Trevor Noah for The Daily Show? Yes!

Upon catching wind of the recent announcement that Trevor Noah would succeed Jon Stewart at The Daily Show, I was elated. My favourite comedian had just been parachuted into one of the shows I went to for political refuge in the United States. Let me elaborate.

Although the primary reason why I fell for Noah’s comedy is that he didn’t swear that much, I grew to like his social commentary and political satire even more. For a man who virtually made it his personal mission to criticize South African president Jacob Zuma, and rightly so, he did a very fine job. In fact, I’ve watched a stand-up act of his which sounded more like a funny political critique than it did a comedy show. It is difficult to tread the often tumultuous political waters, but Noah does it effortlessly with humour – and I love it. What’s more, I met the guy at Stanford University when he came to present at our annual African Cultural Show. He is very intelligent, funny  and also humble!

And now he’s coming to The (Jon Stewart) Daily Show, a satirical show that I often went to for political news during my stay in the US. Stewart’s quips were particularly pleasurable whenever I watched them right after a session of Fox News propaganda. (A note on Fox News: From my experience, ALL major news outlets in the US do doctor the news. However, Fox News takes it to mind-numbing heights). The Daily Show rounded up on all the ridiculous political mishmash and made the ridiculous appear really ridiculous. In away, that was political refuge for me. There’s something about political satire that is so satisfying and vindicating – it’s a kind of tonic. And when you have the best satirists doing it, such as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert, it’s something enlightening.

And Trevor Noah is right up there with the best, in his own way. If you’re familiar with American politics, at this point you probably believe that I am a Democrat and that I absolutely hate the Republican Party. That is probably because you know the Daily Show goes to great lengths to attack the Republican Party, while Fox News is a Republican apologist. The thing with Trevor Noah is that, because some of his comedy is a scathing critique of American society as a whole – both Democratic and Republican – he has the potential to rise above this Dem versus Rep dimension. And that is why he could bring the Daily Show to a whole new level. He’s one outsider who has the wit and the gut to take on the untouchable United States itself, and not just one of its warring political parties. He can take on both its political and social ills without being partisan, much like he has done in South Africa.

Consider it. How about a mixed-race guy born of a black mother and a white father who pretended to have a homeowner-maid relationship just to be together with their child in apartheid South Africa? How about a guy who speaks Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, English and German, and does accents better than most people? How about a South African born ‘black’ man who has the guts to talk about ‘European’ Americans in front of an American audience? How about a guy who takes on America’s drone programme right in the U.S. of A? How about a guy who takes on America’s African stereotypes – who turns the ridiculous into the really ridiculous?

I say yes! But Fox News says no. Apparently, Trevor Noah is not qualified to critique the very fibre of America – Jon Stewart was at least patriotic, they argue. Already, they’re afraid Trevor Noah can pop the bubble and even go after the Holy American Constitution. Why would that be wrong? Every day, prominent Americans wipe their noses (you know what I wanted to say) with the constitution, yet it’s out of bounds for satire? Perhaps for an American, but not for a non-American. Especially not for a smart, knowledgeable, observant and funny non-American. He can go after that ‘fibre’ and help the Americans look deep into themselves. He won’t be content with the mere Sarah-Palin-Said-What? Ron-Paul-What-the-Heck? and Barack-Hussein-Obama level. He’ll want the ‘Native’-Americans-Are-the-Real-Americans level. What makes him qualified? Well, he’s like a person looking intently in from afar. Much like an eagle.

But I am actually afraid they might clip Noah’s wings. I just hope they do not. I hope he will slap America out of her global slumber and ask her the hard questions. I hope he’ll take the Daily Show in a non-partisan direction and smack American partisan politics right in the face. I hope he does it relentlessly, until perhaps the powers-that-be gag him, just as Jacob Zuma did. (And I sure hope he hits Fox News out of the park. Judging by their hysteria right now, they know that it’s coming).

I have said it before on this blog that while I was in the US, I felt more alienated for being (black) African than for being black. A lot of it was caused by the ignorance of America, and not least by the relentless mass media. When I watched Trevor Noah perform in the US, I felt my voice in his. Here’s somebody who made it okay to be (black) African in America. And when I spoke with him personally, he was just like me (only more handsome and funnier). He made me feel alright being myself in the US. And I hope he feels alright being himself on The Daily Show. For himself and for America.

