Girls just wanna have fu-uhn..

On a personal note…

One of the perks of being a journalist is the simple fact that you can ask people awkward questions and not feel like a sociopath. Well.. sorta.

As i was standing in the queue to get my permit at the South African Embassy in Harare,  I overheard a particularly interesting conversation which had me casting my thoughts back to a time when I witnessed one such “scenario”.

A close friend of mine, we shall call her Carla, invited me out to a party slash get together with a crew of interesting guy friends of hers who were graduating that year. (we were varsity newbies so hanging out with the ‘senior boys’ seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.

I agreed to go, not because i was out of things to do but because I had my eye on one of the seniors – Tony* who happened to be the guy on who’s arm all girls would wanna drape themselves at one point or other. In my näive opinion, he was the complete package.  Focused, Charming, Respectful with a body that wont quit and the face of an angel.

I went all out primping for the evenings festivities. I was going to be the life of the party – not so much so that he’d think I was a handful but just enough to catch his attention and keep it. We arrive at the destination which was a local hang out spot for the UCT students. We breeze in, working the room first (no one makes a beeline for the guys – it looks tacky & desperate ) avoiding eye contact with them until they came and fetched Carla and I from the seats we had claimed for ourselves.

Tony is there and judging by the way he was looking at me, I figured all the afternoons hard work of primping was not in vain. I did the dougie in my head and we sauntered over to their table and i mentally prepared myself to be entertained…

End of part 1

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Nightmare on Elcombe Street

The night is cold. With only the moon as light, one would expect people to be indoors  or at least on their way home but such is not the case.

Hundreds of potential students and workers are camping out on Elcombe street with the hope of making it into the first 150 people to be served the next morning at the South African Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Some have arrived at 7pm and have set up camp to wait for the office hours the next day.

Getting a visa/ permit in Zimbabwe has proved to be a difficult endevour since the new South African visa re gulations have been set in motion. One of the main regulations states that everyone must apply for a change of status at the embassies in their home countries.

In as much as this lessens the burden on the South African internal home affairs it has set off an unfortunate domino effect for students and workers stationed in the republic.

“Registration closes on the 19th (of January) and i am still here. I have been trying to submit since Monday but the line is so long, for you to get served you have to get here (the embassy ) at 2 am and wait for [sic] when they open,” says Tinashe* a first year student at the University of Cape Town.

The workers at the South African Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe have decreed they only serve 150 apllicants for submission a day. The applicants have taken to sleeping on the street with the hope of securing a place in the coveted 150.

Hustlers have found a way to make easy cash by selling spaces on the queue.

“There is a man who tells people to write their names down for a spot in the queue. He obviously is paid by people to keep spots for them whilst they go home for the night and come back the next day, whilst others have slept there all night,” says Chiedza*  who is applying for a visitors visa.

The “man” who sells spots on the queue was not available for comment.

Having discovered this, I decided to find out for myself how far true this was. On Wednesday the 7th of January I decided to go and try and keep a place in the coveted 150.  I arrived at 10:30pm and found the queue quite short. There was roughly 80 people sleeping in line. I stationed my chair at the end of the queue and waited.

Before long, three men, two of which  were drunk and one was calling out to people in the queue to put their names down in his book. He claimed to have 120 names down. I guessed I had found the “man”. A short light man walking around with a counter book and torch.

People who had just arrived scrambled to scribble their names down. But I held back. This man did not have any uniform or way of identifying what he was there for. After some time I went and wrote my name down as well.

It was at around 2:15 am when the commotion started.

This man and his cronies had one of the night guard call out the names on the list. Displacing those who had arrived earlier and not written their names down.

This is the time this man slots in his clients who have booked places.

“This guy creates so much confusion that people lose their places and have no choice but to follow the structure of his list.

He obviously puts his people in because some of the guys in the line now weren’t here earlier. ” said one student.

When asked how much people paid, most of the people assumed the prices were from 25US $ to be in the top 20 and from 10US $ to be in the top 50.

