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.