Man from Zambia: A tale of anxiety


I am not a big fan of the copious amounts of marriage related photographs that inundate my timeline. Captions such as; ‘She said yes’, ‘I finally did it’, ‘ala we danced‘- are not my cup of tea. In addition, I don’t have a problem with the ‘hustlers’ who craft elaborate Facebook posts thanking God for their new business deal. In fact, I will occasionally chime in with a ‘you winner!’, ‘good for you’, ‘it was well deserved’,’ woohoo!’

So, as you can see from my contagiously positive disposition, I really don’t mind when people reach milestones I have barely glanced at.

Nonetheless, in my heart of hearts, these disparities trouble me. And despite what seems to be a basic case of jealousy, I don’t know whether I am disturbed because I have been conditioned to feel this way, or because I have a legitimate problem that might need medical attention. However, with a high degree of confidence, I believe you will be hard-pressed to trace this neurotic condition on my person, or based on the way I carry myself in public. Yes, with the social dexterity of a Kardashian, I try my level best to make it as difficult as possible to be perceived as a loser with a PHD complex. To add some imagery; I am as bothered as a make-up artist shedding tears in the rain.

Nevertheless, the great forces holding our world together have seen to it that my never ending supply of insecurities flows bountifully at all times. And, I have numerous sources; whether it is friends making more money than I am, former high school juniors getting married and having kids before me, or how David Chitundu can bench my whole body weight- I am never running out of worries to be preoccupied with.

Conversely, before the thought of me possibly being a psychotic misanthrope lodges itself firmly in your mind, I do have some ‘normal’ characteristics. Case in point; I love watching king of Hearts with my girlfriend, I really like Yoyo snacks, and I am extremely passionate about media and the power of storytelling. So, I am not completely mad.

Yet, the fact that I am capable of harboring such unhelpful thoughts is unnerving. It feels like I am sharing a 4 by 6 cell with a weekends worth of garbage from Club Vegas, every day. As you can imagine, such a life is a bastion of suffocation. I desperately need to breathe.

Therefore, hell bent on finding answers, I recently embarked on a fact finding mission designed to help me get a better grip of my situation. Naturally, I began with an investigation of my current circumstances. You see, this April (2017), I turn 29, and that is a ‘big deal’. When I was younger, I imagined that by this age; I would be married, with kids, and living in New Kasama, where Enock Kavindele Senior and I would enjoy a weekly spot of fishing, on my private man-made lake.

Splash! Splash!

As you read this, I haven’t yet been graced with the privilege of even being in a ten step radius of that gallant man, neither have I orchestrated a romantic ambush suitable for a woman of my girlfriends’ caliber. And as the plot of what seems to be an Owas Ray Mwape picture thickens, my ambitions fade into the sunset. The same sunset I should have been enjoying as I caught Nile perch with EKS.

Frankly, I do not know how I developed most of these grandiose aspirations, and why. My closest guess would be that my upbringing caused me discomfort. I grew up feeling like I was surplus to requirements because of how my family struggled to sustain me. I remember often telling my grandparents, my mother and my aunts that I would one day buy them everything their hearts desired. I thought I would be the economic savior of my family, and this mission has preoccupied my mind for the bulk of my short life on earth.

However, life happens. We grow into beings too complex to be imagined by a naive 8 year old boy. Resultantly, being preoccupied with changing circumstances, the identity crisis that ensues from adolescence, mixed in with a huge dose of unpredictability proves to be terribly overwhelming for some of us.

Now, with social media playing a big role in our day to day lives, the concept of failure is amplified. Heckled by the mob, people who have not reached socially accepted standards of achievement are looked down upon. To be clear, I know that social stratification is not a new phenomenon, and to an extent I can see the value it has on society. Meritocracy appeals to the competitive part of human nature and this could be one of the reasons we even have civilization. That is not my focus. I am concerned with the quality of life many Zambian men are living. When you ask a man you know how life is; he will more often than not proceed to narrate this semi sob story about how it’s tough, and say something vague like ‘we are trying’.  We are trying? How does one try to live? Unless there is a set standard you are trying to reach, there is no try.  Even though the explanation is that you dream big, those moments between living in a one room flat in itezhi-Tezhi and elevating to a mansion in Bali are still meaningful, right?

The culture of suffering is so deeply ingrained in our society such that it has become an accepted way of life. And, we view people that choose not to indulge as either being hedonistic or mediocre. How can one justify some of the weird shit men do in response to this pressure?

For instance, my ‘jealousy’ as portrayed above is deemed as normal. Partly, I am sympathetic to that view as I think that discomfort helps us raise our standards. But, there needs to be a line, we cannot live in a state of perpetual anxiety- always looking for something to be worried about.

Perhaps this problem partly explains ‘injustices’ against our women folk, the boom in the fashion industry, the re-emergence of beards as a look of choice and the importance social media plays in our lives. Maybe, peace is to blame, and we must learn how to deal with the consequences at our own pace. Regardless, I think we must live a life of appreciation. We must value each and every fleeting moment as we are not guaranteed a second run. To do this, we must find ways of reconciling the good parts of anxiety with our true value as human beings. So that, when you finally schedule your proposal photo-shoot with Balistiq photography, it comes from a good place.




11 thoughts on “Man from Zambia: A tale of anxiety

  1. This……. i cnt even put in words to describe the how i feel as i read this many familiar thoughts .I remember being younger and saying i was going to build my gran a hotel where all my family could live…. thought provoking

  2. The other day I was met with a crazy thought, we are all crazy for letting other people affect us because no one knows what is happening next so we are all in a constant state of “I do not know” and what we should do is learn to deal with that and use it to create what we want to know so that we can stop being anxious. Miracles still happen, records are still beat and amazing things happen because not everyone’s course of life is the same and we all have room to change and do the imaginable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and wish you all the best in overcoming this. Weird as though it may sound, maybe you had to have this anxiety phase to tell a great story and now the whole world will stop and listen (read) when you talk (write)!

    1. Thanks! I think vulnerability is helpful. To both me and the person I share this with. They say, the moment you write something and feel naked when you walk down the street, you might be doing something right. I’m glad this piece resonated. Cheers

  3. It’s a cry in most minds. When the smoke rises the signal is sent. Together we stand divided we fall. Thank you David. I really love this peace.

  4. Where can i find the first copy of whatever book you have written; are yet to write. Reading this felt like a therapy session for me.Thank you so much.

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