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Vapopya's Say

Real Life Stories, My Daily Experiences Of Life As I See It

Bidding Farewell To A Dear Friend

When Milestones Into Headstones Change

Death is one of life’s most feared imperatives; an unpostponable guest. It came knocking at the door of my dear friend on 05 March 2016.
Saturday, 19 March 2016, will remain seared into my memory; permanently sealed in my mental vault. I must also indicate that in my late friend’s culture, it is customary to mourn an adult person for two weeks (death to grave).


My friend and colleague was laid to rest on this partly overcast, slightly windy Saturday. And yes, he was a Christian. The church service in the holiday town of Swakopmund (a coastal town in Namibia, for the benefit of those who are possessed of an erratic sense of orientation or those who, for some inexplicable reason, loathed or simply feared Geography at school) was a sombre affair: long eulogies, unending, grief-inducing dirges; they even had a bewailing 12-year old sing a sad requiem, seemingly, to nudge everyone on the precipice of melancholy and deep mournfulness. Really, aren’t we sad enough already?
It was, in point of fact, a dual-service held concurrently with that of a young woman whose life was, as fate may have it, cut short at one of those numerous nightspots in the township in the small hours of that odiously thieving Saturday, 5th of March 2016, the very same day my friend disappeared beyond that imaginary door which only opens once and shuts forever on each of us in this world, a future realm, to borrow from Christian speak.

To be clear; I am not a fan of churches. I might be innately spiritual but religious I, definitely, am not. The tedium of sitting helpessly for hours on end on hard, restrictive church benches is insufferable to me. I have always associated these spired edifices with death, boring, repetitive sermons by dress-wearing, self-righteous old men, eloquent orators peddling in fantasies while perfecting the art of religious sophistry; and that ever-present collection plate.
Believe me, I used to go to church in my teens (maybe counting five times, a proud achievement, in hindsight) and each of these trips left me with more questions than answers on the subject of religion in general, Christianity in specificity.

But, I digress a little.

Admittedly, my poignant, grief-imbued  experience brought about by death of my friend left me with guilt and a hopeless sense of responsibility caused by the sight of his grief-striken family made to stand before the inquisitive mourners. Apparently someone had the mischievous foresight of subjecting them to a parade of sorrow. I always found this spectacle unconscionable considering the circumstances!
Besides who would require a widow and orphans to stand before hordes of mourners as though they were suspects of a crime undergoing some identification parade at a local police station?
Why not just sit them in the front row, in the fitst place where they are easily identifiable?

In the fullness of time, I take refuge in the words of James Russell Lowell:
‘As life life runs on, the road grows strange with faces new and near the end the milestones into headstones change. Needn’t everyone a friend?’.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Pissing on the dead

What is wrong with humanity?

My faith in people is a tad bruised right now. I have lost a dear friend and colleague to illness some five days ago, specifically, 05 March 2016. I have known and worked with the deceased since the mid-90’s and we became good friends plus we live in the same neighbourhood.
Our children attend the same schools and they have been using the same taxi’s to school all these years.
I have learnt a lot and gained wise counsel from my deceased friend over the years because he was a principled and hardworking man.

Why am I opining about my departed friend?
Upon receiving the news of his death over the weekend we got to talk and reminisce about his life at work on Monday and what I have discovered is that people have become utterly desensitised and less compassionate about mundane yet poignant things like the death of other people who are not close to them even if they happpen to be colleagues.

Even the reaction of management was indifferently nonchalant as though his death was but another everyday news bulletin to which people have become numbingly accustomed. Today I spoke to some people at work to gauge their reaction and I was shocked to hear quips like: ‘I never really knew him’, ‘he was rude’, ‘me, go to his place…?, etc.

Does one really have to be best friends with one’s colleague in order to show sympathy upon their death?
Even if we are not on speaking terms with our colleagues or neighbours; is it not incumbent upon us to show compassion and more sensitivity to the families of the deceased during such situations by according requisite respect to the dead?

Regardless of any acrimonious relationship we might have shared with someone who died, do we really have to celebrate their demise?
What makes us human, is it not our agency to transcend personal rancour and reconcile with those whom we perceive as having done untold evil unto us or do we just proceed and piss on their grave?

Pascal once advised:
‘If human dignity lies in thought then let us all strive to think well’.

