Religion, Race And Other Drugs

It is often fashionable to blame the colonisation of African countries by Europe for all the strange behaviours which characterise our people today, just as most black South Africans tend to blame their Apartheid past for their peculiar reactions to their present.

Several analysts have advanced various reasons as to why Europe was interested in colonising Africa. My particular preference is that given by one of Africa’s foremost political thinkers, Ali Mazrui, who summarises the most compelling reasons as being three.

Firstly, Mazrui says Europe was interested in Africa because they wanted to know more about what they described as the ‘Dark Continent’. Secondly, he concludes that Europeans were interested in Africa because of their own racist Western Christianity which considered all non-Europeans as inferior to them and that Africans needed redemption and saving from themselves.

Thirdly, Mazrui concludes that Europeans were interested in Africa because of money, money and money. They reasoned that the more possessions they claimed to be their own, the more they would contribute to their national wealth. My particular interest here is the second reason, that of race. I am saying I don’t know whether our people’s attitudes to race can be rightly attributed to this colonial legacy. Race, in my view, very much like religion is always a touchy topic.

I’m a black Zambian. Our people, I mean blacks and I could easily generalise by saying most Zambians treat people with lighter skin better than they do those with darker skins. I mean whether it is light skinned black persons in general or a lighter race altogether. The assumption appears to be that light skins are synonymous with beauty. This is the generally accepted stereotype.

Maybe we feel that lighter skinned people are more evolved than the rest of us, which is much like some religions or traditions and their way of thinking that males are more evolved creatures than females. Racism is everywhere though, and a lot of the time, I feel like we allow ourselves to be oppressed until one day when we get tired of pleasing people and decide that in fact people who hold such views are indeed racists.

The same goes for religious intolerance. Nine times out of ten, people follow the religions they are born into. We have little or no choice over the colour of the skins we are born in. We follow the religions we do because it is what we know.

Racists and people who openly practice religious intolerance are to me, one and the same. They both shun other people for being different from them. What such people do not realise is that it is very much like going into a person’s home for a visit and then treating your hosts terribly because they do not look like you or practice the beliefs that you believe in. Why do such people bother visiting others? I mean, might as well stay in their own cocoons and admire their own images in their mirrors.

Personally, I can’t stand people who shove their religion in my face. Not because I think that there’s no God or because I think that I know all I need to know about the ways of the world but because I think that forcing someone to do something is the easiest way to get them not to do it. I am willing to listen to all forms of religious advice provided I am permitted to give my opinion about what they are telling me too, but the moment somebody makes it their life’s mission to make me exactly the way they are, that’s my limit.

The only way people can live together is if we learn to respect each other’s races and religions. Respect. Not praise, not shunning, just respect. People with lighter skins are not better or prettier. Take off all of our skins, below the surface we are all the same. Believers and non-believers have their reasons. Reasons they can explain if they were given a chance. We are born in different worlds and along the way we develop different takes on the world.

You’d love it so much if somebody came up to you and told you that your religious figure is a stupid myth wouldn’t you? Or would you prefer they mocked your entire appearance just because some opinionated community thinks they are better?

My shikulu, who for many years worked with my dad and I have had privilege to listen to, Kenneth Kaunda, in all his speeches probably best describes what I think should be the golden rule of life: Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.

Should we blame colonialism for these lame mind-sets? I don’t think so. It is time we liberated ourselves from these oppressive narrow opinions.

Yours truly,
posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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The Drowning Man

Sometimes, I stop and look at episodes of my life as a picture. Or rather pictures. A collage maybe but not exactly so random. There always was a build-up. A build-up to happy, to sad, to the bloody nights, a build-up to the ultimate heartbreak… Wow. The list is endless.

However, it makes me see that everybody likes to feel needed. Even when its the smallest things a person needs you for. Without having to say it, a lot of people serve as their significant other’s emotional stability. The one thing they are really sure about; the one thing they can count on to make them happy when things are going sour.

