|Counting benefit from The Arena|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 13:16|
This message is from a copper plate wall hanging titled, “This world”. Plates sold years back.
Let me start with a young man who normally greets me in the evenings when I take a breather along George Silundika. The first time he greeted me, “Ah, Arena ndeipi?” I was awestruck because I could not even identify his face in the dark. Last Friday he did the same.
Now I tell myself, “Never take people for granted. They read. They watch. They listen, but above all, they also have opinions and would want the opportunity I have to articulate issues sometimes more articulately than I do.”
I thank the Lord for enabling me, and also thank readers everywhere for believing in me, encouraging me sometimes, even when we disagree.
“Although he was writing about family history, Paul Blake’s argument that ‘surnames can reveal much about your family history,’ also added, ‘but they can also be a mine-field of misinformation’.”
His name was a subject of heated debate during tea breaks among the lecturing staff with the men arguing that what probably happened was that when his mother fell pregnant, she did not tell the guy responsible for the pregnancy on time, resulting in him rejecting responsibility, leading to the mother giving him a name that implied the wisdom of telling the responsible guy (member) on time.
However, the women maintained that when the mother fell pregnant, probably her own father beat the lights out of her screaming, out, “who is responsible for this pregnancy?” After giving birth, the child was named Tellmember, which literally meant, “Tell us who the father of the child is?”
Why am I talking about names and their importance? Most readers believe that all the celebrated columnists they read about every week just woke up one day and had that apt name for their column that was just complemented by good pieces every week.
Some maybe, but not all I am sure.
Wrong! This is just a metamorphosis of ideas expressed in different ways. The onus is on you to make yours more appealing than the other one. I also realised the importance of names and the need to unpackage them became quite evident. This will determine the course and direction of The Arena with Hildegarde column. I state clearly from the onset that The Arena is an open forum.
This level of understanding allows you the reader to be part and parcel of the column — direct ownership — because as much as possible; this will be an interactive column, just like the sporting arena or a playing field.
But more precisely, we are calling it The Arena, because it is supposed to be a particular environment, walk of life, or a large stage where we all play our various roles.
What happens on the soccer pitch between competing giants best explains what we hope to achieve. Entertaining and combative at the same time, but doing so with the full knowledge that the expectation is not to create enmity across various belief systems.
to be discovered, be told, shared and celebrated through a spirit of togetherness and love. The issues and views we share should not only tell our stories, in the Zimbabwean and African way, but in a manner that does not in any way inhibit us — for these are our stories.
Let other people add their voices, but we have to claim the ownership of those stories. And, I mean all our narratives. Who can claim to know us better than ourselves as a people: our history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, religion, politics, philology, etc? So, that is what The Arena is all about.
similar quandary. You will be surprised to know that it also took me close to three decades to find out what Hildegarde means, let alone its origin.
Hildegarde is a very old German name and one of the most celebrated personalities who had the name (Hildegarde Von Bingen) lived 900 years ago.
In a poem titled “Celebrating life through my names,” I make it very clear what each name has meant or how it has shaped me. However, notwithstanding that Hildegarde means battle stronghold, The Arena is not intended to be a combat zone. We should acknowledge that each one of us, in his or her sphere of influence, is a battle stronghold, be it in the home, school, church, and workplace or in the political arena.
My Grade 6 and 7 teacher, Francis Borgia Chirobho, who molded this talent, added a tenth variant — Hildegardis. Apart from my parents and friends, it was through my teachers, lecturers and professors, workmates in the various organisations I have cumulatively acquired the knowledge and skills that I have today.
As I reflected on this, I realised that save for a few women, the majority of people who fashioned me academically and professionally were males. They saw something that was worth fashioning and using despite the gender factor and other challenges. They were men who did not give up one me. They knew that I always had a place in The Arena. It was tough sometimes, but looking back now, all I can say to them, is a big “Thank you.”
However, Francis Borgia Chirobho and Professor Blaise Cronin stand out. Chirobho taught me competition in class, and he pushed me, sometimes to unimaginable limits. He was a primary school teacher who never thought that nothing was beyond my reach, complementing my father’s vision, who against odds also believed that nothing was limitless.
At the tender age of 12, my Grade 6 teacher taught me to read adult magazines such as Time or Newsweek. Thus at that age I already knew how the US electoral system worked although I did not comprehend it. Chirobho also made me realise the evils of the colonial system.
As an adult, Professor Blaise Cronin taught me excellence. His motto was: “Aim that everything that you write is publishable material, and publishable in a refereed journal.” He made me understand the pain and meaning of how to accept that an article could be rejected for publication, notwithstanding how “good” you think it is.
Thus when we play together in The Arena, it is from a perspective of appreciating one another, and realising that many times we bungle up, we fall, but through team spirit, we can always extend a hand of assistance to one another, and lift each other up and move on to play our various roles. There are many entrances into The Arena. Feel welcome.