Third World dreams

Third World dreams

The walk past the shopping complex, across the road to the hardware where men and their bakkies or trucks wait for clients that need to have their goods carried to their places of habit, then back to the shopping complex to fix three gas heaters at a popular hangout where the patrons have somehow managed to wreck in their inebriated mirth and merriment, and in the drunken orgy also somehow managed to break the plate glass to the private bar that too has to be removed and replaced, it is a sprint in the pursuit of money, the oil that makes the world go round and the answer to some and most of the economic realities we face: rent, food, clothing, medical bills, transport, entertainment (for everyone needs a moment of repose in the face of the tedious drag we call life living below the poverty line on this here continent), dependents and other such things related to the use of lucre.

It is a constant chase in pursuit of a habitual dream, to make it in life or to get by as is seen in the patrons at a popular gambling parlour where women and men can bet the lotto, horses, greyhounds, soccer, rugby, slots, and whatever you may name related to the ‘art’ of gambling. Most of them are regular patrons and they know all the games related to the nagging of fortune’s whim to turn their way, some are professionals and they come from time to time to make a bit that will cover part of their expenses: all of them are in pursuit of that million that will get them out of the squalid quarters of the underclass, that will trebuchet them into the big league where they will get to rub shoulders with the who’s who of the world, for to be the celebrity and the hero of the day seems to be the main preoccupation of the current generation, if the tweets and the posts on popular social media websites are to be taken to head.

There is no point in hesitating when opportunity presents itself here, and it comes in a thousand forms. There is just no use in being choosy as to the selection of the proper method of garnering in wealth in this here country. Walk the country and the city streets and find out how the poor of the world chase their dream to get out of the squalid quarters of the rented rooms tsa malaeneng to their own perfect and nice little houses with double garages and devil fork (steel palisade) fences. From vending snacks, to grilling chicken in the open dusty streets of Maseru and other towns, to selling fish and makoenya (doughnuts or fat-cakes), the wretched of the continent eke their mournful existence (or subsistence if one may rightly say).

The wheels of fortune turn at any time, and the point is for one to be ready to turn with them sans any care as to who says what in terms of judgement of that which one is doing to make enough to live on or a fortune that will cover their needs until the rapture is spent. There are councils of judges that judge (never mind them, for that is what critics and judges do) that assess what one is doing to make a living or to gather wealth, forget these ones for they believe in making beggars out of noble men and women. Chase that dream however you can, cling on to it until the whenever you will get to see the seeds of your toil come to the light as fruits you get to enjoy.

This is the Third World (forget those sugar-coated politically correct terms in use) and the only way to stay afloat is to keep on moving, to keep on working even when the arms are numb and the legs wobble from fatigue. It is the only way we can keep on keeping on. I have always wondered why there are people that spend most of their lives in gambling parlours at popular hotels and casinos when they could be doing a more “meaningful” job trying to gain funds. I was a judge of that which I had little understanding of, cosy in the cushioned world where my parents would provide all the means of survival I needed. This carried on until I met a figure who had somehow managed to gamble all of his life’s savings away in a recovery programme at a rehabilitation centre.

We would speak, and he would tell me how he had managed to somehow spend every cent he had made over forty years in casinos, with the hope that somehow he would make enough to buy a beach house in Cape Town. The figures he mentioned were in the millions, money one previously thought could not be spent in a single lifetime. He told me of the abysmal hunger for more that is both the result of our human condition and also the result of living in poverty for extended periods. One just feels they have to get more because what they get is more often than less not enough to cover some of the basic needs of life living in the city demands from everyone that is resident therein.

It is almost everyone’s dream to ‘make it’ and the mantra of the time is, “one day will be one day” and when that day will come does not matter, as long as it comes one day, and those who hustle will go on hustle irrespective of who they hassle in the course of the daily ‘hustle’ to make ends meet to form the rectangle of the banknote or the circle of the coin. Money makes the world go round, money corrupts and is the means that sustains corruption, but money is also the basic means of exchange to cover the basic needs of the people that have to feed in order to live, a people that need to put some kind of cover on their bodies in the form of clothing, a people that need a place of domicile to live in and a people that need to interact with the rest of the world on some basis.

