Rantings of a recovering corporate animal: Senior

We start right at the beginning. Definitions to help you navigate as you read on:

  • Recovering corporate animal: One who has snapped out of the ideology that the pinnacle of a career is somewhere along a corporate ladder, and takes the necessary steps daily, towards building a real career.
  • Rookie: The young guy/lady who’s dreams, aspirations and qualifications are about to become largely irrelevant.

If you have spent a fair amount of time in a corporate setting, you will be very familiar with the culture around email signatures. You will have noticed the pride people take in adorning their signature with their delegated position, naturally this applies to a greater degree when one has a ‘heavy’ title to throw around. I hate to expose the unspoken code of the workplace, but, if we are being honest we would admit that the speediness of our response to emails if very often influenced by the title right at the bottom of the email content.

Emails are no longer just communication tools, they are also tools through which respect is demanded and authority enforced. (Which is no wonder why we encounter so many titles clearly grasping at straws, trying to be ‘all they can be all they can be’ i.e. Personal Assistant, we really mean tea lady. Access Control Manager who are we kidding?! That means security guard. Discipline Manager, this one is really reaching for the stars, I mean, we are simply referring to that guy Joe with the seriously coffee stained teeth and potty mouth, who has always been a glorified foreman).

We have all had those moments where we receive that regular email from the admin clerk and simply ignore it for hours or even days on end. Or that email from the HR officer requiring all kinds of bureaucratic paperwork that we pretend to not have received, if we can. Or the common IT email vying for our attention for this or the other IT related matter. An email bearing the tittle of director however, commands immediate attention and response, even more so when titles such as Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer etc appear on the signature, rightfully so.

In recent months I have more frequently than normal, received emails bearing the title Senior and have found myself seriously conflicted as to where to assign the importance and set response time in strict accordance to the workplace code…

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware and agree that there is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be senior, particularly where the title senior is directly proportional to: an individual recognized for excellence, working to a standard of work befitting of respect and acknowledgement. It was/is a fairly common practice in organizations to reward individuals who display promise and managerial acumen with the title senior, on their way to the next tier in the corporate structure, typically middle management.

Here is where the debacle occurs, I have now shaken off my rookie years of employment, and have been at it long enough to know yet another one of the many workplace unsaid truths. My observations and experiences have led me to this inference; senior really means you have just been ‘here’ (same rank) too long, you have worked the bulk of your days and all you have to show for your years of toil, is the title senior, a half paid bond and a family that drives you up the wall (if you are lucky enough to even have a family, that is). We all know those people in the office, always in the midst of an imagined ‘managerial’ function, middle aged, almost always grey, heavyset, well-endowed around the gut and of course the classic shiny aperture where hair once belonged on the head.

We all, at some point or another have unwittingly found ourselves the object of the delusions of these so called seniors, who are typically still strongly convinced of their superiority and view that they are practically management. This scenario is much like the scene in Lion King when Muffasa explains to Simba the cycle of life, there is a cycle of life in corporates too.

Allow me to educate you.

The corporate cycle is far more vicious than the life bearing, all-encompassing, self-restoring, balanced cycle of life. No, the corporate cycle is built on ‘everyman for himself’, the balance is in the imbalance, for function to be sustained in the corporate eco-system the imbalance has to exist. Not everyone can win in this system, the irony however is that the winners need the losers and the losers then need some sort of consolation for their misfortune, which gives rise to passing the burden on to the next man, this only leaves the rookie (Junior, a topic for another day) next in line.

None of the parties to this conundrum can escape, real managers get on with real management matters, but still need individuals to focus on the difficulties secondary to more important matters, they then use the virtually impervious tactic of titles to dupe the next man in line to tackle these matters (all the while maintaining a spotless image and enjoying all the trimmings that come with being the ‘top dog’). And so the hierarchy is born, the lower end of the spectrum is where senior would most likely be situated, more succinctly stated, senior is positioned exactly at the bottom of the top and top of the bottom, the most precarious of all tiers in any management structure ever envisaged. This would explain the delusions, imagined managerial functions, micro-management tendencies and relentless foul temperament.

Surely an email bearing this title deserves nothing less than a waiting period of at least a day…?

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Working late

Monday

Monday is always the same, not just for me but for many of us. I too hate the heavy feeling of obligation awakened simultaneously with the screeching sound of the 4am alarm. The sting of reality spurs us all into action in the same manner on this day.

