Monday, 30 April 2012

Our Weakness For Get Rich Quick Schemes

We all want to rich someone day, have a big house, nice car and never have to worry about money. Like there are many ways to climb a mountain so are there many ways to making money. Some people will inherit the wealth, some will get a job and hope to get rich (it rarely happens), some will start a business, some will steal and then there are those who play the lottery.
Recently there has been an emergence of get rich quick schemes that has slowly begun to envelope this country. It was not long ago that the Bank of Zambia requested a group calling itself LWESA to discontinue its operations in what was viewed to be a pyramid scheme. It is called a pyramid scheme because of the structure of the same business. 1 person sells certificates to 3 individuals and those 3 individuals each sell to 3 other individuals and its goes on like that. This is in hopes of getting a commission when you have sold enough certificates. There was a promise of invest a small amount of money and reap amazing high returns.
Then walking along Cairo Road in Lusaka is beginning to be a hassle. You are swerving and swaying while constantly avoiding the men who always want to give you a piece of paper. I have occasionally gotten these papers somehow hoping to find something different. However, I still find the same things, if I have sexual problems I should get in touch with Dr. Uche, if I want to win a court case get in touch with Dr. Uche or if I want to be rich I should get in touch with Dr. Uche. These so-called doctors have mushroomed around Lusaka all claiming that they have the power to make me rich. Yeah right why would you want to share that knowledge? Unfortunately, there are a number of people who have tried many other options such as looking for a job but to no avail, their businesses have collapsed, they feel their prayers aren’t answered hence the last resort would be to visit Dr. Uche.
We cannot forget the email that is randomly sent to your box. A heartfelt preamble is written about how a woman’s father died and left millions of dollars in a Benin bank and needs your help to withdraw the cash. Then she says that when the money is in your account you can share the cash. She requests that you send her your personal account details where the money will be deposited. Apart from this email scam, the next one is that of text messages. A strange international number says that your number has been picked to win some great prize money and you should call the number. Honestly, if they are giving you $5 million they should be rich enough to inform you by calling instead of sending you a text.
Despite most of these scams being so obvious well to me, some people have fallen victims and have ended up losing their money. Some people do not want to work for their wealth, they want it be handed to them on a silver platter. They do not want to take to the grind, break sweat or actually do something but they expect to have money the next day. When we see successful people some are under the impression that they stumbled upon their riches or that they were an overnight success. Simply look at the Chipolopolo Boys victory at the AFCON that was years of preparation, we forget that they spent countless hours in the gym, kicking the ball on the pitch, experiencing some painful losses before they eventually lifted the cup in 2012. For one reason or another some are still strong bent that they can get rich quickly. Hence, they become easy prey to be swindled. We usually choose to switch off our intuition that tells us that this is a scam and allow ourselves to be taken for the ride.
Detecting a get rich quick scheme in this day and age should not be complicated. There is always someone else who has been swindled before it eventually got to you, therefore it is important that you do your research. Even if the offer comes from a trusted person such as a friend or a relative always double check the information. Avoid making an impulse decision out of excitement at the prospect of becoming the next millionaire. It would not hurt if you simply asked for more time to critically think about it. Get on the internet and find out if there is more information about the same business deal, ask friends and think logically. By then you should be able to know whether it is a genuine money making venture or one of those get rich quick schemes. There is a general rule that floats around, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Scammers are very innovative individuals who keep evolving their scams in an attempt to meet their victim’s needs. If getting rich is what you want, they will devise schemes to meet that need. It will always appear genuine and appeal to your desire to get rich quickly. It is always easy to block out all common sense even if it slaps you in the face. This is why it is recommended that you consult about such matters especially if it has to do with parting away with your money. It is important to not give your account details and debit card numbers to just anyone who asks for them. Finally, if you want to get rich you need to understand that it is a process whether it is by kicking a ball you need to be on the pitch, singing you need to be in the studio or by business then start investing. It is time that we stop relying on get rich quick schemes to bring us fortune.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


