Monday, October 17, 2011

Looking for racism in South Africa

When speaking negatively of South Africa most international people complain about the racism. Ever since I was small I’ve walked in and out of South Africa mainly for holidays and shopping over weekends. But I never really lived in South Africa until enrolling at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University this January. I knew that eventually I would encounter racism but had no idea in what shape or form.
Semester 2 was drawing nearer, I was all set to go back to Port Elizabeth, except for one setback. My left eye lid started twitching incessantly two weeks prior semester 2, it was annoying. After the first week I tried acupuncture. It hurt, I was pricked in sensitive areas like my forearm. Arms and feet feel the most pain because that’s where the nerve ending are, so I endured some intense pain…in vein. Recess ended, and I went back to P.E. twitching in a sinister manner. Whenever I spoke to people I felt like a villain with a hidden agenda. In lectures it really distracted me. A daily hot water sack over my eye did not help. Finally, I decided to try out reflexology, another holistic approach. I have faith in parallel medicine, even if it doesn’t cure you, it has no side effects. I got the contact of reflexologist and massage therapist from an Indian lady at an herbal shop. The reflexologist’s name was Star, and she was quite a character. She was the real life version of Dee-Dee from Dexter’s laboratory if there ever was one, blond, long legs, huge blue eyes and very energetic. Her place was at 1 Fort Street, just up Govan Mbeki Av.

The first session was relaxing, it didn’t stop the twitch. The following week I went back for my second session. Amidst small talk she asked me if I spoke Xhosa, I replied that I did not and she exclaimed, “Then how do u talk to people?”
-“Err in English, just like you”, I said.
What kind of a stupid question was that, assuming I could only relate to local black people? Anyways I shook it off, soon after I fell asleep as she rubbed my feet. When she was done, the twitch was still there but I felt relaxed. I paid her the R180 due, she thanked me and offered a ride down the hill to the taxi rank, I accepted. She asked me to wait outside while she changed her daughter’s diapers. I walked out of the house, it was a nice spring afternoon. By the gate were two white men were fixing the hinges, I greeted them politely and waited next to Star’s car outside. One of them stopped what he was doing and came towards me, “what are you doing?” he barked.
-“I’m waiting for Star, can I help you?”
-“You were just in my house”
-“Err I was doing reflexology”
Then Star calls out for me from her house, “Edgar, Edgar!”, then she pops out with that animated smile, “There you are, is Jo giving you trouble?”
-“I think he is”
Then he laughed, “I was ready to jump you, see last time we got robbed by a guy came in the house with a bag just like yours and walked out casually”
-“Right”, I said.
Then Star walked out, “Edgar was doing reflexology, I told you earlier”
Jo cracked a chuckle and waved goodbye, he was her husband. We got in the car and drove off all the way she was apologising with words like, “Shame man, what did he say?” and “I told him”
I wonder what she meant by “I told him”, I told him a black guy would come for reflexology maybe? When she dropped me off she said, “Text me when you can come for another session”
To which I said, “OK”. I never spoke to her again.

In hindsight I could think of many diplomatic ways I could have settled that episode with Jo.
I could have told him straight, “This is a classic example of profiling. Never mind if I have an NMMU student bag, a foreign accent and a presentable look. This would have never happened in my country, only in South Africa”. Had I said that I would have put him on the spot and most likely gotten an interesting reaction.
The annoying twitch persisted for a month, eventually it went away but the offense I took form that episode didn’t. What adds insult to injury is that Jo had a black belt in Tae-Kwando, in martial arts you are taught to be integrated, to have self-control and honour. Jo displayed none of it, he didn’t even apologise. This was the one episode in my 10 months in South Africa so far that racism found me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I was chilling below my building with my hommie
Having a laugh over the stories he just told me
An unexpected event then unfolded
An exotic beauty walked by, whose body moved to a rhythmic anthem,
She made me lose my momentum
Her hair billowed as she passed by,
looking at my hommie with a smile she said “Hi”
My jaw dropped as she walked
“Do you know her??”
“I’ve seen her around, forget it she’s out of your league, I don’t think she gets down”
My hommie waved a hand over my face,
I wasn’t there I was in space
Was I in heaven was I in paradise I couldn’t figure,
this girl was alluring through fullness of figure
My eyes were on her in a trace as she walked away…

A few days later I was in the cell shop
Over the cashier about to top up my phone
Then I heard a voice in a soft mellow tone
In a stupor I turned, it was her.
She asked the attendant for airtime
While I stood there thinking, “man this girl is fine…”
She paid, got her top up and her aroma followed her as she left in no time
She whisked me away,
I was about to follow her when the attendant said, “hey, you’ve still got to pay!”,
pointing his finger at me as if I was so cunning,
when I only wanted to introduce myself to that honey
“Sorry here’s your money”
Then I ran outside looking to the sides, she was gone with no trace besides her aroma, she was gone…

Saturday night I was in the club, with my cousin and her hub.
I was the odd one out, the one without love
I was dancing to the sound of the DJ above with my cous
Trying to have fun sober, whilst people were drunk and high allover
As I spun I saw her on the banister coming down
I lost my flow and stepped on my cousin’s toe
The girl saw it and laughed, whilst my cousin shouted, “watch your steps!”
I said, “My bad”, then I looked back and the girl wasn’t there
My eyes darted but I’d lost her track. Once again she walked away…

I went home and felt like the night was unfulfilling and silly, I acted unwillingly.
The next day was a quiet Sunday, I had nothing on my agenda.
My mind wondered about that exotic girl, ‘who is she? where does she live? Did I blow it, will I ever see her again?’
And then my phone rang
“Hi…”…a soft mellow voice
“Hi, I got your number from a common friend, I hope it’s no prob, see I saw you at the club and also the other day buying airtime, I know girls don’t usually do this but can we meet up sometime?”
I said, “Believe it or not from the moment I saw you that was my aim but I had no game”
“That’s the thing about you, that’s cute in a clumsy sort of way”
I laughed, “it’s a date then, just one thing, what’s your name?....”

    Edgar Munguambe

Monday, September 19, 2011

Taking a crap

I am taking a left turn with this entry. Taking a crap, I know you are taken aback by the title but deep inside that is not how you feel about it. In fact being repulsed by taking a crap is a result of societal indoctrinations. You have been conditioned to feel that way, just like you have been conditioned to use the toilet. Toilet training is a child’s first confrontation with the systematic effort of the parents and society to control their impulses. With this entry I am going to be blunt and say that after sex and good food, taking a crap is one of the biggest pleasures in life.

I will begin by supporting my statement with scientific study by Sigmund Freud. Freud concluded that children betray themselves by holding back their crap until its accumulation brings about violent muscular contractions and as it passes through the anus, it is able to produce powerful stimulation of the mucous membrane. So not only do we know the pleasures of faecal release from a young age but we do everything in our power to heighten the pleasure.

It is the only bodily excretion from which I take pleasure. I personally find urinating annoying, it wakes me up in the middle of the night and at times I find it hard going back to sleep. For some reason we do it many times a day and at unpredictable times such as between errands or in the middle of our favourite movie. Need I say that accumulating urine is excruciatingly horrible? But this entry is not about urinating, it is about crapping.

