Education

Education is a key component in life – education is all important.

My parents managed to hammer this point home from before I could run. “Ayanda Joe Munikwa,” they would say, “you are a wise and intelligent young boy and if you apply your mind you will make it in life.” They haven’t ever stopped repeating those words… I haven’t stopped believing them.

Why do I consider education to be all important? Other than having been brought up with this ideology being drilled into me at school and at home nearly every waking hour – why would it matter? My hero, Nelson Mandela, considered education to be of prime importance and it is easy to see why. All of the things we do and hope to achieve require some form of education and life-threatening situations may have education called upon as well. For example: During the December (2014) holidays I had an encounter that I believe I will never forget. A young boy had been swimming in a hotel pool and his parents allowed themselves to become distracted by other things, after all, the young boy had floaters attached to him and the pool was nearly full of children. A few minutes later shouts erupted from the pool area and they found that the boy had been upended in the water and had silently drowned amidst all of those people. That was not where education came in. No one at the scene knew CPR. No one. The lifeguard, as his post was usually boring and he was only very rarely called upon, was drunk in some obscure corner of the hotel. That young boy died that night, had I known how to administer CPR at that time he would be living today, instead I left his life in the hands of a lifeguard who was not in complete command of all of his senses. I see that boy’s numb, lifeless face every time I near a pool.

-Excerpt from my Personal Statement (2015)

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My Biggest Misconception

This may sound ridiculous, I hope it doesn’t coz every pore already oozes absurdity, but I always believed that after a certain age a certain invisible switch would be magically flipped and “adulthood” would sssslide in smooth as an eel (unlike me in them DMs).

I always thought that when I became a father I wouldn’t think like I do now. After all my wise father isn’t really the same person in his mind as he was pre-marriage surely? Right?

Ahem, turns out – THAT IS NOT THE CASE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! What made the realisation dawn on me was what I thought to be an innocuous conversation had after talking about my 90 year old grandfather and the Liberation War:

Joe: If there was a war between Zimbabwe and… Zambia for example, would you pack up your bags and take Kim and Mom to safety in a neighbouring country, or would you stay and fight?

Dad: I’d join the army… the Zambian army 😀

Classic dad joke. This plus numerous other exchanges raced through my mind and BOOM. Nuclear bomb went off in my mind. The first mental lightbulb in ages it seems.

Now that I know it was a massive misconception, looking at my father I’m supremely impressed… and looking at myself, I’m very worried 😀

Thank you for your time:)

 

People Help the People

Birdy’s song is not as iconic as many songs past, but the chorus sticks like young Joe did to a video game controller.

‘People Help the People…’

I think human pride can be a good thing in that it can be a motivator to achieve goals beyond the norm. Unfortunately it often goes hand-in-hand with the idea that, “I can go it alone”. As social creatures we were never designed to live that way and if we did (in the not so distant past) it would normally mean death.

I’ve been doing some reflection. I’ve met a myriad of people in these last couple of years. Some have formed strong bonds with me and others came into my life just to leave it. I’m sure the same can be said of myself at times, I’ve mastered the art of going MIA, I’m working on it. However, I strongly believe that in each and every one of these individuals was something I could have – should have picked up to better myself. (Even removing that selfish aspect, it allows you to look at people with respect and reduces contempt.) Upon reflection it’s so easy to see what I may have missed in the moment.

In a short space of time I’ve met characters with such trememdous self belief and honesty, organisation and vision, creativity and drive, humility and confidence, intelligence and wisdom that if I were to start naming names you’d call it flattery… But it would all be true. Certainly the opportunity was there to glean into their character and see what produced such awesome traits, then develop them for myself. In hindsight, simply asking some of them would have sufficed.

Luckily for me, memory and attention to detail (regarding people stalking :D) allows me to reflect and learn regardless, but the next time I’m in a room with someone I’ll do my best to learn something from them to better myself.

I challenge you to do the same. You never know how much that one thing you pick up may impact your life positively. Let the chorus ring out. Let ‘People Help the People’.

Thank you for your time:)

Talent Working Hard

D! That was my average in Art. I eventually got better to the point my teacher mistook one of my drawings, of a robot – for a lion. I was so terrible I had to label my art, else-wise it wouldn’t be understood. I drew cars in high school the same way I’d drawn them when I was 6… the upgrades arrived 12 years too late 😀 To say I was bad at drawing or painting is an understatement. I had no talent whatsoever.

If you didn’t know me then you’re about to find out; I was an incredibly sore loser! Joe wasn’t comfortable with his fluctuating D grade (normally trending closer to E than C). It was embarrassing to the point I disowned myself (as seen by the temporary switch to 3rd person). Sure I’d often act like I didn’t give a tosh in front of the boys but deep down it really hurt. That awful grade would have an adverse effect on my class position come end of term and even if it didn’t – it just doesn’t feel nice to fail. It never does.

