Dashiki Dialougues – The country bumpkins

2011-09-16 08:47

Do you know the meaning of social oddity? I mean that terrible public behaviour that deserves a “WTF!” Twitter update, or the type that leaves you shaking your head in disbelief with one raised eyebrow.

Yep, I’ve been witnessing a few of these oddities in the past couple of days. It’s just plain crude behaviour, I tell you – like people peeing in the streets.

Perhaps I should caution that it’s probably just a simple case of culture shock on my part at the hands of new arrivals in the city. Like when I went to my favourite corner barbershop for a haircut. Seated on a milk crate and clipping his toenails was a patron I’d never seen before.

He spoke of his village and said he was here visiting cousins.
The guy gleefully told of how he wanted to move to the city and find work. Then he took off his T-shirt, grabbed one of the clippers and started shaving his armpits.

Oh, Lord! I wanted to keel over and die. I mean, aren’t these things meant to be done privately? Surely one needs to observe etiquette when sharing public spaces, right?

Well, perhaps you’d be right to warn me that this village guy is the result of an equally valid normative sociocultural process. Like how as kids some of us were taught that you don’t walk and eat in the streets unless you have enough to share with everyone else.

But even with that said, the truth is bare now. The country bumpkins are here and the city is not the same any more.

Just the other day, an old colleague and friend hosted a few of us for an overnight shindig. Naturally, people will extend the invitation beyond the immediate circle of friends.

This is to say there were strangers among us. It’s not a complaint; the more the merrier. Vice loves company.

But with new members comes a new vocabulary, and sometimes new swear words. And on the morning after that get-together, we witnessed a swear word personified.

It was the guest whose name is pronounced with a guttural sound. He was clutching a pint of beer on one hand and a mug of coffee on the other, taking sips of each in turns.

Now consider too that this guy, during the previous night’s braai, was grabbing such big handfuls of pap from the dish he had to bite into them a few times. Obviously he was not aware that when we share, we take delicate mouthfuls at a time.

And yes, you are right, the blanket lampooning of all bumpkins here is unfair. These oddballs could be from anywhere. But these sort of Dashiki Dialogues are as old as “Jim comes to Jo’burg”.

»Twitter: @Percy_Mabandu

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