I remember the biggest relief I ever had, it was in form 3 (grade 9). I had just started studying at Waterford Kamhlaba high school in Mbabane, Swaziland. I stayed at school as a boarder, the hostel was for form 2’s and 3’s, so you can imagine the degree of immaturity of its inhabitants. We were all a bunch of 13 to 15 year olds that had just started puberty. For some reason the toilets had doors as high as those in western cowboy movies. So basically, if you looked down you could recognise the legs, pants and shoes of the person taking a crap. In the morning of my first day of school, I was brushing my teeth and I heard a taunt from behind me, “Haa Bongani, I see you’re taking a crap!!!” and with that some of the kids in the communal bathroom shared a laugh. I did not want to be the butt of a joke (no pun intended), I was alright for that day because I’d taken a dump the day before in the hotel where I was staying with my parents before they went back to Maputo. I was alright the following day too, I didn’t eat much back then either way. The third day however was as though somebody had turned the heat up. I was fidgety and kept adjusting my pants, “are you OK man, you look a bit stressed?”, asked one of the freshers. “I’m fine man”, I lied. We didn’t have free periods in form 3, it would have been quite a plan to do it over a free period as the hostels would naturally be unpopulated. Excusing myself to the bathroom during a school period would arouse suspicion, considering I had not done a number 2 in almost 3 days it would have taken me too long, probably half the period. In form 3 our free times were at break, lunch time and after school and these times were all populated. After school I opened up about my plight to a friend, “I haven’t taken a crap in 3 days!”
-“I know what you mean, it is intimidating”
-“So have you done it since you got here?”, I asked him
-“I have, I shat last night during prep time, it is the perfect time!”
Of course! We all did prep in the dining hall from 7:15 until 8:45pm and during that time the hostel was empty. Ingenious! So that evening during prep, I raised my hand to the supervising teacher, excused myself to the hostel on the pretext I’d forgotten a textbook, I went to the toilet, took down my pants and I took a crap. Ahhhh….that was the most relieving crap of my life, I went back to the dining hall holding a random text book and smiled at the teacher.

Ordinarily, it really is a pleasure too. At times when you close the toilet door behind you, still hearing the toilet flush, you feel like holding a heroic stance, fists on the waist, head up to the sky like Superman straight off the booth. It comes with a sense of accomplishment, you are ready to save the day. Think about it, how much more focused are you after taking a crap? I bet a lot.

It is beyond me why it is taboo, everyone does it! I do it, you do it, the hot girl or guy you fancy does it, the president does it, the Queen of England does it and even Chuck Norris does it. Dogs wag their tail after doing it, fact! I wish we were open about it, imagine coming out of a lecture with a buddy, your buddy would initiate the conversation:
-“That lecture was so boring!”
-“Totally, so where are you going now?”
-“Home, I’m done for the day and you?”
And with utter pride you’d say, “I’m going to take a crap.”
-“Awesome, do your thing.”
You’d shake hands and part ways with a genuine smile, from one comrade to another. Unfortunately in an uptight world like ours, this would be unconventional. I am not advocating filth or perversity. I am simply pointing out the irony, that crapping being one of biggest pleasures like sex is taboo. We parade wearing different masks for different situations censoring feelings in order to fit in. What I’d like you to take away from this blog entry is just one thing: the next time you take a crap enjoy yourself, I know I will.

Yours truly

Edgar Munguambe

Friday, September 9, 2011

The international cultural exhibition - The logistics (part 2)

18 August 2011: I woke up feeling the pressure. I had less than 24 hours to put it all together. The day was going to be a long ordeal. I made the first unanswered call to the dispatcher. Then I made my way to varsity. I knocked on Janine’s door at the international office to tell her that the contacts she gave me were incorrect.

-“Those are the only contacts we have in our system”, she said
-“OK so I’m alone, either way I don’t intend to sit through this one, I’ll represent Mozambique”
-“You should, either way it will be a lot of fun”.

So I was alone, I gave that phone number another go, still nothing. There I stood outside of the international office, seeing groups of nationals mingling in their own language. Some Tswana students were congregated outside of the library, some German students were sitting by the benches, Xhosa people were everywhere clicking and laughing. I felt like a man trapped in an island…but a bloody good swimmer. My driving force was there.

I made a call to the Cubata restaurant, saying I would be there in the evening, he said it would be best to get there at 9pm. At least we were getting somewhere with regards to the food. Shortly after I finished my lunch, the dispatcher returned my call. The dispatcher just wanted to confirm my physical and postal address, I asked her if she could confirm the arrival of the delivery for that day, she couldn’t, I could hear her shrugging her shoulders on the receiving end of the call. I was worried, in class my Advertising tutorial leader sensed tension, “You look worried”. I denied it playing the cool cucumber. I excused myself from her class to answer another call, it was that dispatcher’s superior, a Portuguese man. He had sombre news

- “The bag has not left Jo’burg, we tried to give it to passengers, we tried bribing some shot callers to have the bag checked in, none of the airlines accepted it”, he lamented
-“How come, the bag’s been in Johannesburg for 2 days, how is it that you couldn’t find a systematic solution?
- “The airlines won’t take the any unaccompanied bags”

They should have anticipated that, terror alert is at an all time high. We can’t even take a bottle over 50 ml to a plane.

-“What now?”
- “We’ll have to DHL it, it will be there tomorrow at 9 am”
-“9 am!! My exhibition has to be set up before that!”
- “That’s all we can do”

I zoned out in class for the rest of the day. I sent some futile messages to my parents and to uncle Salty. My father replied

“If the equipment only arrives at 9am:
1. Ask the organizers to set- up what you have. Show them good will.
2. You should have spoken to Sululo. Second best”

I kicked myself in the foot, I shouldn’t have dismissed the possibility of Susulo’s help. Media Ethics was my last lecture at 4:05pm, the clock was ticking and help was needed.

-“Jes you offer to help, let’s do this”

Jes may not have been Mozambican, but she was there for me.

Off we went on her Golf, 10 km to Sidnum, with Jes’s housemate Kevin as co-pilot because he knew the place. By reference the stadium faces a lake and Cubata is also a reference, being on the other side literally one block away. From the outside, it looked impersonal, with its high burglar bars and a drug fiend circling the restaurant. As soon as we got inside however, that cosy smell of chorizo and roast meat loosened us up. It had a tavern like atmosphere, visiting flags were up, I could see Italy, Angola, and the UK. I never got the manager’s name, he came over and made small talk in Portuguese, and even asked Jes if she was Mozambican too. So he only had tiger prawns straight from Mozambique going at R170 per kg. We asked for 3kg, a little over the budget but a bird in the hand is worth two in the wild. We were almost set, he brought the prawns over…in their frozen boxes.

