11 signs that show you’re a phubber

stop phubbing, phubbing
Taken from the stop phubbing website

These days, our obsession with our mobile phones makes it notoriously difficult to hold a meaningful conversation with anyone without them whipping out their phone while you talk. Until recently, many had no idea that there is actually a term for this type of behaviour.

Coined by Alex Haigh, the term phubbing refers to “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention”. Here are 11 signs that you or a friend could be a phubber.

  1. As you read this post right now you’re accessing it from a mobile device.
  2. Quality time with your loved one = the two of you sitting side by side typing away on your smart phones.
  3. You get a notification that your friend just checked in to a place. You comment on their post. You receive a comment on your post saying “Dude I’m standing right next to you.”
  4. You’ve asked to borrow a phone charger off a complete stranger or used one of those public power points to charge your phone because your battery died.
  5. You chat with your friend about how you miss them. You plan a get together. You get together face to face. You spend most of your time at that get together chatting to your other friend telling them how much you miss them and how you two should get together. You get together. You get where I’m going with this right?
  6. You find that people often have to repeat themselves around you even though you don’t have a hearing problem.
  7. You live in a high rise in Johannesburg. You don’t know any of your neighbours but you know a guy called Mouchine Saidi from Tunisia (You ‘met’ on facebook during during the Arab spring and yet the two of you have never seen each other face to face and you’ve never been to Tunisia)
  8. You’re still reading this now as you sit around a table with your friends.
  9. You’ve actually tweeted, updated your status, instagrammed etc while you were at a wedding…your wedding.
  10. You missed the birth of one of your children not because you were not there but because you were busy fiddling with your phone trying to figure out how to stream the birth on the internet.
  11. You eventually figured it out but by then the baby had been born already so all you got is a shot of your foot then as you moved the camera to shoot your wife and the newborn your battery died.

So are you a phubber? Leave a comment (hopefully you are not accessing this via a mobile phone).


How to steal an election

Ballot paper, specimen ballot paper
Spoilt for choice.

Being a dictator is not easy. In addition to ruling the country there are stresses that come with the job. You have to worry about the economy, international relations, making opposition members ‘disappear’ and deciding which wine to drink with your caviar. Of course all these things come with the territory. As a dictator you will quickly find that for you to stay in power there is one skill that is an absolute must have i.e how to steal an election.

One must never feel guilty for resorting to this method of letting the people ‘express their will’. Think of it this way: Superman flies, Spiderman spins webs, Batman fights, Hulk has unlimited strength, rapid tissue regeneration powers, and inexhaustible stamina and what’s your superpower? You can rig… oops sorry hold elections to affirm the people’s unwavering support of your policies. It will involve a lot of hard work on your part.

Firstly, you need to secure the media and by secure I mean literally. If you can find all the media people in your country and tie them up somewhere that would be ideal. For those you can’t tie up gentle persuasion is advised. Since you control the media already, if you’re the incumbent, the former wouldn’t be necessary because the latter would be easier. Starve the opposition of airtime on the mass media so that for most of your voters the very first time they even hear about the other candidates is in the voting booth. With your name the only one in their sub conscience in the run up to elections, it’s obvious who they will choose.

You’ve heard it said that too much of a good thing can be bad? Well, when it comes to ballot papers with an X next to your name this is not necessarily true. Extra ballot papers are inexpensive to print as they are part of the election budget. Just don’t end up winning by 100% or something crazy like that. Unlike American Idols you want to make it look like it was a competition from the get go.

To aid the facade of your honest victory resist the urge to use violence… at least on camera. When the results are declared, act surprised but state you were always very confident that the people would vote for you. You must add that the will of the people has prevailed and focus should now shift to bettering the country as a whole regardless of political affiliation.

Johannesburg: A world class African…wait a minute

Johannesburg skyline

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa recently ruled on a case brought before them by Steven Haywood. He felt that in a promotional radio ad the City of Johannesburg misled people by making certain false claims relating to the city’s financial stability, its job creation and its environmental initiatives. The ruling, which was in Mr Haywood’s favour, was that the City of Johannesburg had two weeks to withdraw the advert.

Although Mr Haywood’s complaint was not based on the tagline of the ad, there’s been a lot of talk about the City of Johannesburg and its tagline “a world class African city”.

Whether or not Johannesburg is a world class African city is a story for another day however, I’d like to look at some taglines in existence in South Africa today and give more fitting alternatives.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) curently has “to serve and to protect” but given the number of innocent bystanders they shoot “to serve and to protect prices start at R100 plus shipping and handling” would probably be more apt. Here are a couple more.

Company Current tagline What it should be
Vodacom power to you power t..please recharge your account to finish this sentence
Sofn’free love your hair love your hair just not in its natural state

Please feel free to add your own interpretations of popular taglines in the comments section.

When Pigs “flew” in Nairobi

A few days ago protesters in Nairobi, Kenya released almost a dozen pigs outside parliament to show their anger at newly elected MPs (Members of Parliament) asking for higher salaries. The statement they were making was that the MPs are like pigs because of their greed.

The association with pigs is apt given that politicians (I will focus on Africa because that’s where I live) have many similarities with pigs.

For example, a typical pig has a large head with a long snout used for smelling and foraging. Many African politicians typically have large heads and large stomachs used for the same things. The stomach adds, for the politician, an increased ability to absorb all that has been gathered from foraging.

