All I want to write is something beautiful
Something meaningful, something cool
A poem that’s simple yet deep
A lovely poem for your heart to keep
Something sad but truthful in every way
A poem for tomorrow and today
A piece so priceless that for a ton of gold
Or even for the world, would never be sold
This is a poem for the girl and the lad
And for the all the rough times they’ve ever had
For all those tough looking boys
That drown in the crowd coz they don’t have a voice
A poem that will bring to life the pearl
That lingers on the mind of the dreamy little girl
A poem for now and for all times
A pretty piece blessed with sweet, short rhymes
P.S. This one is for you, for taking time to read this right now and for all my buddies too 😉
Aside from having really stinky poop and also serving as the world’s favourite go to fast food meal, there’s more to chickens than meets the eye, well at least for me. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with chickens. Last year I’d spend my weekends selling chickens for my mom after acing tests during the week. Nowadays, whenever I can, I help her take the chickens out of the cage and back into the store after my classes. And since completing my internship a fortnight ago, I visit her stand for at least two to three hours each day. Not only to hang out and try to sell but mostly for the nostalgia, being there at the stand gets me thinking back and sinking in memories from nearly four years ago. To a time when, well how do I put it, chickens saved my life.
Back in 2011 when I was outta school and not so optimistic about my prospects on life I sold chickens with my mom for the first time, though I’d be there alone for extended periods. I’d just wasted an opportunity at university education and was self-absorbed with gloom, merely existing. Picture this, early twenties, frustrated, had never sold a thing in my life, now my life had relocated to the chicken stand at the market place. Well in hind sight that wasn’t such a bad hand I was dealt, in fact to some degree it turns out to be one of the best thing that’s ever happened to me. There’s some valuable lessons I learnt, interestingly, none of them were business related: life lessons.
Humility – at the stand, I learnt the basics, smiling at the customer, listening to what they had to say, responding pleasantly even when I disagreed with what they had to say and a thank you at the end whether they bought a chicken or not. I learnt that life wasn’t all about me that there were bigger things in life. I must point out that I was not most rude person out there but I did have traces of arrogance and know it all syndrome. With the chickens looking on, I discovered the world did not revolve around me. I learnt to get over myself and part of something good – a real life, hands on learning experience.
Responsibility – every morning when getting the chickens out of the store and into the cage, I had to count them, same thing in the evening. I had to make sure the chickens had enough water especially during hot days. Had to leave enough feed for them peck at through the night, even more during the days as I sold them off. And when it rained, it would sometimes pour hard and quick and I’d scramble to cover the chickens and ensure they were not soggy merchandise, all the while getting soaked myself. With time, I began to do these things without mom requesting, I started caring for the chickens and even enjoyed being at the stand. This was especially true when she sprained her ankle and I gladly tended the chickens by myself for a whole month.
Serendipity – by May of 2012, I had become so absorbed by selling as many chickens as I could that I did not notice the wonderful things unfolding around me. Well I’ve always been close with my mom but those days we spent in the scorching sun selling the birds and laughing at everything and nothing brought us closer to each other than ever before. And some days were quiet with the only entertainment being my phone and Facebook was the usual suspect. At that wobbly time in my life when I wasn’t ‘looking’, I made a friend (from outside town) online, weeks later she was my girl even after I told her I smelt of chicken poop (true story) , three years and two months later we still love each other to death. Beautiful unplanned things do happen.
Knowledge of self – at the market I found out more about myself than at any other time in my life. One Saturday afternoon, a friend had come to see me and as we spoke, a woman who had stopped to buy chickens at the next stand, got out of her car and interrupted the conversation. She asked if the chickens was selling were mine and when I nodded she further asked how a person using words like ridiculous in a casual conversation was selling chickens. Well after I gave a lengthy response she decided she would buy from my stand and she became a regular customer. Here’s the point, one word triggered the conversation with the woman. It reminded me of the immensity and power of words, and helped me rediscover my love for words. Some of the best poetry I’ve ever written came during those seven months I spent at the market. The encounter also helped me realise that when you shed off the snappy clothes and fanciness, personality is what makes a person. That’s a part of you that will always remain no matter the environment. Invest in it and value it.
