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14 May 2012

The Pink Elephant in my Head

The mind has a mind of its own at times. You give it a specific instruction for instance; it goes on and does the exact opposite. “Don’t think of a pink elephant” you tell it, and rest assured, you WILL spend the next 24 hrs thinking of pink elephants. You get a seemingly irrelevant question in your head, can’t find an answer, and decide to chuck it to the side. It will keep coming back to bother you, like the pebble in your shoe that will obviously stick around unless you do something about it.

The latest pebble in my mind: How come I have never seen, at any time, any of Zim’s favorite cars (please refer to the short glossary below for explanation of underlined term) being advertised on TV. Yeah I know, seemingly irrelevant issue to be bothered with, but it’s driving me nuts not knowing why. I guess that makes me a little OCD, but look: I see lot of car ads on television (please refer to the short glossary below for explanation of underlined term) advertising an awful lot of makes, even the Chinese’s Chery for crying out loud, but none of our favorites. Why?

Oh, the short glossary I meant:
Zim’s Favorite Cars: Toyota is the dominant brand on Zimbabwean roads (the best Automotive Superbrand of 2011, and one of the top 10 overall Superbrands in Zimbabwe for two years running…just in case you wanted to argue out this obvious fact). It also has a number of world famous makes of vehicles, but it would be a mistake to think these international hits are also Zimbo’s favorites. Walk along any street in the country and you will quickly realize that we have our own personal favorites spotting…um…unique names and designs. More about that a little later.
Television: In Zimbabwe, we only have two local TV channels, or more accurately, two halves of the same channel running concurrently. Fortunately, we also get to watch neighboring South Africa’s terrestrial SABC channels, and this is generally what we refer to as our ‘television’ down here. We watch them completely free of charge. I don’t think they mind.

There she blows, with a huge behind for all your groceries and stuff

Explanation 1) Maybe the cars are a little dated: the ads came, stormed the screen and went before I discovered digital TV. It would neatly explain why I’ve never come across any of these cars on screen, but it’s an explanation that makes me appear a total shmuck for getting worked up over something with such a simple answer. And anyway, I bet no one ever came across a 2001 ad for, say, the 2001 Toyota Picnic even in 2001, so there.
Explanation 2) Toyota has never placed any ads anywhere for these cars, ever. It’s possible, seeing as most of the cars in question are not exactly…er…aesthetically pleasing and wouldn’t make good TV viewing. Makes a lot of sense, especially since it shifts the blame from me to Toyota, something I am perfectly comfortable with. The problem with this solution is that it could get me in a lot of trouble with my fellow country mates, seeing as they have already fallen in love with these cars and are buying them in droves, weird shapes and all.  Also, it lets SABC completely off the hook, and I’m not prepared to do that yet.
Explanation 3) The SABC just couldn’t bring themselves to flight ads of vehicles bearing so obviously silly names. I mean seriously, how the heck did Toyota ever think ‘Toyota Spacio’ or ‘Toyota Starlet’ would be great names for a car? Where did they get such ideas from – a late night, slightly inebriated, Friday brainstorming session?

Mmmh, I like that train of thought. I can almost imagine the setting:-
 “So what are we gonna name these cars?” The head in the creative department goes, “Come on guys; let’s have some fun with this…” He looks around his team members expectantly. Of course one of the guys, the genius from India, finally braves it and timidly offers an idea, “Well…it’s like…um…this probably sounds like a dumb idea,” Laughs nervously, “But me and my wife, we’ve just had a baby girl and um…I’ve always thought it would be really cool to, you know, like name a car after my daughter. She’s called Raum.” The department head, to everyone else’s surprise, unexpectedly jumps up, clapping his hands with glee, “Brilliant, I love it! Sue, take that down.”
And of course everybody opens up after that and starts throwing around crazy name after crazy name, some of which eventually end up in the incredulous hands of the factory manager, car body designer…or whoever is responsible for stamping brands on cars’ behinds. Now that would neatly explain the conception of other ingenious names such as the Noah, Gaia, and probably Ipsium.
I kind o’ like this theory. It lays the blame for the lack of ads squarely on Toyota and the SABC. The problem, though, is that such an explanation would also probably get me into trouble with my fellow Zimbos as well, so I decided to contact the SABC marketing department and get an explanation from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Instead of tackling the problem however, I was met with a barrage of diversionary questions - whether I would like to place a commercial during The Bold and the Beautiful, whether I voted for Isindigo in the SAFTA’s awards, and (when I answered ‘no’ to both questions) how the heck I was able to view any SABC channel in Zimbabwe in the first place when it was clearly illegal to do so.
With the fear that my meddling attempt to merely kill the pink elephant in my head could earn the whole country an SABC blackout, leaving us entirely in the hands of (*shudder*) BTV, I made a hasty retreat. This means I still don’t have a proper answer to my seemingly irrelevant question. And the fact that at every corner I turn, I am confronted by either one of these perculiarly shaped, unadvertised and inappropriately named vehicles doesn’t help.

