38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXVI

HOME AT LAST! Part 26
Schooling in the Diaspora – Kamwala Secondary School

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

1975 was the longest year. My first calendar year in Zambia was nine months long, which felt like time barely existed, with no beginning I recalled being part of, no end, and no direction in sight. Time was an idea just there to relate to indifferently.

The three months on the rails and road it took my family and me to get to Zambia from South Africa had bruised my sense of reality, presenting life’s challenges in a totally new way, and intensity. My family relations internal dynamics changed in ways that many mistakes made along the way have never been repairable. New things learnt we each processed and integrated each in our own individual lives, each in our own unique personal ways. I often like to think that the extremely high senses of individuality, and independence my two siblings and I will exhibit in critical choice times, and/ situations, were consolidated during this time. Although we are all three each in our own ways very sensitive, emotional, and compassionate, it is others other than our nuclear family unit who have largely derived benefits from these qualities the most over time.

Due to lack of schooling, in the stillness, and seemingly open-endedness of time in 1975 in Lusaka, Zambia, I first became conscious of, and related to my spontaneous inclination to want to think about, and reflect on my direct experience, or external observations of the sociology of things in social interactions with other people at all levels, in different settings, and circumstances. I would spend hours on end in solitude, wondering as to how/ why people will behave in certain ways in given situations. Although I did not know anything about research at that time, I had already figured it out that there was much to learn about human behaviour in books. So, my uncle’s private home library became the perfect hide out for me. I had never before been surrounded by so many books on all sorts of subjects, as well as magazines, journals, and newspapers, including novels.

I read ever so much on various random topics, underlining texts, and taking notes after notes: There was crime, politics, business, law, history, psychology, culture, art, romance, sex, there was everything. Now I know that my interest in writing crystallized itself here also. I used to fantasize about other curious and clever children and youths reading books I’ll have written on things sometime in the future. Later, a younger uncle came on the scene, and introduced the concept of going out for walks. We would go on these silent, long walks round our suburb, Roma Township. These would on the one hand help me digest all the stuff I would have read earlier on, and I would crave immensely for the next reading session, on the other. I still enjoy long walks of thought, and reflection to this day. I walk, and dream. I walk, and find solutions to challenges in my life. In my sleep, dreams come to me as if in open books. When I write about it, chances are I’ll have seen it in a dream.

1976 was the slowest year. I recall walking to and from Olympia Primary School in Lusaka that academic year, feeling my feet heavy as if I were walking in pools of treacle. I had no school shoes for a large part of the year. Going to school, I’d squeeze my Size 8 feet into a Size 7 brown pair of shoes inherited from my father. A very painful experience. Walking from school, I’d take off the shoes, hold them in my hand, and foot it home. I associate the month of October not so much with Zambia’s national day on the 24th, but the burning hot ground under my shoeless school feet in 1976.  For the most part, my head was clear for the obligatory things I just had to do, such as going to school, and being a good boy. It was bad enough to lose yet another year of schooling the previous year; to have to repeat Grade 7 in 1976 because my South African Grade 7 results from 1974 were not recognized in Zambia, crushed my passion for education.

Being a relatively big, sharp 16 year old with a deep voice and very hairy legs in Grade 7 was not the coolest thing. I had to endure a lot of ridicule and degrading comments from some most unkind people in many places. For example, a group of Roma Girls’ Secondary School day scholars used to intimidate me bad kind as we would go past one another everyday from school. One day, perhaps 10-20 of them, in unison shouted menacingly at me, “You are fit to be in Form 5!” That is how and when I lost the ambition, motivation, and interest to study to be a Doctor when grown up, thinking I’d be too old by the time I’m done with school, if ever. All I wanted to do was to be a musician and songwriter with a big band to hide myself in. A few good friendships, as well as a sweet, kind, and understanding lady class teacher with a Botswana background tremendously helped me pull through the year successfully, though. There was also a mobile library visiting the school every so often. More books, pure Joy. I bull-dozed my way, and first borrowed the book White Man’s Burden against the librarian’s recommendation. Heavy reading which gradually helped me understand better the workings of colonialism in time.

Simon Chilembo, Witness Ndemanga

With Witness Ndemanga (Late, MHSRIP), Kamwala Secondary School, 1977-79. ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

1977 was the most hopeful year. When I came into Form 1 (Grd 8) at Kamwala Secondary School that year, it was with mixed feelings. I was emotionally drained, angry and bitter at the world. What with the killings of my fellow school children in the Soweto student uprising on June 16, 1976! I was on a daily basis reading in newspapers about the continuing killings and disappearances of more school children all over South Africa. The first wave of South African post-Soweto June 16 juvenile refugees had already begun to arrive in Lusaka. At a personal level, I really saw no point in continuing with school when I could as well go and join our ANC MK cadres involved in the direct fight for the liberation of my country, South Africa. But the South African pupils I found in higher grades at the school, having lived in Zambia longer already, instilled a special kind of hope in me, assuring me that those grown ups in MK were doing a good job as things were. What we, as the youth, had to do was to focus on getting the highest educational qualifications because our most important mission was to be bright and brilliant leaders of the soon to be liberated South Africa. It made sense to me. At last there were people I could relate to here. We wore long pants, white shirts, and ties. So cool! And, people were so mature here, I thought. The five years of schooling at Kamwala Secondary School would turn out to be a surprising journey of bitter sweet memories.

Academically, the thrill and fun of education returned in no time. Being a brilliant, class top grades student had always been my thing, winning me lots of friends and admirers any time. For the first time in my life I have non-Black African classmates, a big “Wow!” for a teenager from Apartheid South Africa. The apparent natural flair for Maths and the Natural Sciences of my Asian/ Indian classmates ignited in me a fierce competitive spirit, especially during the first three years of the secondary school education. It goes without saying that I soon developed close friendships with many of these Asian/ Indian classmates of mine. Some would invite me to lunches at their homes, and such was my genuine gastrosexual love for Indian cuisine ignited. What was odd, though, about my relationship with these kids was that they were all 4-6 years younger than me. When I was 17 years old in Grade 8, Prakash, the tiniest of them all, had barely turned 11! Anele, my would-be best friend in the world, had just turned 12. All this did not bother me at all; I was just fascinated and charmed by the brain powers of these kids. This was a whole new world of curiosity and discovery for me.

Socially, I never was any impressive success due to, among other things, personal and family circumstances, as well as deliberate choices arising from these. I could never figure out, though, how, despite my popularity as a smart, most sociable guy, eventually becoming a national Karate Sports Super Star, was unable to, for instance, mobilize harems of nubile young women followers. At school, while I could overtly mutually flirt with older lady teachers to the steamiest of wet dreams on my part, the younger ones would often tend to be very hostile and extremely defensive towards me. Many a younger male teacher would become so hostile that, already as early as in Form 1 (Grd 8), I came close to a fight over a girl with one of them. Thinking of that man makes me nauseous to this day. It wasn’t until about October 2014, 33 years after leaving Kamwala Secondary School, that it finally dawned upon me how the age factor had a decisive role to play in all this.

