express ignorance about some Zimbabwean facts. I especially hate it when Zimbabweans join people from other countries to say crap about our country. Yes I do get there is a lot that can be said about Zim but don’t be the one to actively bash our country and encourage people to exaggerate and speak out of ignorance and you fuel that discussion! I see many Zimbabweans wearing tops with the American flag but they don’t have anything Zimbabwean at all in their home. If they see a small flag that they can just keep to remember our country it goes to the trash can immediately. Guess what, no American is wearing our flag, stop wearing theirs!
We think quiet and shy = well behaved and morally upright. For this I will tell a story again. I was on a bus that was travelling from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe. I had never heard of the bus company until that day but because the bus that I had booked was delayed by eight hours, they suggested that we go into this bus called High Tech. We got on the bus and it took 3 hours to leave the bus station. When we finally left it just went about 2 kilometers and then stopped where there were people waiting for it. They had double booked! So these people were mad, they came in trying to displace us. There was chaos for about 2 hours and then we left that spot and drove for about 10 minutes and we were parked at a petrol station and we didn’t go anywhere for about 4 hours. There were no announcement or apologies. So it had been in the CBD 9 hours and no one told us why. I got off to ask the drivers who were standing outside and they dismissed me rudely. When I got back to the bus they realised that they had to say something and at that point I started to voice my opinions. I could not believe it when women who were on the bus said I had to let the men on the bus talk!!!!!! Ha? We all paid the same fare and I had every right to speak. So they all agreed that I was probably loose and a headache to my family. I don’t know what the rationale behind the theory that quiet girls are well-behaved but I don’t subscribe to it. The same principle is used for new daughters-in-law when they visit their husband’s family especially the first few times. Of course you have to understand that certain times are quiet times or it’s not your turn to talk and all of that but generally you should be allowed to say what’s on your mind without fear of being judged. And also let’s not forget, still waters run deep. Be careful of people who are quietly plotting your murder. At least with a person who talks you always know where you stand with them or what they are thinking.
We think women who drink, smoke and/or go to a bar/nightclub are sluts. When I grew up there were a couple of girls that we all “knew” were loose. We had never seen these girls sleeping around with a million men but we knew that were frequently seen at some night clubs in town. Now that I have had a chance to think about it, I know many decent women who drink, smoke and frequent night clubs, hell I drink, smoke hubbly bubbly on rare occasions and love clubbing. I am definitely not loose. And I now know that a nightclub is not a place where every woman goes and keeps their legs open all night long. No. We dance, drink, laugh and go home. Anybody who does anything else does so not because they are in the club but because it’s who they are. In fact Zimbabweans are quick to call women whores for a lot of things, she wears short skirt = whore, she is opinionated = whore, she twerks = whore, she does things we don’t understand = whore….
These are the things that drive me mad about my people. In spite of all that, I am happy I am Zimbabwean and wouldn’t change it.
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I spent most of my childhood looking at everything in black and white. I expected life to be fair therefore I fought every time I felt that I was being shortchanged. The older I got the more frustrated I got. I began to realise that life was not as black and white as I thought. Success and happiness don’t always follow the righteous and hardworking. Realising that gave me a new perspective. I stopped always expecting to see bad people suffer and I stopped always expecting to see my good deeds or intentions being rewarded. This helped me a lot even with day to day dealings with people. At work, people will not earn more than you necessarily because they work harder or are more qualified than you. The girl who gets the cutest guy may not necessarily be the cutest or the kindest. The list of examples goes on and on. With my new-found knowledge I have decided to start thinking about which battles I am going to fight and which ones I going to ignore. I cannot fight for all wrongs to be righted and not lose not only those fights but my sanity as well.
I put this lesson to the test one time when I publicly offended a girl I went to school with. Those who know me personally know that I never run out of anything to say, whether I am right or wrong. Even those who know me from reading my blog posts I’m sure by now have an idea of what I can do with words. All the same I let this girl say the worst things to me and I just apologised and left it at that. Did I feel victorious for walking away from that fight? Hell no! Not right away anyway. Looking back, this was the beginning of a life-long art of self-discipline I had just embarked on. In the past, when I did really get into it with people I would feel like “I told her” for a little while then after that I’d realise that I had just spent some minutes of my life that I’d never get back on something or someone who had absolutely no significance in my life. Sure, maybe when I was still a young girl I would have been happy walking around knowing that “people know better than to mess with me”. But now, arg, I leave that to reality tv drama queens! What it did for me back then was start huge fights and mutual friends would be forced to pick sides and sometimes I would lose some good friends over nonsense.