            The last week the nation has been in mourning. There were three days of national mourning for former vice president George Kunda, MHSRIP. Following his death people began to speak in high praise of him. He was eulogised on radio and on television, in the papers and on Facebook. It was almost unanimous that everyone had nothing but good words to say about him. This was a different change of heart from a couple of months ago when it was almost difficult to find someone who had anything good to say about him. This turn of events seriously highlighted a deep seated issue in our society. Why do we wait for someone to go six feet under before we begin to praise and honour them?
            Sadly this is becoming a habit in our society which is not going to disappear for some time to come. I came to notice this with the demise of the third republican president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. Before his untimely death there were many words in bad taste that were spoken about him. People made fun of his stuttering speech, infamously called him cabbage and others said he had no direction. When word got to Zambia that he had passed on, boom! Instantly everyone was saying that he was the best president Zambia had had, he had a vision for the country, they admired his fight against corruption or he was an incredible lawyer. Even though while he was alive almost every day the papers, radio and ordinary Zambian citizens criticised the things he did no matter how well intentioned they were. I am sure Levy Mwanawasa, Frederick Chiluba or George Kunda would have done anything to hear even half the praises they got upon their death while they were still alive.
            It could not be hard to question whether the words of praise uttered are genuine or it is a taboo to speak ill of a dead person. Maybe upon death we are to forget all wrong doings and reflect on the good the person did. We live in a society where we focus so much on a person’s flaws and shortcomings. Regardless of how genuine the effort one makes we seem to find a way to find fault in it. It is little wonder that bad news always travels faster because we choose to find pleasure in seeing someone’s downfall. Perhaps it makes us feel better about our lives and forget our problems even if it may be for a while. Therefore, people live their whole lives fighting negative criticism, being judged all the time and their past being flashed into their faces whenever they try to forget it. They go to the graves bitter, angry, with feeling of being unappreciated and failures. Then when they are dead you pretend like you never said the words or acted the way you did towards them. Honestly it is time we stop being hypocrites, I am not excluding myself from this equation. It is even better we just shut up. 
            Surely as long as you are a human being and not an alien from Mars, we all have our flaws and we do make mistakes. Even though you may think that your transgression is lesser than the next person it does not cover the fact that at some point in our lives we all need a second chance. Are saying words such as “Thank You”, “You are appreciated”, “You are an inspiration” or any form of graditude very bitter words to say? Or are they words that are simply not on our vocabulary and we have sworn not to say them as long as the person is alive. Clearly we do not seem to have a problem to say them when the person is dead. They so graciously roll off our tongues in beautifully constructed sentences that even the legendary Shakespeare would be proud of. Perhaps it is a pride issue that we cannot lower ourselves as to appreciate the good someone does no matter how small or grand. It could be that maybe if we say good stuff about them we will wash away our guilty conscience of all the terrible things we said.
            So while I will wait to be lavished with all the good nothings when I resign my place on this earth. I am tempted to imagine what my friends and family will say of me. Maybe they will say I was kind and generous, or I was welcoming and funny. A Facebook group remembering me will go up where those people who knew me will post comments of how they will miss me. Then people who do not comment on this blog will add their words at how they enjoy reading this blog and will miss it. Not that I am campaigning for you to comment now, though it would not be a bad idea.
            My point is that we will not have the people we have around us forever. We do not know when they will be taken away from us. We should not spend our time on earth finding fault in others and deliberately ignoring whatever good they do. It should not take someone to die before you tell them how you really feel or that they were appreciated while they were alive. It is almost pointless to speak when the person has taken their final breath. I should not have to wait till I die to be told.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Open Letter to a Frustrated Job Seeker

Dear Job Seeker,

I trust that this letter will find you in good health. I have thought over and over about how to write this. What do you say to someone who has been looking for a job for a long time? What words do you write that would change their scenario? The truth of the matter is I do not know. However, what I do know is I can share my experience with you and maybe you may find some encouragement out of it.