Esperanza, “Shall we meet in Lusaka during Christmas time, then, Simon? Perhaps you want to join me in my 50th birthday celebrations as I do some Community Work project to mark the occasion?”
Simon, “Now, wait a minute, Dearest, you mean, I am actually 4 years older than you?”
Esperanza, “So, you didn’t know?”
Simon, “So, in Form 1 at Kamwala, when I was 17, you were 13?”
Esperanza, laughing, “That’s the arithmetic!”
Simon, “Holy shit, is that why you never wanted to be my girlfriend, then? I remember how angry you got with me the day I proposed”
Esperanza, more laughter, “You scared the hell out of me, man. You were ever so big and looking far too strong. In my eyes, you could have been an uncle of mine, or something. You seemed more mature, and more sophisticated than some of the male teachers, even; these guys had such bad taste in style! There was no way you could have been my boyfriend, then, man. And, besides, we couldn’t understand how you could be classmates with us, when your age mates were either in Form 5 (Grd 12), if not going to university already. When we realized you were as intelligent as you turned out to be, we became even more uncomfortable around you”
Simon, “But many other guys my age at 17 hit it off on a regular basis with many of you little girls”
Esperanza, “True. But there was more prestige for a 12-13 year old girl going out with a 17 year old guy in senior grades. On the other hand, a 21 year old guy in Form 5, as was your case later, is far too old for normal age secondary school girls. Moreover, a 15-16 old girl in Form 5 is most likely to have her eyes and things set on guys beyond secondary school level. So, you probably would have had to play it rough in order to get to date the young girls at school. However, I can say today that I am happy you never pushed anybody. You are such a gentleman. That’s why we love you still, you know!”
Simon, teasing, “Argh, it doesn’t help much now, does it? You with your husband, kids, cats, and dogs. By the way, does he know that It Should Have Been Me? Phfff!”

Done with Kamwala, during the middle of the 1982-83 academic year, I am fast heading towards age 23. I’m deep in the groove of things rocking the world, looking forward to becoming eventually a big Economist at the Bank of Zambia upon my graduation in 1986. I have just become third time Zambian National Karate Kata Champion, and in the same package, got my first most coveted Karate Black Belt. Guess who feels King on top of the world? At a party well-attended by University of Zambia intellectual and academic elite, a sickeningly condescending Professor strikes a conversation with me, “Well, it is well and good that you are the hottest Karate thing at UNZA at the moment. But aren’t you rather too old to be in first year, then? I mean, surely, some of your age mates started graduating from UNZA two years ago already! What’s happened to you, old chap?”
Ooops, here we go again. Lord, have mercy.

Thinking about it, if you have a brilliant, beautiful daughter in Grd 8 at age 11, she’ll be First Year at university at 16. And, verily, verily, I say to unto thee, once upon a time, there were sharks at UNZA …

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
9469
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
July 23, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXV

HOME AT LAST! Part 25
COMMUNITY SERVICE – Diasporant’s Payback Time

Simon Chilembo, Founder/ President/ CEO, Chilembo Media PromotionsComing back home to Mamma, July 01, 2013, I was a broken man. Tired both physically and mentally, emotionally torn, bitter at my vain enemies and ill-wishers, overwhelmed by betrayals, over-burdened by failed business in rough economic times, and looming personal bankruptcy, I found it prudent to let it all go. I was not ready to die yet. If and when my dying day finally comes, I will be standing on the battle ground like a true Warrior, having accomplished my mission on earth. All I needed was a time-out to realign my thoughts, my feelings, and my visions; I needed to revise my values, and put my faith to test by exposing myself to temptation. Evil has yet to conquer, if ever.

Quickly discovering that reality was not, and would not turn out to be as I had expected and hoped it would be back home to Mamma, The Lone Ranger in me reminded me, “On your own again, Tiger!”
But, bloody ‘ell, man, you know how broke I am. What can I, what am I going do without any money?
“Community Service, Dude!” barked the Lone Ranger.
Ok.

Elizabeth Moodley, Dipl. CNCm® Therapist. ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Elizabeth Moodley, Dipl. CNCm® Therapist. Here after receiving Level II Practitioner Certificate on Julyn 18, 2014.
©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Nelson Mandela International Day 2013 finds me doing my 67 Minutes work second time around, this occasion at Bronville Old Age Home. Assigned to assist me is Ms Elizabeth Moodley, on attachment from Community Work Programme (CWP), Matjhabeng Region, Welkom. In no time I get to register that the lady is my kind of woman: Big, strong, imposing, mature, charismatic, self-confident, aware of own feminity, leader type, good communicator, dedicated to duty, structured and organized, Nosizwe (Mother-Of-The-Nation) type, generous, kind, patient, resilient, eager to learn, ambitious, future-oriented, and, later, dependable, as well as trustworthy confidant. Privately she’s a single parent mother, on a meagre income working hard to keep it together for her children, as well as the grandchildren. Because she often goes beyond the call of duty to help in all kinds of emergencies both at the Old Age Home, as well as the neighbourhood, Elizabeth is a well-known community member who commands a lot of respect and admiration from her colleagues in the Community Work Programme. And, like many a South African township born and bred, she’s been there, done that in her time.

With limited resources, and in not the best clinic facility I have ever seen, Elizabeth, without any previous formal professional health care education, both efficiently and effectively carried out basic primary health care procedures for the Old Age Home residents, as well as other needy community members in the immediate neighbourhood, including the wider Welkom city environs. The appreciation, respect, and love her clients showed her touched me profoundly. There and then I decided I wanted to give more substance to the title Sister (a preserve for trained Nurses in South Africa) the clients affectionately used in their interaction with Elizabeth.

The Lone Ranger, “You see, Dude, right now, your knowledge and skills are needed here much more than all the money you could ever give any time. Let’s forget about cash and its trappings for a while. Just think about all the money you have spent on people elsewhere over the years. Except only one case, which of these people have made any good for themselves from the monies you’ve spent on and for them? This time you’ll use only your physical touch to bring improved health and life quality experience to the people here, and you’ll teach Elizabeth all she needs to know in this regard as well. You are here to change lives in a real and lasting way, believe it or not”
Tjaaa, but I need to get my business off the ground again, or even get a job. How am I going to do all this? How long will it take, anyway? I still have things to do and fix in Norway, you know.
The Lone Ranger, “But you are almost ruined by business, remember? Job? What job? Phfff, you are 53 years old, Dude. People go on retirement at 55 in South Africa, you know. It’ll take as long as it takes. Norway will wait for you, don’t worry”
Ok, let’s do this. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

Words of thanks, and prayers from local Pastors. Elizabeth Moodley, Dipl. CNCm® Therapist. ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Words of thanks, and prayers from community Pastors.
Elizabeth Moodley, Dipl. CNCm® Therapist.
©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Perhaps the most fun part of working with Elizabeth was right at the beginning, when I had to win her confidence and trust, first and foremost. Having quickly convinced her of my genuineness as an expert professional Health & Wellness Therapist, I had to make her understand that I was not here to take over her job. What I in fact wanted to do was to empower her with new, high value professional international Therapeutic Massage Therapy training and education that would open a whole new world of career and professional opportunities for her in the whole of South Africa, and beyond. All for free, as part of my own voluntary Community Service Project work at the Bronville Old Age Home. She being a Coloured in South African parlance, there was also a need to break down her Apartheid induced personal racial insecurities and doubts issues, which still exist on a wide scale in the country, twenty-one years down the line.

