When I thought of writing this piece, I had the uncharacteristically pressing urge to write about my thoughts on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address (SONA). This urge was atypical because I never really listen to the president when he reads.
I have seen him make mistakes that compel me to conclude he just does not take his audience seriously; and, frankly, tedium is hardly my style. I’d rather read the speech at my own time.
Besides, I woke up this morning feeling like going back to sleep – no inspiration nor strength to face the day.
So I decided I will talk about death. Yeah, you heard me right, death; and how we seem to be responding to it.
It seems to me like death kicks many of us into a state admission, with everyone suddenly feeling the urgency to emote generally great things about the deceased.
When Vuyo Mbuli died, social media went abuzz with entries of love, of respect, of admiration, etc. People said things that left the reader without any doubt of the regard they had for the veteran broadcaster. Of course, people being people, there would almost always be a measure of negative, disparaging things peppered here and there about the deceased.
Now the other day it was Maya Angelou, and we all became emotional about her. Predictably, Facebook and Twitter were replete with touching qoutes ascribed to her. OK. Yes, even I dropped a quote of hers. Plus I got lucky and spoke of her literary work and how it affects me as a literary practitioner (and possibly others who are interested in her work) on SABC’S Motsweding FM.
But the point is we all suddenly became experts of Maya Angelou. One person even lamented that he was watching and listening with keen interest as people – those who knew and actually read her work and those who didn’t, suddenly came together to behave homogeneously – as if we all knew her and her work.
This past weekend we heard of the sad news of radio personality Eddie Zondi having passed on. The same pattern persisted: love, respect, admiration all around for the man.
Now I personally have a lot of respect for death. I mean, I can imagine nothing that devastates like death. Or can you?
I may not know when but I can predict that you will one day die. We all know this unavoidable chapter will at some point or the other transpire.
So why do I not say these lovely things to you before you breathe your last? What does it matter to you as a dead person whether you were an inspiration, whether you were an example worth following, whether you changed lives for the better?
Do we even pause to imagine how equally life changing it would be if you told your friend now while she is alive just how much she inspires you, or your mother how much you appreciate her, or your lover what she means to you?
Do we know how important and inspired that almost suicidal teenage kid would feel if she was told all the wonderful things while she is facing all the challenges life throws at her daily?
Your husband will probably be happier and more determined to in turn make you happy if you as his wife made sure he knew all the great things you feel and think of him; and if the husband did the same to you as his wife, your marriage is likely to grow stronger.
I just feel I would become more of a life changer if it were made clear to me right now that I actually change lives – well, or that I don’t.
So, simply, if you are NOT going to tell me all the wonderful things while I still have the benefit of hearing you say them, then please don’t bother when I am dead. I need to smile and feel good about myself right now … and this, my friend, is the luxury dead people don’t have, in case you had no idea.