Saturday, 5 March 2016


I was in the Gym the other day.
 Not far from where I stood, this big, massive overweight individual trotted on the treadmill. Loud pop music banged and massacred our ears through the Gym speakers. Usually such fast-paced music tends to annoy, but in Gyms, it is suitable, apt and necessary. Exercise, exercise, exercise. 
The  said fella, however, was not so keen to the Gym beats. His earphones were listening to his own music.

 Probably one of those folks who do not like what is played in Gyms.  I do not blame him. Machine music is not everyone’s cup of tea. Or coffee.  Or milk.
Looking around, several other individuals had  wires and devises plucked into their ears too. Normal thing these days. Your phone is your house, your partner, your friend, your timekeeper, your soul and identity. In the 1980s, we called them Walk-Mans. Today there are so many sources and places for online music: Sportify, You Tube, I Tunes, etc.
Downloaded music.

  What bothers me, nonetheless, is the lack of communication. Sometimes you might want to make conversation or say ask something. The person (with plastics on their skull’s sides) is not even aware you exist. They are in their “own zone.”...
Alas. The damage to the ears. Long term.
It is not just Gyms.
I see cyclists with earphones most times. Can they hear road noises? Police sirens. Ambulances. Kids laughing. Approaching danger. Life....
The other day a woman cyclist quipped: “I usually listen to music in my headphones to switch and cut off stuff ...”
Meaning they do not want to be disturbed with anything else besides what the phones offer.
Very common these days.
Folks claiming they want to detach themselves from what is going on.
You hear statements like: “I do not watch television.”
“Always negative stuff. Killings. Terrorism... Diseases, Ebola. Malaria. Zika...”
But there are positive things on television.
“NO. I do not even own a television set. “
You don’t watch sports? Educational programs?
“I don’t need TV. I don’t like TV. TV just brainwashes.”
Speaking of television, did you watch the Barcelona versus Arsenal match on Tuesday evening?  Lionel Messi scored two goals. Just as his style, they were beautiful goals. First shot exploded through a pass via (“the man who used to bite”), Luis Suarez.  Aptly executed. Apart from Messi, Barcelona has three of the most successful strikers of this era and time; working together. Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Killer trio. All from Latin America. All from football winning nations.
Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have a tradition of amazing players. Uruguay was a giant of football in the 1930s to 1950s. Jose Nasazzi for instance is considered one of their best footballers who captained their 1930 World Cup winning side in Montevideo. When I was a kid in the late 1960s, we used the word “Uruguay” in Swahili slang to mean rough play.  Toughness in football. Uruguay was famous.
 “Ntakupiga Uruguai”...
 Brazil rose up with King Pele, from 1958 to 1970. Ever since they have not stopped being victorious. Pele once described Brazil as a “factory of strikers and great players”...Yeah, he used the word, factory. Every year this nation produces a magical player.  Leonardo da Silva (inventor of the Bicycle Kick in the 1930s) Vava (50s and 60s), Mane Garrincha (even a movie has been made about him), Zico, Socrates, Romario, Bebeto, Kaka, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, the list drips and drops.
Author at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium ...- pic by Z Macha

So, is Argentina. They have always had fantastic, exceptionally gifted players. In the 1950s, Alfred Di Stefano was king. He is still viewed among the greatest of all time. Mario Kempes shone in the 1970s. Then we had Diego Maradona - always disputed as being better than King Pele ( an argument I find childish). They are different. Whereas Maradona was self-motivated and singlehandedly won the World Cup in 1986, Pele was part of a fantastic team and sets of players for three decades. Just like Messi is now- Pele , a rare germ, was not for sale.  He played in all positions including goalkeeper and did several other sports.
 Messi is in a team of golden talent. Barcelona has icons like Iniesta.  Brilliant. The trio of Neymar, Messi and Suarez therefore, has a history in the tradition of their societies. They grew up emulating past heroes, each in his own way. Stars  do not just erupt from nothing. That is why you have  a John Magufuli rising up from a tradition of Tanzanian historical of leaders : Chiefs Mkwawa, Milambo, Meli to Mwalimu Nyerere and so on.
This continuation of tradition comes from people knowing where and who they are. Placing yourself on the right flow. That is why I find “cutting off” from your own surroundings,  absurd.  Bizarre.

Published in Citizen Tanzania, 26 February 2016.

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