It has given me great joy to observe and follow how Elizabeth’s aura of power, influence, and authority of a skilled, people-oriented Health & Wellness Therapist, specializing in Chilembo Nordic Chi massasje® (CNCm®) have grown in leaps and bounds during the last two years we’ve worked together. It was with profound pride, and personal satisfaction to present her with my first Chilembo Nordic Chi massasje® (CNCm®) Therapist Diploma on June 11, 2015, in South Africa. Congratulations!
COURSE CONTENT:

  • Advanced Therapeutic Massage Therapy theory and practice
  • Intermediate Reflexology theory and practice
  • Communication Skills/ Counseling: COOL Coaching® Introduction
  • Duration: July 18, 2013 – June 11, 2015
Party time! ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Party time!
©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Elizabeth’s graduation ceremony turned out to be a moving event the magnitude and organizational significance of which I had never expected. CWP engagement ensured that the event lasted all day long, with lots of festivitas all the way. Some of CWP colleagues turned up in full traditional Basotho and AmaXhosa party gears, giving the occasion more colour, inspiring much song and dance, as well as poetry. Great fun indeed. Much as Elizabeth’s family were there to witness the special event, my mother, my younger sister, and an aunt were there too. In the ensuing prayers and speeches by various speakers, words of praise, encouragement, and hope were said.
Many were touched by the fact that I voluntarily imparted such high value knowledge and skills to Elizabeth for free, despite the fact that it, towards the end, had become general knowledge that I was actually broke, with no regular source of income all this time. In my response, I thanked the people, reminding them that Ubuntu in action works in many ways. To get to work the way I did with Elizabeth, as well as the clinical work we both did as a team at the Old Age Home provided an invaluable personal therapeutic healing trip for me too.
This has been a win-win situation for all, amply demonstrating that, indeed, motho ke motho ka batho/ a person is a person consequent of other’s existence (no man is an island). But now I had to go back to my world. When the Diaspora calls, few can desist. My hope and wish are that Elizabeth continues with the good work. I have a keen interest in knowledge and skills acquisition for adults, if anything for the adults to be inspirations and role models for the young and the youth. Ignorant and non-resourceful adults have little potential to guide and inspire socially congruent behaviour in children and youth. I will back. The best is yet to come.

EPILOGUE
I am still alive. With the formal opening of my insolvency case in Norway recently, I am now in practice much poorer than I was two years ago. It looks like exactly two years was the time-out period I needed. It is indeed a nerve-wrecking challenge to do big things without cash. I could not have done the work above without the support of my mother, and especially my younger sister, the latter who has, for all intents and purposes, looked after me during all this time. Given public transport difficulties in Welkom, the ladies gave me free access to, and use of their car in my weekly sojourns to the Bronville Old Age Home. There are also eight very close friends of mine (South Africa, Norway, UK) who have done more than I could ask for to help me pull through this challenging period, allowing me to “play” with my time, knowledge, and skills as I worked to heal my mind, body, and soul.

To have been allowed to work with the elderlies, other sick, weak, and vulnerable members of the community at the Old Age Home, was a most rewarding experience I shall remain grateful for all my days. Working with the poorest of the poor, and the most vulnerable of people anywhere, including the sickest of the sick fallen out of the normal social health services mainstream has given me a new perspective to life.

When I soon shall return to Norway for good, I do so feeling stronger and more alive than ever before. I look forward to starting from zero level again. I will be solvent again in time, pay my debts, save up, invest, be rich again, and live happily ever after one more time. Money is nothing but numbers. Numbers, well, either you have them or you don’t. You want numbers you make them. Simple, just work; get the arithmatic right. Bring them on!

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has started dreaming of the next level already: Further studies up to Master Therapist certification in Norway. I have to up my act now …

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
9469
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
July 05, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXIV

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXIV
HOME AT LAST! Part 24
– Life After Death? –
Existential Questions In The Diaspora

SPECIAL NOTE:
Especially due regard to all those who depart of this our plant earth in the most untimely, the most tragic manner and circumstances – Victims of global terrorism, wars, and all sorts of violent crimes, including competently ill-managed curable maladies, as well as all kinds of accidents, and natural disasters. I also declare solidarity with, and the most humane sensitivity possible to the ever deep sense and feelings of loss, as well as distress, to all who lose/ have lost their beloved ones in any way the ever sad eventuality occurs/ has occurred.

Simon Chilembo, President/ CEOThere is no life after death. Death is an express one-way ticket ride, out and far away from planet earth. If it has a distinct destination, then the place death takes souls of the dead to is a place totally unlike earth, totally detached from earth, totally giving bull about whether planet earth exists or not. When you die, no matter how, when you are dead, there not only is no turning back; there is no looking back either. Death is an absolute end to life and its attributes on earth, as well as the rest of the fathomable universe. We live only once, that’s it.

There is no place called hell located somewhere in the darkest of recesses of the universe beneath planet earth somewhere. You burn alive for your sins in numerous ways and possibilities right here on planet earth. When you die, often doing so as you lived as a sinner, you thank God it’s over, for, you know, it is here on earth the fire is real. Phoenixes rising from ashes are things of mythology meant to inspire ideas of reflection, and critical thinking about life, and the living here on earth.

You atone for your sins, God rewards you with heaven thrown into your hands in the living here on planet earth. If you are not living it already, the day you wake up not only feeling it, but also knowing with tangible earthly evidence in any recognizable form that you are living your consciously and deliberately chosen dream as a free citizen in a free world, then you have received heaven in your hands. You can then design and build your world according to your visions and tastes, populating it with all the beauty, joy, and happiness you choose; sharing it all with all those you choose because you love them. Heaven is a place called earth, living side-by-side with hell; two sides of the same coin eternally turning round and round till death calls. When you die, you thank God for the music, the light, the blessings, the abundance of it all on the heaven side of the coin you chose to live. You lived, you created, you loved; you played your game well. Amen. But your heaven, because it is an earth thing, remains behind as a matter of course. Yes, Jobs’ gone, Apple’s here; keeps the world moving. Life goes on.