So, I worked! One day we were given an assignment to do over the weekend. That day I told myself, “This time I won’t fail!”

The assignment was to draw a hanging cloth using pencil. I was incredibly stoked about it having made my decision to (finally) succeed in the Art department. Art had given me way too many Ls. I got myself one of the kitchen cloths and hung it from a nail in the wall (fitting for it was designed to hang art upon). I duly informed everyone in the household of the importance of this piece of work and that the cloth should not be moved under any circumstances. I guess there was a steeliness to me at the time for no one questioned me or even so much as sneezed in the direction of that cloth.

Two whole days! Half of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday I spent honing my image of the cloth. Carefully caressing the edges and smoothly shading in the shadows. At the end of it I don’t think I’d never been prouder of anything in my life up to that point. My young sister was impressed by something I’d produced for the first (and perhaps last) time. Coincidentally (or is it?) she’s now the artist of the family and a bloody fantastic one at that I must add.

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(This isn’t it by the way. It’s the first thing I was drawn to when I searched ‘hanging cloth pencil’)

Monday arrived and it was nearly time to hand in our bodies of work. A friend, Felix was his name (I guess still is unless he’s changed it), was mid-conversation during break time, some 20 minutes before the Art lesson, when someone mentioned the homework that was due. “Oh no,” he said. He hadn’t done it. I was feeling real smug as he went about scrambling for a sheet of white paper to use, eager to show off my masterpiece.

Long story short – I got 89%. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a masterpiece. I’d worked my socks off, paying immense attention to detail. I can’t recall a time prior where I’d put as much effort into anything that wasn’t leisure than I had during that period. The people that knew me were shocked. Phrases like: “You didn’t draw this, did you?” and “Wow. Must have been a fluke.” were bandied about. I had the highest mark in the class IN ART! Me! Unbelievable right? That was the case, especially because that was factually incorrect. I had the highest mark of everyone whose assignment I’d compared my work to. To my astonishment Felix had received the highest mark. 90%… The man had natural talent I instantly concluded. “Impossible!” I exclaimed internally, heart being sliced apart with a metaphorical weed hacker and whatever was left behind put through a figurative shredder. Maybe I do him a disservice and there were an untold number of hours behind the scenes that led to him having such obvious skill, but he had bested all of us – me especially I felt – in 15 min without a point of reference. The man’s cloth hung on a nail inside his head. It’s not like Art is a subject about competing but I was a sore loser remember. I therefore became incensed. I was so angry I wasn’t even mad.

This event got me thinking for a long time. What if he had actually tried, like I had? Wouldn’t he have gotten an even higher mark? I was speechless. The saying goes “Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard”. That didn’t turn out to be the case in this story. But what if talent DOES work hard? What happens then?

I guess this is just a reminder of a previous post , only this time in story form. Find your talent then work hard at it. I don’t know what he does now but if he’s anything like the talented individuals that worked their socks off in the past – we’ll soon find out because he’ll be well-known all around the world.

Thank you for your time:)

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(I guess this is a good representation of what I saw Felix’s assignment as through my filter of envy 😀 gg Felix!)

Art

“Please don’t sing. Ever.”

Kimberly Munikwa, my sister.

(She wasn’t the only one. I too said that to myself when caught singing in public.)

I’m not moved by much. My attitude towards most things is the usual default enthusiasm associated with my character thus far. My likes are ubiquitous… but give me art. Then it’s a whole different ball game.

I used to think Art was just the class I averaged a D in high school. But it’s so much more than that. By definition, art is:

‘The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.’

Art has emotional power: in the form of music, paintings, literature, dance and a combination of all of these culminates into animation, movies, video games etc. This fascination with art isn’t unique to me either. Just glance at that list and you’ve got what the majority of humankind wants to do with its time, the majority of what humankind will spend money on.

And yet we scoff at Art majors…

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Ambitious Yet Content

Teach me to be ambitious enough to do the things that others thought impossible, to solve the problems people thought had no solutions, to impact more lives positively than I had the right to.

Also, teach me to be content with the process.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
PK-01 [DF-09158] – Will Smith (left) and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith star in Columbia PicturesÕ drama The Pursuit of Happyness. Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal
Thank you for your time:)

This Is Me

“I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”

There’s a reason ‘This Is Me’ won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. I believe that as humans there’s an innate desire to find our purpose. That identity is one of the fundamentals in this pursuit. In this universe, with 7.2 billion others, we seek something, some point for our existence – to set us apart. But it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of that goal.

Distractions can come in any form. By definition a distraction “is something that prevents you from concentrating on a goal”. And concentration is “the ability or power to focus all one’s energy and attention”.