Waking to the sound of the harsh buzz of the city and confronted by the gloom of the tiny, worn-down flat that is a kind of home, thoughts of the injustice of life bare down consistently. How long will I have to conform to this way of life? Stealing time from my ordained days on this earth to labour for rewards that seem to never last long enough and whose gain comes at such a high cost..?

The first sight through heavy eyes, still drunk with sleep, affirms the injustice with greater severity. Even the pleasure of sound sleep in darkness is intruded upon by the city lights that rudely beam through the shattered window pane and tethered lace curtain. The only reaction to this hostile circumstance that seems fair is a swift push of the snooze button and a snug cover of the blankets, this time including the head in defense against the spectrum of bright light.

In order to have a fair level of peace in life, we must accept that everything we love will cease and such is the case with the lovely indulgence of sleep after the snooze button. Much can be tolerated once there is an adequate level of acceptance; in fact this can be achieved with relative ease if one is determined enough and has access to the right kind of ‘help’. Dragging myself out of bed and facing the stench of staleness and decay on the old carpeted floor without thought, is as a result of that acceptance. I have long accepted the tatty state of the place in which I exist, from the moldy roof and stained walls to the dingy porcelain toilet and rusty bathroom fittings.

Like the majority, I simply cannot afford the luxury of dwelling on emotions while hunger beckons. Long hearty drags of a joint left over from the dread of slow Sunday afternoons are just enough to nutrilise the weariness and start the process of getting ready for the day. A quick shower, spruce up of the hair, figure hugging dress and just enough red lipstick to better competitors while still radiating class take all of 30 minutes to achieve. At R50 a round, one simply cannot take for granted the importance of an early start.

Monday also happens to be the day of my regular meeting with Joe, and also a rare opportunity to score big. Like all my appointments, discretion is key when it comes to my appointment with Joe. As a general rule I never ask too many questions, the work I do usually requires more listening than talking, (save for the occasional rogue stallions that demand dirty talk to incentivize the moment). All appointments follow the same trend and one has to know the rules in order to survive them, always take cash up front, always take enough spliff to be stoned but still alert, always carry a weapon sufficient for doing enough damage to make a quick getaway and most importantly don’t think about anything. It would seem easy for an experienced hooker like me to simply keep to the rules, yet with Joe, one can never predict any aspect of the appointment. In eight years of all manner of man one has had unspeakable encounters with, none can compare to the peculiar nature of Joe.

Joe exudes all that one imagines a man in control to be, his perfectly chiseled body, expensive taste in clothes, extreme tidiness (almost to the point of obsession) all reinforce this persona. All things about Joe seem to be intentionally and carefully procured to make a very clear statement, ‘I am a black diamond, I am successful, important and in complete control’. Of all the things about Joe’s appearance the most striking is his intense and menacing presence, which has the uncanny ability to infect one with unmanageable insecurity and anxiety.

5am, on the corner of Nugget and President street, warding off the racing thoughts and nerves with deep intakes of cigarette puffs, as if to soak into the chest every bit of nicotine in each puff, and releasing gently and slowly, careful not to let the smoke escape without drawing maximum enjoyment. I only notice the crimson rear of passing cars in the darkness of the winter morning, while pacing slowly along the sidewalk and completely absorbed in the emotional war within me. A host of knots build up in my belly, when, in an instant the brightness of two headlights are headed in my direction, slow but swift, with the agility of a snake hunting its prey. The car is unmistakable (BMW 330 diesel M sport), it too spells Joe’s characteristics, pretentious in nature built through hard work to spell refined when it is really the opposite, and the product of a society that thrives on deception and lack of substance. When the car comes to a halt, the cigarette immediately loses its effectiveness and the pleasure of moments gone by seems unreal, so it is tossed away as the car door opens. The uncertainty of the coming moments combined with thoughts of the gushing blood, torn clothes, bruising and tear that resulted from the last session, are almost enough to prompt me to turn away from this appointment, but money doesn’t grow on trees, so I jump in.

The location is never the exact same one, only the area is a little more predictable, which only adds to the torture of the looming mystique. It is only when we turn on the corner of Main Rivonia Road and 11th Avenue and proceed along an elaborate driveway and finally come to a stop at a luxurious building, that I experience a slight relief from the deafening silence, dryness of mouth and my thumping heart. Not for hope that what is to come will be bearable, but for the knowledge that one is at least a step closer to the end, and closer to affording a hit that will sooth away the pain and more importantly the feeling of filth and worthlessness that always seems to come on at full strength after any interaction with Joe.