Kwenda mzuri, friend.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

The Punishing Cost Of Living

I am standing in a supermarket queue to buy some household necessities and observing and scanning the hagard faces of fellow shoppers, I have come to realise that the prices of food and other goods have become unreachable to many.
Most of those observed are young women,
some with babies  on their backs. Most will pick a loaf of bread from the shelf, spend 30 seconds staring at it as if to interrogate it then put it right back, one shopper picked out a bar of soap, walked two steps from the shelf and retraced her steps, dropped it back and lifted another brand of soap; same thing.

Some would just fill up a shopping basket, bravely approach the paypoint, jus to leave half their shopping in the basket. This , clearly, is a sign that times are hard for the ordinary shopper like me.
Strangely, salaries are stagnant while prices of goods are soaring and ever becoming unreachable to those who live at the bottom.
Is hope but an illusion?

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Guns; As In Sweets?

It is shocking that in America civilians are allowed to buy guns, apparently, even automatic guns like Uzzis and Tac 9’s as though they were going in a shop to buy slabs of chocolate.
How can a developed country allow citizens ‘the right to bear arms’ without so much as a cursory background check? No wonder we hear people being mowed down like pheasants almost every three months by unstable owners of these automatic weapons on whom no backgrounds checks were conducted during the sale of these guns.

Many countries in Afrika do not allow civilians to own guns and those which do have laws in place that compel the potential buyer to undergo a background check by the authorities to establish if they have a criminal record and whether the past crimes committed, if any; entail the use of a gun and then there is a waiting period of, say, six months for you to receive your Certificate of Good Conduct.
Also, automatic weapons are not sold to civilians because these are weapons normally used in war and only carried by the military.

In the USA, we are told, they have a pro-gun amendment that entitles civilians to owning even the most dangerous of small arms. Is this done under the cloak of democracy or is this a matter of government having failed to button down the issue of gun control via proper and strict legislation in order to save civilians from themselves?

Now that president Obama is trying to toughen up on gun control he is facing strong headwinds because Americans who love their dangerous guns are throwing their toys out of their collective cot, as it were.

It is neither normal nor a sign of democracy at work that civilians are walking around with automatic weapons.
The law must come down on those who sell guns illegally or those own seek to buy guns without background checks, like a hand of God.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Clash of Cultures

I recently made a brief acquaintance with a Chinese (whose name escaped me just as I am writing this, damn!).

Let me, for the purpose of this piece call him Jian. Jian is a fine and friendly person whose height I found an oddity because I would put him at 1.8 m and here I was labouring under some warped illusion that all Chinese are short. I have to admit that this was the first time of my having to come or live in close contact and interact with Chinese people ever. Most of the little I, hitherto; knew about Chinese people was garnered from American movies which, in many respects, painted them them as criminals or dangerous communists.

Of course, I know this was but movie stuff pitting Chinese (villains) against Americans (heroes). Even in my own country, Chinese are generally regarded with undue  suspicion: unhygienic, lousy employers who pay sweatshop wages, etc. Maybe there is some truth in some of these claims. However, my first-hand interface with them made me reconsider my slightly negative view of them and I have come to an informed conclusion that sometimes our fear of people from other parts of the world is majorly steeped in cultural stereotypes and our lack of understanding of their languages, lifestyles or traditional norms.
It is better we treat people as individuals in our quest to understanding them instead of lumping them together in a group like: ‘All Chinese are bad people’.

Now, back to Jian.
The Jian encounter surprised me about how culture and language can be huge impediments in the world for people from different backgrounds.

We engaged in a general and innocent convocation about our respective countries and the conversation meandered towards population. I then asked him about how China’s population might be approaching the 1.5 or even 2 billion mark. He looked at me with some keen dumbfoundedness and said: ‘No my friend! Our population is 50 billion people’. Now it was my turn at being dumbfounded. ‘What!’, I said to my amiable friend, Jian. He then repeated himself with some matter-of-fact certainty.

Needless to say, at first I was embarrassed that I was so wrong and I started cussing at my former history and geography teachers and then self for having become such an uninformed dork recently. I was still punch-drunk when I realised that, maybe, we have different numeracy systems and maybe a Chinese billion is totally different from the kind of billion we quote here.

I challenged Jian that he was possibly wrong and immediately asked him what he reckoned the population of America was (I used America because it occured to me that many non-Afrikans do not even know where Namibia is in the geographical and geopolitical spectrum) and he returned that America has a population of about 15 billion! To this I countered that the world population was not even more than 8 billion; he would have none of it.
The following morning Jian came to me in a defeatist mode and apologised that he was wrong; I was right. I admire him for this uncomfortable recanting because many people would just keep quiet instead of admitting they were wrong.
Honestly though, Jian is an intelligent chap but up to now I cannot fathom why he had his arithmetic upside-down because he speaks passable English and one cannot, therefore, chalk his number-bungling up to some English language handicap.

