reality check

I happen to have been hearing Kenny Rodgers’ song ‘Coward of the county ’so many times of late such that it rings in my mind even when it’s no longer playing. In the song, Rodgers sings about a man (boy?) called Yellow whose dad died in prison and he (Rodgers) had to take care of the boy (the dad was his brother). He sings of what the dad told the boy before dying:

Promise me son not to do the things I have done

Walk away from trouble if you can

It won’t mean you weak if you turn the other cheek

I hope you old enough to understand

Sometimes you don’t have to fight to prove that you are a man

The boy lived under this adage, labeled a county coward by all, he never sought to dispute this as long as he had the love and heart of a girl called Becky. In her, according to Rodgers, he did not have to prove that he was a man. All was sublime and bliss until the county bullies came. The song says the Gatling boys came to his girl when Tommy (Yellow’s real name) was at work and had a violent go at her and defiled her.

When Tommy came and found his love bruised by the hood bullies, he took his old man’s portrait, remembered his father’s words:

Promise me son not to do the things I have done

Walk away from trouble if you can

It won’t mean you weak if you turn the other cheek

I hope you old enough to understand

Sometimes you don’t have to fight to prove that you are a man

After this he walked into the bar wherein he found the bullies who had just ravished his girl, midway into the bar he was taunted and called yellow, he turned and walked toward the door and the laughter increased, but he did not leave, he locked the door, summoned all the strength (holy anger?) and never stopped until all the members of the famous gang were leveled and he made it clear as he floored the last one that he was doing all this for his Becky. Then he turned his dad’s words and did his own refrain.

I promised you dad not to do the things you’ve done

I’ll walk away from trouble if I can

Now don’t please don’t think I am weak when I didn’t turn the other cheek

And papa I sure hope you’ll understand

Sometimes you have to fight to prove that you are a man.

The words left a dimensional thrust me. It made me understand that we are comfortable with the pain society gives us until it touches a raw nerve. We are content with being misunderstood as long as it does not cause us to be removed from the feeding trough. We are happy to walk with hunched shoulders against a world that thumbs its nose at us and we deign from taking a stand.

Our  failure to take a stand against the libels , wrongs etc. might look uncostly as they happen across the road but the problem is that the more unchallenged the wrongs go, the more braver and louder the bullies become, soon they will snoop and walk into your territory also and defile your perimeter.

Our false comfort in running away from confronting ills under the pretext that they do not directly affect us is actually blatant COWARDICE that would cause pain to our close kin. How many of us have observed a taxi man pick under- age children with his taxi with the lure of sweet nothings to sexually abuse them? What has been our response? Have we not shrugged our shoulders and muttered that it is not our concern? Has it ever occurred to us that the pedophile will seek more scalps and might eventually pounce closer home?

The soccer aces say the best method of defence is attack. We cannot sit in the comfort of our perimeters and say as long as the ills are not in our circle we are safe because such safety is but false like a single reed against a swollen river.

Reality check. What did you overlook today? A child mouthing a wrong word and left un-cautioned will be the street gang leader who will take your watch at knife point tomorrow. A misguided adult who believes in their wrong being right might be the one to spread that libelous unfounded story about you. A subordinate who smells beer during working hours who goes unsanctioned might drive that company car carrying your children into oncoming traffic tomorrow.

We can’t afford to be yellow. We can’t afford to only fight when the bullies are at our doorstep because then it will be too late.

As the sun rises tomorrow, take a reality check. Stem the abuse, stop the bad mouthing, and stop the run-away ignorance. Then we will all be safe.


And they shall fight against you, but they shall not [finally] prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.Jeremiah 1:19 AMPC

As I meditated on the above scripture this morning something struck me. I realised that the fight and battles will always be there and that it’s not the fights I should concern myself about.

I realised that if the fights are going to be there it means at some point I will have split lips and black eyes from the hits. 

I realised that it means there will be pain yes…..

But I learnt something. 

From those fights I will not lose !!! 

Battered yes, 

bloodied yes, 

rumbled yes but the greatest promise is that ………. I WILL PREVAIL.

And the prevailing ain’t my doing either kkkkkkk. It is because JAHWEH the Almighty says HE is with me…to deliver me.

So all I have to do is STAY IN HIM and confidently know that whatever war I get into, whatever bruises I incur, whatever tears I shed,  as long as I stay in Him I shall prevail BECAUSE THE LORD SAYS SO AND HE IS WITH ME.


The man, the cross and the shadow (1) Whose cross is that?