-“Camarada, I asked to have them prepared”
-“If you want them prepared, that will cost you”, he said rubbing the tips of his fingers
-“How much?”
-“I charge exactly R170 per kg of fried prawns, so it will be double”
I was ready to swipe my card, Jes grabbed my hand and said, “wait, we need to think this through”
A box had 20 tiger prawns, 3 kg of tiger prawns was not going to cover 80 plus people, even if we only wanted them to sample it. Maybe 5kg would but that would have been way over the budget.
“We could buy fresh shrimps by the harbour and make it ourselves, it would be much cheaper”, she reiterated. Jes had valid points, we could buy prawns at retailers such as fruit and veg and Checkers at half that price saving us a lot of money. Prawns are fried in just 5 minutes, all we needed was a stove, a massive source pan filed with oil, and butter, garlic and lemon to make the sauce. The Portuguese man agreed that it would be more favourable, “It is that simple”.

I thought I had this one, but it seems like if anything was going to be done, it would be in the nick of time. We left that place to the harbour hoping to get a quote, it was 10 pm.

-“I told him yesterday I wanted the prawns cooked for 80 people to sample, he didn’t say he only had tiger prawns, and at that price!”
-“Welcome to life! Don’t you just love it?” exhaled Jessica
-“You live and you learn”, I said
-“Don’t you think it would be fresher, if we made it ourselves on the day?”

The harbour was closed, but I got a number of a Fresh seafood supplier from a sign post. The number rang for a while then led me to a fax machine dial.
-“James’s dad sells seafood, he probably has shrimps. You guys could call him early tomorrow to get the quotes”, said Kevin
-“OK, Edgar give me the money and I will get up early and find out the prices from James’s dad, Fruit and veg and Checkers”, said Jes
-“I’ll be up by 6 tomorrow to see if I can get quote from the harbour. Make sure you keep the receipts”
- Jes replied, “Yes mommy”
-“Hehehehe, were would I be without you?”, I told her this repeatedly over this episode. The tasks were divided between us, she would run get the saucepan, garlic, lemons and run the errands to get the shrimps, I’d supply the stove, butter and stay on top of the pending materials. We all stopped by the Engen petrol station in Summerstrand for some ice cream. They say it makes you happy.

19 august 2011: D day. I set the alarm for 6:20am, got up at 5:30am, couldn’t go back to sleep. At 6, the suppliers at the harbour still weren’t picking up. I gave Jes the green light to find the best offer. 4kg for R100 per box from She was very quick on her feet. Fish and veg was . I put on my custom made capulana trousers and waist coat over a plane white T-shirt. I took a long look at the man in the mirror, I guess to gain momentum, “Good luck buddy”. I left the house at 7:30am with only two jars of salty cashew nuts in my duffle bag.

The venue was the Krall on South Campus. The represented flags were mounted on the screen of the stalls and over the banister on the upper level. A stage had been with seats for 100 people. There I saw Sid wearing an Umbhaca. Sid’s band Vudu were the opening act, I’d seen them perform their urban Jazz sounds a couple of times, they hadn’t yet disappointed.

-“I like your trousers, I’m stealing them”, she said.

My trousers were the only thematic items going for Mozambique. Botswana, Namibia, France, Malawi, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Tanzania, USA, Iran, Ethiopia, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda, Seychelles, Nigeria, were all represented here. Most of the stalls were either set up already or close to it. The only empty ones were Uganda and Mauritius and Mozambique. I was on the phone frantically, trying to reach the only contact I had, of the case’s dispatcher. Again it just rang. I could imagine the dispatcher looking at my number on the caller ID and rolling his eyes cussing out, “Aargh f*** this guy!” . He just did not pick up the phone. Sid came over and gesticulated a watsup with your stall.

-“Don’t give me that, I’m stressing out here, my stuff’s only arriving at 9”, I said.
-“It will work out in the end, it always does”.

I don’t usually hear her saying these things, so coming from her those were some mighty encouraging words. All the stall had already been set up, even Uganda and Mauritius. The girls from the Seychelles had palm tree branches around their back screen, a coconut, a pineapple, frangipani flowers, a snail shell laid out over some topical leaves. They had their own shooters, they even brought sand. I was seated and looking at my sole cashew nuts embarrassed. It was 8:50. I felt suffocated. ‘I can’t stay here’, I thought to myself. I got up and went to the labs hoping for an e-mail from the post office notifying me of the case. There was no such thing on my inbox, just some forwards on “reasons to be proud of NMMU” to add insult to injury. 9:00am. In a haze I walked to the post-office. The lady there shook her head, “there is nothing here for you”. My heart was racing, my thoughts were ‘I’m going to be disqualified…’ I walked back to the kraal decided, I was going to forfeit the exhibition to save myself from embarrassment. Mozambique can’t deliver, in fact it is in our culture to “deixa andar” (let it be), and I am Mozambican. I was in front of the Kraal about to face the inevitable, I looked to my right and there was Janine Wagenaar with a smile accompanied by a man with a suitcase. “There you are, I told him this is something Edgar will be happy to see”. I let off the biggest sigh of relief. The package signed and delivered. It was 9:07 am. Inevitable is just a word. I began setting up my stall as I was about to represent Mozambique in this exhibition.

To be continued…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The international cultural exhibition - The logistics (part 1)

10 August 2011: It was an ordinary day at University, I was checking my e-mail at Aberdale labs. I received a forward form the office for international education about the international cultural week, it read:

“Dear International students
In response to a request from Prof Swartz, the Vice Chancellor of the NMMU, for a strategy to address organizational culture, the Centre for Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD), in conjunction with the Office for International Education, the Transformation Office (Monitoring and Evaluation), Alumni Trust, HR Equity, Art & Design, Language and Literature, Social Development, Foundation Studies, Faculty of Education, Arts & Culture, Law Faculty, the Sports Bureau, Student Governance & Development, and Marketing & Corporate Relations will host Diversity Month during the whole of August, in which International Diversity Week will take place from 15-19 August 2011….”

We had events like this at my high school Waterford Kamhlaba, I never lifted a finger. My peers would set up stalls with treats from their countries and I would just walk around and feed off them. Fast forward to today, I’ve become a much more hands on person, who finds satisfaction in showcasing the arts. The international cultural exhibition would be on the 19th. Mozambique has so many milestones our neighbours don’t even know about. We grow and export Cashew nuts, in Africa only Kenya and Tanzania have the tropical temperatures to grow them. In 2011 we were the third largest exporters of Cashew Nuts behind Brazil and India. We have Cahora Bassa, the fourth largest artificial lake in the world. Built there is the Cahora Bassa dam, the largest hydroelectric scheme in Southern Africa. It was built in 1969 during the Portuguese colonial government, it is now proudly ours as we bought most of the shares from Portugual in 2007. We inaugurated our first multi-use stadium up to international on 23 April 2011, which we will use as the main stadium for the 2011 All-Africa Games. These will be the 10th annual games, and the first hosted in Mozambique. Our beaches are unparalleled, 2000km stretch of paradise, it is the reason we are called the pearl of the Indian Ocean. It played in my mind, I could see myself, the flag, the stall, the treats, photos of our milestones, the socio-cultural exchange, it would be great for, my own self development, self-fulfilment, my curriculum and it would be legendary. I called my parents and asked for their help with some contacts.

