On September 9 2013, a few months after I had joined The Daily Times, I published my first submission next to Brian Ligomeka’s Twister column on opinion page 55. It was on the side, with no theme as a column yet and with about half the words:
‘Can young people achieve prosperity?’
I walk in the street and I see a handsome young man, driving a fancy Mercedes Benz. He stops over the side of the road, disembarks from the car to buy airtime credit from a vendor, and I can’t help but notice his impressive outfit.
The slim fit suit and the shoes are obviously expensive; not to mention the fragrance that emanates from him as I get closer. It obviously is Gucci. He takes his phone out and again I am impressed; it is the famous Samsung Galaxy S3. I am left convinced that this young man has obviously done well in life.
After he drives off, I hear someone close by comment: “Amwene awa ndalama zawo zimangothela galimoto ndi zovala; nyumba yomvesa chisoni” (This guy spends all his money on the car and clothes; his rented house is pathetic). I am taken aback and I am promptly ‘unimpressed’.
It dawns on me that this almost impressive young man is suffering from the syndrome most young career people have in modern times: Obsession with appearances. Can young men and women achieve prosperity when they live beyond their means?
Can impressing the society, members of the opposite sex and ‘haters’ be more important than achieving prosperity and a secure future? It is amazing how a young lady who has just started working and is receiving a salary of K50,000 would rather buy a K20,000 stiletto because it will look good and impress everyone than buy groceries for the month. Such attitudes towards life and money are what lead people to engage in shady behaviour under the pressure to meet standards that are too high for them.
Young ladies will have what are called ‘sponsors’ to supplement their budgets and young men will engage in all sorts of deals and ‘hustling’ to meet the same standards. The trend has become a sort of organised chaos that blinds young people from the road to prosperity.
Young people should learn to live within their means and not lose themselves to material things that will not help them develop. There is more to life than the latest fashion, the flashiest phone, the hottest babe, the fanciest car. A secure future, a happy family, a successful career, a good savings account will go a long way instead of rushing to impress society with a lifestyle you cannot yet afford.
This short article launched what in a few weeks became the Social Musings column with twice the initial word count that has been running for the past eight years. A journey that began when Brian Ligomeka, then Managing Editor at Times Group, took keen interest in a few articles I had written prior to joining the media house and decided to offer me the weekly platform and mentored me through the initial process. After leaving Times Group in 2015, the column was maintained to this day.
A wonderful, fruitful and enlightening journey this has been. As I bow out, I would like to thank Times Group Managing Director Leonnard Chikadya and the editorial team for the platform and support rendered to me throughout this journey.
A vote of sincere appreciation to all the keen readers who have followed the column and engaged me from time to time with feedback, alternative views, insights and encouragement over the years.
May God bless you all.
I rest my case.