“You cannot be a hero without being a coward.” -Bernard Shaw

For many days I have been staring at the picture above and I must confess there is something haunting me about it. They say a problem shared is a problem solved (who said that anyway?) so I hope to share my haunt with you. Like I said, I will like to dwell on the man, his shadow and the cross though not necessarily in that order but then, how did we possibly get to having such a picture?

I surmise someone woke up with the intention of driving a message across. I surmise they wanted to be seen and heard, possibly. In view of the past occurrences I believe that the person sought a form of identity and possibly protection. That , in my view, came in the symbolic form of a cross. A brand new cross. A spanking new cross.

I believe the person , let us call him( I settle for him for all players in the image are male, which is a story for another day) the Bearer, is (or was?) a religious person who believed in the sanctity or at least the sacrilege or at least the defence ability of the cross.

The fact that the Bearer went out of his way to procure a cross for his intent is something we can write acres of pages about but let us fast forward to the picture. We have to dispense of the issues relating to where the Bearer lives , how he carried his cross to the picturing point etc and get to answering the question : Whose cross is that?

I respectfully submit that the cross does not belong to the shadow owner. The little I know about trajections and mensuration show that there is now way the shadow owner could have dropped (or placed?) the cross on the floor under his feet and strike the fleeing pose at the same time while avoiding what was pursuing him. So I know at least one person who the cross did not belong to and I choose to call him the Shadow Man.

I submit the owner of the cross is not in the picture but was definitely at some point somewhere around the photographing point. Maybe he was breathlessly watching the camera man at some hidden corner, but then that’s a maybe.

The Bearer would tell a tale about why he dropped the cross as I believe it was not his intention to place it on that ground. What cracks my head is why he let go of his shield and possibly his symbol of faith? Those in the know will tell us of the theory wherein one has to choose between options and I aver that whatever was facing the Bearer made him decide that his cross was optionally now a burden or was going to bring him troublesome attention that he was not wont to handle at that time and he chose to jettison it.

So, did the Bearer lose faith? Or courage? Or, did the cross let the Bearer down?

But then,I digress, whose cross is that?

My simple summation is that besides the people in the picture , the cross belongs to anyone of us not in the picture.

Is it your cross?

Could it be mine?

“Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.”                   ‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭AMP‬‬                                                                                                                              

To be continued…….

A tribute to mamo’mdala Maria Zondo

We Africans have many mothers. Old mothers and young mothers and it will take an African like me to understand the whole symmetrics. 

In my mother’s family they were ten siblings and my mother was second last.

High up in the hierarchy as the fourth child was mamo’mdala Maria. Records say she was born on the 14th of September 1938 to Nhlanganiso Zondo and Jessie Manholo Sibanda. 

On Saturday 30th July 2016 around 0300hours mamo’mdala Maria breathed her last. She died. She was 88.

My ealiest memories in the early eighties hinge on that she owned the first American fridge in the whole clan and this novelty was worth a 15 kilometres trip to Pumula East from Luveve every Saturday by yours truly and his sidekick Zibusiso. 

Without fail every Saturday that we got there the fridge would be switched off and defrosted so that we could feast on the ice blocks like water melons !!!

Years later as she aged, she became the matriarch of my mother’s clan. We had a love hate relationship that always ended with her smiling in a manner that even reflected in her eyes. 

I remember that she christened me Ndabezinhle (good news) and that name never made it to my birth certificate. 

I remember when she fought me tooth and nail about a decision I had taken that she swore was wrong and she believed was going to haunt me. I thought she would never talk to me again, was I wrong…!!! Three months later I walked into her at my mother’s home and tensed recalling our fight and braced for another barrage of missiles. 

I was embarrassed.  No mention of the incident. No grumpy talk. She was her old self. Water under the bridge though she didn’t miss a chance to tell me that she still did not support my decision  but that didn’t change the fact that I was her child ( remember Africans and many mothers?)

Fast forward to her last two weeks. At my last visit to her I promised her a road runner (another African issue) and was supposed to bring it midday Saturday 30th July. And early that morning she left without the promised chicken.

As I remember her, I have this image of her mounting the last step to the Pearl Gates, stopping to catch her breath by stooping and holding her knees and then straightening a minute later to behold St Peter lowering his bifocals to his nose to verify if it was really mamo’mdala Maria.

I see him handing her an arrivals slip and a full roasted chicken with a message :

Mamo’mdala Maria. You forgot your takeaway meal in your haste to answer the Pearl gates bell. I fried it to your liking and didn’t include the feet and gizzard as per your preference. 

Happy journeying mamo’mdala. 

