There’s a very difficult simple thing that we need to do.
Children watch what parents do better than they listen to what they (parents) say. If we want them to do anything, we have a better chance of successfully convincing them to do it if it’s something that we, ourselves, do.
The weirdness of this is in that a fairly wealthy father might be advising his son to enroll for a varsity degree program instead of touring with his high school band that’s doing really well,for example, and the father might go on and enroll for some varsity course to encourage the boy and the boy might still choose to tour with the band. Why? Because what is compelling for kids is not necessarily that the parents are doing what they’re telling the kids to do, it’s whether the kids think the parents BELIEVE what they are saying and it’s even more compelling if the parents actually practise what they are preaching to the kids.
We are much more inspiring when we are speaking from the heart — even without action, sometimes. How can I say that? Because millions of educated people, today, were raised by uneducated parents who (1) never modelled it by attempting to study some course, (2) didn’t help them with homework (3) couldn’t afford to pay for school trips and soccer boots, for example, let alone university fees; but such kids found ways to find bursaries/scholarships and get that degree in record time. So, while it’s true that children watch what parents do more than they listen to what they say, the key whether the child is INSPIRED to do what the parent is advising or not. Of course, kids might not feel strongly about any particular course so would be more open to whatever advice the parents give than when they have discovered something they do like.
Poor, uneducated parents can be more successful at convincing kids to get an education than their wealthy, educated counterparts, purely on the strength of a compelling conversation that makes the kid believe that if the parent could, he/she would have pursued an education and done quite well.
This is simple but the reason why many parents struggle with it (regarding various topics) is that the kids don’t find their advice convincing/compelling/inspiring, and this is many a parent’s nightmare. Raising children is unpredictable and can be downright HARD. But many of my readers fall in the category of the educated kids of poor parents,right? What do we know about successfully inspiring kids even when we’re not the most qualified persons in the room?
(1) We are inspiring when we are passionate.
When I told my mom that I needed to quit my second job to go study software development, she didn’t know what it was, our family needed the additional income that I was ditching, and nobody could be sure when I’ll find a job afterwards. As a matter of fact, I felt guilty because it was selfish but I felt really strongly that it was time to do it, but she gave me her blessing; and that demonstrated her passion for my livelihood. At the end of the course, I only needed to tell her I’ve passed and her excitement was unmistakable. I knew in my heart that she absolutely wanted that course for me.
(2) We’re inspiring when we are sacrificial. My mom’s sacrifice goes without saying, so I won’t bore you with that. I know that you have countless stories of your own parents’ sacrifice so that you can have something to eat, wear, etc; and you know this without a shadow of doubt, right? You know that they gave you all they could and they most probably think it’s not nearly enough. This is particularly true of mothers.
I’ll leave it to those inspiring attributes and move on to the issue that is the current thorn in our flesh: our ailing society. What can we learn from our parents about overturning social ills?
1. Our passion for the children.
Of course, we want retail therapy every now and then (men too, believe it or not), and we want to de-stress in a whole range of activities as our pockets permit, because we work hard for our money, but parenting changes that and lowers its priority; and children know, sooner or later, that there’s stuff you’d do if you could but you’d rather prioritise them.
2. Our sacrifice for the children.
This is the main thing we’ll leave on this planet for the kids. It’s the very difficult simple thing I referred to in my opening line, and it comes down to our willingness to swallow our pride — to rethink what used to be important.
It used to be important to drive in a large car and overtake every car on the road and turn heads everywhere we go, and be that guy who said to the lady behind the check-in counter: “do you know who I am?!” and actually get a favourable reaction. It used to matter what clothing brands we (and our children) wore and it used to be awesome to frequent the clubs, spas, etc. It used to be important to attend class after work so that we further our studies and earn promotions and live better lives for our families. This used to be normal until the gap between us and our unemployable brothers and sisters became so wide that they came after us, not for jobs anymore because they eventually realised that we weren’t going to give them any; they came after us for the appearance of wealth that we display, and they came for the appearance of happiness in our profile pictures, which they cannot relate to.
