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Monthly Archives: May 2013

You Know You Are Zimbabwean If

1. You only buy soft drinks when you have visitors.

2. You think BORED means annoyed, frustrated or disappointed (as in
waakundibhowa manje)

3. You cannot count up to ten in your own language and are proud of it

4. You think plastic bag and paper bag is the same thing.

5. You think perfume and deodorant is the same thing.

6. You know what “the Epilogue” on the T.V is.

7. You think that Coca-cola is the generic name for all soft drinks, Cobra for all floor polish, Surf for all washing powder & Colgate for all toothpaste

8. You only have 3 spices- salt, mhiri phiri and Royco usavi mix.

9. You believe in recycling- old tyres make good shoes, old stockings
are great for shining the floor, newspaper makes good toilet paper and
old cars make good chicken coops.

10. You know there are two classes of people- maSALAD and maSRB but are
not sure where you belong.

11. You bad-mouth the government but never vote.

12. You hear the word WEDDING and immediately think of STEPS.

13. You know what DAMAGES are, in relation to marriage.

14. Your idea of eating out is going to Chicken Inn.

15. You have seen the inside of a blair toilet.

16. For you Christmas means new clothes, and Christmas dinner is rice
and chicken.

17. You have ever named your dog after animals that are not remotely
related to dogs. e.g. Tiger and Spider.

18. Your fridge usually has 2litre Mazoe containers filled with water only

19. You visit a relative without prior notice and will try to stay for
as long as possible (nekuti pane chikafu…)

20. You’ve never been to Victoria Falls, Kariba or Eastern Highlands but have
been to Joburg, Dubai etc several times (madhiri…!)

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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Why I am Breaking Up With Kanye’s Ego

If you ask most people who know me to tell you something about me, I’m willing to wager that most people would probably mention something about me being either a Manchester United fan or a Kanye West fan. Both have shaped different stages of my life in one way or the other. With Kanye I am not just a fan of the music but also a fan of his story. A story about turning a near fatal car crash into the catalyst for his biggest triumph – a brilliant career in music. I am drawn to his passion, drive and self belief.  It is a self belief and confidence that (most of the time) balances delicately on the edge of the egoistic. Kanye’s confidence in himself and his abilities is often misconstrued as arrogance, but that’s only if you look on the surface. When I listened intimately to his lyrics I heard a charming and playful braggadocio.

Kanye not only made me believe I could touch the sky, but the story he shared on ‘Last Call’ , on his College Dropout album, is one of the most inspiring stories the dreamer in me repeatedly runs back to when the going gets tough. In the College Dropout Kanye came across as the relatable confident underdog with a stubborn determination to make his dreams a reality no matter how ludicrous they might have appeared to those around him. He believed in himself more than anyone else believed in him. Kanye taught me not only to believe in myself, but to trust myself and also showed me the importance of passion and hard work when it comes to achieving your goals.

The College Dropout is still my personal favourite particularly for its timing and the nostalgia high it takes me on every time I listen to it. The release of the College Dropout also coincided with the start of my twenties and rather ironically the beginning of my university (college) education.  It was the perfect soundtrack for that part of my life. A time in my life I was actively and desperately seeking for something to relate to. It spoke eloquently to what and who I wanted to be. I related more to Kanye’s  story than I had ever with any other artist prior.

When Kanye released College Dropout I was at a crossroads with my relationship with Hip Hop. I was feeling disenchanted and disconnected from most of Hip Hop.  As much as I enjoyed listening to 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Trying album it didn’t move me, well except for when I was In Da Club. Kanye’s  College Dropout album saved my relationship with Hip Hop. It was such a soulful and refreshing sound. It was light hearted. It was uplifting. But more significantly it resonated and moved me and the timing couldn’t have been better. Thanks to the College Dropout I fell in love with Hip Hop all over again.

Further releases of Late Registration, Graduation, 808’s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy continued to provide the soundtracks to my twenties. I was not alone in this as most of my friends at that time also related to Kanye’s music in a similar way. So you can imagine my surprise when one of friends messaged me randomly and said “Dude, I think I need to break up with Kanye.” This particular friend might just be a bigger Kanye fan than I am. At some stage he used to style his outfits based on Kanye’s own personal style. That was how far reaching his influence was. So when he said that to me I won’t lie, I was stunned. And then just as quickly I was intrigued. What followed next was in depth discussion in which we both chronicled the influence Kanye has had over our lives over the last decade. How we both have also grown into our own people and how that influences our relationship with Kanye the man and his music.