I will not lie and say that I know how you are feeling and that I have been in your shoes before because the reality is I have not. I have one important thing to say nonetheless. Looking for a job in Zambia like in any part of the world is not very easy. It is a cumbersome and stressful activity. In Zambia this situation is further compounded by very few job opportunities and yet thousands are graduating every year. Frustrated job seeker in order to enhance your chances of getting employed you need to look at yourself differently.
It is important that you begin to view yourself as a BRAND. In the similar way that Coca Cola, MTN or Nestle are brands, you too need to consider yourself as a brand. Gone are the days when having a diploma or a degree was the Holy Grail to a job. Times have changed and so should your approach to looking for employment. The sad reality is when a job offer is posted in the papers thousands of similar CVs are received and it is often a herculean task to come up with a short list because almost all CVs are the same. I know this because once I had an internship with a recruitment firm. It always takes something different on the CV to grab the attention of the recruiter.
So what if you have your diploma or your degree? Nowadays anyone can get that therefore you need to find something within you that is unique, an ability that will set you apart from the rest. This is what I mean about branding. You need to view yourself as an asset to any company that you apply to. Others will use their years of experience as assets. This is what will set them apart from the rest. However, for those who do not have this experience it is not to despair, I too did not have it at one time. Nonetheless, I showed my prospective employers that I would be an asset to them based on how I branded myself.
I often give this example, assuming you were a recruiter and you received a CV from someone who spoke six languages, English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Tonga, and Russian. Even though the individual might not have the right experience or even the right qualification for the job it is still likely that you like to meet this individual. You would want to find out more about them and how they learnt all the six languages. It is not every day that you come across such a CV. My point being you may not have the years of experience but everyone has a unique talent in them that not everyone is blessed with. There is something about you that when someone mentions your name they associate you with it. For some people, they are good organisers, others are good artists, for some they have amazing technical skills, some it is excellent marketing abilities. These are the attributes that you should highlight on your CV but very few do.
Before the experience I acquired I used to sell two brands to my prospective employer. I am an individual with an entrepreneurial mind and I am also creative through writing. I began businesses which were not registered, some failed and others succeeded. However, before I obtained my experience I used to include my informal businesses. Whether you succeed in business or not the fact cannot be disputed that each business is a learning experience. I would tell the interviewer that I am creative I came up with the business idea, I know about customer service that is how I kept my customers, I know about marketing it is how I sold my service, I know about administration because I kept good records and the list went on.
You need to find something that is not only different but what will also make you an asset to any company. If it means getting a professional qualification, learning another language or developing your talent please do so. Many people fail to utilise their talents because most often in a misplaced attempt at humbleness they hide their talents. I am a writer and I am developing my talent every day. This blog is mere testimony. It has opened opportunities for me that I never initially imagined. At my place of work I am the one who writes the reports for social gatherings such as office football, office functions and other such events. I have carved myself a niche. Speak to any of my friends and the one thing they will probably describe me by is either the one who writes or the business minded one. What do people know you by?
Indeed we can sit, find excuses and throw a pity party. We can blame it on the government, corruption, generational curse, bad luck or even lack of experience. It will still not change the fact that you are unemployed. Instead you can decide to reflect and think what brand you are selling out there. Package yourself as an asset rather than a liability or as if you are owed a job. Your CV needs to reflect the brand called YOU. Ask yourself the question, would you hire you and why?
All the best.

Yours faithfully
Frustrated Brotha.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

What Irritates Me About Facebook

            Facebook has slowly ingrained itself into our daily lives. It has revolutionised the way we communicate with one another. It has made it possible for us to speak to relatives thousands of kilometres away without having to visit the post office or make an expensive phone call. Facebook has been harnessed by some for business purposes and has been an excellent avenue for networking. I personally have used Facebook to earn some extra cash in my pocket. However, there are certain things about Facebook that irritate me to the bone.

            I do understand that Facebook has allowed many people to make hundreds of friends. How many of those are genuine friends is another debate all together. Facebook has somehow managed to create a fallacy of friendship. I have people who were school mates and I am sure we were not friends. We did not even in as much greet each other then boom on Facebook we are talking like we are long lost friends and best buddies. It is always easier to have a chat when the only thing you are looking at is the monitor or the screen of your laptop. It almost feels plastic when you are forced to start a chat when there really isn’t much to talk about. But it doesn’t hurt if finally that girl you were eyeing starts talking to you, you can have access to their albums, photos. Awe I am not talking about stalking here.
            Facebook brings with it people with different characters and mentalities. I am having a difficult time putting up with few characters. I know that Facebook statuses are fun to post and it is always good to see the number of comments your status can generate. This has forced many people to dig deep within their creative juices in order to conjure up something worth posting. The problem is that some Facebook users have taken this too far hence the source of my irritation.
·         Buy A Diary
I do not mind knowing what is happening in my friends and families lives once in the while. However, just because I want to know, it does not mean you have to dish it all out in the open. I am sure the diary industry has seen a tumble in their sales. This is because many people have by some genius thought decided to turn Facebook into their personal diaries. They have become generous with every detail of their lives and they have not left any stone unturned. I could probably write their biography all from the information on Facebook. They post that they have woken up, what they had for breakfast, what daddy said in the morning, they are going to class, they just got dumped, they are crying, they cannot get over him, they miss him, they will be just fine, they have met another guy. Atase. Spare us the drama there is some information that you just do not tell the whole world. I do not know whether these people think that there are shrinks on Facebook or maybe it is some kind of therapy session. If you are in the habit of doing this let me remind you that once it is on Facebook your information will become public. Also make use of a little thing called, message. Then some even go to the extent of criticising their bosses and their work places, this is one of the dumbest things to do. Many people around the world have been fired for what they posted in regards to their work. Unless you want to join that list please go ahead and air your companies and bosses dirty laundry we will read.
·         Get A Life
Then you have those friends who I think suffer from low self esteem or are always looking for approval. I love to read the good news that is happening in your life and I will celebrate your successes with you. The only problem is that some tend to go overboard. They tend to gloat and make arrogant statements which are always too self-centred. They will tell us they got a pay rise, they have too much money they do not know how to spend it, they are tired of changing cars, blah, blah, blah and all that nonsense. We get the point! These are people who always seek for people to envy them and when no one comments on the post, they will keep posting it until someone makes a comment.
·         Why On Earth Did You Tag Me?
There is nothing that irritates me more than someone tagging me in an obscene or offensive picture. Last week someone tagged me in a very obscene picture. What the hell? In case some people do not know some of us have got reputations to maintain, therefore tagging me in such is a definite no go area. I mean you should know who you can tag in certain pictures and who you cannot. Honestly you cannot go and tag everyone on your friend list. Each time I kept un-tagging myself from the pictures this chap kept tagging me in other pictures. It is just that my French is not so good enough otherwise I would have given him a few words.
           In conclusion, Facebook is definitely here to stay and it does not look like we will be leaving it soon. Therefore, it is important that we live in harmony. For the people who desire to tell the whole world their problems buy a diary. The people with low self esteem find other ways to feel good about yourselves instead of boring us. For the chaps in the habit of tagging people anyhow, if I am not in the picture, the picture is not funny, the picture is not appropriate for a 10 year-old to view then do not bother tagging me in it. Or I will be using the unfriend button very often.