Here are reasons for walking away from the temptation of unnecessary arguments;
Understand that we see and hear things as we are not as they are. This means that people sometimes get offended NOT by what you said or did but by what they think you mean, because of who they are or what happened in their lives. For instance, you might say, “I like your curly hair” but maybe because that person was teased about that hair when they were young, all they will hear is, “your hair is kinky and ugly”. So their anger usually has nothing to do with you. Therefore, when people unnecessarily invite you to a fight, they want to let off steam on you, it’s nothing personal, so don’t take offence at what they say in anger.
Everything always seems bigger when it has just happened so to avoid angry exchange of words, sleep on it or give it a couple of days, then revisit the issue with a clearer perspective. Trust me, taming that bomb in your chest that threatens to explode will not kill you. Sometimes the issue will sort itself out before you even say anything and you would have just saved yourself from a lot of drama.
The world is full of bit**es and sons o’ bi***es that you need more than you realise. With some of these people you will just have to bite your tongue, smile and wave and then take it out on a punching bag at the gym. Putting everyone in their place may make you seem like a hero for ten seconds but it may put you in a position where you will lose a whole lot more than you bargained for. Yes, that includes that boss who always mistakes you for the cleaning lady/guy because to them you just don’t look like you are able to do anything else. Maybe one day you will get a chance to give them a piece of your mind, but that day is not necessarily every time they piss you off.
You have been lied to. You don’t look cute when you are angry. Anger just makes you look nasty and sometimes it will make the guilty party look even better than you. If people see you reducing someone to shreds that does not necessarily earn you their respect. It will probably earn you their fear or they will lose any interest of being anywhere near you.
You will not necessarily win every battle. Getting into it and losing might be more embarrassing than just not getting into it at all and at least leaving the impression that you could have won but you are just to good to fight.
That said, I am not saying let everyone wipe the floor with you. Stand up for yourself but handle situations gracefully. Fight smart, not hard. Sometimes when you offend someone and they are soft and tactful it sends a louder message. It puts you to shame more than a person who climbs the highest table in the room and yells on top of their lungs. I remember when I was young and I did something bad and my mom sometimes would just show me that she had seen what I had done and would say nothing! Wow, that was worse than a spanking of any kind. So work at cultivating relationships. Don’t burn bridges because you might just change your mind after beating someone down, then what? Yes some people can only be loved from afar but keep those bridges intact!
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Have you ever wondered why sometimes babies cry when you want to change their diaper? You are like, ‘Hey I’m trying to help you get cleaned up here.’ They know they want a clean diaper but the whole process of getting cleaned up means they’d have to be stripped and the whole cleaning and powdering the bum etc is not pleasant. Sometimes we are like babies with a dirty diaper. We want a clean one but we don’t want to lose the warmth and familiarity of the one we have now.
We have all heard about it or are living through being in a dead-end job that we keep promising ourselves we will get out of. The one where you are under-appreciated or people with less qualifications and experience keep being promoted over you or where the boss seems to like everyone but you or your salary is so sad that you use most of it on anti-depressants. I could go on and on but you know the things that have you cursing every morning when your alarm goes off and you know you have to go to that place again. Every now and again you take stock of your life and are shocked at how long you have actually stayed at that very job. Each company Christmas party reminds you that yet another year has gone by and you have not made that move that was on your new year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year.
So what is it exactly that you think is holding you back from jumping ship? Well I can think of a few reasons;
You have a low opinion of yourself. Despite what empowering quotes you have on your watsapp status or on some sticky notes at home or the office, the truth is you don’t really see yourself as a “force to be reckoned with” or whatever else you tell yourself. You can listen to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ all you want and you turn iT up when it gets to “I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar” but the truth is we are never going to hear you roar at all because you don’t really believe you are a champion. You see people climbing the same ladder you want to climb and you say to yourself, someday that will be me but the problem is you say it with your mouth or even your mind but that thought has not registered with your spirit. Until it does, that degree you worked hard to get will only be a certificate in a frame and you will continue to run out and buy lattes for your manager who may or may not get that first diploma he lied about having when he joined the company. You will do his work and he will get credit for it. You don’t really believe that it could be you getting that employee of the month recognition or that award for best whatever it is in your field. You may look so confident that even you don’t believe it but yes, you really don’t think much of yourself.
You are a planner/dreamer but not a doer. You know those people that if you sit with for 5 minutes you start to re-evaluate your life and you will think that you are the biggest waste of space on this planet? They will tell you that they want to do this, go there, build this, buy that, etc. Their plans sound rock solid and you can actually see the feasibility of it all because everything is intelligently thought out, but lo and behold that person will be in the saaame position with more intelligent plans the next time you see them! You must not think that you have to have everything figured out to then make a move. Do thorough research about starting your own business or moving to another company or country then start taking actual steps towards achieving that goal. Every sun that sets without you making the phone call you need to make or sending the email you need to send to make it happen is a day that you will never get back and it’s one more day closer to that Christmas party that will remind you that you wasted time. Don’t just plan to get a better job, send out at least 5 applications daily. If it’s your own business you want to start, do at least one critical thing daily that is needed for the business to start going.