Maybe he was just an average mathematics student  which I, somehow, doubt.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

To my followers and those who read my blog; and more

1. I would like to seize this moment to wish you a fruitful 2016. As I was beginning to pen this the clock read 21:20, ballpark over 3 hours before that last second to usher in a new moment in our mundane lives where age is measured in seconds and minutes, hours and days, years and centuries. It is strange how sometimes; in my private moments, I start wandering off into my inner sanctum, questioning what our purpose in the world really is, wondering why we sometimes behave in a manner that implies that we are immortal. Make no mistake, I am neither religious nor do I  believe in the much vaunted ‘guiding light’ or the Christian notion of heaven or the much prophesied hereafter. However, every year, this very moment, I stray into some kind of reverie where I probe and query what our purpose in life is. Is it to amass wealth for ourselves and those close to us during our lifetime or is it to have just enough to live a comfortable life while compassionately saving something (by way of sustainably exploiting finite natural resources) for posterity?
It is inevitable that we all shall perish in our individual capacities.

Nicholas Evans in his masterpiece novel titled ‘The loop’:’Life is like a circular trip, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb’.
That is; it ends where it starts for all of us rich or poor, lettered or unlettered, king or vassal.
2. Lastly; my immediate relatives, friends (old and new), acquaintances, colleagues, ‘brothers-in-arms’ you are not left out. If you have the misfortune of chancing upon this new year rant, you are considered. You are part of this subset of the highly-valued.

Wishing you a great 2016 and good health. Keep putting pen to paper as we cross-pollinate each other with rich and instructive ideas that way.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Senseless Materialism

What drives a normal human being to senseless levels of materialism? Can someone, please, explain to me why any person feels the need to buy a 15-bedroom house with 8 toilets, a swimmingpool, sprawling yard with a tennis court…at a cost of $15 000 000 when they are just a family of one?

What makes a person spend $800 000 on a 2-door car? Even if they have money, what motivates a person to want such obscene material properties that are far beyond the necessities of life? Is it the need to strike awe in others, the hunger to be feared, respected, have others idolise you? Peer pressure?

Yesterday I had an innocuously combative yet rich discussion on the same subject with a friend of mine who posited that this urge to have more and more is prompted by visual factors such as the type of cars our friends, colleagues, neighbours are driving or the houses they live in coupled with the need to be part of the ‘successful’ crowd.
However, when I asked my friend what of his individual principles and moral constitution: to do, behave, own and live according to their own moral code? He had no immediate, non-circuitous answer.

I then asked him if it makes sense to him to blow $1500 on a bottle of cognac knowing there are children dressed in tattered, threadbare clothes who are begging for food at the shiny front door of the posh restaurant he is patronising who would go to bed on an empty bellies? Surprisingly, he was equivocating in his reply.

People who spend their money in this obscene fashion will, as an excuse; tell you, and in a defensive mode, that they have toiled hard to be where they are today. However, they do not need to try so hard to exhibit their achievements in the form of material things they do not actually need. What about compassion for those who are living in reduced circumstances; the unfortunate ones?
That sense of community? How much are we donating out of our own accord and not because we are forced by legislation as part of our corporate responsibility?

There are those ‘successfuls’ who reckon that people who are poor are so because they are stupid. In Afrika where I dwell many people do not have tertiary education and it follows that family household incomes are meagre. This is mostly attributed to colonialism by European countries who viewed Afrika as a source of slave labour and minerals to develop their own countries. It is the 21st century but many Afrikan families have only one person with a college education for the first time in many generations. Some have no one to show as a token of education. Is this because they are stupid? No.
Education, especially, tertiary education is punishingly expensive in many Afrikan countries and this makes it inaccessible to many high school graduates from poor families who do not receive scholarships.

Still you will find some people here, in the midst of grinding poverty; who would be cruising around in expensive Range Rovers whose monthly instalments their monthly salaries can barely sustain just to keep up appearances. What human defect is this?

Does it make you feel good inside to possess what you, most definitely, are certain your ‘arrogant’ brother, sister colleague, and/or neighbour wants but cannot have as it is beyond their financial wherewithal?

Humans are strange animals.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Religious Fanaticism

God is an omnipresent, invisible being or so we are told. Almost all nations in the world have a god before whom they bow to ask for some intervention during calamities or even expressing gratitude for the ocassional windfall in their lives. Therefore, it is only natural for people to feel the need to praise God. Nothing wrong with that, right?