What irritates you about Facebook?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Shed A Tear For Zambian Adverts

            What ever happened to the Geza soap or Diamondale milk adverts? Today watching the commercial advertisements during the 19 hours main news on ZNBC or listening to adverts on the radio is a painful experience. I always fall short of simply turning off the t.v or radio until the advert has passed. There is no better way of putting this, most of our adverts are pathetic, lack creativity, annoying and it should be a criminal offense to subject us to such mediocrity.
            Advertisements are supposed to communicate a message in an effective manner. Companies usually hire creative teams to sit down to come up with their adverts. It could take months before they come up with a satisfactory advert that they can finally put on the airwaves. Even watching these same ads are such a delight. The ads leave you hooked, entertained and the message comes across spot on.  You only have to look at the caliber of adverts that are shown on DSTV to understand what I am talking about. Flip the channel to ZNBC and it feels like our companies are having a competition, to see who can produce the most pathetic advert of them all.
            It is not difficult to spot a Zambian advert. The ads are usually characterised with a jingle laced with terrible lyrics, actors who act stupid, accents that are so fake and concepts that a 5 year-old would not be break sweat to come up with. For example almost every detergent advert has a woman struggling to wash her clothes. Then she is seated, sad and acting helpless. Before lo and behold, her friend pops up with a solution of this magical detergent paste. Then they mechanically pose with the detergent paste in their hands. Honestly is this the best you can do? Malabishi.
            The people who come up with such adverts should be ashamed of themselves. It should be an embarrassment to let your company have such rubbish adverts on the television or radio. I would honestly like to meet the people who come up with such ads so I can throw an egg in their face for putting us through the torture of such adverts. No matter how hard I try my brain is failing to understand how someone can make adverts such as the Washa detergent paste, Daili Ndalama or even Best juice. I laughed when I saw these ads. I did not laugh because they were funny, I laughed because they lacked any creativity whatsoever. There was no trace of imagination, uniqueness or even an attempt to avoid being mediocre. I am considering filing a complaint with whoever will listen to my plea. I have been tortured long enough.
            I refuse to accept that Zambia does not have creative individuals who can come up with well thought out and developed adverts than what we are currently being subjected to. We do have the caliber of actors who are able to deliver a message across without being mechanic, plastic and stupid. We do have the production houses that can shoot international standard adverts. The problem is that companies do not want to spend the money. It is no secret that it costs money to make something of high quality. Perhaps in companies’ efforts to save, they use their accountant to come up with the ad concept, the receptionist to be the actor and managing director’s phone to shoot the video. Okay the last one is exaggerating. I hope you get my point though. If the advert is cheap what guarantee do I have the product is any better.
            Despite the chuff that is around there is a still flicker of hope in the advertising doldrums. I have been impressed with the Trade Kings’ Boom Powder advert featuring our very own Zambian coach Herve Renard. Even the Amigo crisps ads have been a delight to watch and so has the Diamond Insurance advert been great. So for those people, who have already subjected us or are planning to subject us to more trash, watch these ads and learn a thing or two.
            Finally, I will continue to wait for brilliant adverts that are worthy of my time to be made. The next time I turn on the t.v or radio I will be waiting to see or hear how far one can stretch their lack of creativity or if the last pathetic advert I watched has been dethroned from its seat by something far worse. In the end all I can do is shed a tear as the current ads continue to torture me one ad at a time.