Friends & Friction: Friends can tell each other hard truths

2013-08-21 10:00

Building friendship despite friction develops our African home

When a young student, Carolyn Davidson, presented her logo design to the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, his response was: “Well, I don’t love it, but maybe it will grow on me.”

hat did Phil Knight know? He was an inexperienced accounting professor and Nike was only a side business. The rest, as they say, is history.

Nike grew not only because it sold good shoes, but because it sold the “can-do spirit” and, in a way, helped build Brand America.

I hope this column will be a small stone in building the home we call Africa.

Unlike Phil Knight, I loved all your suggestions, but there had to be only one winner.

To make it fair, I never saw the names of the readers who had sent the suggestions.

The name that stood out was Facts and Friction. I now know that it was put forward by Kim Heller.

I will change it slightly because this is an opinion column, and the ravine between fact and opinion must never be crossed.

So with your permission, Kim, I’ve changed the name to Friends and Friction. Good friends tell each other the truth and sometimes this results in friction.

Friction is good. It helps us move forward. If the soles of your shoes are slippery, you fall.

If we are all lovey-dovey with each other, fear authority and each other, then our country and indeed our whole continent will slip into the abyss of mediocrity.

A company that is full of smooth talkers goes nowhere, but in a company where staff and management are honest with each other, sometimes there is friction.

As the old saying goes, asiyinganxaye singemanzi (only water flows in the same direction and human beings will always have diverse views).

Friction that comes from diverse views is good friction.

It is when people talk about each other that bad friction results. Friends don’t talk behind each others’ backs, only cowards do, and there is no monument for cowards.

Friends are considerate.

They care for each other’s wellbeing and I hope that will be the spirit of the readers of this column. Our country is choking in the pollution of selfishness and greed.

It may sound counterintuitive, but a greedy person is not one who only cares about himself, but one who has low self-esteem.

He lacks what we call amahloni, which comes from inhlonipho, or respect.

This concept exists in all African cultures and is difficult to translate into English, but it is what makes human beings different from animals.

A dog will relieve itself in public and even though a human being is a mammal, it is self-respect that stops him from doing so. It is time our people respected themselves and behaved like they are the owners of this country.

You don’t litter in your yard so why do it on the streets of the country that you own? You don’t urinate in your lounge in front of your children, so why do it on your pavements?

Yes, the municipalities are not sweeping our streets any more, but we still own them. We must take care of them.

Take care of the piece that is right next to your house and if your neighbours take care of theirs, we’ll have clean neighbourhoods and indeed a clean country.

Life is not necessarily smooth sailing, friends.

Congratulations, Kim. A copy of my book Black Man’s Medicine – and a subscription to this paper – is on its way.

» Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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