Friday, 6 October 2017

The Gun, the Man or the Woman?

This morning I woke up to a discussion in one of the Whatsapp groups I am in about another murder that happened last evening. Nshinka Kaputu shot dead his girlfriend Precious Mangesana outside his house in Ibex Hill Meanwood. Their two-year-old daughter was also shot too but survived and is currently in hospital. When such incidents happen, we often know when, what and how it happened, but it is why it happened that is perhaps the most difficult question to answer.

There are a number of theories that emerge as we the unknowing public try to put the pieces together. In order, to find some plausible explanation that will satisfy our conscience, it is easier to find someone or something to blame. We hope that by finding the reason perhaps we can be able to prevent future incidents from happening. However, if the latest trends are anything to go by we are nowhere near to finding the solution.

In this case, there have been three parties that have already shared the blame- the gun, the man and the woman. Why did the man have a gun? If he did not have a gun, then he would not have killed the girlfriend. Any other tool would have made it much tougher for him to execute his plans. The death by a bullet is swift and often people do not survive. Therefore, all those with guns in their households need to reconsider whether it is worth having one.

Then some of the blame has been on the man. Why did he have to make such an irrational decision? Did he think about the repercussions of his action? His girlfriend is dead and the daughter has now been left motherless and potentially an absent father. Friends and family have lost a loved one. Why didn’t he have his emotions in control? The list of questions can go on and on, but until Nshinka tells us what happened in those few minutes and seconds before he pulled the trigger all we can do is speculate. Then there is one thing that most people avoid talking about, what was the mental health situation of Nshinka? Often times we assume that we are a homogenous bunch when it comes to our feelings, emotions and reactions. The truth of the matter is we all react differently to different situations.

The woman. Why didn’t she just walk away? Why did she go there at night? Didn’t she see the signs earlier that she was with an unstable man? She should have known better. The sad reality of all this is that the person who could give us the answers is no longer around. There is the temptation to blame the victim in such situations, the same way we blame the woman for not walking out of an abusive relationship. I have read and heard far too many stories of women staying with a man who pounds them topulp. I ask myself, why don’t they just pack their bags and leave? What many of us fail to realise is we over simplify issues of this nature. Walking out of a relationship should be as easy as saying our ABCs. We forget the role that societal pressure plays, sometimes children are involved, the emotional investment, or hope that things would get better. However, one important thing that we forget is that other people are not us. We cannot place our own expectations on them and expect them to behave the way we would when placed in certain situations.

Nshinka is currently in custody, and the police are doing their investigations. We may choose to slice and dissect this incidence in many ways as we attempt to put the pieces of this puzzle together, but we may never arrive at the whole truth. We can come up with valid reasons to blame the gun, man or woman and how all this could have been prevented. We can wish that a similar incidence never happens, but it will. We cannot ignore the state of mind of both Nshinka and Precious at the time that this tragedy took place. It is difficult to attempt to understand what led Nshinka to do what he did, but if we begin to label him as an insane, evil, or a mad person, we should not end there. We should equally go further and ask what led him to that, and how do we help others from reaching that point too.

How do you think we can prevent another incident from happening?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Not Another Whatsapp Group Again

The other day I was having a meeting for an event. Then someone suggested we form a Whatsapp group for communication purposes. In my heart, I cringed.

Immediately I broke into binding and loosing whatever spirit had come up with that thought. Banishing it to the deepest of the farthest pit of oblivion and rebuking all other forces (ok I am exaggerating this part).

I am well aware of what happens in Whatsapp groups I already belong to 22 of them and believe me it is a full-time job keeping up to date with all of them. Quite frankly only a handful of them make sense and have real significance to my life. For the rest, I am this guy below.

I pop in and out of the groups just to make sure I have not missed anything. Most times I do not miss anything at all. A group that was created for business is sharing about football, one created for church is sharing food recipes and another simply has no direction it is open season- politics, entertainment, education, job adverts, baby pictures all thrown in for good measure. The day my entire clan decide to form a Whatsapp group that will the death of me. My family is something special they need a reality TV show on an exclusive channel of their own.