11 August 2011: The minister of tourism provided my dad with the number of the CEO of the National Institute of tourism. My dad relayed the number to me, and under it the words “Go for it! Grab the beast by it’s tail”. The man’s name was Tomas Psico (PhD in Management). I contacted him and politely asked to call back explaining my lack of airtime, given I’m a student. He called back, asking about the state of my health first, “Primeiro de saude esta tudo bom?”. I replied positively, he was pleased and then we got to the chase. I talked about the event, he thought it would be a great way to share our country, the only one we have as he put it, with other nations. He told me his secretary would call on Friday morning. I thanked him, the man said “Nao, obrigado digo eu por pores Moçambique no mapa” (No, I thank you for putting Mozambique on the map). I gave feedback to my dad, he replied by text,
“Well done Edgar! You are building yours and everybody’s FUTURE.
Keep going!

12 August: At NMMU, I went to the office for international Education. Janine Wagenaar the event co-ordinator was pleased about my intentions to participate, saying that it would be the first time Mozambique participated in the International Cultural exhibition.

I signed up, I had a peek at the other countries on her file and there were they had a lot more than one name signed up. I knew we were at least two on South campus, but I was not in touch with the other Mozambican and let me tell you why. Last semester, when I was new I saw this girl once at the office for international education. We were in line to pay our tuition fees, she was in front of the line, seeing that she held a Mozambican passport, once she had been helped I greeted her as a fellow compatriot, “Ola minha compatriota”.

All she said was, “oi tudo bom?’’ (hi, how r you?) and left. Naturally if you meet a fellow compatriot in a foreign country you are welcoming towards the person. Compatriots are birds of a feather, but given the indifference I thought that one had broken wings. I saw that girl again randomly, said hello and she ignored me. Whether she didn’t recognize me or just didn’t feel like talking to me is unknown to me. I too ignored her next time we crossed paths. Then I never saw her again. This brings me to the 17th at Janine’s office. I told her I knew there was at least one other Mozambican and asked her to find her and other Mozambicans so that I could get in touch with them for the sake of the exhibition.. Janine was glad to help. Before I left she gave me an envelope with R300 advance, the expenses I had to return in slips; and a list of all the equipment they’d provide us:

1 Trestle Table
1 Black Table cloth
2 Chairs
1 Felt Divider/Back screen
1 Flag on the screen of your country
1 Signage strip of your country name
1 Chafing dish
2 Spririt Jellies to keep food warm in the chafing dish
1 Serving spoon
1 pack containing the following:

- Toothpicks
- Serviettes
-Plastic cups
- Plastic teaspoons

Sweet, I was on my way. Dr Psico’s assistant called me, I explained everything, reiterated the fact hat we’d never been represented at NMMU. She asked how the transportation costs would be met. I thought it was cheapish of the national institute of tourism not to offer to cover these costs, after all it was for the good of the country. My options were, (i) give the materials to a trusted regular light traveller, so that he can give to my uncle in Johannesburg and trust him to courier it to Port Elizabeth or (ii) Contact another uncle, a big cat at LAM - Mozambican Airlines and trust him with the full transportation of the equipment or (iii) DHL the materials from Maputo to P.E. After talks with my parents, we agreed to go with option (ii) uncle Felix Salty.

13 and 14 August 2011: This was a very odd weekend, I’ll get to that in a different blog entry

15 August 2011: Monday I had lunch with Jes, my friend and fellow Media student. I told her of the cultural exhibition. She was thrilled at the idea and offered to help. I had to think it through I told her I’d get back to her later. I was still waiting for the other Mozambicans to pull through. In other news, Uncle Salty agreed to dispatch the suitcase with all the materials, the show was on the road!

16 August 2011: The case was on its way to Jo’burg, and due in P.E in the evening. I got an e-mail from Jenine with contacts of 3 Mozambicans, 3! It is bewildering how I’d been in Port Elizabeth for 7 months and hadn’t yet been in touch with these people. I sent them the most patriotic e-mail, calling them comrades and compatriots, I even signed off with a “Viva Moçambique!”. The show was on the road! However, the show was in for a 180 when it came over its first pothole. I got a mail delivery error from the server. I tried again, proofreading the names of the recipients. It would not go through. I remained cool, Jenine had also given me a phone number. I called it and the man who picked up was distinctly Xhosa and made sure he emphasised it, “I am 100% South African!”. He added that I wasn’t the first one that called him looking for a Mozambican. Not quite knowing what to say I said, “If you see a Mozambican let me know”. The day came and went, the suitcase did not arrive.

17 August 2011: My dad caught wind of a man called Isaias Muhate who made a presentation on Investments and Business in Mozambique in the field if transportation. He left the equipment at the South African High Commission in Pretoria. Dr Sululo was the number two at the Mozambican high commission in Pretoria. My dad gave me his number to contact him for additional equipment and pointers. I gave my dad a few nonchalant “yeses” and “um umh’s” over the phone. In the end I didn’t bother to call Dr Sululo.

I was thinking about the food for the stall. At home we savour Mboa, it is a cooked mashed up pumpkin leaves with tomato and coconut white. But making it in SA would be difficult, for starters I’d never seen pumpkin leaves in South Africa. The Cubata was a Portuguese restaurant I’d heard of by the North End stadium. I called the manager explaining asking if he made any traditional Mozambican dishes given our countries’ special relationship. All he had were prawns from Mozambique. I explained him my intentions and said I wanted to order the prawn speciality for roughly 80 people to sample. He just told me to show up so we could talk face to face. I agreed, in terms of food that was the plan, to be executed on Thursday straight after Media Ethics, my last lecture.

I got a call from SAA, the man on the other end told me the bag would arrive in P.E. with the 18:20h flight SA 145. He gave me a tag number. That was during my African film viewing, the viewing was not compulsive but critical to the model. You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs! So I bunked the viewing and hopped on a cap to the airport, I got there at 18:30. The passengers had already arrived and the carousel was clear. I spoke to a gay Indian man at baggage claims. He had two unclaimed bags by his counter, none of them had my name. He checked his computer for my name, all he got were closed flights from the holidays in June/July. There with my name. He called his counterparts in Johannesburg attempting to track the bag, his hands moved in a very flamboyant lady like fashion as he talked. I'd seen parodies of gay Indians by Russell Peters on TV, but reality was I’d never seen a gay Indian up close until this day. Anyways, there was still nothing. He sighed, I don’t know if it was because he was attracted to me or because the trail was going cold, “what does it look like?”, he said with a smile.
-“I’ve never seen the bag, it came through on SA 145 this evening for me”
-“The bag came unaccompanied?”
-“Yes, it has materials sent to me”
-“Oh, then this is the wrong place. You should go to cargo”
-“Where is that?”
-“Make a right from Avis, then left, you’ll see a warehouse at the end. You have to sign to go in”
-“Alright, thanks”

So off I was to Cargo. Pang, the taxi driver had this to say, “These people always f*** with you, they make you chasing your own tail”. The guards there at Cargo were idling away so Pang just drove through. There I spoke to a lady, as usual in these places I established that I am Mozambican, to cut them from starting a Xhosa monologue. She couldn’t find the tag number, said it wasn’t one of their flights. She wanted a tracking number, I wasn’t given one. I redialled the number that had called me earlier, it just rang and rang. She spoke to her colleague, who spoke to another colleague, who spoke to another colleague but not before cracking a loud joke. Nothing checked out or rather checked in my favour. Pang was getting impatient, he left the cap, “how much longer are you going to take?”
-“they can’t track it”, I said
-“Sisi what’s do you need to find the bag?”
-“I need a tracking number”, she said
-“well I don’t have one”, I repeated
Pang just stormed to the two Afrikaans speaking people (of the two lighter demographic shades of South Africa) on the other side. They Afrikaansed it out and then the man turns to me, asking the same questions the sisi asked, only faster. I was in a puddle, I reached my phone and dialled uncle Salty in Mozambique. No answer. I started darting my eyes plan-less. More of the same questions were asked in the next 5 minutes then I got a returned call.