However, it becomes problematic when ‘religious believers’ become fanatical about their individual religions and start pushing the gospel of ‘us and them’; a case in point:Christians and Muslims, Jews and Muslims or some such pious religion.

It is strange how religion seperates people such that even mundane matters such as inter-marriages become anathema between two  individuals from different religious backgrounds. It is crazy when inter-worship is rendered impossible since different denominations ,serving the same God, have hostile belief systems and policies making it inimical to conflate worshipping practices.

Most conflicts that we are witnessing today have their origins and roots in religion. People of the same God hate each other because if you listen to the preachings of ‘men of God’ from all these religions you will discover the source of this hatred. Their teachings are so laden with venomous indoctrination and only serve to deepen the  gulf of animosity that already exists amongst nations on the basis of worship.

What do you think motivates Israelis and Palestinians into butchering one another since time immemorial, Christians and Muslims in Nigeria bludgeoning each other to death daily, ‘Christian’ countries (US, France, Britain, etc) in default war mode against Muslim countries (under the auspicies of NATO) and vice versa?

Religion is probably not a churlish act of seeking a sense of purpose in our lives but I think people are taking it too seriously if they would practise it to a level where it becomes a source of conflict and those spearheading religious institutions become maniacs frothing at the mouth as they spew hate speech.

Just yesterday people were gunned down in France and within a couple of hours an order of a call to arms was issued by the French leadership; that the French (Christians) will respond to such attacks with similar deadly force against suspected terrorists (Muslims).

It should be worrisome to this so-called civilised world that both sides (the French and the suspected ‘terrorists’)  who seek to out-kill one another actually reckon it is their ‘divine’ and ‘religious’ duty to do so. However, we all know this is not going to end any time soon as it becomes a recurring, murderous vicious cycle. The French mighty have military might but the other side has faith aplenty.

It is exactly for these reasons that people of the world need to step-the hell-back and think well; slow down on this type of toxic religion and recalibrate their belief systems to intolerant levels by breathing some oxygen of tolerance in the way they serve God.

Would God even ask for us to worship him this fanatically? Apparently these ‘believers’ from across different religions are of a view that theirs is a better religion which ushers them on the right path to some imaginary heaven and nothing else matters.

I do not care about some crazy notion on some imaginary heaven and the surreal promise of everlasting peace in the ‘kingdom’ of God. I want to live in peace in the here and now!

So, save the world from this rabid bibliolatry by toning down on the stupid, hate-inducing Christianism, Islamism or Judaism.

Thank You. Keep Reading.

Decolonise Your Mind

It is shocking to learn that there are still black Namibians who actually believe that white people are “born with functioning brains” in comparison to black people, that whites are our saviours and we cannot as Afrikans stand on our own without guidance from white people.

According to this pitiful fellow, we as Afrikans must thank the whiteman for the development he brought to us. This subservient black man continues to say that other Afrikan countries where there are no white people are in a state of “decay” even if they got their independence decades ago.

It is further said we in Namibia are lucky to have the “born-with-functioning-brains whites” here, apparently making us look like a European country in the middle of Afrika.

So this apologist of colonialism feels that removing the statues of colonial/apartheid engineers is not a good thing because the whiteman did a lot for us.

I do not know if we still had people (Afrikans) like these in Namibia whose minds are still in chains and who think white people are only second to God.

I then drew this scenario to my apologist interlocutor:

15 black babies and 15 white babies are born on the same day, in the same hospital. A conscious decision was made that these babies will be raised together and be afforded the same amenities (language, education, accommodation, lifestyle, etc) until they finish university.

The question was:Would this fellow still think that the 15 white kids will outperform the 15 black kids just on account that they were white and as per his assertion “born with functioning brains”?

Fellow Afrikans; liberate yourselves from “mental colonialism”. Forget your 1960’s uncles’ farm labour anecdotes of white people being superhumans who can do anything. These were said out of ignorance as then our people were still illiterate and the fear of the whiteman was beaten into their psyche; literally.

Purge yourself of your domestic mom’s remonstrations of “baas” deserving all respect because he employed her and that puts a hot plate on the table. I know this was drilled in some of you, ad infinitum, but it is akin to the legend of a lion amongst most Afrikans who up to today are numbly scared of this animal on account of folklore.

Afrikans, take pride in who you are. Shun intellectual bankruptcy.
And, have confidence that you can achieve.

Decolonise your mind.

Thank You. Keep Reading.