Overwhelmed by maddening real flames of earthly hell fire, and through ignorance and fear of the unknown, those remaining behind will construct giant pyramids and shrines, thinking and solemnly believing they are preserving for you the heaven you created for yourself while in the living. What bull, you ain’t gonna come back, you ain’t gonna look back. Any archaeologist knows this fact just too well. Hello, Tutankhamen! Then, evil reigns, creating myths and monsters, supreme Gods and holy angels for those remaining behind to blindly worship and glorify. These, not knowing, or not wanting to take responsibility for creating the hell they have arsoned for themselves on earth, transposing heaven to such fantastic outer realms of human existence it is possible to get there only by living life on earth in line with the most impossible, if not most grotesque rules, rituals, and life choices human beings on earth can be subjected to. Some are even willing to offer and pay the ultimate price in their ever futile and doomed efforts to knock on non-existent heaven’s doors ludicrously and falsely envisioned beyond planet earth.

It is both scientifically and philosophically not objectively possible that hell and heaven are experiential realms outside the material world, the material universe, as we understand them to be today. Hell as a place of endless super heat flames of fire functioning as the final perpetual roasting place for sinners negates contemporary moral and ethical thought. So does heaven, if the way into it has to be the longest, the most arduous; turning people into social deviants, psychopaths, as they live in constant extreme fear of/ for failing to live up to the commands and demands of their religions. These commands and demands often go against the most basic natural aspects, and instincts of being a free human being, both in thought, sentiment, and action. Religion and its beliefs being used as the vehicle to heaven, where God supposedly abodes, is in parallel used by some to get many a made psychopath to execute some of the most abominable acts of violence against humanity, all in the promise and outrageous belief that the perpetrators will have free and direct access into heaven somewhere above, to enjoy a never-ending life of super opulence, with ever abundant supplies of nubiles for all-time satisfaction of needs of the flesh. All this is self-contradictory, non-scientific, amoral, and non-ethical, defying progressive modern, free world conventional and radical philosophical thought, as well as practice.

Upon my having become a certain critical age a lifetime ago in Lusaka, Zambia, my father carried out a special male bonding cleansing ritual at dusk of this one day. Afterwards, I had to join him to go out and dispose of the concoction of stuff used in the ceremony. We had to find a busy, but distant pedestrian crossroads from our neighbourhood. Rolled in a piece of chitenge cloth, we lay the mixture in the middle of the crossroads, but only after having made absolutely sure that we saw no one coming by. It was equally important that nobody saw us at this point either. Done deal. Before we turned to walk away, with darkness now upon us, Pappa, in an uncharacteristically guttural voice, commanded me not to look backwards once we’ve taken the first steps to walk back in the direction of our house. “Remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, Buti!” He further implored me to avoid finding myself in this part of the neighbourhood for as long as possible. I never looked back, never went back.

Pappa would later explain three full moons gone later, “What is supposed to happen is that anytime from as soon as we’ve turned our backs on the parcel to dawn, one of your most ancient vagabond ancestors will come to clean up the crossroads, taking with her the parcel further in her wonderings. Legend has it that she is so old, and elements-beaten that the sight of her is scarier than the most scary horror movie character you can ever conjure up. Were you to lay your eyes on this figure, you shall live, but you’ll never be able to tell the story. How many plausible tales can a mentally deranged person tell, Buti, my son?

“Occasionally, it does happen that some stupid person arrives at the disposal scene before the ancient one does. If they see, but ignore the parcel, all shall be well with them. Were they to step on it intentionally, or touch it in any way, an abnormal physiological condition incapacitating coherent speech, and ability to describe things in any way shall befall them. Were they to take and open the parcel, then, instant mental derangement, as well as incurable blindness shall be their fate. Therefore, you are not to look back because were you to see a person begin to suffer as a result of messing around with the parcel, dire emotional issues will burden all your living days on earth. You will never, you can never ever be free as a human being from seeing another human being suffer as a result of fallouts of your traditional life rituals, or beliefs.

Symbolically, the parcel contains unwanted, dead aspects, call them sins, of each our own lives shaping our mutual relationship with each other as father and son. The crossroads reminds us that although life can be lived in any direction, it ultimately all culminates at one point in the centre, death. Placing the parcel at the crossroads represents burial. What happens after death is really worry for the living, not the dead. The symbolism of not looking back is that death must never hold the living back, life must go on. While allowing for natural human curiosity, ideally, once buried, the dead ought to be left alone. Those who through, wilful intention or otherwise, temper with the dead may discover things too heavy to make sense of for an ordinary human mind in the living. That explains the great personal misfortunes upon the one who shall touch the parcel. Why not bury the parcel totally out of sight underground, then, you might ask? Well, Buti, beware of temptations. If and when you delve into the unknown for whatever reason, there may be dire outcomes. A man shall deal with them as they come, the good and/ or the bad consequences of his own actions”

Indeed, life on earth must go on because there really is no life after death. And life on earth is good for the sound-minded and rational. If, for argument’s sake, there is life after death, then it’s a paradise teeming with raving mad lunatics. They look back, and return to earth, calling it reincarnation, and yet again fail to make sense of it all the good life of the living on earth. Turning planet earth into hell, they then engage in orgies of the most horrendous of murders worldwide. People have died by the millions over time, others continue killing themselves by the thousands, yet no heaven’s doors beyond planet earth ever seem to open. The situation gets worse all the time. If God is there somewhere above, I am convinced he is stone deaf, blind as a bat in daylight. People sing glory in his name at killing everything and everybody, including their own. But nothing ever changes for the better. This God must be lame, and neurologically incapable. In that case then, here is yet another negation of any possibility of any existence of life after death. If there is, it’s not worth the extreme troubles many believers go through in his name. Life begins, and ends here on planet earth. Punktum. Face it!

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
9469
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
July 01, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXIII

HOME AT LAST! Part 23
WALOBA AWARD 2015
Diaspora Friendship, Brotherly Love Celebration

Anele Malumo, WA2015 ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

Anele Malumo, Waloba Award 2015
©Simon Chilembo, 2015

To introduce the recipient of Waloba Award 2015, I take the liberty of reproducing an edited version of my speech to him on his 50th birthday earlier in 2015:

  • You don’t know what it’s like
    To love somebody
    To love a Brother
    The way I love you …
  • Modern, enlightened, liberated men happily declare their love for one another openly even if their love is not of a physically intimate nature. Some call it Bromance. In any case, in South Africa, land of the free, home of the brave, people love who they love, as provided for, and enshrined in the constitution of the land.
  • I’ve heard it said somewhere that if you are not grown up yet by age 50, forget it, you’ll never grow up.
    – But you, Boyzz, grew up long before you turned 18!
    – When I first met you at 12, you had the wisdom and courage that make many 50+ men I know even today, crawl kilometers far behind you.
    – You have by 50, done, achieved, and experienced what many 50+ year old men can only dream of, if at all.
    – So, today, while not trivializing the very significant milestone turning 50 is, I want to postulate that we are not celebrating your coming of age as a fully grown man entering the autumn of life; we are taking time to celebrate a life of strength, courage, wisdom, love, and happiness. A life of the future. A life of inspirational success.
  • Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been going round with this heavy load of severe inferiority complex issues …
    – But thanks to you, Boyzz, in my adult years, my inferiority complex is my power. You were 12 years old, and I was 17, when you most unequivocally elegantly ordered me to stop comparing myself with other people, and be you assured me that you knew I was not stupid, and, therefore, I could be anything I wanted to be, on my own terms. I grew up overnight, and my life was never to be the same again. Look what we got!
    You are a powerful empowerment, empowering force and agent…