-“Uncle Salty, it’s Edgar.
-“Sorry Edgar I was in a business meeting, what’s the situation?”
-“I’m at the airport and these people can’t find the bag. I got a call giving me a tag number that doesn’t check out, what could be the problem?”
-“It should have arrived, I’ll find out immediately, then I’ll get back at you”

Further waiting, at this point Pang was pacing on the phone, he seemed to be swearing, but then again every word of Afrikaans sounds like a swear word. The Afrikaans man called me into the warehouse to check if any of the bags were there. The warehouse was largely empty, except for a few crates, boxes and cases. None of the cases had my name.

-“This is what you should do. Go to the first building outside to your left, speak to the man, he unloaded all the bags, he can probably help you”. He spoke to Pang outside in Afrikaans, by the body language giving the same instruction, a call came through from Mozambique, uncle Salty.

-“Edgar my colleague said the bag’s still in Jo’burg, it’s only coming through tomorrow. But you don’t have to go get it, it will come to you.”
-“OK, I’ll wait for it. Is there a contact I can save to track the delivery?”
-“I’ll send you a business card with the dispatcher’s number”
-“Ok, thanks for the feedback”
-“Take care”

I got in the cab and broke the news to Pang, “I just got the most f***ed up call, the bag’s still in Joburg, it’s only coming tomorrow”. He replied, “Welcome to the new South Africa my friend”.
We went back to Summerstrand, along the way he retorted, “Here they’ll give you the job if you’re black and you’re stupid, it doesn’t matter of the white, coloured or Indian guy is better qualified for the job”
-“If you’re stupid period you should stay at home”, I responded
Funny enough I never mentioned the race of any of the dispatchers. He charged me R120 for the wild goose chase. The heat was definately on

To be continued...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Report - Car wreck at Avenida da marginal, Maputo..mp4

The LMC 202 entries: The scent of a man

I’d been looking at my shelf after my morning showers for a while, seeing my Davidoff - Cool Water Game perfume disappear slowly, spray by spray. This situation was anything but cool, my other perfume on my shelf was Giorgio Armani’s Armani Code, which I despised! Armani Code is a fragrance to be worn at night, it still has rave reviews and undoubtedly has gone done in history, but for me it is way too spicy, it’s so in your face that it constantly reminds me it’s there. I’ve had a 75 ml bottle for 3 years now, I doubt I’ve consumed even 20 ml. It has been my plan B for years, like the time when I went out at night with a bunch of shady characters I didn’t know, friends of friends of friends who bummed my ride all night. The following day was my friend with benefit’s birthday party, I was ready to go out all I needed was that magic touch, I opened my glove compartment and reached out for my Burberry perfume…nowhere to be reached. That wiped the smirk off my face, my Burberry was gone. It was no use trying to chase those random niggas that I drove around, I didn’t want them in my life anyways! Calling them would be exposing my number, I just imagined them on the other end, “Oh I don’t know about your perfume errr… but this is your number right? I’ll save it and we can chill again next weekend”. No thanks. So I didn’t bother with bygones, but I had an emergency. I ran back to my room and the Armani Code was there looking at me, I hesitated for a bit, “arghh … oh f*** it!”. Later that night the girl said I smelt sensual, mystical, yes it paid off, it usually does but I couldn’t stand it.

It was winter in South Africa, a time when your scent stuck better to the skin. So on a Saturday I left Summerstrand for Walmer park mall, buying a perfume was on top of my priority list. I walked in the mall and took a detour to the cinema, Captain America: The first Avenger was showing. I am a big fan of comic books based movies and I’m not the type that needs a date to watch a movie, so I bought a ticket for the 2:30pm session. In the half hour before the movie, I walked around the mall, bought a beanie, a magazine. Then I walked into Edgars. The perfume section in all these department stores is always seductive, bright yet comfortable lighting, a uniquely designed teaser bottle next to its perfume box behind glass, iconic images of the respective celebrity endorsers. So a clerk came up to me, “Can I help?”
-“I saw la nuit de l’homme in a GQ magazine, it just caught my eye”
-“You can try it”
She sprayed it on a testing strip, it was OK, just OK. Looking at Vincent Cassel’s pause in the ad you’d think this perfume is out of this world, it is night time, he wears an all black suit, black shirt, black tie, he is completely in command. Sadly the smell isn’t.
-“Nah there was too much hype about this one, either way I’m looking for something fresher”
-“How about the earlier version, L’Homme?”, she sprayed it on my other wrist
I checked the time and it was 2:25pm, I had to make a decision, “That’s much better, I’ll take it!”
- “It costs R670”
- “I’ll take it!”, did I stutter??
-“OK, which size would you like? There’s the 60 ml and 100ml”
-“I’ll take the 60 ml, the other ones would last forever, I like changing fragrances”

By then I was checking the time frantically, and I still had to stand in line for the purchase. By the time I finished the purchase the movie had started. I brisk walked to the cinema at 2:35pm. When I sat down to watch Captain America there was something wrong. It wasn’t the geeky 3D glasses I had on, it wasn’t the fact that Chris Evans who plays Captain America had already played the Human Torch (a character from the same universe) in the Fantastic 4 movies nor was it the Red Skull speaking English to other Germans in a horrible German accent, it was the fragrance of L’Homme emanating from my wrist. There was something bitter about the smell, kind of like overriped bananas… placed on a soggy wet wooden surface. I shook it off, after the movie I went home. At home I opened the plastic seal, removed the bottle from the box, admiring it’s aesthetic shape, it’s reflective cap, I couldn’t have been wrong. I sprayed it on my wrist. It is a daytime perfume, so it is fresher than say, the Armani Code, but it is so bitter!! I did some school work for about an hour then I brought my wrist back to my face, awful, there is something raw about it, it’s the type of smell Wolverine would have on. I surfed the web for some reviews. What I was experiencing is called purchase dissonance in the communication world, I found the product’s flaws yet I looked for stuff that reinforced my purchase decision. These were some of the ways L’Homme was promoted:

- “A purist’s classic scent, L’Homme is the one you wear for those introspective days when the allure of something greater keeps stealing your thoughts away. This is the scent of a successful man. It is easily worn with a suit or those moments when a suit will be too much, but you need to dress up a pair of wool slacks and zip-neck sweater over an oxford shirt for and afternoon stroll through the streets.”