Gratitude – down on my luck and out of school, during the first month I thought I had it bad but as is the case with most things in life, there was someone else with more problems than me. The guy who sold chickens at the next stand Dalitso, one day told me of how he, his mother, brother and sister spent over a year and a half in jail after the woman his father had fallen for falsely accused them of killing him. That’s over 18 months for something he had not done, this made my problems feel microscopic and childish and I learnt to be grateful for every little thing I had coz not everyone out there enjoyed the same graces.
And that’s how the chickens saved my life, the end hehe
P.S. You don’t need to stare and get into a trance next time you’re having hot chicken wings for lunch but you can sure appreciate and take something from an ordinary everyday situation, maybe not now but in due time.
• 1 British Pound Sterling = K14
• A loaf of bread = K 6.5
• basic bus fare for any route in Lusaka = K5
Anyone out there who thinks things are not bad, newsflash: IT’S BAD!!! Let’s not kid ourselves, you’ve known that for some time now. You hear it every time someone is ordering a car online in recent years, “the escalating exchange rate”. And it’s no secret, our copper hasn’t been fetching that much on the London Metal Exchange (LME). Then there’s the imminent fear of skyrocketing petroleum prices as it has been steadily creeping in recent months. Let’s not even mention the outrageous power outages that are somehow supposed to be more palatable when it’s called load shedding.
But what’s different about our ailing economy this time? The blunt response is that we’ve never been this far into chaos before. In our fifty odd years of independence, our currency has never been this weak. Well, this is as far as my economics goes, we’ll leave ‘economic fundamentals’ to the economists. Well, maybe not coz too often they give us the numbers and assumptions but do not break these down to how a depreciating kwacha affects the layman from day to day. Not to take anything away from the professionals but it’s hard to demonstrate the immensity of the downward spiralling economy based on averages and generalisations.
My interest in this is to learn the effect of the current economic downturn on individuals’ lives, to put a face to the figures in order to understand how people are dealing with these day to day difficulties. To do this I decided not to interview but instead have conversations with a number of traders from Kabwata market (including my barber) in order to share in their experiences and listen to their thoughts; Peoplenomics.
Three things emerged clear from these conversations:
• people’s lives have been affected from the simple depreciating of the currency
• Indifference and passiveness by the citizens does nothing to help the situation
• part of the problem is our leaders (both opposition and ruling parties) politicking about the matter but offering no real solutions
But it’s not all doom and gloom. From my primary school social studies I learnt that the eagle on our flag represents our indomitable human spirit, our ability to always rise above the different problems we are faced with as a nation. We have shown this spirit plenty times in our history. During the independence struggle, our fore fathers rose above the colonialists to gain political independence. Our fathers rose above the problem of the one party state and returned to multi-party politics without bloodshed in 1990. Three years ago, we rose above the horror of the 1993 national soccer team Gabon Air Disaster by winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
But we do not simply rise coz we wish to, we cannot be indifferent and hope that someone will rise up and speak for us. The one thing that is worse than this plunging economy, is our passiveness as citizens. The rising of the eagle has to start with us the layman, the common people, the citizens. Seek answers, take an interest, read, and engage in progressive conversation online, on the buses, in our homes, workplaces and schools. It’s from this public opinion, a singular voice of reason that our leaders will be compelled act. The day we achieve such levels activism in this nation, a proactive approach that seeks the common good of all Zambians regardless of tribe or political affiliation, that will be the day we ourselves will determine our fate.
Reader(s) I implore you to share your thoughts, comments and feelings below and also share this post.Thanks for reading.
Tomorrow marks the end of my six week public relations (PR) internship at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) under the Corporate Affairs Unit (CAU) and here are a few things I noted. And don’t expect any bomb shells coz I took an oath
1. There are jobs in PR
So many times I’ve listened to stories of how hard and almost impossible it is to land yourself a public relations job as a journalism student. And most of this gloom is usually fuelled by current and former communication students themselves. Well, with my internship the case was different. Four of the six members of the corporate affairs unit are former Mass Communication Students at UNZA, vibrant and young professionals. Plenty times we traded stories about the Mass Comm department now and then. Of course these guys did not start out at the ACC but they’ve made it there still early on in their careers. That’s one myth already dispelled-a win for me. Wouldn’t mind being back here after graduating
2. Speak your mind
Whether you’re giving the CAU’s position on a matter or sharing your thoughts on a given topic, it’s important you to have an opinion. Not only because it’s good PR but because it helps build your self-image. Half the time, I found myself speaking quite expressively even in informal conversations, I guess that’s PR on a personal level. The idea is that how you project yourself to people will dictate how they perceive you. As my PR lecturer said it over and over: PR is all about image. And besides, if you run outta mints, sparking up a spontaneous conversation in the office is a cool way of ensuring you don’t start harbouring bad breath- just watch the distance lol
3. 9 to 5 in the office is hard work
Okay, so maybe it was 9 to 4.30 and Friday was always half day but still keeping my concentration levels at a 100 percent the whole day was very difficult. An exhibition, a workshop or any other event was very much welcome as it helped with fast forwarding time and rebooting the concentration levels but they didn’t happen to often so I had to learn navigate my way through the day by doing my work, listening to music, sparking up impromptu convos ,making a few calls and constantly reminding myself that I was there for work. I know, not the best way to deal with ADHD but it worked.
