Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga
What can I say? The events of the past couple of weeks have been hectic. Nothing short of miraculous, some of us are still pinching ourselves just to ensure we are not dreaming. We never imagined that we would get to this point.
Alright, you all expect me to be predictable and pile on the platitudes. I will leave that to praise singers and drum beaters. What I will do instead is to offer plain good old advice that I would recommend you seriously take heed of.
I must admit, it is hard to take anything in this column seriously, but for once, please take that silly smirk off your face and try to. Not only because I am not the only source of what follows.
The following advice is gleaned from practice and, with sincere apologies, to one Mary Schmich (Chicago Tribune, 1997) and with slight modifications, all will be laid bare.
Henceforth, you should eat well. If I could offer only one tip for the future, eating well would be it. The benefit of food has been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me on this, in 20 years, you will look back at photos of yourself and recall how fabulous you really looked when all this happened.
Don’t worry too much about the future, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve a mathematical equation by chewing gum. Real troubles are apt to ambush you at 4PM on an idle Tuesday.
Do at least one thing that really scares you, like singing or bungee jumping. Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and I bet you, nothing worse will befall you for the rest of the day. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Brush your teeth.
Remember compliments, forget insults. Keep old love letters. Throw away old bank statements.
Exercise, a lot. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life. Some of the most interesting 50-year-olds I know still don’t know what to do with theirs.
Be kind to your knees. You will miss them when they are gone. Maybe, you will marry, maybe you won’t, and maybe you already have. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, and maybe you already have several.
Maybe you’ll get divorced this year, maybe you will dance the kongonya at your 75th wedding anniversary party. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself nor criticise yourself too much.
Dance while you can, because you will rue the day you can’t find your feet. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. If you are a woman, avoid reading beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they will be gone. Be nice to your siblings. They are the best link to your past, and the people most likely to stick with you when the chips are down. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. The older you get, the more you need people who knew you when you were young. Travel a lot.
Be able to accept these certain truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You too will get old. And you will fantasise that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect old people. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund or perhaps you will marry a millionaire. But you will never know when either of them will run out, or away. Don’t mess too much with your hair, by the time you’re my age, it will be grey and gone.
Be careful whose advice you take, but be patient with those who give it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the rubbish bin, wiping it off and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the food. My best wishes for the people of Zimbabwe in this new age. Celebrate this new-found freedom, because a new page has been turned. No matter how you look at it. Stop sulking, or looking at this gift horse in the mouth. There will be plenty of times for that in the future.
For now, pop the champagne bottles and cherish the moment. Part of the “I told you so,” comment for now. Fellow countrymen, because just like lightning rarely strikes at the same spot twice, this could well be the future you have been praying for. Welcome to the new tomorrow!