Uhm, one more thing, my good Americans: Trevor Noah is referred to as ‘coloured’ and not ‘mixed-race’ in South Africa. In his own words, if you called someone ‘mixed-race’ there, the reply you’d get is, “Mixed-race? Your mama’s mixed-race.”

Hazardous Silent Treatment

Hello! I haven’t written in a looong time and I’ve lost a step or two. Here begins my blogging road to recovery…

She’s hurt and she wants to talk about it. He’s angry and he doesn’t want to talk about it. She talks to him, but he remains silent and tries to avoid all conversation with her. She starts getting frustrated. He gets angrier and resolves to keep ignoring her. And so the silent treatment builds.

Researchers have found that the person giving the silent treatment and the person receiving it should….

Wait, you really thought I was going to write about relationships? A gigantic NO!

There’s a blind curve adjacent to Pretoria Portland Cement’s Bulawayo factory, just over 10 kilometres east of the Bulawayo city centre. In the past few years, there have been four or five buses involved in fatal accidents at the curve. The most recent one occurred just a week ago. The curve is notorious for causing fatal accidents, most of them involving single vehicles skidding off the road before crashing or overturning. Contrary to what you would expect, that section of the road has not been changed by a bit.

Local residents of Cement Siding, fed up with the accidents, took to the curve a few years ago. With the help of the police, who barricaded a section of the curve, they held a prayer service there. It is normal for locals to engage in ‘cleansing’ rituals when they feel that unforeseen, similar deaths occur at the same spot repeatedly. In this case, it was Christians who took up the task. And they had the support of the police department.

There was a quiet period following that prayer session – right up until last week, when another bus overshot the curve and crashed, killing at least one person on the spot. The blind-curve-accident had struck again. At least one more death. Yet again – for the umpteenth time – the curve had caused an accident, but what seemed to be on most people’s mouths was the question, “Did you go see it.” The answer was almost always, “No, have you?” Not many people seemed to be talking about the underlying problem, and that it had to be solved. The responsible authorities, as always, did not say a word or take any action. They just came by to clean up the scene. And then…silence.

I wonder why the roads authority and even the district authority haven’t identified this recurrent tragedy as a serious issue and attempted to rectify it. Not even a lazy gigantic sign reading “CAUTION. DANGEROUS CURVE AHEAD” has been erected. And having guard rails built along the curve seems like a pipe dream. Nothing has been done beyond the accident clean-ups. But, at the very least, they could begin by acknowledge the problem. Perhaps a dialogue with interested parties could set things in motion, and the situation could be ultimately rectified. But the silent treatment is all there is.

The residents who once took the matter into their hands, by taking it up to the Lord, have virtually given up. I am not sure if any of them is willing to engage the police again, or some administrator or politician about the accidents. They’ve given up on the dialogue, and now they perhaps feel that it is not their concern anyway. And so the fatal accident count will continue rising for that blind curve on the Bulawayo-Harare Highway, just over 10 kilometres east of the Bulawayo city centre. And the authorities will keep silent about it.

Researchers have found that the person giving the silent treatment and the person receiving it should both take some responsibility.

Zimbabwean Armed Robbers: What A Joke!

Every “Armed Robbers Strike” headline is almost always immediately followed by another “Armed Robbers Caught” headline in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean police need a pat on the shoulder for their magnificent work. Or do they?

If you consider the situation a little more, you will find that the police do not really need to be at their best to catch these misfits. No. These armed robbers simply hand themselves in. I don’t mean it literally, but it’s so close to literal it’s appalling.

No, I am not on their side, but they are Zimbabwean armed robbers. In whatever capacity, they kind of have that ZIMBABWEAN label on them. Watch crime series in the US and learn about the methods that the armed robbers there use (let us only refer to the ones that do not actually harm anybody). I once watched an episode about a guy who at some point had robbed nearly 20 banks! And  how was he caught? He robbed a bank that had tracking devices hidden in some of the cash he stole. (And this after he had evaded something worse –  he had previously stolen a bunch of cash that exploded on him and sent flares all over).

Now compare: how were a bunch of armed robbers recently caught in Zimbabwe? Well, three of them robbed an “Agribank” and I think they made off with about $80,000 in cash – well, made off temporarily. One of the robbers (incidentally the one who was carrying the only gun that had been used in the heist), was caught an hour or so later. He was found counting the bills under a bridge, not too far away from the bank he had just robbed. As the story usually pans out, he led the police to his two friends. This, my friends, does not belong to a crime series TV show. It belongs to a Funny Videos kind of show.