Yes, I’ve circled back to the subject of the rapes and murders. I’m back to say we do not have the luxury to claim that we don’t understand what got into “these criminals” like outsiders to the situation. We know these criminals — they were also there when Madiba proclaimed “NEVER AGAIN!” and they also thought freedom had arrived. They just didn’t make it to the levels. They can’t even open bank accounts, cannot get credit for a cellphone contract, they survive on illegally connected electricity and they have been swept under the proverbial carpet for 2 decades and I imagine that the stench eventually broke their backs and they needed that nyaope to survive — the nyaope that went on to advise them to also find relief in forced sex with the women that they also have aspired to love, one day, but had to give up because the cost of romance is out of their league.
I should wrap up.
We know them. They are our children’s uncles. They think we’ve made it and we forgot about them, and they don’t have the foggiest clue how THEY must make it. They have tried tenders and looking successful while borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and they still don’t know why exactly their bid didn’t win the tender, hence they eventually gave up.
Today I want to particularly forgive the odd white person that I’ve heard calling them animals: they don’t know them. But you and I, my brother/sister, SIYABAZI. WuBhiza noVusi noPapi, etc, they have names and surnames like ours; they speak like us and are built like us. Of course, we’re also just trying to make it in life so when white people ask us about them, we distance ourselves from them because we don’t want to sound like we agree with what they do, but we’ve only pushed them further into the #trash can.
Am I defending the criminals today? No. We’re talking. We must understand what’s happening to us. It didn’t fall out of the sky. We were there when it began. They just didn’t make it to the land of clean/cleaner credit records. They, together with us, thought we are now in power, back in 1994. We are here now. We must renegotiate what we’re going to do with what we are left with now. We can either all hold on tightly on the little that we have and buy guns and pepper sprays to protect ourselves and install high fences and…and…
Or, we can acknowledge that we have not arrived — not without our cousins, with whom we grew up and then got separated at the birth of the new dispensation. We will not be able to correct these problems with black tax. They are not actually asking for a handout, they are fighting for their dignity; and when you have been powerless for more than a decade, you tend to be okay with settling for abusing anyone who’s vulnerable to you. It feels like power. It IS power,which you yearn for.
Am I defending criminals? No, we left cousins who don’t know what to do.
If someone offered us guns, like they do in Kenya, Somalia, and other post-oppression African countries, would we accept them gladly so that we can shoot our cousins? And what if those guns were offered to them and not us? Are we not on the brink of a civil war? What if we renegotiated what it means to be in 2017? What if we stopped thinking we can even afford retail therapy and walks in parks, ignoring the men in greasy clothes who push trolleys and/or beg at traffic lights? What if those of us who understand business taught them how to do the same thing? And what if those of us who understand financial management helped us raise funds to help those who start businesses?
What if this was our last opportunity to reclaim our communities? To embrace our people, and not be co-haters of who they have become? If we hate them, how can we love ourselves and each other?
This became too long again, I’m sorry. I just think we are on our own in this, and we are all we have. We can’t blame anyone for it. Indeed, if black women were rhino, we might have had sympathy from animal lovers, but we refused to be treated like animals and the time for our humanness to be tested has come. We must do the human thing now. We must prioritise rehabilitation, not blanket imprisonment and death sentence and militarisation of our streets. We must stop the autopilot mode and speak some hard truths.
When family murder each other, strangers refer to their shame as newsworthy and make a killing,selling newspapers, listenership, and viewership. Foreigners have been buying land while we generate pointless social media traffic around, you guessed right, trending news stories.
People have not become animals, some are just very wealthy, most are very very poor, and you and I think we have arrived because we have data to surf the social media waves and dodge FOMO.
I close with this line from Walter Rubusana’s poem: ZEMK’ IINKOMO MAGWALA NDINI!
About a year ago, I said I was developing an online platform, since I’m a software developer. Remember? Well, I’m getting there. I’m impatient, but hopeful. I will reveal an initial offering in a few months.
Outside of that, I am persuaded that it’s time to push frontiers one fierce conversation at a time; and accompany our words with fierce, pointed action. I can’t see us solving our issues any other way without incurring nasty side effects.
Whatever movements are being established, may we stay true to ourselves and each other. We know each other more than anyone else. May we reject the idea that we have animals in our families. We don’t. May our agitation result in a child-friendly society in which women dress modestly not because they think anything else would provoke men to rape them, but because it’s their choice of dress. May we teach the children about nation building in word and in deed.
Yes, I’m also quite saddened about the current state of affairs. I do wish we’d be more organised into a civil society structure that can further our collective agenda. We are bleeding, indeed, and all we have is each other. God bless our families.