Ndabezinhle aka Nqobile 

I see her smiling in memory of the little boy she used to call fana (boy) who forty years later she was calling baba  (father).

May your soul rest in eternal peace mamo’mdala. 

Rich appetite 

​I don’t know who is the owner of this photo. But the son of man sees a lot of irony in the picture. To start with the shell of what was once a thriving bus company that fed many and was work to many drivers , inspectors and conductors who in turn were breadwinners.
The bus shell is now a body not even on wheels and nobody will ride it.  It is on grass instead of being on the road.
The passengers cannot ride. They disembarked a long time ago and chose to walk.
The proverbial bus was cannibalised and those who did it went to build their own cars, luxury cars.
Those who drove the buses went hungry.
They see those that cannibalised the bus. They feast and throw crumbs on the floor.
I say the picture is poignant. 
I say the banner is prophetic.
Whoever that young man is
Whoever the photographer is
I say they are prophets

Economics 102 (not 101)

This son of man is wondering: 
How does stopping the goods that help the tax man collect duty to sponsor the Government help the State?
How does industry in the country gain advantage?
How does increasing red tape (import permits) take the fiscus forward as more time will be spent queuing, applying, begging and pleading for permits to import wheel barrows. … and yet there is no money to pay the permit processor on time? 
Local industry yes I agree. But why are we preferring foreign cooking oil? Is it because we love things or the local industry loves fleecing us? 
Someone tell me why the RSA packed 500ml milk is 2 cents cheaper than our our milk from our own Jersey and Friesland cows??
So yes the SI is there but knowing innovative brothers of my country a way will be found to dance around it ( I ain’t supporting the dancing) and the goods will come and the tax man will see not revenue. 
Well, from bad to worse. 
The revenue base will decline. The neighbours will ring fence their own countries from our exports and then what?  Can we afford to lose the income from what little we were still exporting? The bilateral trade agreements ? Are we doing a #Zimexit  on our regional brothers?
So, no more soft tissue for our bottoms, no more that nice ice cream, no more cereals kkkkkk. #buylocal and the local producers double the prices. #doublejeopardy. 
This son of man really is wondering as he checks his bank balance for the umpteenth time. 

The bittersweet monologues : the finale…..


After all the pain and strain, the old man had a fitful night. He dreamt of sour orange trees popping up in the paths that he was walking on. In the dreams, the orchard owner was like a cloud floating above him and mocking him. In the dreams he had to keep his feet from being tripped by the sour trees and at the same time duck the floating cloud from swamping him. The cloud seemed to be steering him towards the orange tree that had given him sour fruit and he was fighting to steer in the opposite direction. But more and bigger stumps grew in the path that took him away from the sour tree and he found himself drifting towards the tree he did not want to go to.

In the last episode of his dream he was now close to the tree and the cloud was now even lower towards him. He increased his steps to try and outpace the cloud but it took the shape of the orchard owner’s face and let out a screeching sound and sort of flapped it’s cloudy sides at him. He screamed obscenities at it and the cloud shifted up.

Then he woke up.

He woke up to discover he had left his door open and an owl had flown into his hut and perched on the hole that served as a window only to be scared off by his groanings. He sat up quickly and got off his bed , rubbed his eyes and heard the owl now hooting at his back yard. His mind was now muddled. Had he been dreaming about the orchard owner or the owl had messed with his subconscious mind?

Sleep deserted him and a few hours later it was sunrise. He got out of the bed and went to sharpen his axe. He had a mission to accomplish that day and the earlier he did it the better.

Meanwhile, at the orchard owner’s compound, the son had never slept well since the old man had abruptly turned away near their threshold. He had wanted to run and beg the old man not to abort the trip because his father, the orchard owner wanted to tell him a secret that would have set him free and put him on the path to riches and happiness, but the old man had turned away before reaching the threshold mark and hence had forfeited the right to that knowledge.  But the orchard owner’s son had never been at peace with him failing to reach out to the old man.

When the morning came , the boy was wide awake and troubled and he boldly took a decision.  He sneaked out of the homestead , detoured via the ablutions and took the path to the old man’s home. He wanted to set the old man free. 

As morning dew sloshed on his feet he did not realise the ghostly shadow that tailed him.

He reached the old man’s homestead and as he was about to turn into the gateway he spotted a boobing movement in the direction of the sour tree. As he focused his sight, the sound of a thudding axe reached his ears and he immediately knew what was happening !!!! The old man was axing the tree. He broke into a run, shouting and waving his arms frantically . He took his eyes off the path way for a moment and tripped, flew headlong onto the hardened path and suddenly was enveloped by a dark realm. The last of his consciousness recorded firm arms trying to cradle him into a seating position.