‘The Grand’, the words are written in bold and in gold, looking at them one can see why grease balls like Joe would command so much respect in a place like this. All they have to do is throw their money around and the world around them will blindly yield to their every desire, as I am about to…

Tuesday

8am, having been dropped off by a client on Oxford Road near the opulent Rosebank mall, I indulge my raging hunger at KFC. Nothing is more satisfying than two fatty pieces of chicken (leg and thigh), and a generous serving of pap after having been ravaged by a man with a penis the size of French bread, for a straight hour.

I suppose I should be grateful though, at least this appointment didn’t result in the same nipple burn from Joe’s animalistic demands, which I am still recovering from. The memory of the horror that took place in that fancy room at The Grand instantly brings on a sudden need to heave and loss of appetite, so I do what I do best, stop thinking and shove another dollop of pap in my mouth as retaliation against my own weakness, tendency to think too much, my life, all of it.

Looking out the window and seeing the hurried sights of so called ‘normal life’, I find myself wondering how I ended up the way I did. On one level it’s easy to answer the question, I live with three girls in my flat and we all have the same life and similar backgrounds. Snowie (S’novuyo) ended up a hooker after falling for the lies of a pig that took advantage of her, promising her the world and delivering hell instead. Pearl and Victoria are village girls from Kenya, they too fell victim to the hope of a better life in the city of gold. I simply fled from Zimbabwe at the peak of the political unrest of the indigenisation drive, forced to abandon a perfectly descent life as an admin clerk in the Harare High court, a mother, daughter, sister and friend for a life in South Africa befitting a rodent.

On another level I find the question impossible to answer, how does God, if he even exists, decide which destinies we are to fulfill as individuals, how are we chosen for the lives we are to lead? This is the haunting question whose answer eludes us all. Being what I am, I have had to endure the judgment of many self-righteous, so called ‘normal people’ deluded by the lie of their seemingly innocuous life that fools, only them, I know a slave when I see one. It is pure slavery that compels the relentless chase that brings this city abuzz; it is the malevolent control of the wealthy that drives the early morning rush that results in daily car accidents. ‘Normal people’ dwell in elaborate, air conditioned offices, power dress their way to respectability to nourish their polished outward appearance, all in an effort to hide the blemishes. Gals like me know better than to believe that appearance, low lives like Joe are a perfect reminder of the filth and pretence that those people walk in, while passing judgment on others. To this day I have not figured out what the deference is between these people and I, besides the professions we ended up in.

With the tummy thoroughly filled and the intense suckling of marrow from chewed up chicken bones inducing the feeling of the injustice of life being more bearable, the mind allows for fleeting relief from the burden of life. I cease the moment and start making my way through the aisle of tables and eventually find my way through the queuing crowd, and cross the street to the taxi rank all the while yearning deep sleep after the long night shift.

Wednesday

2pm, I am awaked by a loud, violent bang of the door and the beastly voice of a man hurling insults in a heavy Nigerian accent and the screams of what I think are female voices. As I sit up, and before my mind is able to comprehend the cause of the commotion, I am flung back by a gnarly blow to the temple. Astonished and stunned, I struggle to balance myself on the bed and am only able to come to a stop when I end in a painful thud on the floor.

Confused and unable to will the mind to focus fast enough to understand the situation, I give into the unexpected appreciation of the carpeted floor that has cushioned the fall slightly but effectively enough to prevent dislocation of the shoulder bones. After lying in that same spot for what seems like hours, hearing the fait sounds of the screams, the beastly voice and the bangs, I hear, more clearly the clink of the bed as it is thrown across the room and the footsteps of a large gorilla like figure approaching. It is only at this point that I finally make the connection and understand exactly the source of the chaos.

I am unable to react fast enough to avoid the fatal kick to the ribs that sees at least three of them completely obliterated by the force of the kick. I struggle to draw breath, I can only wheeze and strain to hang on to life. All my efforts to escape are met with incessant failure, my movements are laborious and unsteady as though I were a calf learning to walk. Each new attempt to get on my feet is met with a cruel shove with the sole of a timberland boot, administered by the gorilla man that stands over me, tormenting and stalking me as a lion does with dying prey, asserting his dominance and then in a final act of humiliation, draws from the depths of his nasal cavity a slimy sludge of spit and splatters it on my face.