There was this one guy I met; a direct reflection of my personality minus the tears and overflowing love. Whoever said opposites attract was a liar. They never met a person that fitted them so perfectly, they made you wonder if it was truly possible to be so much like someone. So much like a total stranger! From childhoods to movies to our undying love for the same type of music. Perfect fit.

You know how hard it is to look someone in the eye and say to them, “I was there,” after they’ve thrown it back in your face? I forced the whole, “just tell me over the phone.” In short, I ran. No eye contact. That way, I had no risk of looking like the weaker one even if I really was all along. For as long as I could, I tried to maintain that I was fine. It was draining. I got sad, I cried, I poured out my heart.

However, I didn’t have the guts to give the “I was there” speech. Partly because I was more gutted about not being able to find someone else who knew me like that and partly because I didn’t know if I’d ever meet a person who saw me as their ‘happy’. A person who needed me just as much as I needed them. No more and no less. I never did after that, and I pray I never do.

So I guess we were perfect for a while. But the worst part of it was looking at the bigger picture. I saw a man drowning. From further back, it wasn’t a single picture of a man who was drowning; it was a series of photos. First he clung onto me because he was drowning. I was drowning too but it felt amazing to be needed. To be that much a part of someone’s life. I forgot the pain of the water in my lungs, the ache in my legs from trying to stay afloat… All of it.

Then as soon as he could breathe, he climbed onto me to float. Slowly, I began to realise he didn’t necessarily need me. We floated together anyway and slowly began nearing a shore. Here I was thinking we’d get out of the water and be together forever. Thinking he would need me just as much as he did when we were two individuals drowning. But as soon as he saw the shore, he used me as a platform to get himself out of the water and never looked back.

Yours truly,
posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Starting Our Life, Ending Mine

“Please don’t kill me.” Psssh. Like any killer will go that far only to listen to a plea…

“Why mustn’t I kill you?” A million and one reasons would rush to my head but none that he already doesn’t know. This is someone who knows me too well. Someone who once loved me. With my hands and legs bound together… His fingers wrap my neck. I choke and try to fight it, and when I’m fading, he let’s me breathe. Only to do it again.

“Have I ever told you how beautiful your smile is?”, he asks me nearly an hour after one almost death trip. I can’t help it and I smile. One. My last smile went to him. He smiles back and I’m thinking to myself, maybe there is hope after all. He comes closer to me with a knife. My naïve mind thinking he’ll let me go. And he cuts out the inked patches of skin. Who is this monster, I ask myself?

“You’re not this person,” I say over and over in my mind. I swear, I think I’m saying it out loud. I cannot think of one thing thoroughly, too much is racing through my brain. Two. My last tears went to him. When he’s done, he thinks I’m a better person. More pure. In a way, he’s right, you know. No more fight left in me, no more tears left to cry, no more hate in my heart. I’m just waiting for it to happen.

Then he holds my head and looks me in the eye. Maybe the bags underneath my eyes make his heart skip a beat… Maybe the tracks of my tears makes him feel like he finally owns me. Maybe my begging and pleading cheers him on. Maybe my weak smile makes him feel powerful. He feeds off power. And what better power than my life in your hands. Looking into my eyes and watching my life slip away, feeling my pulse grow weaker right under your thumb. Feeling my soul exit my body slowly… I say a prayer. Weak smile and…. Three. My last ‘I love you’ went to him.

Yours truly,
posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

This Little Suitcase of Mine

My little suitcase is labelled ‘happy’.
Blinding white cloth pokes out the side
And you assume its a show of joyful poetry.
Its my white flag.
Sorrow so real, I got a whole damn banner.
Do you not see that I’ve finally reached my surrender?

Take a walk with me, tell me your story.
You can tell it all, mine’s not so holy.
A little more coaxing and you open your suitcase;
A few things are missing, a million things to spell ‘happy place’
Sit next to me.. Don’t leave.
Help me drag my suitcase along with me.
Please don’t open it, Please don’t peek.