    Warrior Brother-in-law, Lizwe Ndlovu receiving diploma on Anele's behalf. ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

    Super Warrior Brother-in-law, Lizwe Ndlovu receiving diploma on Anele’s behalf.
    ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

  • When I am in dark spaces, and life is hard, much like it’s been the past 7 years or so, your voice echoes every so often: “Stay strong, Si! lt’ll be all fine in the end, my man!”
    – You are my reference point whenever I say I have hope, and I know that I shall soon rise
    – As you well know, if and when I finally respond to people who are not nice to me, I can be extremely ruthless and mean, unforgiving … However, it’s because of the pivotal role you continue playing in my life that I still have faith in the good of people ultimately, despite everything else … You are a great source of inspiration in my daily efforts and work at being a good and decent man of the world.
  • When so far in my life, marriage and biological children just haven’t
    happened yet for me, you’ve gone out and done it twice. You’ve allowed me to be part of your family, an act the internal dynamics of which I have felt and seen strengthening the bonds of our friendship and brotherhood in most profound ways over the years. Thanks for the children. I will love them all, all of my days. Thanks for S’thandwa, whose own wisdom, as well as her constantly declared support and faith in me are unparalleled. Your loyalty and devotion both, as well as your huge generousity and kindness are a blessing I’m privileged and honoured to enjoy. Thank you very much!

    Visiting Anele with some of my original Karate Kids Super Stars from Norway. October 2010. Warrior Queen Mother in the middle.  ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

    Visiting Anele with some of my original Karate Kids Super Stars from Norway. October 2010. Warrior Queen Mother in the middle.
    ©Simon Chilembo, 2015

And, at my 55th birthday party in June, leading on to announcing the 2015 recipient, I went on in an unread, prepared speech:

The Waloba Award 2015 diploma is hereby presented to absolutely the finest of them all historically, a perfect gentleman, my dearest best friend and brother, Anele Malumo, the man to whom I owe my life in more ways than one. Congratulations!

Anele was also my first ever Karate training partner in Lusaka in 1977/ 78. About Karate, he has said somewhere, “… I endured the very often arduous training sessions because with Karate, it did not matter so much that I was small. Through Karate, I learnt the meaning and value of what sports commentators call ‘heart’. I also learned that it is much better to confront your fears head on because after that they generally do not look so daunting”

He would later become a champion High School and University Basket Ball Super Star player, as well as Coach. About Basketball, he says, “Basketball afforded me my most memorable experiences of the thrill of winning and being publicly acknowledged for success”

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, MY FRIEND …!


Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
9469
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
June 26, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXII

HOME AT LAST! Part 22 IN PRAISE OF PUSSY – A Song – Diaspora Poetry Inspired by: Åpne din bergsprekk – Det er på tide å ta fitta tilbake/ Open Your Crevice – It’s time to get the pussy back.

The most beautiful thing
I wobble down on my knees for you
To bury my face inside of you
As if to pray
To the highest God
In holy revelation

©Simon Chilembo, 2015

©Simon Chilembo, 2015

In my Son of The Soil Garden of Eden
Dedicated to your splendour
I watched honeybee
Busy inside a rose the other day
Petals in non-modest reddish-pinkish-orangish-yellowish-golden glow
As if source of the sun
Pollen in opulent provide

©Simon Chilembo, 2015

©Simon Chilembo, 2015

I caught the musk of your innermost depths
Went giddy in my head
A tingle arose
From the base of my feet
By the time it merged
At the base of my spine
To the top of my head and back
I thought I was dying
So, I took the last bite of you
I tongued
The throttle of your desire
You pulsated
As if a living heart
Split into two
You squeezed and churned
Fluids of your love
Taste of
No juice
No honey
To compare

©Linnéa Johansson, 2015

©Linnéa Johansson, 2015

Now, the rod of my manhood
Weighs my loins upon you
You look too sweet, too fragile to roughen
So I enter with tenderness
The like of a baby angel
You wriggle
Like I’m riding rough seas
You burn
Pussy, my darling
Here I come
Today, tomorrow
All my days
For you are so beautiful for life
You know
You grace the crotch of
The most beautiful woman on earth
For you are
She is
Creation’s greatest gift to man

END
©Simon Chilembo, 17/ 06- 2015

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
June 17, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XXI

HOME AT LAST! Part 21
DIASPORA LOVE, ROMANCE, MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Simon Chilembo, Pres/ CEO, Chilembo EmpireIn Oslo, back in time, July of one year, Laila, a potential import bride, is totally incredulous, and sends a tirade, “No, no, no, Simon, I refuse to accept your claim that you haven’t slept with even one other woman since we were last together in Cape Town at Easter. You ARE a man! Not possible, no, it’s not possible at all. Impossible! All men I know, including my own brothers and father, do it with anything wearing a skirt at every opportunity, and that’s everyday. How can you be any different from them? With your kind of job and all, where you say White women show you their breasts everyday, how can you not sleep with them? Hell, no, you think I’m stupid, neh? And what about these Karate students of yours? Which male trainer and coach do not take advantage of their female club members? I have also played competition sport before, as you know. I know these things. Stop bull shitting me, please, ntate/ Sir!”

Three weeks later, as she returns home to South Africa, still sceptical, Laila continues, “Man, you are good. Since I haven’t come across anything to support my belief that you do sleep with other women while alone here in Oslo, I might give it to you. But, still, no, all men are dogs when it comes to sex. I really fail to see how on earth it can be possible that you are different from other men in this regard. Please don’t tell me that you are going to stay celibate until December when you come to Cape Town again. Don’t, please, do not insult my intelligence by even making a promise. Just don’t forget about me in your top-secret sex escapades. I love you very much, you know”

Three months later, October, I find myself on a business trip in America. After I had been a week on the road, Laila calls unexpectedly, “So, how many American women have you slept with by now?”
Simon, “None”
Following day, her mid-teens daughter also calls, unprecedentedly, “Uncle Simon, what you are doing to my mother is not good. Please, just tell her you do actually see other women during her absence”
I gave up, in keeping with what Mother Dearest later told me how she had at one point earlier on advised and warned her, “Laila, I know my children very well. If Simon tells you he does not see other women besides you, you better take his word for it because it is true. Were it indeed true that he was double-crossing you, he would tell you so. But that would also mean the end of his seeing you as a lover. My son will leave you if you keep pressing him the way you do”

Blessed be the one woman who shall be my wife, for she shall marry a good man. I am such a good man even I know it. I am Super Man because I also have flaws of my own. Perfection is for Saints, and I’m no angel. Angel is my love so very, very close, and yet so far away in the lands of the wolves. Auwww…! Full moon is here. I’m Burning Up inside. There’s a jingle in my loins. My forbidden fruit. If There’s Hell Below, I don’ wanna go. I love women with all my heart and other relevant parts of my anatomy. I love women so much that without a woman to love in my life, I feel empty and vast like outer space. In that state, I’m here and not here at the same time. I move in stillness of the farthest star, visible to all eyes of the world, yet unreachable, inaccessible.