With this, my defiance and fighting spirit are finally broken and I cave in, I feel the strength leave my body and loosening all the muscles in my limbs, and I tumble and land on my back. The terror and anger that boils up inside me spews a steady flow of effortless tears, warm against the face, inducing a slight sting to the now bruised face. I want to let out a wail but my voice fails me, I cannot let it out through the tightness of the belly and the intense burning of the chest, my mouth wide open and my soul agonizing, I can only manage a gruff groan at irregular intervals. The only confirmation to myself that my groans are indeed the cries of a woman too burdened by life, is the salty invasion of moisture that finds its way through my widely opened mouth.

In this state of surrender I am more aware of my surroundings again, I can feel the breath of the gorilla man as he nears his face to mine and whispers ‘I want my money bitch (pronounced muuney through the heavy accent)’ in a low yet amplified tone. He then retreats through what my obscure vision makes out to be the hollowed space where the door once stood hinged to the frame. I am left on the floor thanking God and cursing him at the same time. There is both silence and ringing in my ears, particularly on the side where the blow to the temple landed, then finally after what seems like a prolonged second, I hear Snowie’s cries and calling. I am barely aware of the movements of what I assume are Snowie and Victoria attempting to resuscitate me, lucidity escaping me all the more with each passing second.

Thursday

The pig who orchestrated most of the events which led to this dark hole, not just for me but for Pearl, Victoria and Snowie, is the same man who delivered the blow and what you might call our pimp and also the reason why we are all still slaves to this kind of life. Des (short for Desmond) is a Nigerian immigrant who is rather simple to figure out, his mindset and whole state of being revolves around financial gain. Des is the sort of man whose outlook on life is heavily bent towards gratifying his own needs before those of any other, this manner of existence is what has bred the monster that is today.

I suspect it has been many decades since Des has articulated anything either than greed to anyone, especially himself. His nature is that of a man who has no moral boundaries, a man ready to destroy anything and anyone who stands on the path of his bottom line. His tall, broad frame and dark manly face, aid perfectly in the execution of many nefarious street dealings. His treatment of me and the girls is, like everything in his life tied to his obsession with capital gain, we are but a means to an end, our humanity is second to his ambitions.

Nothing about Des’s appearance gives the impression of intelligence; in fact the eye is immediately drawn to the domineering button nose and overwhelmingly white buckteeth, which are only more noticeable due to his extremely dark skin. His eyes are wild and have a permanent tinge of crimson, the sort of crimson one gets after a hefty consumption of alcohol. His generally crass choice of words in his general speech, extroverted personality and loud dress sense all work against any semblance of intellect in his appearance but are perfectly suited for the streets, which is where he thrives.

It was these buck teeth that smiled at me in the beginning of what was to become the most sordid relationship of my life. Looking back, I wonder how I could have been so stupid, how could I have not seen through that annoyingly insincere smile, how could I have been so fooled by what was so obviously a sham? Perhaps it was desperation that weakened my judgment or his ability to suss out vulnerability or even a combination of the two. He knew I was homeless and had nowhere to turn to, I was without food or hope and he knew just how to take advantage. I often chastise myself for accepting his flat as accommodation; any fool could have foreseen the eventual hints and demands that would follow, a man like Des would obviously expect something in return for his kindness.

That is how my debt with Des was established. It was only a few months in to our volatile relationship that he suggested that I would have to start earning my keep. That suggestion quickly snowballed to a demand, which was accompanied by beatings and verbal badger. For a while I trudged along the streets looking for work at bars, schools, cleaning services, restaurants, court etc to no avail. It was after yet another long day of searching for work and a verbal onslaught about my uselessness, that Des revealed the news of a friend of his who had a keen interest in me and was willing to pay good money for ‘just one night’.

I was repulsed by the idea, and made that very clear to him, but he was not willing to lose out on money, especially after the ‘kindness’ he had shown me. That was the time I learned a lesson that I will never forget, never trust a man, love him, fuck him, feed him but never trust him. Des’s brutality in enforcing the demand was shocking and instantly woke me up from the fantasy world which I had bought in to. My mutiny and resistance saw me kicked out of his flat, with nothing but the clothes on my back. I was alone on the street again, no food, friends, family or anyone to lean on and it was not long before I was back at Des’s door, begging for him to take me back. With that, I succumbed to his demand; it was only supposed to be that friend and just the one time, fifty friends later I finally left.