The white cloth, I know its tempting,
One moment alone and you get to tugging.
One thing will reveal another, you see.
All the tears I’ve cried, they’d drown you, baby.
The pain I’ve felt would make you step away.
I could try and say I finally feel okay
But you’re already headed for the door,
My suitcase lying on the floor.

I pick it all up, tear for tear.
Each item bringing back my fears.
All this time I managed to keep it closed,
You appear and everybody knows I’m not carrying clothes.
One latch, two then three and four… And off I go.
Meet someone new,
Almost hoping this will be true.
One look at my suitcase and out the corner,
A little white cloth.

Yours truly,
posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Visible Smiles And Inner Wars.

I made a friend recently. Bubbly for days! Give this cutie even ten minutes of silence and sorrow will wash over her face. Talk to her and the smile is back. You wouldn’t even know she was actually sad. Our facial expressions in the little time we have to ourselves (be it a minute, hour or day) show how we truly feel inside.

Some time last month, I read a quote by Paulo Coelho that said, “what matters about a pencil isn’t the outside but the graphite inside, so pay attention to what’s going on inside you”. Cool words, right? LOL. I thought so too. I liked it and I wrote it down but! I don’t think I fully understood it up until today. Just now, rather.

Everything looks fine all the time. With everything. The smiles, the hugs, the continuous laughter over drinks, the hand-holding… All of it. I mean, parents are the PERFECT examples. They opt to go silent when they just really want to blow up and yell, they go out to functions and greet people with smiles no matter what happened at home and most of all, for as long as they think they possibly can, they stay together.

Some people are so good at pretending to be happy that you could be in a relationship with them and actually believe that they are happy with you when all they are doing is praying you give up and walk away. Others just up and leave you while you’re still crazy about them. I always say, when things aren’t okay in a relationship, one person or both always know. One person will express it. Its not fair, right? Well, life’s not fair. So that leaves you with the thought; ‘heartbroken’ or ‘fine’?

Smile, they’ll tell you. I mean all your friends will tell you that you deserve better. Not so ready to dish out this ‘better’ though. Realisations make you want to escape. Night clubs have so many troubled people. Some people go out, get drunk and cry their hearts out. Some people get drunk but remain so preoccupied that they get home so high but still can’t sleep… Wishing it could just blow over. Some just drink silently and go home to their thoughts.

I had a lot of moments to myself today. Pretty much all day. During those moments, I understood what the quote about graphite meant. I needed to start paying attention to what’s going on inside me because while ‘I don’t know’ is an acceptable answer to give someone, its never an answer to give yourself.

Yours truly,
posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

The Art of Walking Away

A lot of us are in dead-end relationships. Or ‘fast cars’. I am NOT saying mine is. Thing is, a lot of the time, when we get into relationships, its for the looks or the money or for the nasty stares we get from people who like our significant others that boost our ego. Often though, we like to feel safe, wanted, accepted, outstanding, and we date the person who makes us feel those things whether its permanent or temporary.

I’m a strong believer in staying if the good outweighs the bad. its so easy to offer that advice. Following it though… That’s a whole other story. A person could make you feel like a burden on a normal day and on that one good day when they make you feel like they don’t deserve someone so good, all the bad they ever did goes out the window. If someone asked you on a good day, you would say the good outweighed the bad. On the rest of the days, you’ll be wearing your shoes, getting ready to walk.

Every relationship starts out rosy, or most of them rather. The honeymoon phase, ey. Hahaha. I remember that. Fights are not bad. Fights are good. The silence is what draws people further apart. I talk a lot but I’m not one to talk when I’m angry and I’m definitely not one to make somebody to talk to me. Sometimes, I start to walk away and I remember why I didn’t go through with it the last one million times. The good outweighs the bad. Or the line between bad and good is so thin that I can’t tell which side we lean. You know that feeling when someone keeps talking and you stand by the door waiting for the moment so you can walk out unnoticed? That could be it too.