Note to readers outside Zimbabwe: The author of this post did not invent the vehicle names contained in this article just to provide comic relief to the anonymous readers prowling this blog for want of better things to do. These cars really do exist. Honest. Just ask any Zimbabwean, or better still, any Japanese national.And back to the main issue. See, more I dwelt on it, the more I started thinking there is something fishy going on at the SABC: why are they not advertising Zimbo’s favorite cars? What is wrong with our cars…or more to the point, what is wrong with the SABC for not having them on during ad breaks? Who is to blame for this discrepancy that is giving me one sleepless night after the other?

27 May 2011

I'm Alive! I'm Alive!

The loud but abrupt yell of joy in the early hours of 22 May 2011 was the sound of me waking up and suddenly realizing that I was alive. Of course, this is not my usual morning reaction to a brand new day. My normal routine is to open my eyes, look at the time, then let out a long drawn out sigh at the uninviting prospect of jumping into the cold early morning shower.

22 May was kind of different though - somebody had chosen to carelessly predict that the world would come to an end the previous day, that is, 21 May 2011. I mean that literally…not the ‘my girlfriend dumped me for another guy, it’s the end of the world’ kind of meaning, but the real earthquakes and lightning and fire ‘mankind is doomed save for a select raptured few’ kind of meaning.

Thats the world exploding, and that
silhoutte is a some lucky dude getting 'raptured ' the last minute

The culprit is a certain Harold Camping, an 89 year old American (of course he’s American) who adamantly stated that Noah had a 7 day warning before the flood so that  translates into a 7000 year warning for us, starting from 4990 B.C (the dubious year he states the flood started)  and ending on - yes you’ve guessed it – 21 May 2011.

Frankly, I didn’t see any Zimbos scrambling to prepare for the great day of the Lord Almighty. Most, it seems, had no idea the world was coming to an end.
 I spent a lot of time surfing the net so I knew, and wondered why God would reveal the info to anyone, seeing as He clearly pointed out in the Bible that no one can ever know such a thing. I also wondered why such an important fact would be revealed to just one corner of the world which happens to be the least to care about such trivialities (they have greater things to worry about see, like Baseball, McDonalds and Charlie Sheen).

I gotta hand it to this Camping guy though, he definitely has guts. Think about it: it was a prediction about an event which the rest of the world was convinced wasn’t gonna happen. And he put himself all out to the world. I am pretty sure a lot of journalists had their 22 May articles written, revised, edited and re-edited way in advance.

I’m was glad to see that somebody in America still believes that the world, as we know it, is going to end someday through divine intervention. Most people in the…um…developed world believe that if at all, the world will end when we all nuke ourselves out of existence, get hit by a meteorite or when BP messes up and pulls another fast one on us…a much bigger one.

The problem with these quirky predictions, however, is that they make people throw out the baby with the bath water. What I mean by the inappropriately inserted saying is that people will become much more skeptical about anything religious. The end of this system of things is going to come…amidst a very cynical population.

In the meantime, all the Non-Christians of the nasty disposition are probably rubbing their hands with glee. Just imagine all the possible taunts that could stem from the already existing ‘Christian’ idiosyncrasies:

 ‘Hellfire…so much for the “God of love”’
‘Christmas? Funny, your main guy stole his birthday from a pagan god!’
‘Trinity? Three in one God? Can this script get any weirder?’

And add the latest, thanks to Harold Camping, ‘Apocalypse now? Apocalypse maybe…Apocalypse maybe not!’