Motivational speakers say there are three kinds of people – Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who sit there wondering what the heck is going on. I think I belong to the second group, albeit not in the context of the motivational speakers. Sometimes I like to sit back, watch people go about their daily business and form my own opinions about their circumstances.
It’s a bit like watching a movie, only this time I’m also in it. Thursday, January 15, I happened to be at the Gaborone Main Mall. Feeling a bit exhausted, I took refuge on one of the many benches placed strategically across the mall.
Chances are the people I watched on that busy afternoon may not remember much about that day but I know I will. It was a privilege to watch them go about their daily lives and admire the simple nuances of just another Thursday afternoon.
I sit next to some guy donning a black ANC (African National Congress) baseball cap. He has a big black sports bag next to him and seems to be waiting anxiously for someone to pick him up.
It’s as if somebody will eventually show up with a board baring his names ‘Sbusiso Mkhize’ (or whatever his name is) like they do at the airport. Anyway, I sit next to him and start watching people going about their business and this is how they look through my eyes:
There’s young lady (probably in her early 20s) passing through the mall. Tall, dark, beautiful and rocking black tights, a long black blouse, black sandals, a cream Polo handbag and dark shades.
She could make a great model. She looks absent minded. Probably wondering about when she’s ever gonna get her hands on that elusive job opportunity. A young man rushes towards her from a nearby stall. She stops to listen. It looks like he’s trying to draw her attention to the merchandise he is selling. She’s not interested and dashes off leaving him standing there. I’m sure he doesn’t care about her money. He just couldn’t resist her beauty.
Another young woman passes by. She’s more or less the same age as the ‘model’. Olive green knit, tight blue denims and holding a purple A4 sized envelope. She’s probably on her way back home to finish up the laundry she soaked early in the morning before going to submit yet another job application letter.
Maybe this time around she would finally get that call.
There’s a bald middle aged Indian guy with a briefcase. A guy tries to hand him what looks like a sales brochure but he’s not interested. With a briefcase like that, it’s probably best not to speak to strangers.There could be 50 million bucks in there; Just ask Kgosi and he’ll tell you.
An old woman wearing a blue German print and matching doek passes by. She’s holding what looks like a gallon of paraffin. Why would someone bring paraffin to the mall? Anyway, it’s none of my business.
There’s a guy, early thirties, in blue paint stained overalls; right hand in his pocket. He’s perhaps on his tea-break trying to figure what to squeeze into his very last 10 bucks. Two fat cakes, some gravy and a bottle of fresh milk should do. Nope, I was wrong. He’s getting into the hardware store.
There is a music stall nearby and they are playing a poetry CD. Is it Mzwakhe Mbuli or Benson Phuthego? They confuse me. I don’t know who’s who nowadays. Another guy passes with a red Manchester United replica. Mxm! Louis Van Gaal should go. He is just another David Moyes.
Meanwhile three men of Arab origins walk out of Chicken Licken holding a box each. Arabs! I don’t know what’s in those boxes but whatever it is, it’s definitely extra hot. The other one looks like one of the Charlie Hebdo (France) attackers. I hope they don’t bomb the mall. What am I thinking? This is Botswana. We only get to see that kind of stuff on television.
There is a stall on my right selling Botswana flag inspired merchandise; blue, black and white colors. I would never buy from there. The colors are a constant reminder of the mediocrity of our national soccer team, Zebras. I hate that team. It has brought nothing but misery to Batswana.
Meanwhile Our ‘ANC’guy is now fast asleep on the bench. His head keeps hanging from side to side. I hope they don’t steal his bag.
Anyway, there is another stall straight across the pavement from me. The old lady sells various accessories and artefacts. Nobody has stopped by her in the past hour. Is this another bad day for her? Just how much does she make in a day?
Anyway, it’s none of my business.
Oh, there’s a nice looking young lady with a Mohawk hairstyle. There’s a strip of long braids at center of her head. Why do they go through so much trouble growing and grooming their hair only to waist it by shaving the sides? It really beats me. But it’s none of my business.
Here comes a couple. They are both rocking some red matching sweaters despite the scorching temperatures. And what’s with the red sweaters? Is it valentines already? Another couple is passing through. The gentleman is wearing an oversized sky-blue shirt, very long colorful tie, military green pants and what looks like school shoes. He reminds me of the Btv weather guys. He must be a civil servant. Their sense of style leaves a lot to be desired.
Our ANC guy is now awake. He reaches for his pocket and removes an Orange starter pack. Yes! I knew he wasn’t a local.
Two middle aged white women stop by the artefacts old lady, finally. Oh! Shame, they dash off faster than she can say “dumelang”. She falls back to her seat.
What’s with the red color today? Are these people rehearsing for valentines? There’s another young lady in a long, red evening dress. She’s looking beautiful though. She reminds me of that Chris De Burgh classic, Lady in Red. “….lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek… There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me… It’s where I want to be… But I hardly know this beauty by my side… I’ll never forget the way you look tonight …” I have almost lost myself in the song as a guy passes by hastily with a folded DailyNews paper. I bet President Khama is on the cover.
There’s a nurse. She’s looking gorgeous in her white tunic that hugs her almost perfect figure. I wonder how many lives she has saved today.
Speaking of a nurse, there goes a guy looking frail with a gigantic brown envelope clamped under his armpit. It must be an X-ray report. Did he break a couple of ribs in a bar brawl at the weekend? Anyway, it’s none of my business.
There sits a lady on another bench across the pavement. She’s nursing a baby. I wonder where the father is. Did he also get run over by a train?
Our ANC friend is now gone. He must have lost his patience. Two special constables are passing behind me. Do they still call them ‘Orange tens’? There’s a ZCC woman. What is it with you people and your doeks? Anyway, send my greetings to Bishop Lekganyane. Now who’s that guy on crutches? It looks like he’s got his right leg amputated. It must be a car accident. Or was he a solder? Did he walk into a minefield? Come to think of it, our solders hardly know a war zone. No wonder Themba Joina wants to deploy them to Pandamatenga farms so they can plough for us.
There goes our plumber. Should I say hello? Oh, not a good idea. I still owe him for the last job he did. It’s January. I don’t have money. Speaking of money, when are these guys gonna pay us? Damn! What the hell am I doing here? Time is up. Gotta go.