The boardroom is not for the faint hearted; one can easily fall prey to the menacing, frosty setting. In fact the board room is designed to give a very particular kind of impression, an impression reinforced by the excessively large mahogany table, the leather upholstery on the wide cushioned chairs, the domineering high tech screen positioned perfectly at a focal point and other similar superficial finishes. The meticulous layout of the space together with the sinister choice of finishes that seem to mask the fact that the boardroom is simply a room can cause a rapid surge of unwelcome nerves.
Those brave enough to hold their nerve and keep their bearing in this environment will attest to the magnitude of the next unavoidable obstacle. An obstacle created only by the wit and cheap trickery of cunning opponents, who with time learn to conform to the two faced, truth masking illusion that stems from the environment. One has to be alert to see through the immaculate clean pressed suits and expensive thick knot ties, meant to bestow undue importance. More importantly one has to decipher and stay unmoved by flashy jargon and eloquent business lingo, meant to hide from and confuse others by saying plenty while avoiding saying anything of substance.
If one is able to avoid succumbing to the pressure and patronizing innuendo of master boardroom predators, whose only goal is to devour. The final test and perhaps the most important required for success in the boardroom, is the ability to win negotiations. The word negotiate is defined as ‘try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others’. If negotiation is about compromise, how does one win? This is a simple concept, in any negotiation there are always two opposing parties. Winning a negotiation is when one party is able to give the opposing party as much of what they seek while only forgoing as little of their own desired outcome as possible.
Ever so often in life we all find ourselves in sporadic boardroom situations, requiring us to suppress nerves, tune our deciphering sensibilities, see through trickery and turn into master negotiators. The most notable of these situations is the precarious, emotion filled stage of engagement. Those who have fallen victim to the humiliation of tasting the delight of a marriage proposal and allowed their joy to spur blatant public parading of the moment, only to have their ‘prince charming’ sever their hearts into pieces, know too well the importance of closing the deal.
Who can judge these victims for immersing themselves in the ecstasy of love and savouring the magical world of midnight spooning and frequent kisses on the cheek? How would they ever suspect or have the attentiveness required to detect the subtle unannounced negotiation taking place in the midst of such pleasure? For one only wakes up to the fact, when the opponent (in this case ‘prince charming’) has conquered and is in possession of all that is meaningful in the negotiation.
Prince charming is more cunning than any boardroom wolf; he surrounds the engagement with welcoming warmth. He rarely has to resort to material things to dupe his victims; his deceptive words are his sword. He uses his crafty words to fool his opponent into thinking yielding to his self gratifying requests is justified by declarations of his undying love. In exchange for a minute amount of affection, he swiftly persuades his opponent to compromise beyond acceptable limits. He merely has to utter ‘it feels so right’ and all restraint is undone.
The only clue to the lost negotiation for the naive counter part is often the frustrating state of limbo, where ‘prince charming’ no longer exhibits the enthusiasm of months gone by. No sense of urgency to move forward drives his actions. Only remnants of the passion experienced in earlier times remain. It is only in this low, powerless moment that one is faced with the horror of their failure to recognise the boardroom moment and close the deal.
Culture has many definitions, one of which is: “A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next”. Logically culture is an integral part of the identity of all individuals, irrespective of their gender or race.
Culture like all things is susceptible to time; time is the one element that has the ability to over come even the most powerful of forces. Consider the way of life of human kind centuries back, whether male or female, black or white (and all races in between) all man at some point in time lived as hunter gatherers, irrespective of their culture. The era of society has always, and will always affect the general status quo. This however has never changed the inclination of people to follow the ways of their respective cultures.
This is the case in the 21st century, take China for example. China has established itself as one of the world’s economic super powers, yet is very much a society that embraces ancient cultural beliefs and practices. The whole world knows of ancient Chinese Kung Fu, we love their food and all other things commercially representative of authentic Chinese culture.
It would be utterly shameful not to make mention of the Indian culture in this context. This is yet, another example of a culture that has permeated nations far and wide. What would curry be without Indian cuisine? We are all familiar with the marks of Indian culture, in fact they are so deeply entrenched in modern society that they are very much a part of global culture.
In essence all this is proof that it is indeed possible for culture to survive the fast pace, thechno driven era in which we currently exist. Perhaps not fully, but certainly possible when people display a certain level of value to their ways, willingness to gain and retain knowledge of their customs, resistance to the times and actively engage in their cultural practices.
Ok let’s take it home.
South Africa is multi cultural, yet is also on its way to fully fledged “modernised”. Culture in this country is admittedly followed to differing levels amongst the various races and areas for many different reasons. However here is what we cannot ignore; of all the races and cultures which make up South Africa, the indigenous African cultures of the “black” races are dying more rapidly when compared to the rest.
Take language for example, more and more households, particularly those of the so called black races communicate in English. It has become commonplace to hear, “mommy can get a toy or mommy can I have a sweet” among many black toddlers at grocery stores. Furthermore, the subliminal nature in which English is made use of in black on black communication. Other adopted black cultural practices include the “white wedding, bridal showers, engagement parties, birthdays etc.