You don’t know what you want. Many people are not very clear about what they want. They know what they don’t want and it’s usually their current job but if you were to ask what they would like to do instead they will give you about 3 or 4 very different things that they might want to try. Wanting to do a lot is not necessarily a bad idea, after all we do only have this one life to do all we want to do. Unfortunately when it comes to planting dreams and letting them take root deciding on something specific and sticking with it might be the way to go. That way you don’t spread out your energy and focus scratching the surface here and there, you put your sweat into that thing that you want to achieve. So if you hate your job but you don’t know what you want to do instead, you might want to stay put until you are clear in your thinking. Who knows, maybe when the fog in your mind clears you might decide that the job you actually want is the one you have.
You were taught that half a loaf is better than nothing. Some time ago someone approached me and said they had heard that I had left my old job and they knew a company that was hiring. They said they were not sure what the position would be, probably admin. There is nothing wrong with doing admin work if that is your dream but it’s not mine so I said no thanks. A friend asked me why I had turned down an opportunity and I told them that the time and energy that I would put into a job I would surely hate is better spent hunting for the one I actually want and will surely kick ass at. I do understand that circumstances are at times dire and we just have to take anything that comes our way but if you can help it, don’t take half a loaf if it will not make you happy. The same mentality is what makes many people stay in unbelievably sour jobs because, “you know, at least its a job” . That, right there, is the shit that stinks but you stay because at least its warm. At least it pays the bills. At least I get to get out daily and go somewhere. If you want a whole loaf and you believe you deserve a whole loaf then get a whole loaf.
You are lazy. The most difficult job is not one that makes you stay at the office for ages or one that robs you of your weekends and holidays. The most difficult job is job hunting. You have to have real commitment to send out 10 applications and get only one response that says ‘we are sorry we hired somebody else.’ The other 9 will not bother responding but you will still have to get up the next day and do it all over again. You will get rejected and your confidence will be diminished by watching other candidates get in while you don’t but you still have to keep at it. It is not for the faint hearted. That, is difficult. So if you already have a job that you hate, (your half a loaf), you will just throw your hands in the air and stop searching elsewhere.
You have an irrational sense of loyalty. There are people who think that if they leave a company, they are letting the boss down. In fact some bosses express that they feel betrayed when a person resigns. The truth is, your company’s success is partly due to the fact they do what is needed to achieve success. If they one day decide that they no longer need you they will ask you to leave. It’s just business. So if you know that going elsewhere will advance you career-wise, bid them farewell and go. A good boss will write you and amazing recommendation and wish you well, after all they had to leave something behind in order to be your boss today.
You are afraid of change. I worked for a company where I made friends and there were a few benefits to working there. Getting to and from work was a breeze and there were a few other things that made my life comfortable. But the work itself was not helping me grow, the salary was depressing and there was a lot of discrimination. I realised then that friends will have to stay behind, certain useless comforts would also have to stay behind if I was going to make something of myself.
You are under-qualified for the job you want. The problem is that when we are receiving a salary we forget to keep advancing ourselves. We then start wanting better things but because we have not been working at bettering ourselves we find that we do not qualify for what we want. We therefore have to continue in the job that we hate because there is no other option. You should constantly be updating your skills and knowledge. Even when you are in the job you want don’t stop, because when you decide to leave one day you will have a better chance of getting another one.
Pride. You have a number of people that you can ask for help from but then you don’t want them to know that you want a job. You don’t want word to be out that you are being helped by someone. You want everyone to see you and think you have it all together and you are flying high. Well, the truth is if you are in a crappy job you may fool people into thinking what you want them to think but you are the one who has to spend 9 to 5, 5 or 6 days a week hating your life. Get off your high horse and ask for help!
It’s a jungle out there. The truth is that the job market is saturated with professionals. Sometimes you have to understand that you may be doing everything right but jobs are just tough to come by. So don’t be too hard on yourself unnecessarily. If you are hunting tirelessly, you are asking for help and you are updating your skills then the explanation is there are just more skilled people than there are jobs. Hang in there, your time will come!
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Ok, I said it! When you are over fuming over the title of this article because you cannot even begin to imagine how anyone can call your pride and joy annoying, please listen to reason. If you didn’t sense it … Continue reading →