There are some people in life who just don’t take kindly to being left, for any reason or anything, Des is one of those people. On the day I left he insisted that I pay back all the food he had bought me, the water he had provided through his flat, the clothes he bought me, the money had had sent home to Zim for my family and so on and so forth. Knowing full well I would not be able to do so anytime soon and was utterly powerless against him, Des had achieved what he had intended to achieve all along, create a never ending tie to a constant source of money through pimping me while holding on to a warped relationship with me. Even though I followed through with my decision to leave, Des is a constant cancer that always seems to pitch when most unexpected and unwanted.

Now I lay on this bed as a result of my naivety of years gone by when I met Des. The thought of his flawed logic in beating me so badly for the sake of recouping his money is laughable, how does that idiot expect me to make money in this state, especially leading up to the buzz of the weekend?! I want to let out a burst of laughter, but my body is simply too loaded with pain, drugs, alcohol and weakness. So I lay there on the bed he had thrown across the room, trapped yet again by his hand.

Friday

The usual euphoria of this day is marred by my present circumstance, with the side of my face the size of a raw mango, and my soul a sea of misery, the usual prospect of making money and early morning partying with the girls feels distant, like the life of someone else and not my own. Being a whore is not the life I would ever have guessed I would lead, I will admit it is a harsh life to lead but it has its moments, in fact, in the midst of it all I have had many moments where I have experienced total and utter freedom. I suppose when you know you are trapped, over time a bizarre mental shift begins to occur, a sort of sympathizing with the circumstance you are in, that allows the mind a dangerous level of acceptance.

I know this condition intimately, I have evolved from a young woman with dreams and a decent future, loved to no end by her family, a Christian desiring God and a life worthy of his teachings to a mere whore, a walk over, a receptacle for filthy men to discard their cum and satisfy their twisted sexual fantasies, I am just another menace to society walking the streets with no dreams or true inclination toward a better future or sense of morality. No, this condition has allowed me the uncanny liberation that allows me to be content, to not look beyond today and now, to party without limits, knowing I would not be missed nor would the world lose out because of my death. There is a lot of power in knowing the world is not moved nor changed in any way by your presence in it, that is if you are able to get over the profound depression that comes with this knowledge.

I have to settle for hearing the ruckus of Friday from bed, and the occasional updates from Snowie who has always been closest to me and has chosen not to venture far for her consultations for the sake of keeping an eye on me. Her latest check in has seen her scalding me gently for not keeping the ice pack consistently in position for combating the swelling, ‘how are you going to regain your hot looks’ she retorts with a warm smile while she props me up on the pillow preparing me for a short chat, which Is aimed at lifting my spirits. She knows my misery all too well, not just because she has walked in on me in tears several times since the incident with Des, but also because she knows the life. We have shared many unkind moments which we have often scoffed off and forgotten, choosing to see the humour in the situation and accepting the harsh reality with the help of liquor, never has she witnessed me on such a low, so inconsolable and laden.

Snowie, undeterred by my dreary mood, seats at the foot of the bed, clears her throat and chuckles as she begins to tell of the latest consult which was with the fattest guy she has ever fucked. She spares no detail about the encounter, from the man’s stench which was so over bearing that she had to use toilet spray to keep from heaving, the enormous belly that hung over the legs, covering the minute uncircumcised penis that appeared as though it were a revolting slug like creature, only darker to match the man’s skin tone. She tells of how she had been shrewd in the transaction, not allowing the now hardened slug tube to make contact with her ‘cherry’, squeezing it in between her thighs instead, fooling the panting man into paying for what never really took place. Snowie’s exaggerated facial expressions and animated gestures to aid in painting the picture of how the man had stood in the room, hands wrapped around his own belly trying to expose the little penis, barely able to move in effective thrusts and sweating over her hind are nothing short of hilarious and for the first time since Des appeared I burst out in guileless laughter.

Saturday

6pm, enough laying around losing out on money and what little bit of life I have left in me. Blemished face masked in a thick layer of makeup and a dose of free clinic drugs mixed with strong alcohol (courtesy of the gals) administered, I prepare for work.

It has only been a few days and already the streets have moved on, I find a skinny yellow bone chatting up a male which I recognize as one of the many men who have been inside me on occasion, harmless for the most part and pays alright too. The sight rouses a quick surge of distress, following the events of the week, competition is the last challenge I would have liked to take on, especially with my face looking the way it does. With the insecurity suppressed to a place somewhere beneath the surface, I roll up my mini skirt to the level where my buttocks are just about exposed and simultaneously tune my mind for hours of walking on high heel shoes, pacing slowly along the sidewalk, making knowing eye contact with men who know what girls like me are all about, staying alert enough to always spot the police before they spot me.