I am not kidding you. Four other robbers – in Bulawayo this time – decided to rob a Baker’s Inn. The (Zimbabwean robber) logic here is that, when you want to get a lot of money from an armed robbery, you have to hit a bakery.. Hit a bakery big time!This is how it went…(I know how it went because one of the robbers probably narrated the whole story after getting caught).

They went to a bakery at night. Lo and behold, the place was locked! What were they to do about this unforeseen obstacle? Believe it – they were witty enough to scale the wall and jump onto the roof, break through the roof and land into an office – a bakery office full of cash. In a few – eh several- minutes they had hurled in a whopping $1! That is before they got startled by some noises coming from within the building. They all quickly hid under the tables – even the guy with the gun.

When that little scare passed, they made a run for it – up through the roof. There was honour among this bunch though, because they helped each other up through the roof. Except there’s the one guy who remained behind because nobody could help him up through the roof. His three friends had already gone. He was therefore left behind – just like that. He was the first one to get caught, and again he was the one who had the gun (it’s always the one with the gun!)

By now, you should be asking: what is up with Zimbabwean robbers!?

I don’t know! It must be poor planning or something. Think about it, poor planning runs in the blood of many in our population. What then do we expect from the robbers in our number? It makes sense: they cannot even plan an intricate enough robbery for the police to get some excitement. Imagine this for a report: “Ah, Chef, we just found him here outside the bank counting the money. We’ll bring him in now, but we’ll buy some soft drinks on our way.”

The situation is really not too bad, because we do get to have these robbers off our streets, and we also do get a laugh out of it in the process. Regardless, it still bugs me! Imagine all those international onlookers reading about our armed robbers. They must think we’re all idiots because we can’t even plan a decent armed robbery.

To save face, perhaps we should include the occasional great-ending robbery stories next to the funny ones. I think those ones would better showcase the actual effectiveness of our police force when it comes to dealing with these kinds of issues. For starters, I have heard about one where the police used a local phone network provider to track down an armed robber. Now that is more like it!

Zimbabwe Republic Police, keep it up with the apprehension of armed robbers. Armed robbers, just stop.

America 7: 1000 Words for Tracy

This is the last article in my ‘America’ series. I haven’t written in over a month. I was trying to find words to describe a very special person that I met in the US. Of course there are a million words, but I’ve selected only a thousand of them.

___________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes, we meet some great people in life. And then sometimes, we meet some exceptional people. And then some times – very few times – we meet angels.

She was standing behind a glass wall a few floors above me. I looked back, and up, as I went past the security check point. She was looking down at me, waving ever slowly. I waved back, turned away and tried to hold back my emotions. Many memories flashed through my mind…

It wasn’t just the recent one, where she effectively held up the whole airport hierarchy just to try to let them allow me a free bag on the plane. It wasn’t just the one where I stayed at her home after graduation and it felt like my home. It wasn’t just her presence at my graduation. It all went way, way back…

When I left Zimbabwe for the US, a wise man gave me a few words. He told me, “Don’t worry too much. You know, over there in the US, you will find another family like this one – a mother, a father, brothers, sisters, and cousins. You’ll find even a grandfather like me!” I tried to visualize what my grandfather said, but I couldn’t fathom what he meant. And when I began living his words, I was oblivious of the whole plot playing out right before my eyes…

The blond-haired, middle-aged lady stepped out of a station wagon and skipped up to me. I was on school break and had no place to go because all the dorms were closed. Some friends from church had told her about my situation and she had offered to help. She wasted no time in getting me into her car and we were on our way to her home. I was nervous. She talked mostly about Little Kitty, her cat.

Feeding Little Kitty turned out to be easy – even when the lady, Tracy, left with her husband, Dan, to go on vacation for ten days. I could not believe she would entrust me with her house just three days after meeting me for the first time. Of course I did not mind – I had a full fridge, Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and time to recover from Stanford. I lived like a king in this…..house.