When I get to love my women, when I have women to love in my life, I take them one at a time. When I have loved one woman after the other the times I have done before, that has been against my longing, my desire, and my wish to love the one current woman forever. When I love a woman, all my eyes fall onto her, she becomes my every thing. In that state, my universe collapses into her, I seek to be one with her. In the end, though, for we are only human with finite spaces of emotional and physical tolerance, we can only handle so much love, so much attention, so much devotion, so much enchantment.
Who wants to be loved by a man’s entire universe? You want to take over my life, dude? I only want your body, man. Keep your mind and your visions to yourself. I don’t need your poetry, I don’t need your songs, I don’t need your stories; I don’t care about your dreams. Just fuck me. That’s all I need of you. Eish, but I’m not Sex Machine the kind of James Brown’s. So, I leave. Outer space awaits me. There is a star beckoning out there. Yet again, Another One Bites The Dust.

Christmas time 1992, having come back home to South Africa for the first time since journeying into exile January 1975, surviving childhood friends kindly come over to my home to greet, and welcome me back. We are all in our early-mid thirties at this point, with varying degrees of success and failures in life thus far. But all are cool and happy. Who cares about who got what university degree, or what big job? Who’s poor, who’s rich? We are all friends and brothers all looking forward to the then emerging new South Africa Nelson Mandela and de Klerk were churning out through CODESA. Yeah, freedom has landed home at last. Let’s celebrate!
“So, Sy, when are the rest of the family arriving, then?” one of the guys asks.
Simon, taken off-guard, “What family?”
Friend, “Argh, man, your wife and the kids, mos/ of course!?”
Simon, “Oh, ja! No, I don’t have wife and kids”
Friend, “What do you mean, no wife? How many times have you divorced so far, then?”
Simon, “No, I have never been married before. No divorces yet. Okay, I see now, I’m actually in a relationship. I live together apart with a woman I love very much in Oslo”
Friend, “Huh?! Living together apart? No children any where?”
Simon, “Sure, no children at all”
Friends, in unison, utterly shocked, “Iyoh, no children?”
Sneeringly, another friend chirps in, “No wife? No children? What kind of a man are you? Are you a man at all, anyway?”
Simon, on edge now, “In my world there is more to being a man than having wives and children. Even dogs have children, you know, guys. And, besides, making children is no big deal these days. Never heard of test-tube babies, yes?”
Charmed, and a little more tipsy than us all, yet another of the guys comes with a brilliant idea, “Neh, neh, neh, majita/ guys, me I know, Sy has a problem with women. I know these Black White Men, nna/ me. I suggest we go e-kassie right now. All the cherries will be all over him. A comrade from overseas? Iyoh, he’s just too hot for the cherries, man. Let’s go! This guy just has to have the real thing, and he’ll be just fine. We shall see those sleeping kids of his kids next year. No problems here. Let’s go!”
Simon, “Thanks, guys, but no, I’m not interested in the cherries. Like I said, I do have a woman in Norway”
After much back and forth, the guys left in a mixture of confusion and disgust. They never came back. We haven’t come together again since.

Meanwhile, at the same time, in Oslo, another older South African exile with sinister intentions corners my living-together-apart girlfriend at a solidarity Christmas party. He tells her how stupid she was to have let me travel to South Africa alone. Didn’t she know that African girls will do my brains so hard and good I would forget about her? Perhaps I might even not get back to Norway because of the good African lays I would have missed all these nearly 20 years in exile. African men were insatiable, didn’t she know that? Did she then think that Simon would spend the four weeks holiday looking at his grandmother’s face only? No, he is going to go on a rampage, taking any sweet little thing that comes his way everyday. You think I’m lying? Ask any NORAD men who have worked in Africa, and they’ll tell you. So, what will you do when Simon does not come back to Norway, then? Huh?

In the middle of the night, with the shebeen groove at home at it’s most thumpy and sensual, and money flying everywhere, Mother Dearest’s house telephone rings incessantly. It was my Norwegian girlfriend, Riya, who wanted to know how much fun I was having bumping and grinding with my Black chicks. I assured her that there was nothing like that going on for me here. In fact, I just couldn’t wait to get back to her because my begjær/ yearning for her since I got on the plane at Fornebu to get to South Africa was killing me. Word of honour. Distance has never gotten in the way of my allegiance to the one woman I love at any one time. When I’m actively in love, it can only be with one woman by choice. The women I allow myself to fall in love with I do so because they are addictive. Because I am Super Man, I know my strengths. Because I value my strengths, I choose to take my women one at a time once I’m hooked.

All players know that sex is cheap. Sex is everywhere, like rice, in poverty, in opulence. Common stuff. Sex is so cheap it conceals its destructive powers so very well. Messy stuff, like rice paddies. While rice paddies grow food to feed the world, sex can bring a player into the paddies to die. If there’s hell below, sink without me. The sort of death where a player dies dead, is laid to rest six feet under, where winds don’t blow, I can live with. It’s slow death sex can subject a player to, dying so slow like one working forever in paddies in the middle of the Sahara where rains don’t fall enough, where winds don’t blow any waters. Been there, done that. Survived, somehow. Super Man strength working. When I sex my women one at a time, I can see where it’s going. I can predict the likely costs of the aftermath. I am able to ride above the temptations of sex because when I fall in love with my one woman, I allow the head above my shoulders to do what it does best: Think.

It is because I think the way I do, that I live the life that I do; breaking all the rules and conventions about messing around, falling in love, getting hitched, and parenthood. Given my background as a born Child of The Diaspora, I learnt very early in my life that in order to survive social pressures and prejudices anywhere, it was imperative to have very clear and specific self-defined rules and guidelines about behaviour in certain specific social settings. It didn’t work quite so well in my youth years, of course. In my adulthood years, I still make my Super Man mistakes in certain areas. But the foundation for my moral and ethical values, as well as standards, binds itself together to constantly shape, develop, and sustain my personal Philosophy of Life.