This life is funny. You could find someone who wants you but doesn’t want to be with you, you could find someone whose actions tell you they are uncertain whether or not they want to be with you, you could find a person who makes you feel beyond great, but that too is only ever for the moment. And that person, believe me, will be the person you’re sure you should be with. The problem here is not that we don’t have the guts to walk away. Its that we start walking and turn back less than halfway. We never really give life a chance to show us what’s out there.

The art of walking away could be knowing why you’re doing it, how you plan on doing it, sticking to your reasons no matter how bad people make you feel for it and most importantly, not going back to the point you started from no matter how many times an arm holds you and asks for one more chance. A fast car will get you places quickly. High maintenance, draining and the majority of the time, just for show.

Fashion In The Eyes Of The Lord?

In an article I wrote about personalities, I said that a personality is one of the hardest things to define because it always has to be in comparison to another. Likewise, decency has no clear distinction.

To some people, decency is about the way you carry yourself. You can wear the right clothes and still manage to come off skanky or, you could wear smaller items of clothing and still look decent. Clothes and make-up go with the kind of area you will be in and so, a lot of people manage to appear decent.

A lot of us Christians like to be hypocritical about things and judge a mini skirt or place bans on them. In Zambia for instance, a mini skirt is not socially acceptable in the heavily populated areas. The more civilised areas are fine with it and even then, a lot of the time, it depends on the colour of your skin. White people, mixed race people… They can get away with it. Light skinned dark people are usually targets and the dark people can be let off easy.

Being Christian, my ‘findings’ are from The Bible only. In the book of 1 Timothy, verse 2 to 9 through 10, it says, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” Now, from the times before pearls and jewellery were worn so widely, it was written that to do that was a sin. We did it anyway. If anything, we come up with more and more ways to sin and have the nerve to blame decency.

People wore a lot less centuries ago and even though the rape cases were not non-existent, they were not hitting the crazy numbers or inhuman ages we are getting at today. They prayed to the very same God, read the very same bible and they wore nearly nothing and today, a random person feels they can stand up and say we shall burn because of the way we dress?? Do you not possess any jewellery?

In the book 1 Peter verse 2 to 5, it says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”

If you have ever bought fine clothes, you are indecent. If you have ever braided your hair, you are indecent. If you have ever bought jewellery, you are indecent. In God’s sight, our decency is defined by our inner selves. OUR MINDS. I mean, since we all want to translate The Bible differently to suit our lifestyles, how about we give The Bible one realistic translation. A direct translation: We are all sinners.

That said, I hope each and every one of us Christians know that we are sinners. Those of us who take offence at the ideas of fashion need to go back to the bible and re-evaluate their definitions of sin. Eventually, it all comes down to the mind. That is where the real evil is.

The Worst Things In Life… Are Free.

They say the best things in life are free. Love, life, intelligence… But free things aren’t always good. Death, famine, drought, religion… All of these things are free too but nobody embraces them or labels them ‘good’. It brings some of the worst forms of misery, yet there are plenty more free things one could ever get.

A lot of the time, peoples’ inner demons are judged based on the things they would do to have things their way or to have something they’ve always wanted. Looking for ‘happy’ or self-satisfaction is really the easiest way to find the devil within your soul. For example, my first love is my family. Would I sin repeatedly if I had the choice between being an angel and keeping my loved ones in my life? In the blink of an eye, I’d sin.

Everybody knows a person who is always looking for an easy way out. Sometimes, that person is yourself. Its never really easy. There is a trick behind everything that comes on a silver platter. Be it cheating in an exam and never getting caught up until you need to use that knowledge in a real life situation or even using the wrong methods to keep a person in your life only to watch them slip away.

When you struggle to reach the silver platter with your heart’s desires engraved onto it, you know you deserve it. You have peace within yourself because it changes from karma to your choice. You decide whether or not to walk away from that platter you keep safely under your arm. Being Zambian though, I know we’re very much okay with the basics. Our country is not as competitive as the heavily populated ones.