In the incredible shift of cultural practices within this specific group of people, one can’t help but wonder how it is that other cultures survive more than others. Consider the Afrikaaner or English (western) culture for example, we have yet to witness either of these cultural groups develop a strong enough liking to any culture to compromise their own. My suspicion is we will possibly never see these groups assume the lobola practice, Umemulo, Hushubediswa, kweluka or speak Zulu, Xhosa, Tshwana etc.
One might argue that there are people of these cultural groups that have embraced other cultures, yet it is undeniable that western culture is the most widely followed culture globally. In fact, it is perhaps one culture that represents complete dominance of a single culture both locally and internationally. Western culture is so strongly infused with the current era that in many instances it forms the bases of legal systems, economic systems, governance and all that controls our existence as humankind.
It is clear that no one culture remains unscathed by the evolution and innovation of society in general. What is clearer regarding culture (particularly in South Africa), is the tendency of specific groups to submit to unfamiliar cultural values and forgo all that is authentic and true to themselves as a people. Could it be that this trend is representative of people and their ability to influence others and control them as though they were puppets, train them how to change themselves, in order to resemble a more acceptable form of humanity?
Sensattude represents the thoughts, views and facts too controversial for the church and too holy for the world. Welcome to the truth, unpacked in a series of scintillating topics on matters only the cautiously narrow minded can handle.
We have all experienced it to some level whether directly or indirectly, some have taken a part in it, many will come to know of it in the future and very few (too few) will go through life never having to contend with it. We fear it; thoughts of it are sickening to the core and defile our hope in it never surfacing. In fleeting moments that we labour to suppress, we allow ourselves to ponder the possibility and what our reaction would be were it to happen to us.
This is how it happens.
You meet someone who you grow to love. They give you what you can never achieve as a lone person, the warmth and security of being loved. None who have known real love can deny the quiet assurance that comes with knowing that you have a witness to your life, an ally when life gets tough and someone who believes in all your exploits when others don’t. Gradually you open up your entire life and soul to them, you share an intimacy that manifests in the physical and beyond. This assurance leads to the unavoidable state of comfort and trust in the relationship, affirming the decision to trust with the notion of, who would deny themselves the novelty when it is so rare? So you carry on in the fallacy of bliss, not ever wanting to believe that this love is, in any way tarnished by the loins of an unsatisfied spouse or the inequity of a lonely soul. So we exist in this way, some for weeks, months even years.
With no fore warning or invitation, the unthinkable happens. We learn the crippling truth. Suddenly with one unpredictable event we stumble on the evidence of the infidelity that we so fervently push from our suspicious minds. In one breath taking moment the hope we held on to so dearly is undone, and we are faced with the flood of all the signs we ignored and explained away. In a single second the plethora of telling moments, from the touch that changed, the love making that lost its heat, the extra seconds spent attending to texts at the dinner table, the wondering eyes, the unfamiliar scent on the clothes, the admiration that ran its course, the weight gain, and the lost respect all race vividly in the mind.
The desolation and pain that results is more profound than one can describe in words. It is at this phase where turmoil consumes us and all attempts to reason with the adulterer or rationalize the act only culminate in rage! This is the rage that drives vengeance; the kind of vengeance that transcends physical violence, for this vengeance is the kind that has to do with a deep internal resolve. In the resolve of “never again” we vow to never open the door to love, whore ourselves with the ultimate level of obscenity as if to defeat the pain and fury, even the one who deceived us. That resolve gives rise to a phenomenon where prostitution thrives, porn becomes a thrilling escape and worse of all cheating/adultery a regular occurrence.
How is this related to polygamy?
Polygamy is defined as “the custom or practice of having more than one wife at the same time”. The obvious similarity between cheating or adultery and polygamy is seeing more than one person at the same time. The major difference, aside from participants in polygamy being aware of the other wives involved, is the fact that polygamy is legitimised by religion and culture. According to the Quran for example, males are permitted to marry to up to 4 wives (The Women 4:3). While there is no specific law explicitly relating to polygamy in the Bible, Solomon was favoured by God wives and all (1 Kings 11, 1-6).
If the concept of cheating or adultery is so utterly despicable, how is it that polygamy is somehow more acceptable? Would cheating/adultery be somehow purified simply by it being practiced honestly? More importantly how is polygamy born, does it not have its roots in the treachery that is now our way of life? With so many of the opinion and even declaring “if he is gonna cheat I would rather know” and the cheating/adultery that takes place, surely we are all polygamists and have just yet to come to admit to it?
Hypocrisy clouds our judgement and stupidity is our crutch. As a society we are so quick to take the moral high ground by sneering at and casting judgement at the thought and practice of polyandry (which is practiced among the Bari people in Venezuela, Eskimos and parts of Asia) , yet many willingly and knowingly partake in “sugar daddy trends”. The truth is that we already accept the practice (polyandry) and yet again are hiding behind the false sense of morality that holds us back from admitting to it.
In essence we share our private parts with mere strangers, but won’t share toothbrushes?! We convince ourselves that cheating/adultery is filthy, yet we accept polygamy?! The lies we tell ourselves are our freedom and our prison.