-“Ysl l’Homme the epitome of Ysl mystic and heritage with woody undertones and a fresh first impression of citrus, followed by a spicy top note that lasts throughout the day” - (

What the hell were top notes? I asked myself. I dug a little more. So I found out that in perfumery there is a pyramid of smells where groups of smells can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a perfume. This is due to the evaporation. The top notes are smelt immediately upon application and evaporate quickly. The middle notes compose the smell that remains when top notes dissipate, it is the heart of perfume and it is more mellow in relation to striking top notes. The base notes are heavy molecules that evaporate slowly, it is what remains after hours. In short, the teaser smell that you fall for in the shop is made of volatile top notes designed to give you a lasting first impression. It is a marketing scheme, that initial impression is so far removed from the actual personality of the perfume. Naturally the endorsers paint a pleasant picture of all perfumes, in L’Homme’s case with words such as “mystic” and “successful”. On the other hand, there were also negative reviews from disappointed buyers:

-“Perfumery is dead! Once the avant garde of perfumery, Yves Saint Laurent has run out of ideas, this is such generic and recycled fragrance, ginger top notes, spicy and wooden middle notes and forgettable base notes. What a disappointment”

-“Awful, the best fragrances died with the old man”

I second these negative reviews. Wearing the L’Homme felt like I’d given one of those disappointing performances in the movies where people boo and throw tomatoes and bananas on stage, and in this specific case a load of ginger. I even saw myself slip on a banana peel and hit the stage with a large thud to be laughed and pointed at. Holly s***! Exchanging L’Homme was the first thing I set out to do the following Monday. Once back at Edgars I spoke to the sisi at the counter, she took a look at the wrinkled plastic seal and just let out a, “Yu!”. Dubious. She took it to her superior and I could see his head shaking from across. I walked in his direction to confront him.
-“Are you the customer?”
This man that looked a lot like Clark Kent.
-“Yes I am”, I said
-“Unfortunately we can’t except an exchange as the seal has been opened, it is in our terms and conditions at the back of the receipt”
-“But everything else is intact, the receipt, the box, the perfume, this was bought two days ago”
-“Yes but you’ve opened the cellophane, it is our guarantee to customers that the product is brand new, we can’t convince a customer if the product is not in its original package”
-“Original package? this is a piece of plastic with a price tag!”
-“That is our policy”
-“The price tag is right here, the plastic wrapping is just wrinkled but I’m sure you can replace it”
-“Unfortunately we can’t do that”
I thought I’d screwed myself. He was about to turn away when I said, “Then what should I do?”
-“You can give it to someone as a gift”, he shrugged.
-“(sneering) I bought this for myself”

This dork was not going to take me anywhere, I charged towards the perfume section. There was an older woman there, I explained the situation saying that I understood the T’s and C’s and in all honestly, “I made an honest mistake, I was in a rush”
She kindly pointed to management, she was surprised when I said I was from Mozambique, she thought I was British, usually people in South Africa think I’m from the US. Anyways the manager was a tall 40-something year old brunette. I greeted her politely and explained myself.
-“I was in a rush and I have to commend Yves Saint Laurent for their convincing ads. But this perfume is just not there”, I said
-“We don’t return or exchange used perfumes, it wouldn’t be fair on our customers”, she said
-“It wouldn’t be fair on your potential customers but what about the existing unsatisfied customers?”
PR mode activated.
-“We have exchanged perfumes only twice before but with everything down to the plastic seal intact”
-“But to the naked eye that is just a piece of plastic, everything else is intact”
-“We’ve had cases where people have returned perfumes and replaced the content with cheap imitations”
-“(laughing) I can assure you I didn’t do that, you can try it out”
-“I’m not saying you did that but I’m sure you understand”
-“And besides I haven’t used this perfume”, I lied looking at her straight in the eyes.
She observed the contents
-“I had a teaser spray and I bought it on the spot because I was in a rush, but the smell went from bad to worse and at home I opened the perfume to smell the cap and it smelt just as bad”
-“How bad?’’, she asked.
I smiled, “Like root beer”.
She laughed, I had the upper hand.
-“I’m a student…” I said pointing at my NMMU bag, “I’m athletic and this perfume just does not complement my lifestyle”, I said with smile on my face and determinant eye contact. The ball was in her court.
-“I’ll let you exchange this, take both perfumes to Jenine lady over there”, then she addressed the lady, “Jenine, he’s going to exchange a perfume then he’ll come to you”
-“Thank you, this will not happen again”
-“Now you know”

We exchanged a smile and I took off to the perfume area. A pretty clerk assisted me, I told her I wanted something casual, it was a toss between the Cool Water by Davidoff, CH by Carolina Herrena and Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani. These perfumes form the evoked set of alternatives that I should have had before my first purchase I shortlisted these simply because those were the ones I’d seen in men’s magazines. I’d worn the Cool Water before, it was a breath of fresh air, exactly what I wanted, casual, cool and plain fresh. It was exactly what I needed but not what I wanted. The CH’s top notes are bergamot and grapefruit which I found to be too sweet. I then tried on the Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani, the top notes of rosemary and jasmine tinkled my olfactory. It was very pleasant but I’d leant not to judge a book by its cover, so I took a stroll around for a few minutes to allow the middle notes to settle. While I waited I checked out a few reviews from the web on my phone:

-“CH men, someone had put some time and thought into the thing. A big block of glass, half of which is covered in embossed leather. CHCHCHCHCHCHCH. It feels great running under your fingers. A metal CH pendant has been attached to a deep red grosgrain ribbon and knocks against the leather like a little drum...CH smells like damp earth and flowers, with some spice and stewed fruits thrown in. The notes are listed as mandarin, bergamot, grapefruit peel, saffron, nutmeg, jasmine, violet, wood, ambergris, vanilla, moss, burnt sugar and leather” - (

The smell didn’t live up to the impressive bottle, it was still too sweet to me 10 minutes in. Looking the comments for the Acqua Di Gio:

-“Acqua Di Gio - Giorgio Armani. This is one fragrance that never seems to go off the charts. Somehow this scent has managed to traipse the fine line between woody scents and marine notes which makes for a Mediterranean feel that is exhilarating to say the least. The earthiness of the perfume makes it one of the best perfumes for men.” -(

Some mixed reviews said:

- “ Acqua di gio is like a pair of Converse All stars, you have them, you best friend has them, your neighbour too but it is still trendy. A classic summer fragrance. You will not stand out of the crowd. It is casual and safe”

“…Middle notes - Persimmon fruits, marine notes. Base notes - Cedar, Patchouli, White musk, rock rose”

15 minutes later Acqua di Gio’s smell was still so fresh, I was sold. R749, I paid a R79 difference for a 50 ml bottle, 10ml less than the L’Homme. Sure it was overpriced, I know guys that just wouldn’t bother buying this or any perfume, saying it is too expensive and it drains your natural smell. These guys shower, put on lotion and go out feeling fresh, not me. I reckon perfume accentuates your swagger, your lifestyle. I used to get so many complements from girls thanks to the Davidoff, but that wasn’t the reason I once wore it, whether I’m in the pool, in the tennis court, paddling a bicycle or on a yoga matt, I exercise regularly and the Davidoff made me smell how I should fresh off a workout, it was a perfect match. Picture Daniel Craig as James Bond coming out of the sea in Casino Royale, he eyes a sexy lady and she checks him out, you know he smells salty from the water but it doesn’t register, to you he smells fresh like lavender, his toned body in that scene would make a perfect ad for any fresh eau de toilette. You are sold and he still looks good…and he feels like a million bucks. That is the feeling I have after exercising and this fragrance puts a scent to it. It is not quite vanity; it goes with a lifestyle I call borderline metrosexuality.