My friend’s argument was this (and I’m paraphrasing here)

 ”Kanye’s music is still on point, but dude has really become a douchebag. Dude is always angry, complaining and being a diva. Dude rants most of the time now. The thing now is his douchiness  is starting to overshadow  his talent for me. Dude used to be funny, his early albums had a lot of humour and there was a light heartedness and optimism to his music. Now he comes across as super intense, and, he is always wearing his screw face these days. He doesn’t have the class and grace of his big brother (Jay Z). His music has lost its soul. Worse still I don’t think he has anyone on his team telling him when he is being an asshole.”

He also brought up how Kanye went from singing Jesus Walks on College Dropout to him embracing his inner douchebag in Runaway off the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Album as an example of that evolution into a douche. However that was not the tipping point for him. What cemented his decision to ‘break up’ with Kanye is an incident that happened a few weeks ago. Kanye called the New York radio station Hot 97 and ranted about not being on higher up on their hottest Emcee’s in the game in list. He mentioning in that rant that he gave Sway( a presenter) a TV back in the day. He felt you can’t air a dude out like that. He thought it unnecessary and petty.

The more I thought about our discussion the more I found myself reflecting and analyzing not only my relationship with Kanye, but how he has evolved as an artist and a person. This is just my opinion, but I think when his Mum died at the peak of his career something snapped. A part of him died. The albums he has put out since have had darker themes. The light heartedness of his earlier efforts has gone AWOL. His music became more melancholic than melodic.

All through 808’s & Heartbreak and to a lesser extent in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy he was dealing with that pain of loss, his personal demons as well as the fallout from some of his less than flattering and maybe even misguided public outbursts. His genius was that he managed to channel all that angst and upheaval in his life into his music. The end product was a brilliant work of art. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is not only a critically acclaimed album but arguably his best album to date. As fans we gained from his loss. The assumption also was that he was dealing, so it was a win/win right? Well I’m not sure about that, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

So what does all this have to with me breaking up with Kanye’s ego? Allow me to explain. As I have grown I have made my own mistakes. Mistakes I have had to be accountable for. I have also had to deal with loss and heartbreak. In the process I have begun to despise ego because of the things it has cost me. Ego has cost me relationships and has at times stunted my personal growth by not allowing me to learn the lessons I needed to. The layers I have added to the person that I am make it difficult for me to continue embracing ego.

So that’s why I am breaking up with Kanye’s ego. Kanye’s ego is something I have always embraced and it has always enabled my own ego. I have so many of my own experiences to draw from and that has made me more comfortable in my own skin. I am leaning more on my own experiences to define myself more. When I think about the rants and outbursts I see an ugliness the man I aspire to be finds very uncomfortable with. Kanye is still is one of my personal heroes, but his ego can’t be my imaginary friend anymore. Me and his music, we good. I just hope that now that his current girlfriend is pregnant having a kid will renew and reinvigorate him and perhaps fill the void his Mum left as well as bring back some of the soul and jokes back into his music.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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I Am Zimbabwean, But I Still Call Australia Home

I have been home for the last five months. The longest I have been at home over the last decade. I use the term home rather pensively and maybe even a little awkwardly. Home to me has always been a a transient concept and is an ambiguous place most times. Most people identify home as the place that they were born and most likely grew up. This is usually one particular place. So what do you call home if your upbringing has been a nomadic one? If all your life you have never lived in one place for an extended period of time. Lately I have been musing on this rather incessantly. I have asked myself “What does home mean?” Where is home?” For most people these are simple questions. For me?, not so simple.

One thing I can definitely identify with is as a Zimbabwean. I was fortunate due to my father’s career as a hotelier to have lived in many different parts of the country. Albeit mostly in hotels. By the time I was eighteen which was the time I left Zimbabwe to go and study in Australia for my university education I had already called Harare,Victoria Falls, Troutbeck, Bulawayo, Hwange, Kariba, Masvingo, , Mutare, and Juliasdale home. I lived in all those places for at least a year at a time. I had a rich Zimbabwean experience growing up. Home for me has never been one particular physical address, but instead it has always been a transient place. The only constant being my family. Home is where my family is.