The last I checked the worst part about groups is that it does not need my permission to be added into a group. Whether I like it or yes, someone can just drag me in.

Once added to a group, I brace myself for that one individual who will post some recycled picture, joke or video that has been circulating in about all the other 1000 groups around. Then the ambush of nonsense will come flooding in.

 I cannot count the number of times I am tempted to click 'Exit group' but I am not brave enough to do it most times. It feels like openly denying an invitation to belong to a select group of people. And when I see someone leave a group, I am breaming with envy because they are finally free. They have escaped the Mukobeko of Whatsapp groups. In all their genius, I do not know why Whatsapp did not create a discrete way of leaving a group without making a public announcement.  It is long overdue and can someone tell Zuckerburg to get on it.

The next thing I do is mute the bloody thing for one year. If it had an option for 10 years trust me, I would be clicking that option too.

I get to bed in the evening at 23: 00 hours and my phone has no messages. I wake up in the morning only to discover 125 unread messages. I then wonder how people manage to text at the witching hour of 02:30?
What is even more amazing is that others have the time to get into a conversation, argue and make up all while I was still asleep.

For all the ease in communication that Whatsapp comes with, there are piles of Whatsapp groups that I am sure we can all do away with. And I definitely do not need another Whatsapp group whose notifications will just drain my battery. Forgive me if I am not skipping in joyous applause at the creation of a group. I am certain I have left many other horror stories about Whatsapp groups, I sure you can help me out.

DISCLAIMER: I have created Whatsapp groups and I behave like a headmaster in them.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Here We Beat People Who Attempt Suicide

Last week, a man jumped from the unfinished building along Katondo street in Lusaka. This was a suicide attempt and fortunately even though the man jumped from 11 storeys he survived. However, you would think the first thing that the crowd would do was be willing to help, call an ambulance or break into prayer, but instead they wanted to beat up the man. The crowd wanted blood. It was a clear representation of how suicide is still viewed by some people in our society. It was a shame of the highest order.

Abandoned building along Katondo
Suicide is still viewed as a weakness. Forget the fact that it might be as a result of a number of issues such as depression, mental illness, emotional troubles and other problems that cannot be seen like a wound. This has been my contention for a very long time. We know how to be empathetic towards someone who is sick, who has a bandage or someone who is injured, but we are miles away from understanding mental wounds and scars.

I do not know what would have caused the man to want to take his life. Regardless of the reason, I would never view his action as cowardice. However, that is how many have been programmed to view suicide, as an easy way out. When someone has malaria, tuberculosis, or a headache, we immediately urge them to go to the hospital. You buy them fruits, give them medication, sleep by their bedside and tend to their every need until they get better. But where does someone who is depressed go, someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia? Who is there to take care of them? In this rainy season, there are public announcements reminding us to boil or chlorinate our water. We are warned to visit the nearest health centre if we have any symptoms of cholera. However, I have hardly heard any such public announcements for people who are depressed or are facing mental challenges. Where is their hotline?

Do we assume that because it is in the mind and there is nothing bleeding it is not a serious illness? Worse still do we even believe that it is an illness? When people believe that the best way to treat the man who attempted suicide is to beat the hell out of him, we should be ashamed of ourselves as a society. Who in their rightful mind would beat someone who is sick of malaria or cancer? Yet we want to teach the person who wants to take their life a lesson. The crowd wanted to land punches and kicks before they asked the reason why? Some in the crowd could even be heard urging him to jump. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.

We need to make it okay for people to talk about depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, or the voices they hear in their heads. This is a health problem, and it cannot be shooed away like a mosquito. People need someone to talk to. Others might require medication, and some might require checking into a hospital. We need more health centres with the capacity to treat mental illnesses. This is not a problem for the church or government to deal with; this is our problem. I sincerely hope that the man who wanted to end his life gets the right kind of help he needs.