I returned to school for my second quarter. Tracy and Dan left the state in the third. I was gutted. Their welcome had been incredible, and they’d told me their home was always open for me. Now that home would be more than a thousand miles away. I suddenly felt the vacuum. Withdrawal symptoms all over again. Nostalgia again. Stanford revulsion again…

But then, as I said, “…sometimes – very few times – we meet angels…”

Some months later, I was celebrating Christmas with Tracy and Dan in Texas. I was un-wrapping my own Christmas gifts too. In a few days, I was driving to Tennessee with Tracy, where I met her parents – great people they turned out to be. Tracy’s dad nearly convinced me to sign up for “The Price is Right.” And her mom loved goodwill stores as much as I did. Or, perhaps, they were trying by all means to make me feel… at home. Either way, I had a great time, and grew very fond of them.

I traveled to Texas, to Florida, and to Massachusetts thanks to Tracy, and Dan. I explored the US beyond Stanford through them. And I can try to recount everything else that I got… clothes, phone plans, a special watch, prescription eyeglasses, school stationery, Christmas gifts, debt clearances, plane tickets, useful gadgets, restaurant meals, car rides, travel bags, watching the Boston Red Sox – I can try to recall all, but that would reduce everything to mere things. That would miss some special moments…

When I was feeling down and lonely at school, sitting behind my desk in my dorm room and staring into space. Picking up the phone and calling Tracy, and feeling rejuvenated to the point of finding the strength to go on again…Or when I tried on my new suit in preparation for a job interview, with Tracy and Dan cheering me on like I could land any job in the world. Or when they both pranked me by pretending to take me to a dentist on our way to a special dinner…

Or when they came for my graduation. And, while I received a lot of pity because my parents could not attend, I felt a lot of joy because they came. They weren’t rich by any means, but they made every effort to fly down and watch me graduate. An emotional experience it was for me – getting my degree thousands of miles from home, and seeing Tracy and Dan again in California. Memories, nostalgia, tears…

We celebrated in California, then at home in Texas, then on vacation in Massachusetts… And then I was back home in Texas. I was home. Applying for jobs, learning to drive, watching sports every weekend, making friends, helping out in the yard, going to the grocery, enjoying home-cooked meals with family…

And then suddenly I was walking through security to catch my flight back to Zimbabwe. I refused to cry as I waved back at Tracy, standing there behind the glass wall. Deep in my heart I felt that this couldn’t be the last time I would see her. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. It can’t be…

My mom couldn’t believe everything Tracy did. Every time that she tried to grasp it all, she failed. Every time she tried to talk about it, she ran out of words after a sentence. I guess it’s the kind of thing only a mother feels in her heart.

But one man did find the words. He had said it before.

“You told me the truth, Khulu! You won’t believe it! I found family in the US!”

And family found me. It skipped into my life through an angel called Tracy.

America 6: “I Would Like Some Fried Chicken.”

This is the 6th article in my America series. The series would probably be incomplete if I didn’t write about race. I should state that I am in no way an expert on race – I didn’t even study anything race-related at school. My only qualification is that I am a human being, albeit one with quite a bit of melanin on his skin.

In Zimbabwe, I had grown up with black people only. Racism was virtually non-existent to me. I only knew it from high school history classes, apartheid being the epitome. The only thing I noticed about white people when I did meet them, is that we gave them the utmost respect – revering them, really. They were the gold standard. When I set out for the US, that is what I expected – more of the inferiority complex. I didn’t expect any outright racism, to be honest. Of course, what I experienced was nothing like I anticipated.

Foremost, the inferiority complex wasn’t present. Everyone was at Stanford partly because they’d all excelled during their high school years. If they could do it, I thought, and I could do it too, then there was no difference between me and them – just the melanin content. Many people felt like that. They seemed oblivious of our respective races. We were all just students studying together. Just students. It was that environment that helped me effortlessly become color blind. It was all thanks to the Stanford Bubble, as we called this Utopian island of young adult students.

It was in the Bubble where I asked a friend from a Christian fellowship to teach me a bit of the ‘Southern’ accent. She was from Dallas, Texas – she had the Texas flag, cowboy boots and a big truck. She was very excited to get to teach me the accent, and she immediately picked the one sentence I would learn: “Ah-woold-lahk-som’-frah-I-d-chick’n.” At the time, I did not even pick up any hint of a stereotype. All I knew was that Diana* was teaching me a bit of the Southern accent. I was glad when she told me my accent was good, and I’d gladly oblige whenever she asked me to repeat the phrase to everyone else. “I would like some fried chicken,” I would say, with a wide smile. They’d erupt in laughter.

And it was all good in the Bubble.