Money buys everything, including time, love, and happiness, and there is no getting around the fact that we need to have money to be (that which we want to be), and to achieve those dreams that we envision in our secret places and private moments. The illusion of the world is that it can somehow be got from the winnings of gambling, the reality is that those who so think are dreamers too, for fortune is born of incessant toil at something for the poor Third World child that wants to reach a certain rung high on the social hierarchical ladder. What the continent is, is the direct result of colonialism, and the sad thing is that colonialism never really went away but stayed on in the form of political governance. True, the average politician on the continent is the child of the plebeian class with dreams of the regular serf that feels having more money than one can spend raises one to the level of the chief.

This type of thinking leads one to reining in behaviours that tend more towards corruption than the upliftment of the masses that once were not ‘free’ under colonialism but are now chained in the clutches of poverty, unemployment and rampant disease. It is a bleak picture which is used as the main theme of the lobbying rhetoric of the politician seeking to garner in votes to guarantee them a seat in parliament where lavish luncheons, per diems and benefits of office await the successful candidate. Of the masses that elected them into power, very little is ever given due consideration, or so it seems from the realities one comes across on a daily basis. A Third World dream cannot be sustained by laying back and waiting for the world to change for the better. A Third World dream needs one to constantly knock on doors for whatever job one may come across.

Those letters from university are no guarantee that one shall be employed somewhere, those contents of the brown envelope that include transcripts, certified copies of certificates, curriculum vitae, medical forms, police clearances and other papers are not surety, in fact, the average bachelor’s degree is only good for framing and putting up on the wall. The best bet is for one to go around looking for jobs to keep one’s hands busy with the hope that they will be paid for their effort by the client they come across on the carpetbagging excursions in the pursuit of the basic dream to get food to feed the body that needs it to live. I have always had the simple answer to the dearth in jobs and it goes:
If you cannot get employed, employ your hands…

Naïve as it may seem, it is a vision held by those who have somehow managed to evade the clutches of poverty by mastering the art of multi-tasking and moonlighting. There is just no use waiting for the messiah to come back with manna for one, there is practicality in engaging a myriad jobs to get some kind of income, for however little it may be, it still covers a large part of the expenses one incurs on a daily basis in the demanding world that once was coined ‘concrete jungle’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers. From making bead necklaces to fixing shoes, from being a cleaner to being a plumber, being a painter today and construction site labourer tomorrow, selling clothes in a shoddy mkhukhu to grilling chicken in the open streets of the city, the African child is chasing the constant Third World dream to keep one’s head above the poverty line and to be ‘someone’ if fortune rains money into one’s begging cap.

The secret is to maintain the constancy of the toil and not to falter despite the seemingly insurmountable odds pitted against the dreamer on a daily basis, it is what sustains the Third World dream, and it is what keeps it in the realm of the living. I have pondered the core to the Third World dream for a number of years now, and what I see is a world full of dreamers whose main impediment is often just the simple fear to take the first step towards the attainment of their dream. We fear the unknown and our fear is often fuelled by pride, that is, we fear to fail because of what others may say. What many do not realise is that though it may be true that there are councils of critics and sceptics with a chronic type of PHD (Pull Him/Her Down) syndrome waiting for one to fail, the reality is that most of us are too busy tending to the growth of their own dreams to even care what one is doing to achieve their dream.

One’s success therefore, depends on their tenacity and obstinacy in the pursuit of the dream to reach relative comfort in life (for that is the best many can achieve in life). Giving in to the fear never helped anyone, and those that feared in the past made rivers out of ankle-deep streams and never got across to the Promised Land. I honestly do not care who judges what I do in pursuit of the oil that keeps the machine running (money), and frankly speaking, those critics should learn to mind their own business, or alternatively try and count stars in the daytime (who knows, they might just discover new galaxies doing so). Those that succeed are often labelled thieves, witches, and corrupt by these judges of people’s dreams, but they still go on to succeed.

If one views the world around us at this point in time, they soon realise that those hip-hop music video dreams are only there to encourage the world to chase the dream. We just cannot afford not to dream for it is what keeps us moving towards the goal we can reach: relative comfort free of all the worries of the when and the how one shall reach the land flowing with milk and honey. I believe in making my world with my hands, and I shall keep on using them to fashion it to whatever shape and form I envision it to be in my private musings. The world belongs to dreamers valiant enough to chase their dreams. Chase that Third World dream.

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