Meanwhile the old man had slashed all the young saplings , shovelled away the carpet of rotten oranges and had dug a pit where he had wanted to throw the tree when his was done with axing, chopping it to pieces and burning it. He had proceeded to axe the tree and was about to land the last blow that would bring the tree toppling when he heard a shout. He shielded his eyes to see who it was and could only make out a running silhouette telling him to stop cutting the tree. Then the voice registered, it was the orchard owner’s son !!!

Another silhouetted appeared behind the boy… It was the orchard owner !!! The old man was enraged.  So the man and his boy had not enjoyed humiliating him that day? They had gleefully thought to come and torment him at his own home and turf? They had to come and mock him and this sour tree? They were never going to win, he told himself, he was going to fell the tree with the last blow and when they got to him there would be no more tree!!!. He raised the axe for one moe blow and hit the mark and the tree came toppling downtiwards him. He scrambled to get out of the way but the outer branches got him, swept him downwards and he landed in the pit followed by over ripe oranges from the toppling tree, some which split as they hit the ground.

Meanwhile the orchard owner brought his son to consciousness and upon realising that he had no major harm on him, he laid him on the side of the path and ran to try and stop the old man from felling the tree. When he got to the edge of the plantain he heard the thud of the falling tree and the swishing of the branches. It was too late. The tree was gone. He walked over to where the moaning was louder and he found the old man trapped by huge branches and overripe oranges smothering him and the branches pressure squeezing their juice into his mouth and nose. He had a deep gash on the forehead where the ricocheting axe had caught him after bouncing off the falling tree branches. There was no saving him.

The last thing the old man remembered was the gush of SWEET juice into his mouth and as darkness enveloped him more SWEET juice flowed up his nose and choked him and he heard the orchard owner telling him that if he had walked into the homestead he would he learnt that it was only the first YEAR fruit that was SOUR, the years next were all sublime sweet oranges !!! The old man tried to rise and swear but the branches held him down and the sweet juice choked him one last time. As he sneezed out he inhaled sweet citric aroma and his skull cracked open. He was dead.

The orchard owner shrugged his shoulders, clucked in sympathy and walked back to his son as  the birds of the air circled above and some distant grocer blared out a song by one Lovemore Majaivana and the lyrics that kept coming at him were:

Wath’uTshaka, lelilizweliyobuswa zinyoni”, (Tshaka said , this country will be ruled by the birds).

He pulled his son up and they trudged home as he composed his instruction  to his son:

Walking through the grind of the threshold bears more fruit than listening to the voices on the side and being distracted by shadows on your path that don’t know how close you are to catching gold.

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬


Bittersweet monologues : Sweet and sour rage


When the old man got to his home, he was fuming with rage. He had not even realised how quickly he had covered the distance between his home and the orchard owner’s  homestead. Fury blinded his eyes and he could feel rage humming like an enraged swarm of bees around him. He needed to vent. He needed to unwind to free up the fury and anger of so many years.

He sat on the carved stool and held his head betwixt his knees.  The swirl of emotions took him to the day he had eaten the sweetest orange of his life. The day he had chosen the biggest seed and planted it only for it to betray him . 

He remembered the lost time. The effort he had put on making sure the tree did not die or suffer being ravaged by urchins and prowlers , and the tree had let him down. 

He remembered the fruit. The sour fruit that had dashed an eight year dream and killed all his zeal for optimism. The fruit that had refused to reward him for his efforts.

He remembered the humiliation that had turned him into an recluse. He remembered how he felt comfortable spending more hours in his semi darkened hut such that he had to reduce his eyes to a serious squint every time he had to step outside. The fruit had stolen his vision, his happiness, his zeal and his quest for a productive life. The tree and the fruit had emasculated him.

He rembered the ‘taunt’ by the orchard owner, he felt the leering eyes of the whole village on him as he had walked to the orchard owner’s  homestead .

As all came together, he realised that he had been turned into a raging man. He rose to go to the tool shed. He had to do something. He had to get the root of this blatant stigma attached to him.

Tomorrow morning, he was going to cut down the cursed tree. Dig up the saplings around it, shovel the carpet of years of rotten fruit into a deep pit and burn all that remained . 

He had missed the lesson his father had always impressed upon him :

Sour rage blinds one to the reality and paves the path to destroying the fruit of good .

Tomorrow he was going to cut the sour umbilical cord. He was going to be finally free….

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭ASV‬‬

To be continued….

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