Anyways, I went back to Clark Kent’s area and had one of his colleagues call on the walkie-talkie. I saw him coming from across the store and waited for him to come to me.
-“Just for the record what is this piece of plastic called?”, I asked.
-“It’s called cellophane”
-“And this is what contains some sort of an encryption that guarantees the product’s originality, right?”
-“No, actually the encryption is on the barcode in the box”
So they give the piece of plastic wrapping a fancy name, attach a value to it but in reality it is absolutely worthless. It’s just another mousetrap to make it hard for the customer to return/exchange the good. F****** bureaucrats.
-“Well, I managed to exchange it”, I had to gloat.
- “yeah…cheers”
I left with a smirk on my face. I won, I didn’t care if it was dated or overpriced, what mattered to me was getting the right fragrance. At the end of the day did it Acqua di Gio make me smell fresh? Hell yeah.


Edgar Munguambe 18/08/11

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In the beginning there was you

Many moons ago Although we were so young
We were nature’s second sun
We were always on the same page
I crossed your t’s
You dotted my i’s
Days, weeks, month, years
Out of the blue I got an e-mail from you
“I got married” was all I did read
Were you just bringing my wheels up to speed?
Or was it your nickel for my thoughts?
The earth was flat
The sun spun around the earth
There is a ring on your ring
And a knot on my throat

Winter succeeds Autumn
Spring will always follow
The sun will rise tomorrow
And you’ll still be…
The first woman I ever loved

I speak of love, don’t be mistaken
I speak of being, not making
Today I wonder why we never tried long distance
But there is no point trying to insist
It’s all water under the bridge
But is it? It isn’t
I would have thrown caution to the wind
Just to see you in your wedding dress
Reality check, I should just
Click reply and wish you happiness

Winter succeeds Autumn
Spring will always follow
The sun will rise tomorrow
And you’ll still be…
The first woman I ever loved

    Edgar Munguambe 010411

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Soul Food

The soul will ooze out of my pores

If art I choose to ignore

The soul implores for food

Creative arts is the diet required

Better skills in time will be acquired

For now any soul food will do

To quench my constant desire

    Edgar Munguambe 030411

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Sun Rising by John Donne

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,

Why dost thou thus,

Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?

Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?

Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide

Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,

Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,

Call country ants to harvest offices,

Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,

Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams, so reverend and strong

Why shouldst thou think?

I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,

But that I would not lose her sight so long:

If her eyes have not blinded thine,

Look, and tomorrow late, tell me

Whether both the'Indias of spice and mine

Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.

Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,

And thou shalt hear: "All here in one bed lay."

She'is all states, and all princes I,

Nothing else is.

Princes do but play us; compar'd to this,

All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.

Thou, sun, art half as happy'as we,

In that the world's contracted thus;

Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be

To warm the world, that's done in warming us.

Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;

This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.

The Sun Rising

by John Donne

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First impressions: student life at NMMU

After three years studying at UNISA through distance learning I felt it was time to go back to school for the experience. Distance learning is also a long process that requires dedication, you can consider yourself a wiz if you can complete a three year bachelors degree in six years. At the rate I was going I estimated total of 8 years for me to complete my degree, that would take me way into my thirties. Honestly I was a bit paranoid about the decision to return to a contact university, due to my last disastrous experience. At the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, I’d just had sinus surgery, badly operated by a quack South African doctor called Jeff Feinstein (yes I named him and do not recommend him!). Once the British winter kicked in, breathing literally hurt. I couldn’t endure, I went into depression. I went back to Mozambique a wreck for Christmas, its tropical weather made breathing easier. I temporarily withdrew from university, but full recovery was a pipe dream, I was forced to cancel my studies, my world had crumbled. Four years later after much stalling I had corrective surgery done by the finest doctor in Southern Africa, Dr Keith Davidge-Pitts. So now, feeling better, I decided it was finally time to hop back on the bandwagon.
So why South Africa? I’ll only be an Easter, long weekend, mid-semester or semester break away from home, it is a neighbouring country, that has the best universities in the continent.

Why the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University? I chose the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) because it is the most multi-cultural university in South Africa. 10-15% of the student body is international. Coming from Waterford Kamlhaba, a united world college with over 50 countries, NMMU seems like a good follow-up. These were my first impressions of student life:
I arrived in Port Elizabeth on the 18th of January 2011, with the objective to complete my BA in Media, communication and culture. PE is windy and chilly at times, at first I thought my sinus problems would return, they didn’t, in fact I breathe better. At home I’d sometimes sleep with a humidifier to filter the air, in PE I don’t need to, the air is so pure and the university is only 1 km from the sea, so I have clean air in my lungs all the time. Incidentally PE is beautiful, in South Africa I’d say the second to Cape Town. NMMU is beautiful too, the first thing I noticed about the campus is how green it is; the office for international education is in a plaza, with a long fountain pool. It is by far the best looking campus I’ve ever seen, I’ve seen campuses in Maputo (none of them are great), I’ve seen the University of Zambia, the London School of Hygiene and tropical medicine, the University of East Anglia, the University of Sussex, Wits University and the University of Cape Town. None of these campuses would ever win a beauty pageant running against NMMU!

The faculty at the university seemed good, during orientation I learnt that in the final year we get a chance to do an internship at a top media organisation such as Mnet or FHM, quite interesting.

About transportation in PE, the so called taxis, which are actually chapas (combis) charge R6 trip, that’s already at least R12 per day just by going to University and back, which is 1.5 km distance. So I decided to buy a bicycle, a good 1st hand bicycle for R1230 from a shop that provides assistance.
-“That’s too expensive”, said a fresher from Zimbabwe.
-“Actually in the long-run it will save me money”, I stated.
A “taxi” would suck me at least R1260 per semester, that’s R5040 in the four semesters that I’ll be studying. R1230, that’s already less than I’d spend on a taxi in a semester and I’d be exercising. Naturally, there are maintenance costs, like when I punctured my back wheel, I thought I could take it back to the shop for a fix-up but they don’t do such petty repairs, I had to buy a cycle repair kit for R15.20. Repairing a punctured wheel is simple, you remove the tube, place it in a bucket full of water and squeeze it until you see bubbles and that’s where the hole is. Use a scrapper to roughen the surface, apply glue to the area and apply a patch when the glue is almost dry. That’s it, I learnt something new and it’s easy peezy diy.