“The prices were from 25US $ for a spot in the top 20… and 10US $ for a spot in the top 50.”

The issue of getting visas has turned into a nightmare for students and workers the like with the system screws having been tightened and corruption levels on a high.

Most students are contacting their respective employers and institutions requesting extentions and liniency during this trying time.

 

names have been changed due to sensitivity.

I O U – For screwing your daughter.

So i mentioned something about lobola – bride price arrangements – in my previous post.

This festive season, my brother was a victim of the tradition.

He recently went for lobola negotiations in order to marry his intended.

Let me start by explaining what it is. Lobola or Roora in Shona is a practice were a man, having decided on the girl he wants to marry, will gather his most charming team which should include a friend, an uncle, his father – or a representative- a messenger , basically male relatives from his family who will make him look good in front of the new would be In-Laws.

They agree on a date, when this team goes to the homestead of the intended and formally introduce themselves – their reception is welcomed for a price of course. There are protocols that must be followed. The messenger goes first to announce the visit to the woman’s relatives, who can either accept or refuse to host the party. This messenger is then sent back with a list of groceries that will be used during the visit – food, and cleaning equipment.

However with todays economy this list becomes more like a show-off token for the neighbors. The bigger and flamboyant the “grocery” the more envious they will be.

At the reception, before pleasantries are exchanged the woman’s family pulls out their copy of the list and tick off everything. If everything is there, the ceremony continues but if one thing is missing – even something as menial as a matchbox – they will be sent back and this box will only be accepted with a fine.

At the ceremony, amounts of money will be charged to the mans family. These include but not limited to benchmarks in the woman’s life – how the man heard of the family from which his intended is from to feeling their fathers pre-shaved face :the cute thing little girls do to their fathers before they shave their beard – to how the intended and the man met.

Lets just say exorbitant amounts of money are charged to the groom’s family.

I asked why this is so. There is no way in this economy a person can pay off their lobola. The answer I was given was rather interesting.

“The art of lobola is not to pay off the full amount. It is a basis on which relationships are forged.”

Sooooo technically relationships are forged on I O U’s for screwing one’s daughter? Not really.

These relationships allow the groom to respect his wife, having gone through so much to get the approval from her parents. The lobola process is long and sometimes rather unpleasant. It also shows an element of goodwill from both parties. For allowing a new son-in-law to wed their daughter on credit – with the notion that the rest comes in in taking care of the wife and her family and in being allowed to take a daughter from her father and making her your…everything.

I dunno if this does guarantee good treatment in a relationship but I know one thing though. They try to stay in the marriage as long as possible coz there is no refund.

X

…and sometimes age comes alone.

Growing up in an African background means that one grows up engrossed in the throes of tradition.

Some traditions like lobola – bride price payment, funeral rites, etc are meant to bring families together, however misguided as they may be sometimes. Traditions are supposed to bring forth togetherness, chastity, goodwill and respect in people.

One of the rules one should adhere to when growing up in an African household – or any household in general – but is a matter of life and death in an African household – is to Respect your elders. They have “been through things” therefore can give you valuable insight on the “goings on” of the world.

I was at a braai with a few relatives during the festive season, when a difference of opinion caught my attention. An elderly cousin of mine was relating a funny incident, which involved him mentioning an offending line in Italian. (of course the said party did not know this)

A younger person listening to this chimes in and guesses the phrase is probably in Italian or Spanish. The older man – whom we shall call G was swift in his denial that it was definitely NOT Italian.

Not being able to help myself, as I hate seeing older people bulldoze younger people because of their lack of age, asked G what language it was then, since he was adamant it was not Italian. He must therefore know what it is.

His answer was “I dunno what it is, but I know its not that.”

My follow up was then “How do you know for sure what language it isn’t, If you don’t know what it is? Especially considering both of you do not speak any other language besides Shona and English?”

To which he got all loud and surly.

I realized that if I hadn’t stepped in, this child would have been bulldozed into silence – i’ll bet a bit embarrassed for speaking up and being shot down when both of them were none the wiser.