Ever heard the saying “don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.” Nothing is more truer when dealing with politicians. For years politicians have enjoyed slinging mud at opponents, critics and citizens alike. Similarly pigs have, over centuries of evolution, perfected the art of wallowing in mud so much so that the word “pig” has come to represent dirt and greed e.g “how disgusting you’re such a pig” or “your room is such a pigsty” or “last night we ate all the food in the house we really pigged out”.

Actually ever noticed how, of the many sayings about politicians/politics there are a significant number that make reference to pigs e.g “you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig”. It seems my Kenyan brothers took this a bit literally. That said the act of standing up against these pi….oops I meant politicians is commendable because far too much is spent by our politicians on personal development and not on nation building.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom

Today is mother’s day and as you may have noticed I didn’t get you a present. You taught me that it’s the thought that counts so I’m comforted by the fact that you have always practised what you preached.

To be honest, for a large part of my early life there were days when I thought you were really horrible and mean. Like the time you ratted me out to my dad in the first grade about my refusal to write in class. And the time you took me to school in 1991 and left me there with strangers for 8 whole hours. Off course I would later find out that the strangers were actually teachers and that I would be stuck in that institution for 17 good years of my life. Then there were the times when you used my fear of policemen and soldiers to scare me out of misbehaving. It worked, to this day I am still afraid of policemen, soldiers and any figures of authority.

As I grew older I realised that much of what you did was for my own benefit. Upon moving to South Africa your gems of advice stood me in good stead when I was faced with different problems. I have grown into a respectful, considerate man who is a model citizen (apart from the times when I drink milk straight from the milk carton without anyone looking).

Raising a family in Africa is not that easy in fact it’s not that easy no matter where you are. Nothing I can buy will ever fully express the appreciation that we (my siblings and I) feel for showing us so much unconditional love even though we made it difficult to do so at times. All we can say is thank you for being such a great mom!

Zimbabwean English

My English teacher used to say: “the Queen would be cross if she heard you say that” everytime someone made a grammatical error. I imagined the Queen, an old lady with glasses hanging down at the end of her nose as if she didn’t want to wear them, sitting in front of a computer receiving notifications everytime someone in the world ‘butchered’ the English language.

Every region in Africa has its own version of English. Some colloquialisms (apologies your Majesty I’m not sure if that’s plural for colloquial) are so unique that they clearly mark the speaker’s country of origin.

For example, you know you are from Zimbabwe if when you are sent to buy drinks for visitors you ask them “which Coke do you want?” (Coke is used as the generic name for all fizzy drinks). This can be confusing especially if you really want coke.

This trend stretches to cover all toothpaste (referred to as Colgate), washing powder (Surf), bleach (Jik) and many others.

When someone talks of ‘meat’ in Zimbabwe most often they are referring to beef. Chicken is not meat it’s chicken. So it’s not rare to hear someone say “we’ll buy some meat, sausages, some chicken and …”

While our English as Zimbabweans is rated highly in Africa our English accents are a different matter. Off course this is relative.

Ndebele speakers are well known for saying cackle when they mean kettle and lickle when they mean little because in most Nguni languages the ‘tle’ sounds more like ‘ckle’ when compared to English.

In 2006 I was fired from a job at a call centre in Cape Town because I didn’t have a ‘neutral’ accent (a.k.a I didn’t have a twang). There is no such thing as a neutral accent. My accent is influenced by the fact that I grew up in Bulawayo (predominantly Ndebele speaking area), went to a school where English was the language spoken in and out of class and had an English teacher who loved her job.

I’m against this idea of England being held up as some sort of default English setting as if people there speak the same English. Even the Queen has an accent. An accent shaped as much by her heritage as it is by her education, her social circles and her social standing as a Monarch.

English does not belong to anyone. All over Africa this language has been adapted to suit different localities. Given that this language is slowly eclipsing many of our indigenous languages especially among the younger people it is only fair that we be allowed to infuse it with a bit of local pzazz (again your Majesty my apologies). After all, one does one’s best.

Forget Santa or the Easter Bunny TIA!

With Easter coming up I am sure Santa’s reindeer are pretty disappointed that some cotton-tailed cabbage eating creature will be taking centre stage instead of them. Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate Easter and Christmas. I am just not a fan of all the commercial stuff that has come to represent these holidays. Think about it, for every holiday that exists there is some kind of fad or mascot that is used as an excuse for people to spend copious amounts of money all in the name of celebration. It is sad that as Africans we are falling victim to all the excitement.

For Christmas there is Santa and his promise of presents when we all know full well there is no way some pot bellied old man with a white beard will fit in the chimney. We have different time zones, so the logistics needed for Santa to make his deliveries would be the stuff of legend. Assuming he travels the whole globe in one night he would have to make 822.6 visits per second. That means for each celebrating household with at least one child in it, Santa would have 1/1000th of a second to park his sleigh, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, place presents under the tree, eat the cookies, drink a glass of milk and return to the sleigh. Given his fitness levels and the fact that it is extremely hot and rainy in Southern Africa in December, this seems all the more impossible.

So before you go lying to your children about some old man or some bunny delivering toys to them during the holidays remember that this is Africa. The heat and the rain make it extremely impossible for any one or any bunny for that matter to be running around the world delivering toys.

Social, political, media and cultural issues in Africa

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