My personal Philosophy of Life translates into my Faith, which in turn conditions my relationship with my God. It is the nature of the relationship I have with my God, that draws the lines and boundaries as to how I shall conduct myself in society. It also determines my expectations of others’ conduct in similar situations, or other situations implications and outcomes of which will influence the broader spectra of relations across the board. When the lines are crossed, and the boundaries are pushed to the limit, my Philosophy of Life has taught me that my response, and/or judgement, will essentially and primarily not be about love or hate, not about right or wrong, but about Justice and Fairness. It is the position I’ll take on these which will then lead, if need be, to either love or hate, or indifference, as the chosen outcome. Then, a man has got to do what a man has gotta do. Draw the sword once, and it’s done. No turning back. Should somebody fall, it won’t be I. Super Man flies high by default.

In accordance with my strictly adhered to personal Philosophy of Life, I shall never, I can never allow myself, I can never be coerced or induced by anybody or anything or any situation, I can never be manipulated, to get into any form of committal relationship with a woman, get married up, and make babies to the extent that circumstances of my life as I see them here and now, are incompatible with, or are non-supportive of both my desire, need, and ability to be fair, just, and respectful to my partner in love, as well as my future progeny. It’s not about arrogance; neither is it about deceptive misogyny. This is defiance against archaic cultures and traditions in Africa and elsewhere, choosing to apply educated reason as I everyday curve spaces of peace and joy for myself, cultivating, growing, and sustaining my love. When I’m ready, she’ll know, my wife. My children shall pour down with the rains.

To love or not to love? To fuck or not to fuck? To marry or not to marry? To procreate or not to procreate? These are Democratic Principles matters of personal choice in the free World. Such is The Word of my God, as created by my personal Philosophy of Life. My God is my most loyal, most dependable friend, confidant, Coach, Mentor, Advisor, supporter, defender, protector, and fan, who comes to me in many different forms and ways anywhere I am in the world at any one time. As long as my brain lives, so shall my God. My God is my God alone. My God gives me all the attention I need anytime. My God is never tired, never overworked. That way, I can never go to war with anybody. However, if they choose to bring it on, they bring it on. When my conscience is clear, I do not fall. Never. If I do, I rise again. Promise. No brains, no gain, no love, no peace; no value, no service to humanity. Waste. Burden. Darkness. Might as well be dead. There are many lonely planets and souls out there in the far reaches of outer space. Fare ye well, Romeo. Brainless dick head, what say your many wives, your mistresses, and your hundred puppies now? Who is The Man, now? Yes, Super Man, he lives. Strong. Always.

“You, Simon, all the guys in the house have asked me for sex, but you haven’t. What is wrong with you? Are you gay, ndoda/ man?” attacked one frustrated lady into whom I would never ram even with a pole in the dark.
And another, at some major social event, condescending, “Jeeezzus, Simon, man, alone, again? Eish, we want to see our makoti/ daughter-/ sister-in-law from you also soon, you know. Or, tell us, man, are you gay? It’s okay, we will understand, you know!” Lord, have mercy!

I still wouldn’t do it with anything, anyhow even if I were gay, head above my shoulders speaking. I do happen to have a few gay friends, brothers and sisters, as well as children, who are periodically celibate. Class is what we got. Catch us if you can.

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
May 05, 2015

38 YEARS AN EXILE: XX

HOME AT LAST! Part 20
SOUTH AFRICA AFRO-XENOPHOBIA – WHEN BUSINESS DIES …

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

©Simon Chilembo, 2014

My younger sister is angry, very angry. She’s extremely bitter. She hurts so very much. She’s so angry, if the new-on-the-block business rivals knew, if they had any empathy at all, they’d either leave town, or better, listen to the extreme dissatisfaction my younger sister has over their unfair and dubious business practices. My younger sister is not alone. But, they, the new-on-the-block business rivals, don’t seem to care. The relative peace and stability of the post-1994 democratic South Africa allows them to exercise extreme forms of arrogance and insensitivity to their South African business competitors; family mothers, family fathers.

See, these the new-on-the-block business people, almost all of them come from an African Super Power land, the largest economy in Africa, the most populous African nation. They have the right to come and make as much money as possible anywhere in South Africa, at any price, as quickly as possible. It’s their entitlement, of course. Don’t you know that South Africa owes it to them? Their great country contributed to the liberation of South Africa from the shackles of Apartheid slavery and brutality. Payback time. Stop whining, man.

My younger sister and her extremely provoked colleagues are, fortunately, very tolerant and patient. Difficult and trying as the situation may be, they desist from any hostilities directed against these new rivals with rather special methods of doing business. It’s almost two years now since these special African people entered the scene. But they don’t seem to see or feel the bad vibe undercurrent pervading the part of Welkom CBD they operate their unpopular businesses in. To them, in this particular case, South Africans are just stupid fools to be messed around with at will. “They take our kindness for weakness!” I heard someone say the other day. What these people don’t seem to know is that Welkom has always been a melting pot of African Diasporants, especially for those from the entire Southern African hinterland. Hence Welkomites’ relatively greater tolerance and patience towards people of the world. However, bad things have happened to people here before. This is still South Africa. Everyone has a tipping point, even Welkomites.

I hate Xenophobia with passion. I have a very deep, lifelong relationship with Xenophobia. I am a born and bred Xenophobia target child. Xenophobia follows me everywhere I go, everywhere I am. Depending on where I find myself at any one time, Xenophobia comes to me packed in tribalism, nationalism, regionalism, or racism. I constantly have to defensively explain myself whenever I meet my people for the first time, with specific reference to South Africans, Zambians, Batswanas, Basothos, Zimbaweans, Malawians, and, to some extent, Tanzanians, and Angolans: ‘Well, my father was a Zambian. I was born in South Africa, of a South African mother. On my father’s side we have people all over Central Africa, as well as southern parts of East Africa ….’ became a part of my first-time self introduction a long time ago. To White Trash, I’m just another Black fish. They are incapable of seeing how big a fish I am; Whale, actually. On the other hand, in London, responding to my being introduced to him as a South African refugee, an English senior university Professor says, “That’s odd! Chilembo is a Zambian name. Perhaps Malawi. But you must be Zambian” There we go.
Behind my Super Man façade, I carry with me deep Xenophobia induced emotional scars. But they have yet to kill me. So, I get stronger each and everyday that comes and goes.

My father knew well how bad Xenophobia is. That is how, and why, even long before we managed to escape to Zambia in 1975, it has been a family tradition to, when approached, without any strings attached, help anybody from Africa settle in South Africa, if that’s their wish and need. Clean and legal all the way. Pappa was very good at helping and teaching foreign brothers practical things as to how to go about living successfully in South Africa, from fixing jobs, to languages, to car driving. There are several families in my old location, Thabong, who came to being through Pappa’s facilitation. In Zambia, Pappa would further facilitate safe passage in and out of the country for many a South African freedom fighter, regardless of political affiliation, although we were/ are an ANC family through and through. In our homes in Lusaka, we provided, as a matter of course, shelter, comfort, some sort of family setting, and the like for many a young immediate post-Soweto 1976 generation South African in exile. Although South African refugees, particularly the inexperienced youth from uptempo South African townships, notably Soweto, had their bouts of madness in Zambia, on the whole, South Africans left a respectable reputation in the country. Other countries will have their own to speak for themselves.

