Dreadman’s wisdom I will never forget
By Mbango Sithole
1997. Warren Park D in one African country. One man impacted my thinking more than many others have done. I will never meet this man again. I don’t even remember how he looked like. Dreadman, or Rastaman, the term used for someone with natural dreadlocks in Zimbabwe then, said something that I will never forget.
Tuesday, it was. Like any other day we had to go to work early in the morning. Transport has generally been a problem in this part of town every morning for those going to work. But this day it has been dry. Commuter taxis have not been coming since as early as 6 o’clock in the morning. We are stranded. We want to go to work. Okay, we have to go to work. Most of us should be at the office, or wherever we work, by 8:00am.
It’s almost 9:00am but there is no sign of change. Those who had their personal cars that day could have charged even double the normal rate that day. We were desperate. There are over a hundred of us now. Some are now sitting on the pavements. They have been standing there all along. Some have started tracking the road to town with the faint hope that they will be picked along the way somehow.
An old building sand delivery truck has just picked some of the people who were agile enough to jump onto the back of the truck and endure the 30minutes drive sitting on top of unwashed river sand. These mostly were men but a few brave women had surprisingly been equal to the task. All they need is to go to work. Nothing matters anymore, even the soiling of their clothes. I had decided not to jump onto that truck.
Among those who had remained, including me, was a middle age man conspicuous because of his dirty long dreadlocks. The dreads were now showing a brownish discolouration. He clearly did not have the means to maintain the high standards required for healthy natural hair dreadlocks. It is 1997 and so very few people wear dreadlocks in our community as they are associated with drugs and other ills. This man was standing quietly leaning on an old bus stop sign. He appeared deeply lost in thought and obviously no one, including me, care about him other than seeing that he looked dirty.
It’s now about quarter past nine. We are about one hour late. Then from nowhere a 14 seater commuter bus drives through from behind Mereki shopping centre and stops to pick commuters. I am sure you can imagine what happened there. Over a hundred people want to get into this small bus. There is serious jostling to get in. The forceful only can get in.
The commuter bus sliding door has pulled off from its rails. Whatever means, everyone wants to be amongst the lucky 14, okay 18 because the bus had to overload. Surprise! I am amongst those who wrestle their way into the taxi. I see the dreadman was one of the few to get into the bus. Because he is sitting on the back seat. He had been the second to get into the bus. It appears. I don’t know.
Everyone is panting heavily. It had not been easy getting into the bus. I was among them breathing very heavily. I wasn’t used to this kind of animal-like behavior. After all I was an honours’ degree graduate. I probably was the only university graduate in that taxi. No one is bothered, I had to survive having married soon after college.
The taxi leaves. The driver seems to be thinking of rushing quickly to return to pick some of the desperate commuters who had remained. He drives for about 10 minutes. We have just passed the National Sports stadium. That grassy plain wet area just after the Heroes Acre hill. Clearly there is no way anyone would disembark there because there is no business anywhere near.
From the back seat a hoarse, powerful male voice bellows and breaks the silence in the taxi “ Driver ndidzikisei, driver ndidzikisei, handichada kuenda” (driver please stop. I no longer want to proceed with the journey) . Everyone in that taxi turns against him shouting angrily at him “urikutinonotsa Dready wambopindirei muno mu taxi macho?” ( You are delaying us. We are late for work. Why did you get into the taxi in the first place).Remember we were very late already.
The lanky dreadlocked guy retorts. “You are late? To where? You are all in a system! You wake up in the morning to go to work. When you get to work you wait for lunch. After lunch you are already thinking of finishing work so that you can go home. For what?
So that you can sleep and go back to work again. You are being used. Can’t you see that you are in a system. Wake up mhani and be free. I am no longer going”. Everyone went quiet as the dreadman gave us his piece of mind before jumping off the taxi.
After he got off the whole taxi broke off into laughter as the words of the dreadman began to sink down our greymatter. Some said the dreadman is right. Others, like me, just smiled sheepishly, holding our peace. Dreadman had spoken. We are in a system. Ummmh, Dreadman! Dreadman!
For many years the words of Dreadman have rung in my mind. The truth is we can get caught up in a meaningless and boring system unless we decide to do something to free ourselves. Something in us must rebel for us to be relevant in whole scheme of life.
How do we break free? Jenny Crwys Williams of Talk Radio 702 in South Africa hosted a talkshow program recently. In that show she narrated the biographies of men and women who broke rank. She talked of how Bill Gates invested his 10000 hours in pursuit of his passion from as early as when he was 14 years. Inside of every person in this world is a cry for recognition. It is a deep cry for meaning. We have something to contribute in this world. God has invested it within us. It is up to us to search within us. We are not all called to do the same.
Talk of a man who has revolutionalised the world like Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, the late Steve Jobs and many others. Sacrifice, commitment and discipline is key as we pursue our passions. We will never be the same again. The world will never be the same again.
Find something you are passionate about and pursue it with your blood, sweat and tears. Our passion is crying loud for us to give our abilities responsibility. Obviously not in the way the Dreadman did it. But we need to give our 10000 hours on it. We are answers, in a way, to life’s problems. Like Dreadman said, “Wake up mhani!”, otherwise we will leave no legacy after our grave