Unfortunately something as grand as finding, let alone achieving your purpose can’t be done if you allow yourself to be distracted. A sin I’ve definitely been committing myself.

If you want to sing this beautiful song with as much gusto as I do, it’s about time you shed the distractions and focus. Then you’ll stand out from the rubble like you were always meant to, singing: “This Is Me!

Thank you for your time:)

Man In The Mirror

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life.”

– Michael Jackson

If you’re going to have a positive impact on anyone else’s life, why not start with yours? You know by now what’s holding you back. Make that change!

“It’s gonna feel real good. Gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right.”

So do it!

Just…

Start with the man in the mirror.

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Thank you for your time:)

Colourful

When I was 18 I was asked to do an impromptu speech. The title of said speech was ‘Colourful’. Quite frankly the speech was awful – mainly because I was still heady from the success I had on the previous speech I’d given, one about love. Inexplicably I tried to continue the theme. It didn’t work. I fumbled, mumbled and I failed. That was 4 years ago… Today I finally have my answer.

Colourful

Colourful. Full of colour. What even is colour? Well it doesn’t exist really, at least not on it’s own. Colour is something our brains fabricate. When our eyes see certain wavelengths of visible light, only then do we perceive it. What is blue? Blue is just a shorter wavelength of visible light than red. In a way colour doesn’t exist – just as a certain bow-wielding, winged love-baby doesn’t exist. They are both just creations of the mind… regardless, thank God that colour is perceivable.

Why? Well I would argue because colour is essential. Without it art would be lifeless, and in extension life would be lifeless. If the artist’s painting blended seamlessly with their canvas, what would there be to behold? What would beauty be? Beauty and ugliness would co-exist as life would just be pale, endless, shadeless grey.

Imagine people without their various shades of brown, beige and bronze! How dull would that be? As dull as you can imagine; the reality would be worse. What would be depth and shadow when everything is shadow? A world without colour is worse than blindness. For to be blind someone has to know sight or at least of it’s existence. A world without colour would be grey… and no pun intended but that too would be grey.

Colour is emotion. For me joy is light-blue. It is a warm yellow. It is a summer’s day where rays of sunlight dance across the skin like toddlers skipping along the sand, leaving indentations of warmth behind. Colour is the piercing white hot rage only ignited by injustice.

Colour is memory. Mellow pink tones of your baby girl giggling just after saying her first words, accompanied by the fresh pungent scent of an untimely doo doo slipping slyly out of her nappy. It is a silent darkness, utter blackness, abandoned in a house without electricity – until the delicate golden light of fireflies washes over you, illuminating young curious eyes.

And that is all it takes. For you to open your eyes. Then you would see the world is bursting full of colour. It is indeed colourful.

Thank you for your time:)

Speech

When I was 18 I entered a public speaking competition for the first time… It changed my life.

I always said to myself, “Give me a stage and I’ll be amazing!” I genuinely believed it for ages. I would spend hours at a time, enough for scalding hot tub water to go tepid, imagining myself as Headboy giving speeches that would wow the crowd. I remember critiquing the speeches given by the headboys at the time, mentally grading them like the strictest English teacher you could imagine. “I can do better.” I thought. “Much better!” But I wasn’t Headboy so I had nothing to show for it.

This belief/delusion continued for long enough that I made the conscious decision to actually try and find how exactly how good I was. “I’m busy because I have to…” I can’t remember what Thabo had to do but he was on the fence about doing yet ANOTHER speech. He was the resident speaker for house and for the school as he was quite well versed and eloquent, bringing joy (not ironic because that’s what his name means) for long a periods at a time (quite ironic because he was – and still is – short). This was my opportunity. So I took it.

“I’ll do it!”

I wrote my speech the day before it was to be performed. Then rehearsed it in the mirror once or twice before going to bed. Why? Because I’m a genius and don’t need more preparation. Today I laugh at the pride. I can’t recall the name of my speech. It was funny. I made it about love. I tore the notes on the stage (for dramatic effect) then proceeded to forget the entire speech.

What proceeded out of my mouth was undoubtedly the best bit of improv I’d ever done to that point. I don’t think there has ever been a crowd deceived so well… except maybe at political rallies. I stood there hands shaking racking my brain for ideas. I made everyone turn their heads, judges included, thinking that the subject of my proclamation of love (which the speech ended up being about) was in the room. She/he/it wasn’t, for it didn’t exist! XD

The quavering in my voice at the beginning was long gone. My hands were rock solid, gesticulating as I mentally ordered them, practically scoffing at the tremors that travelled through them earlier.

I finished to rapturous applause. And an ovation. I was mad happy fam! It temporarily quenched a thirst I never knew I had.

In the end I still came second LOL but that’s a story for a different day.

Thank you for your time 🙂