My parents now live in the Eastern Highlands town of Mutare in Zimbabwe. Mutare is also referred to as ‘Kuma komo yo’ in the manyika dialect of the Shona language which loosely translates to ‘in the mountains’. It is a small town where it often seems like everyone knows each. I don’t know anyone. Which is why I sometimes feel awkward calling it home. The reason being I only lived here during my gap year between high school and university. But it is the place that my parents have called home for the last decade. This place I have hardly lived is home.  Home is where my family is.

Whilst some might look at all the moving around as a source of instability for my young mind I look at It differently. It was as an enriching experience and a big factor in cultivating my open mindedness. It has allowed me to adapt to different environments relatively smoothly. It might also explain my commitment issues, but let’s not get into that. That’s a whole different blog. What I know is that the man I am today is a product of all the experiences I had growing up in different places all over Zimbabwe and the ideologies I carved out for myself as an adult.

 I spent a major part of my twenties living in Australia. A period I slowly came into my own as a man. Australia is where I spent all my university years, the place where I got my first job, paid my first bill and experienced my first heartbreak. Just about everyone I call a friend I met in Australia. Australia is the place that, when my parents visited for my graduation they finally told me the story of how they met. It is the place I saw them go on dates and first viewed them as lovers and not just parents. It is the place I first bought my Dad a six pack of beer. Most of my adult memories are safely tucked away down under. So if home is a place filled with some of your best memories then ‘I still call Australia home’.

 I haven’t lived in Australia since the end of 2010. I briefly moved back to Zimbabwe for a few months before packing up and moving to Cape Town, South Africa for work.  I have called the Mother City home for the last two years. With Cape Town it was love at first sight. This is because as a place and for the struggling culture vulture in me Cape Town has many similarities to Melbourne. There also happens to be a lot of Zimbabweans living in Cape Town. Nine times out of ten, if I am in bar or I take a cab I can get away with ordering a drink or chatting to the cab driver in my mother tongue Shona. Cape Town is also the place that has nurtured the writer in me. Most Capetonians fancy themselves creative’s at heart. So I guess for me it was a case of when in Cape Town, you do what the Capetonians do.

Whilst it might seem like I struggle with a sense of belonging and I do ask myself “Where do I belong?” I still consider myself fortunate to not only just visit, but to have called so many places home. I have had the privilege to have had my primary and secondary education in Zimbabwe, which at the time had the best education system in Africa by far. My world view has greatly been enhanced by the opportunity to study and work in the Diaspora (especially when juxtaposed with the perilous state of my beloved Zimbabwe for most of the naughties)

The politics and complexities of what home means aside, I’ve found ‘belonging’ and being familiar with different places has made my life richer. I‘ve had a deep insight into different cultures. I’m aware of their points of tension and area of overlap. My perspectives and experiences have a width and depth they would otherwise lack. Ultimately growing up in different places has taught me the lesson that all people have more in common than they believe. We all seek the same things, love, acceptance and security. We simply have different methods of pursuing our aims. If a person is good (or bad) it is not because of their culture or nation of origin, it is in spite of it.

I remember growing up and cringing at some of my parents idiosyncrasies. Exhibit A; my parents named a cow I inherited from my late grandmother Bendigo, after the university town I initially studied in. Exhibit B; our family dog is called Toorak, after the Melbourne suburb I was living in when my parents visited. I had no say in the naming of either. When I m not cringing at such trivialities I often look back and marvel at why my parents have achieved. These are two individuals who came from broken and disadvantaged homes but have still managed to build a respectable life. Both my parents grew up in the then Rhodesia and never went to university. Still they made great sacrifices to send me to a world class university at a time when it was easier not to. They did this through hustle, determination, tenacity, belief and vision. My parents have not only given me a better life. They have given me many homes that are and mean many things to me.

So that question again. Where is home? … Home is where my family is. Home is where some of my best memories are. Home is every place I have lived.

I am a Zimbabwean, but I still call Australia home.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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