In a perfect world, competition in business should lead to favourable pricing for the customer, inspiring constantly improving quality of goods and services in the market. Winners in business are those who have the most enduring customer loyalty bases arising from a holistic Satisfied Customer Service Package, which will include goods quality, goods origin/ sourcing, packaging, presentation, Brand identification, business location, premises, hygienic conditions, staff customer relations, customer confidence, and, above all, perceived and actual cost effective pricing apparently favouring the customer. Stayer winners in business are also those who constantly strive to set, and maintain high standards, following managerial and Public Relations practices consistent with what would qualify for acceptable Business Ethics, as well as Good Corporate Governance classifications. This is of universal application, regardless of enterprise size, and scale of operation/ -s. And lastly, but not least, the most successful and lasting business enterprises are those which never go out, intentionally or otherwise, to weaken, or bring to disrepute their industries in anyway, including active competitors.

Simon Chilembo, President/ CEO ©Simon Chilembo 2015

Simon Chilembo, President/ CEO
©Simon Chilembo 2015

My younger sister is very, very angry. When she hurts, I hurt too. Last Christmas she desired so much to see her first and only grandchild, who lives in Durban. No deal. On the grandchild’s 1st birthday a month ago, she still was not able to see the little boy. She’s broke. Yet she goes to work everyday. No business, no job. No money. This is one lady who, in her mid-late 30s went back to school to study for a Diploma In Cosmetology. 1 ½ years of expensive, privately financed education at Tshwane North College. She worked very hard, getting top grades, way above her youth classmates in their late teens/ early twenties. Upon graduation she opened and ran a successful Beauty Care salon in Pretoria 10 years ago. Seven years ago she came back home to Welkom, continuing the success from the major league Gauteng market. All good until about two years ago, when an unprecedented new group of Nigerian Beauty Care entrepreneurs hit town. Well-capitalized, they acquire about all there is of prime business premises. No problem. Welcome, our people! The more the merrier. Competition? Bring it on! There is enough bounty for everyone in Welkom. Alas, the Nigerians want it all for themselves.

The new arrivals come with the most aggressive marketing campaigns. No beef. Wake everybody up. Enliven the market. Bring new ideas, new styles. Give Welkom ladies more Afrikan fire, the time has come for them to rock for real with Afrika woman she dance fire dance … She go say, she go say I’m a lady’o … Oh, yes, Africa Unite! Cool! But, and a big BUT, it seems the Nigerians mean Afrikans unite in Afrika, but not in South Africa. Remember, Mandela sold South Africa to White people and the international Western imperialist forces. We are here to claim our share at all cost before everything is gone.

These Nigerian entrepreneurs have gone about their business totally the wrong way, upsetting many people, including my very angry and bitter younger sister, as well as her other South African colleagues in the Beauty Care business in the city. In their aggressive marketing campaigns, the new comers have defaced the Welkom CBD with very ugly, non-professionally done advertising posters and street boards. This once prestigious, modern business zone looks now more like an informal market place anywhere in Afrika.

The greatest beef with these brothers and sisters of ours is more in the pricing of their services, which are so ridiculously low that, according to my very angry and bitter younger sister, they cannot be logically explained, or even be sustained, given just the cost of materials necessary to perform the various Beauty Cares jobs they do. For example, one basic nails job most popular with clients used to go for R.250.00 per service unit. Factoring in all ordinary material and service provision costs, including effort time, this price would allow for a small but fairly comfortable profit margin; the higher the volumes, the better the profit returns recorded. So, enter the Nigerians, who by some inexplicable miracle manage to slash the price to a banal R.50.00 per unit! Of course, customers rejoice for this. My very angry and bitter younger sister and her colleagues are then ditched for the very, very cost effective Nigerians, the true Afrikans. But experience shows that the latter can charge such outrageously low prices because they are indeed cheap, using non-recognized materials like industrial Super Glue to attach nails. Their service personnel don’t have any evidence of serious relevant professional Beauty Care training, or education. People are injured here, some incurring long term, if not permanent damage, depending of treatment form performed.

My very angry and bitter younger sister now lives off repairing bad jobs done by many a Nigerian so-called Beauty Therapist in Welkom. But there are not many such jobs coming because, more often than not, the affected ladies will have in fact used up much more money in the bad job shops. Affected first time customers often become disillusioned, and therefore, lose interest, or faith, in the Beauty Care business. This is how the Nigerians Beauty Care entrepreneurs have tarnished the industry in Welkom, killing business for my younger sister and her other South African colleagues. These people seem to have no idea about what Customer Relations Management is, not to mention Business Ethics, or Corporate Governance, not in the least Public Relations, or Stake Holder Management.

So, my younger sister is angry, very angry. She’s extremely bitter. She hurts so very much. She’s so angry, if the new-on-the-block business rivals knew, if they had any empathy at all, they’d either leave town, or better, listen to the extreme dissatisfaction my younger sister has over their unfair and dubious business practices. The powder keg is on the verge of exploding. I see it on her face, I see it on her every step, her body language says it all every evening she comes home from work. Heaven forbid! Many mornings she oversleeps, unmotivated to go to work. There is no joy in business any more. The fire, the passion is gone. Future looks gloomier every passing day. Yesterday, I ask her how her day was at work. She, in a stinging melancholic voice, replied, “It looks like I go to work only to pay visits all day at the salon these days”

I once again maintain that the so-called violent Afro- Xenophobia in South Africa does not feed of itself. South Africans do not just wake up one morning and decide that they hate African immigrants. There is more to this scourge than meets the eye. South Africans can, and will receive the entire world’s condemnation; South Africans will be castigated by their own leaders for their unbecoming behavioural patterns and expressions through Afro- Xenophobia manifestations. And, those committing criminals activities during all this shall be brought to book, and be punished accordingly in terms of the law of the land. But to the extent that the African, as well as other immigrants are not made aware and appreciative of their own responsibilities, duties, obligations to basic human decency towards their South African hosts, their unbecoming behaviour will never change, or improve. Such that South Africans will go round with this never healing anger, frustration, and bitterness, which keep Xenophobia alive. Only a matter of time before a new round of violence, which, as experience shows time after time, does not take much to ignite and keep it aglow for a time, taking many innocent lives unnecessarily. My thoughts go to all those who have fallen in these tragic times, with deep-felt condolences to their families and loved ones everywhere.

The cure for Afro- Xenophobia in South Africa lies in the hands and minds of both the victims and the perpetrators. Simple as that. It’s more about attitudes than competition for limited resources and spaces. If it’s acknowledged to be fair, just, and humane, respecting the values, identities, beliefs, and socio-cultural dynamics and relations of the people, it wins the people’s hearts. It is called love for fellow human beings, Humanism. Peace, harmony, and life-supporting co-existence are a natural outcome, then. Of course.

Simon Chilembo
Riebeeckstad
Welkom
South Africa
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
April 23, 2015

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