I don’t like to struggle but lately I’ve decided to. I know I have a lot of great gifts handed to me on silver platters but I work hard at some things too. Those are the things I’m certain will not just vanish one day. The people who are fine with the basics lose out eventually because there are things we get free that others would work day and night to achieve.

P.S I will never admit that a Chinese person is smarter than I am. They are just born in a more competitive world. A world where the worst things in life are free.

The Sound of Gavels

Have you ever looked at someone who just had a baby and wondered how you didn’t know she was pregnant? Or, have you ever listened to a friend’s post-break-up story and wondered how you missed every single thing you thought would be obvious? Worse still, have you ever taken the time out to listen to why a person killed themselves?
The lives we lead in social circles and on social networks are really different from the lives we actually lead. Our relationships seem perfect, our clothes seem perfect and our biggest problems seem to be food cravings. One sad tweet or Facebook status and you’re labelled an attention seeker. It takes a show of emotion to seem like the miserable person who complains all the time about every single thing (I’m not saying those don’t exist, its just easy to fall under their label with a single sad tweet) but life really is hard. It doesn’t mean that we’re all battling the same issues or that we all have the same sorrows when its time to finally call it a day, it just means that to each of us, our lives seem hard.
The phrase ‘do not judge somebody because they sin differently from you’ is one of the most hypocritical things I’ve ever read AND heard. Every time you hear a juicy story, in your mind, you’ve already picked who was wrong and who was right. That IS what judging is, isn’t it? Being the decider of right and wrong? Somebody had a baby in her teens and you all point fingers. Aren’t you having sex too? Are you married? Probably not. So why put yourself on a pedestal? Some people like to be strong, and I’ll give them credit for it but it doesn’t take away the pain of being judged.
The fact that every one of us is judgemental in one way or the other keeps us from knowing what our friends are really going through and also keeps our minds busy with assumptions. You don’t tell people what it is you’re going through, most likely because you know what you would say if you heard that exact same thing about someone else. Someone could say they’re sad and write over a hundred reasons why and nobody would really care. Unless they died, of course. Ooooh, social networks and their abundant ‘pity’ when a person dies.
A lot of us pretend to be happy and pretend to be living the ultimate lives. But, at the end of the day when you have enough time to your thoughts… Come on. Who do you really think you’re fooling? Smiles are the most common forms of make-up. I wear them too, I’m not pretending. A lot of the time, its easier to smile and carry on than to answer millions of questions and hear a gavel every single time you do. It doesn’t mean its not hard or it won’t eat you up but no matter how much pain you feel, its nothing compared to your pain accompanied by the sound of a gavel; judged.

The New Respect To The Dead

This is pretty short buuut I think its necessary 🙂 so, here goes…

Death has never been a secret. Its not mandatory for anyone to mourn alone and that’s why we have funerals. Knowing that you’re not alone in something helps you to pick yourself up because even though you know for certain that they couldn’t possibly feel the exact same way you do, at least you’re not alone.
Social networks however, almost use death as an attention seeking method, which in my opinion, a lot of people see as respect when it is really a hypocritical kind of respect. *drumroll* It is DISRESPECTFUL. The point of a funeral is to pay your respects to the dead and support the affected living but what good is your status and profile picture change when neither of them knew you?
Now, you’ll go on and say I’m being rude or whatever, but picture this: you see somebody around, never really gotten to talking to them. I mean, the most you’ve ever said is a ‘walking-past-hi’. What business do they have putting your deceased parents as their picture to wish YOU condolences? Condolences that you won’t even see or get, condolences that go to them when they know neither of you. Attention seeking.
Death is not a secret, its good that its public. But giving the longest speeches at funerals or putting the most sad face emoticons on your profile does not mean you loved them more. Stop it, its not a competition. I’m NOT saying every tribute is an attention seeking stunt. Sometimes we genuinely feel bad for someone and have no other way to reach them. Your heart goes out to them, we understand. But when your life stops for a moment to feed off of people’s sorrow, you, my friend, need to rearrange the patterns in your life.