But then the United States of America came in and re-framed things. Once I found out that black-people-love-fried-chicken was a common stereotype, I was taken aback. It was a fact that I love(d) fried chicken. But then here it was a stereotype. But what’s a stereotype anyway? Still, why did Diana choose that particular phrase for me to recite in a Southern accent? At this point, all the laughter I’d drawn by proclaiming my love for fried chicken took a whole new meaning. The Bubble had burst right into my eyes.

Little by little, I began to pick up on more of these racially non-neutral statements. While I was doing an internship in California, outside the Bubble, a mentor said this to me: “you should apply for that scholarship from the Corrosion Institute. Do put your picture – it will give you an edge. Put your picture – it will give you an edge,” he repeated for emphasis. He actually thought I didn’t get it, but I did. My melanin-rich face would do the trick. On another time, I walked into a fast food place with three of my (black) friends. A white gentleman greeted us, before asking, rather loudly, “What sports do you play at Stanford?” He had seen our Stanford T-shirts, but the melanin gave us away. It gave me away. It passed me off as a 5 foot 7, 135 pound football player on a sports scholarship at Stanford University.

For a neutral reader, some of the things I have taken exception to may seem childish. If we love fried chicken, so what? If many black students get great sports scholarships from universities, so what? The reality is that America adds a whole dimension to it. Everything has a meaning, albeit a different one for each person. That is why fried chicken stereotypes may be simple observation to some people; but those same stereotypes may have dark, racist connotations for some people. It is all in the context.

You may wonder if I was offended by these things…

I’d say I always brushed them off – until they actually did hit home. It wasn’t the melanin that did the trick. It was Africa that did. Once I began to routinely hear “…the starving kids of Africa,” the “…misogynistic African men,” “…the failed African states” and the “…African tribal wars,” I knew the stereotype bug had hit too close to home. I’d seen the starving kids, I’d seen misogynistic men, I came from a failed state and I’d seen tribal tension – but that wasn’t what Africa was/is. Suddenly, I was defensive. Of course I was because I was offended!

The biggest surprise of it all was that some of these things came from African Americans/Black Americans. And then I really knew that it wasn’t just the skin color – at least for me. Being from Africa trumped being black. That realization rocked my boat. Because, while I walked as a human being on earth, I also walked as a black man in America, and also as an African in the world…it was a struggle, a confusing experience.

What did/do I make of it all?

I don’t know, but when I flew back into “Africa, the motherland” – I lost it all somehow. Somewhere in the middle of failed states, of tribal tension, of misogyny, and of inhumane suffering, I enjoyed a piece of fried chicken in peace.

*pseudonym

America 5: “We’ve Got Your Favorite!”

The one thing I never got used to in the US was the food. Tasteless chicken, tasteless beef, all-fat pork, syrupy pan-cakes, cheese, sweet maize (corn), lobster, raw spinach, rubbery hot-dogs, tofu and broccoli were some of the things I had to deal with. While at Stanford, I developed my own ‘default’ menu. If ever I walked into the dining hall and found that lasagna was the main dish, I’d head straight to the burger/hot-dog food station. At least I ate those quickly and immediately erased their memory with soft drinks.

But it wasn’t just dining hall food. I bought a $20 full chicken at a farmer’s market once. I’d heard of ‘full chicken’ before, but had never seen what it actually was. When I tried to slice this one, a reddish fluid seeped out. I lost all appetite threw the chicken out. And then I went to an all-Asian church and tried their rice-and-seedlings-swimming-deep-in-watery-soup. I never went back to the church. Seaweed turned out to be a bad idea too. Raw fish didn’t make the cut either, even when seasoned with wasabi. It was mostly bad, but I did have the occasional good meal – Italian meatballs and spaghetti, Chinese dumplings, and Mongolian beef and rice, to mention a lot. Still, undercooked but charred beef with cheese in a burger roll was the staple. With coke.

“Always try new food,” they said. That was my attitude when I one day visited Esther’s* grandparents during a Christmas break. She was a good friend and had invited me over for dinner. There, I had the horror of witnessing a crab boil to death in a large open pot while I got taught how to use crab-forks – small, double-toothed forks for exploring every fleshy part of a crab. When the monster was finally served, I failed to hide my dislike for it. “Add some mayonnaise,” they urged. I did, but it didn’t change anything. So they offered me cabbage. You see, even in Zimbabwe, I absolutely hate cabbage. But I ate it all night trying to avoid the crab. They were very impressed by my affinity for cabbage, but let-down a bit because I hadn’t eaten the crab. “You won’t like it,” they never said.