Seven hard hours of labour only yield a measly three rounds, which means I only pocketed R150 for the blistered feet that have had to endure excruciating friction between the skin and the inside of the cheap plastic shoe I wore for the occasion. Feeling frustrated and in pain, I decide on retiring for the night, my shoes are off the feet and are now clutched by the right hand as I trot along the street and make my way back towards the flat.

The cover of night permits the darkness that lives in all of us to soar forth and plunge into unspeakable atrocities… I should know. 1am. Snowie, the girls and I decide to make a call to Tshepo and his friends for ‘a good time’. It is a common Saturday indulgence, in exchange for a little ‘company’ for Tshepo and his friends, who are never shy around such ‘gatherings’. In fact, they had crossed the line on occasion and had been called to order by Tshepo himself with bludgeoning authority and typical street brutality, and we always handled it the way we handled anything traumatic, with lots of laughter and liquor. Such is the price of a life not lived justly, it becomes worthless, one takes solace in the emptiness and loses the unassailable contentment that comes through hard fought victory. I guess somewhere deep inside me I know that I have been fooling myself, how can any sane being choose heart clenching darkness over hope and honour?

I met Tshepo several months ago from when he had accompanied one of his low life friends for a fuck at the flat with Victoria. He is easy going, has a streak of unexpected kindness in his personality but comes across as a hardened kasi guy who has had a fair share of hard blows dealt to him in life. He arrives shortly after the call had been made, and parks the taxi he drives across the street, as he had done a few Saturdays ago when we had a similar outing. The girls and I make our way to the taxi, where we greet the throng of men packed in the taxi in a rather salacious manner, and with that the good time begins.

The taxi parks along the sidewalk on Struben Street in Pretoria where we jump out and proceed to the dingy bottle store on the corner of Struben and Van de Walt. It is precisely the sort of place we are used to, a meter away from where we jump off, is a burst sewerage pipe and the putrid smell is heavy in the warmth of night. The chaos of the night still at its peak, emaciated males loitering as though they were scavenging animals, passing cars with music blaring, competing with the bellowing of people over the music which blasts from within the bottle store, screams of partying, the nuisance of bums begging every approaching individual and the crowd of people surrounding the bottle store entrance, smoking, drinking, fucking in dark alleyways and indulging in all manner of gluttonous cavorting. We simply join in the festivities.

6 am. We have looked for Snowie for an hour and tried her phone several times to no avail, a sneaking suspicion and feeling of doom growing intensely inside of me with every failed attempt. There is something sobering about the position which I find myself in, the fun seems so insipid, so inconsequential at this moment and I am obsessed with finding her. I want us to share laughter again, I want her to be my partner in crime again, as random thoughts of the affection she had expressed in the week seem to weigh me down as I hastily walk around inquiring. The taxi is now revved up, filled with the crowed it had brought along and Tshepo calls out ‘let’s go baby’.

I won’t leave, I need to find her, I need to thank her properly for what she had done for me, I need her to know how she has filled my life with a warm companionship I could not have dreamt of. How she had given me the hope that I had turned my back on, how she was my hope, the last reason I had for living. I cannot leave her, Snowie holds the power to break me out of the imprisonment of my depression. I begin to picture a life without her and every sensibility in my body wanes, I feel my belly convoluting in nauseating nerves. Then I hear it. It was not so much the pitch of the scream or the volume, it was the piercing undertone of horror that accompanied it. It rippled along the streets as through it were a violent wave crashing along the shore.

Something about how the woman screamed drew me to race towards the direction of the voice. When I was as near to the source of the scream and emerging commotion as I could get, I notice a crowd had now gathered in the alleyway along the bottle store where people had disappeared into its darkness to fuck. The women seem to steal a gaze at something on the ground and begin to wail and throw their hands on their heads in bewilderment; the men cover their mouths in shock.

It was indeed Sonwie’s lifeless body, mutilated and nude from the waist down that had caused the heart wrenching scream. The image of the blood that seemed to flood the spot where she lay, eyes widened as though they had witnessed the coming gruesomeness prophetically and the indignity of the way she had been left for dead cause me to lose my inhibitions and I wail as the women had.

Sunday

Waking up from a nightmare at 3pm, dazed from the ruckus, splurging and horror of the previous night, knowing that life is no different from what I know it to be, weighed down by reality, my only thought is who cares, just get through the day… Like the multitude of people in this city, my life has no true meaning…

Close the deal!

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 shock : Part 1

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.

Why?

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

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.

Polygamists go to heaven.

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.