4. Having a wingman doesn’t hurt
During my basic reporting internship last year I found out that it was important to have a close buddy or someone you know quite well when you’re an intern at an organisation . Not coz it’s them against you but because you might need someone to cover for you when you’re absent or someone to have a light moment with when you’re bored or exhausted and you’re out of data bundles hehe. I had my wingman Kanekwa beside me the entire time (surprised we didn’t fight) and the experience worked out pretty fine coz us being friends from class helped bring that relaxed classroom environment to the office.
5. The unbeaten path
Before my internship, ACC had always been a mystery to me and I had to feed my curiousity. Once work started, I was delighted to know that Kanekwa and I were the first interns ever (or in over a decade) at the ACC. When being oriented, everyone let us know how lucky we were as the Commission didn’t take interns because of the sensitivity of the job. And so we were pioneers heading into unchartered waters, I would think to myself. That gave me something to brag about every time I remembered that I would not be getting paid kikiki. I must also mention that I found myself at the ACC coz Kanekwa included my name in the application letter she wrote. Quite obvious, I know
Lunch was always a cherished event, a whole hour to break away from the never ending stare down competition with my PC. The interesting thing about lunch was that you wouldn’t know what you would be eating that day till after walking out of the office-talk about budget constraints. But we’re pioneers and always found a way around that. The lunch hour became even more special two weeks ago when my girlfriend (Queen fusa) was visting town for the week. When we realised that lunch was the only time we had to be together besides the weekend, we always made sure we had fun lunches and smiley tummies.
7. Fusas are everywhere
I have a theory and it goes like this: at the core of every human being, there lies a fusa. Every person has a good, goofy nature and when we appeal to that nature, people will display it, quite freely. This theory was proved right during my internship. Behind all the suits, serious faces and what not the ACC people were super friendly, fun and warm. There were so many times I’d be wiping tears off my face coz of laughing so hard. And this did not take weeks to be apparent, it was no holds barred humour right from orientation to the last media monitoring meeting. It was the same with my encounters with colleagues from other departments and I can gladly say there are plenty colourful personalities at the ACC. Had loads of fun and will miss them all
I don’t write anymore
My disposable pen can no longer reach that deep into my soul
Or maybe I just don’t want to be brave enough to allow myself to be vulnerable to cry
Whichever it is, I’d rather continue living this bohemian lifestyle
Entertaining dangerous weirdos and enjoying spicy foods
In this no-end-in-sight solitude
Some say I’ve lost the gritty passion I once had
The same gritty passion I fear will make me a carbon copy of my dad
I swear it on neighbour’s kitten’s mama
I’m facing none of that everyday domestic drama
I’m a tenacious flower that grew in a fashion so fatal
And the words, these words are my damaged petals
Picture thick yellow vanilla flavoured custard
Warm and stick just like mustard
A hard stick of deep brown chocolate ice cream
Looks so good you’ll think it’s a dream
Put it in that well-formed bowl of pink strawberry yoghurt
Mmmmmhh, that’s a slice of heavenly apple tart
Top that off with two big and beautiful berries
To keep mine eyes and hands very merry
Those purple drapes accentuate the curvy shape
I’m fantasizing about those juicy looking grapes
Ooohh, my tongue is aroused and ready to lick the trail
That leads to the source of that fragrant, spell binding smell
Breathless to have a taste of that wholesome beauty
I’ve found my heaven in this medley of a passion fruit
We need mre intellignt rappers