I’ve seen this hundreds of times growing up. Older people sometimes get away with saying nil-statements and half-truths confusing little children who are taught to accept their word as gospel because of their advantage in age. Sometimes it is ok to respectfully question authority. If I am being told something I need to know why that is. Its normal.

Some people think with age comes wisdom, authority and respect – which is true most of the time but not 100% guaranteed. Wisdom and Knowledge walk hand in hand. It is ok to admit if you do not know something, that is how you learn. That is how you earn respect.

With age comes many things, many blessings. Humility being one of them. Humility, wisdom, respect all those things. But sometimes…age comes alone.

X

I

HELP! Call the popo’s

So, Yeoville again today.

We had an interesting rather scary time in Yeoville today.

After my interviews this morning, which went great by the way – The real drama did not start until after my shoot.

I took my colleagues to go and film on top of the mountain and we where cornered there by one thug. Who called his friend – who called another friend.

We called the police, who showed up in record time- and assessed the situation and immediately told us to leave with them.

But because we hadn’t finished filming we couldnt leave as yet.

Bu the time we were done, our emotions where frazzled because we where trapped on top of that mountain with no food or water waiting tor the police to come a second time.

We ended up being bailed out by one of our mentors who stepped up and came to escort us to a safer place.

We can laugh about it now but it was scary as hell up there. And I still have to go back tomorrow.

Hopefully it will be better as I will be at the station for the most part.

Wish me luck..x

The subtle “Go-between”

So yesterday I went to Yeoville again and went straight to the station where I supposed to meet C M who was going to talk to me about the new station and show me the changes they would make in the transition from this old station they are currently operating from to the new one.

So during this tour, I see the new station and the place where the intelligence is currently based, which is 2kms away.

It was an experience, riding in the police car, it is surprisingly comfortable.

We get to the new station and I take nice shots of the cells and the new space – which is luxurious.

We had to run back to the station were CM had an urgent issue to attend to. In this time, my colleague and I were waiting for him in one of the offices.

Whilst we where waiting, one of the superintendents calls us to come and “help” them with something.

We walk to the other office, wondering what it is we could possibly do for them.

In the office are two sergeants, two superintendents and a colonel who were having a bit of a tough time dealing with two suspicious looking lesbian females.

He asked us – as women- to help bridge the apparent communication gap they where having with these two women, who were sticking to a script like impromptu actors.

The situation – which I am not at liberty to publish – was hilarious. These women felt the male police were not understanding things from their point of view – needless to say – the police where right.

I realized one thing yesterday. It is very easy to spot a liar. Even a seasoned one. People have nervous ticks about them – however subtle- that give them away. The trick is to identify what they are very soon and focus on what the person is telling you, without using any words.

Be that as it may, I realized I am too snarky to be a go-between. I also find humor in the most awkward situations – which would make for a terrible “go-between”.

Anyhoo…wish me luck…x

Don’t talk to me – Talk to my lawyer!

Doing this feature has taught me things I never knew about legal proceedings.

It is so easy to lie down and take what ever is handed to you by the powers that be – be it the police, the lawyers, one’s superiors. But when one really thinks about it, one doesn’t have to if one knows their rights.

Of course in this day and age when corruption is high its difficult to stand one’s ground. Its much easier to keep your head down and out of trouble. But sometimes its good to ask questions – the right questions.

My attorney friend told me he could not wait to read my story because he hopes to find out what the resolution is. And I told him – “I’m afraid there wont be a resolution this time around. I just hope to get people asking the right questions.”

So many injustices go by unchallenged – things that don’t even need a brain surgeon!.

Sometimes all that is needed is someone asking why. And asking the right people.

After interviewing these two attorneys I realized that sometimes I gave in when I was clearly in the right. Just because I do not want issues.

Well not anymore. I hope to have cemented a close enough relationship that if I get in trouble, they can take on my case pro-bono.

Wish me luck..x