I vowed never to eat crab again, and turned down all subsequent offers. Moreover, I stopped trying any new food, instead opting for the tried and tested default menu – burgers, hot-dogs and soda. I was getting thin though (because I wasn’t eating much of the default food either). (I was so thin that, when I asked this girl if I could join her on her routine jogs, she stared at me from toe to head contemplatively before declaring, “No, I think you’re already fine.”) And so I ate more and more burgers, and hot-dogs, and pizza, and boiled eggs, and rice. I began to thoroughly detest dining hall food, and meals became unpleasant experience for me. How I missed Zimbabwean food! And how I craved non-dining hall food!

So, when Esther invited me to her grandparents’ home for a meal again, I leapt at the opportunity. They were great people, and I was genuinely excited to see them again. But one of the reasons I was excited was because I would get to eat something other than dining hall food. They seemed to know that because, when I got there, they were very excited to announce what they had on the menu. “We’ve got your favorite!” grandma exclaimed with a wide smile.

No, she wasn’t carrying a live crab. She was carrying the biggest head of cabbage I had ever seen.

Bon Appetit!

*pseudonym

America 4: “I Design iPod Covers at Apple”

This is the 4th article in my “America” series. This one has got a pretty serious theme. I hope you make it through it :-)

We were told everyone at Stanford had had straight A’s in high school. That everyone had been a prominent leader at their school. That everyone had won some science or writing competition. That everyone had achieved stellar scores in standardized university entrance tests. That everyone would become an entrepreneur, a political leader, the next Bill Gates or something of that sort. What happens when you throw so many highly decorated (or so it is claimed) high school students into one university?

The competition is frightening, fueled by an unrelenting superiority complex that inevitably creates a superiority pyramid among students. Science and engineering students are better than arts/humanities students; engineering students are better than science students; electrical engineering students are better than civil engineering students; computer science students are better than engineering students; computer science students who are also entrepreneurs are better than all the other students. This is not an invisible superiority pyramid – it’s reinforced in everyday conversation.

So it was that, when I sat down with a diasporan graduate, I was reminded of my place in the pyramid. He asked me why I had chosen civil engineering. Why on earth did you choose civil engineering!!? is what he meant. It was evening and he was a little tipsy, but I judged that he would still understand me. I explained that it had been a difficult choice between civil and mechanical engineering, and that I’d finally settled on civil engineering. That seemed to puzzle him more. “Really!? Why?” he probed. He meant: “Are you insane? Why would you do that?” I told him that I loved working on physically larger projects, stressing the word physically.

With the most self-satisfied smirk I have ever seen, he declared, “Well, I’m a mechanical engineer and I design iPod covers for Apple.” Our table erupted with laughter – they’d been people sitting with us. They thought Mr. iPod Covers had put me in my place. What could be bigger than designing iPod covers for the most valuable company on this earth? Designing foot-bridges over water canals? Ha! I tried to explain that I’d meant physically larger projects; as in, a bridge is much larger than an iPod cover. But the laughter drowned out my voice. Nobody wanted anything to perturbe the popular elite school narrative – that some people are better than others because of what they do.

I will not poke fun at the irony of it all. That here was a young, overworked guy inflating himself because he (was part of a team that) designed iPod covers at Apple. How big!

I knew a girl called Morielle. One day I asked her what she wanted to do after graduation. “I want to teach Physics in high school,” she responded, without so much as a pause. She did not say it in a “I-know-what-you-are-thinking-Go-on-and-say-it” way. She just said it plainly like that. She just had a passion for it and she had the conviction to do it. She wasn’t apologetic about it, as were many Stanford students that I’d heard saying, “…but you’re the cool guy – you do engineering/computer science/physics.” She wanted to be a high school Physics teacher because she had a passion for it. And no aspiring engineer or iPod cover designer would take that away from her.

I learned from her. When a Harvard student laughed at me for wanting to do civil engineering, I wasn’t fazed much. “You’re going to work for BCC,” he had quipped. You see, I knew fully well what he meant by BCC (Bulawayo City Council) because BCC is associated with the ‘garbage people.’ Expectedly, he didn’t give me a chance to respond, but I felt ever more determined to become a civil engineer. He had no clue about my passion, but I did. I do.

And he is not going to take that away from me. And neither is the conceited guy who designs iPod covers for Apple.

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