Friday, 18 September 2015

5 Bright Spots of the President's Speech

President Edgar Lungu made his address to parliament today. It was his first address to the august house as Zambian president. The speech that was delivered has been received with mixed reviews by the public. Some have said there was nothing new, while others have even gone as far as saying that it was an inspiring speech. I do not think I can call it an inspiring speech but it did have certain things I liked about it. These are the five things that I liked about the president's speech.

1. Tribalism
He made a statement about tribalism and the need for us to do away with it. He said that he embarked on a crusade to promote unity in the nation. He called on opposition and traditional leaders to help him in this cause. We all know what tribalism can do to countries that do not squash it, so it was good that he mentioned this. I would have loved though if he added a lit bit of a threat in there as well. The consequences to people caught practising tribalism.

2. E-Government
The recognition that the internet can be used to provide an efficient service is very welcome. This can be a first step towards not only making processes faster but also reducing corruption. I hope that this will be the impetus needed for the ministries that do not have websites to start developing them.

3. Creatives
There is some hope for people in the creative industry. Especially with the digital migration that took place this year. The president did say that through the production of television local content it could be an avenue for job creation. And I absolutely agree with him. I just hope that the necessary support will be provided to see this come into fruition.

4. Mental Health
I have always been concerned at the way mental illness is treated in Zambia. It is often something that has not taken centre stage in health debates. It has been pushed under the carpet. It is good that the president addressed it in his speech. He said there was need to promote and protect the rights of people with mental disorders. I give him a thumbs up on this.

5. Zedupad
By 2017 half of school going children in the country will have a Zedupad. This is the right kind of thinking. This should provide more children access to learning resources that is currently lacking. The challenge now is how to make this feasible.

I now hope that the bright spots that were in this speech will actually become a reality. All we can do at this moment is watch and wait.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Why the Pull Him/Her Down (PHD) Syndrome is Good

There are many people that achieve great things in their lives. Many people attribute the reasons for their success to God, the support of their family and friends, hard work, and perseverance. But the strange thing is that few ever thank the haters. The ones who did not believe, the ones who criticised, and the ones who wrote them off. Perhaps no one thinks the haters are worthy of any mention at all, maybe this needs a rethink.

Zambia is blessed with a lot of creative minds. There are writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, entrepreneurs and many others. Some of these individuals churn out some pretty impressive stuff while others do some pretty horrible stuff too. However, in this arena you need to tread carefully and be very cautious with what you say. Any criticism could be seen as a PHD syndrome. Many people have even gone as far as attributing that the reason why Zambians are unsuccessful is because we do not support each other. We are expected to blow the trumpet for each other, pretend we like each other's work, and praise everything even mediocrity, just so we can be socially correct.

When an artist releases a song and a few people say that the song sucks they are viciously attacked and called haters. People then pull out the PHD Syndrome card as a way to shut them down so that everyone else can ignore them. For example, B-Flow recently wrote an open letter to Taylor Swift for her 'Wildest Dreams' music video. An unknown artist called Portia Clark then criticised it on Facebook. What happened next was an army of people criticising what she had done. Some called her a hater, a PHD individual, and others even suggested that she should have sent him a private message instead.  My take on this is that just because B-Flow is Zambian it does not mean that I am bound to praise and support everything he does. I should do so based on its merit. On the suggestion that Portia should have sent B-Flow a private message is ridiculous, B-Flow made his letter public so too there should be no problem with any praise or critique given in public. As I write this blog, I know that there will be people who will like this piece and there are those who will not. If I am criticised will I curl up at a corner and cry. Hell no. By making this piece public I should be also willing to take on any criticism that comes in. I do not expect everyone to sing Kumbaya  with me and send positive energy my way.

Haters do not receive the credit that they deserve. They have motivated people to work harder just to prove them wrong and in the process they have succeeded. They have given people a second opinion even though it may have been unsolicited. Haters have provided people the inspiration to write songs, paint, and write books. Yet none of them even claimed any royalties. They have brought people down to earth. Showing them that not everyone is singing their praise and applauding their every action. Haters have toughed up people by training them to develop the resilience to survive in the tough creative industries. Let us not forget the free publicity that haters provide. Haters do have an integral part in our society even though they are often misunderstood as having the PHD Syndrome. What might need consideration is what actually constitutes PHD Syndrome.

I do not agree with the use of PHD Syndrome card every time someone criticises something. Also we cannot also dictate to people how they should criticise. We cannot also tell them to be gentle, kind, and positive while they are criticising. People will always have different tastes, likes and dislikes. Haters should not be crucified instead their place in your success stories should be recognised, because whether you like it or not, the haters are going nowhere. So deal with it.