Living on your own means doing chores, like washing dishes, the few times I ever washed my own dishes, I did so wrong. Washing dishes close to the tap is a no-no because it always spills water onto the adjacent surfaces, which means more cleaning and more time wasted. Dishes should be washed close the base of the sink to avoid all of that. The same goes for cooking, if you’re pouring stuff, pour it close to the recipient to avoid spillage. Incidentally, a lot of undergraduate students would rather live off fast food and sandwiches than on a wholesome diet. Many don’t bother to buy neither fruit nor cooking equipment. I think cooking is one of the most relaxing activities, period. It is not the 7 headed monster that these undergrads fear, all you have to do is read cooking recipes, they even come at the back of everyday ingredients like stock cubes and rice bags, I only noticed this when I began managing my own apartment.

The garbage. I placed my garbage bin outside the house in the morning. When I returned in the afternoon it had been chucked back over the fence. I must have pressed the garbage man’s wrong buttons. I told this to the landlord, who laughed and said, “You have to place the bags outside”.
-“Black bin bags right?”
Why black bin bags? I had left the bin itself outside filled with garbage in Spar plastic bags, these are no good because they are neither made from recycled material nor municipal size, it’s insulting to expect garbage men to collect pint sized commercial bags from your bin.

One thing I’ve always hated doing is the laundry. When I studied at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland I’d accumulate a knapsack with dirty clothes and give it to the first Maputonian that went home for the weekend, he’d hand it to my mother who’d have the maid wash it and have it ready to give back to him when he returned to school on Sunday. At Sussex, we all had to wash our own laundry, which I found daunting. It’s a laborious process of separating colours, putting it in a washing machine, waiting, taking the clothes out, hanging them, getting dishpan hands in the process and ironing, what a drag! NMMU has a laundrette with ladies to wash and dry your clothes, they’re fast, efficient but they don’t do it for the love of students, 3kgs is R35 and they have a pricing for ironing depending on the item. It cost me R71 to have 3kgs cleaned. To save money I bought an iron and an ironing board because although I hate washing, ironing is not as bad and I’d be straightening small loads at a time.

The taxi (real taxi) driver told me Port Elizabethan girls were hot and willing. I’m not yet sure of the latter but he got the former twisted, these chicks are not all all. I come from Mozambique, a country notorious for having hot women, I don’t recall ever cruising the streets or walking in a restaurant, mall or park without seeing some amazing looking women, natural beauties, even those with no class are ghetto fabulous. In PE it’s a whole different story, the white women generally speaking are not exotic, they have no palpable attributes if you get my drift. Most black girls on the other hand are fat with HUGE asses, you might think that is what black men desire, we find an ass like Nicki Minaj’s amazing because it is round and firm, these girls on the contrary have bigger and flabbier assets and a disproportionate body to go with it. Take college chicks, on campus there is a gym, a swimming pool and an array of sports to play, but that doesn’t seem to register with them. Perhaps it’s their diet, I’ve asked the waiters at two cafes on North and South Campus for fish or seafood, both shook their heads saying, “We don’t have seafood”.
There isn’t a shred of fish on any menu on campus, whether it’s a cafe, a diner, a fast food joint or a buffet. The cafe on South campus has fancy dishes such as pork stir fries and beef wraps but can’t deliver seafood. Even the Chinese restaurant in town, though it has seafood, it does not have fish! How can this be? Port Elizabeth is known exactly for having...a port, yet you have to go treasure hunting for fish!? No wonder these chicks are unattractive!! On my first week here, I’d go for a number 2 twice a day from all that meat, it’s nhama nhama nhama and more nhama! My alternative was to buy fish at Spar and cook more often that I’d expected at first. Anyways, the other colours in the rainbow are generally speaking better looking, but seem to be living in their own segregated world, but I won’t put everybody in a box just like that, in time I’ll see who’s real and who isn’t.

At any given point walking around campus and I hear at least three languages, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English. I thought it’d be English the whole way because the system is in English, though that’s not how things roll in the rainbow nation, here the blacks here speak Xhosa, the whites speak English or Afrikaans and the coloureds speak Afrikaans. The kats here think that if you’re black you speak their language, WTF? Wherever I go, someone approaches me in Xhosa like, “Unjani buthi, click click click....” and I always say, “I’m not from South Africa”.
This lady at the faculty office started clicking at me and once again I said, “I’m not from South Africa”, by then I was already on autopilot.
She then asks, “Why?”
In my mind I did a double take, what kind of a question was that?!?
-“Why?? Because I’m form Mozambique”, I responded perplexed
-“I’m just joking!”
I didn’t find that funny, the whole Xhosa thing was getting to me. One day I wore my International student T-shirt and my international student bag. I walked down the corridor only to hear a, “Shap ekse, u click click kanjani click click”
-“Woa brother, I’m not from South Africa”, I said (again!) this time pointing at my shirt and my bag
-“Ohhh alriiiit, so you’ve neva lived here?”
Naturally, otherwise I would have understood you.
He asked for directions and I helped him get to his venue. This predicament is not only limiting for me but to this whole country, how are they going to become one unified nation if there are several different cultures? People are never going to see eye to eye. South African comedian Trevor Noah jokes about this in his special “The Daywalker”, how even in Joburg, his city, people ask him if he’s from Cape Town, and worse in Cape Town the coloured people think he’s from there and speak to him in Afrikaans! The man is half Xhosa, half Swedish and has nothing to do with being coloured culturally yet he was accused of being a ‘banana type’, yellow on the outside and white on the inside!
In my city people talk to you in Portuguese regardless or you being black, white, grey or green because that is the official language. How can you end segregation if people automatically put you in a box because of the way you look? I’m not going to click with these people, take a social environment, a bar for instance, you don’t know people, but you can easily join in on conversations or chip in on something you overheard, that is not possible if you don’t understand the language and already there is a hindrance in socialization.

Security. I’m living in a studio apartment, on the same grounds as a house. The walls have barbed wire, the gate has spikes and two locks, my unit has another lock for a barred door and a key to a second door, talk about security, it takes me 5 minutes just to enter the house. The whole neighbourhood seems to be like that. The taxi driver said, “People here are so f***ing paranoid, that even the people in asylums have more common sense than them!”
Are they? I went for a swim in the aquatics centre at NMMU and left my sports bag on a chair by the side, just like I do in Maputo. I then took a shower and placed the bag in the changing rooms unattended. When I got home I couldn’t find my wallet, and I distinctly remember putting it in my bag. There were people circulating the swimming pool and the changing rooms but it never crossed my mind that one of them would steal from me. I should have used the lockers, next time I’ll know. Gone is my ID, some money and my debit card. I was forced to cancel my card, fortunately I didn’t need money immediately, I had sufficient food for some days until a new card was issued. This is South Africa, the crime rate is high, in terms of security it has nothin’ on my country.

In hindsight, I’ve had and interesting experience so far. This is a learning experience, I’m finding out a lot about myself and a lot about life, I consider every situation either a win-lose or a win-win, these are lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. This journey is going to be educational, I’m constantly learning and that’s the beauty of it.

Edgar Munguambe 290111