I am sitting in the veranda, stars glistening ever so beautifully, crickets in various spots shouting in unison, it’s become an orchestra, quite frankly.
All the while, from afar, I hear music blaring violently.
It’s a Sunday.
The streets are dead quiet!
But, I can mental-picture clusters of people, smothered, crushed together and sweating up a storm in different parts of the township; music screaming at them.
Phenomenal places where people have fun, take to the pot and mix with other people; dance to life—the stage being the bottom of the bottle.
(I have come to greatly believe what you’ll read next.)
Many people subconsciously use these exhilarating watering holes to cushion the devastating blows of everyday life.
There are close-knit communities in those storied rooms, too. People know each other. Intimately.
They are intertwined; they get together to deal with life and share life experiences and get wasted in the process.
You should see the patrons as they burst into drunken song and go merry—it’s a heartwarming thing to watch. Others (and this happens quite often) declare undying love for one another when alcohol begins to have its way.
You know what they say about how a drunk person often tells the truth when they speak.
. . . or as I recently learnt from my colleagues: a drunken body speaks a sober mind.
Of course, as with anything else, there’s a negative side to it.
I walk into a tavern once in a while to greet my peers with whom I attended high school. And all the time, I see people who are stagnant—doing nothing (or so it seems) to move to the next level.
They drown their sorrows in these watering holes, it becomes their therapy—a gathering which quickly turns into a pity party.
To some extent then, taverns are toxic.
What I’ve observed quite curiously is this:
Young people get lured into these holes as early as they can pick up and hold a bottle on their own.
Quite literally, I’m witnessing girls as young as 16-years-old become fodder for men (way) older than them.
[It’s so scary and commonplace that the silly saying, “After 12 is lunch time”, has become normal. Meaning, the men who say those words don’t have qualms with pursuing a human being that age with sexual intentions.]
I’ll also be quick to say that this isn’t to wag an accusing finger at taverns and blame them for the decay happening ekasi.
There are a multitude of factors which contribute to how a society fares.
All I am saying is that taverns hold a special place in the hearts of peers in many townships around the country. And therein lies the danger.
Human beings are so complex that they some times seek solace from things which aren’t good for them. Like a moth to a flame.
They dress up, smell good and look their absolute best, to feed their need for emotional connections—the important need to be seen, understood and acknowledged.
Another facet of this whole thing is the lack of exposure of how much bigger the world is and the vast opportunities available to grow beyond one’s wildest dreams. So, what happens then, is our peers—talented young people—end up living up life thinking their current dilapidated ciurcumstances are all what life has to offer.
It often goes with the sentiment, “Voetsek! Kuyafana bra wam’! What’s the use of trying so hard to be great in life when opportunity doors are slammed in our faces?!”
It is heartbreaking to see this happen. (And it happens on the daily.)
Then, another fascinating thing is:
There are human beings who have made a success of themselves and are livng okay, right? But, it often seems as if they are okay with having a ceiling over their heads, their greatness capped at a certain level, never going over that point.
These are peers who make their money, acquire all that’s gold-and-silver and instead of spreading their wings and fly farther, they seek the township as their platform to showcase their glitering things.
It’s absolutely fascinating to watch.
My guess is, it’s easier to be in familiar grounds where you won’t be stretched much. Instead, you have people gawking at your car, your phone, the clothes you wear, the alcohol you consume, with wide eyes. You become a hero of sort.
That, from my observations, is soothing, coddles the ego.
Thinking globally and aiming for ridiculous goals with our lives, then, continues to be something that’s out of reach.
Then again, a person is a product of their envrionment, and this means what they are exposed to becomes their worldview. It also informs how they act, how they see themselves, how far they think they can go with their life.
So, I’m aware that’s it’s never as easy as saying to someone, “Gosh! Would you please juuust aim bigger for yourself? The world is your backyard!” and hope that’ll do the trick.
It’s faaar deeper than that!
So, as I sit in the veranda, stars twinkling delightfully, all the while, from afar, I hear music blaring violently, now meshed with voices shouting, “Yebooo! Yeeebo!” simultaneously.
There’s no doubt that people in those taverns are one. A family.
The streets are dead quiet still . . .
And I am thinking about my wanting to be a phenomenal Writer and globe-trotting Orator—facilitating conversations in Nigeria; Denmark; New York; Canada; the UK; have dinner with friends in the south of France, amidst the art-y culture that permeates the streets and cafés there; go to the neighbour, Belgium, for a Q & A session around Using Stories to Elevate Ourselves and then jet back to Johannesburg—ngizibuyele ekasi!