1 January 2018

Zimbabwe: New Year - When Many Become Motivational Writers


I wanted to write about the literary text I am currently reading titled "Rotten Row" (2016) by Petina Gappah, 2016. This is a very interesting text and my promise is that I will talk about it in my next instalment. Because I believe that life itself is a text, today's text is January 1, 2018.

Today is January 1, 2018. Yesterday was December 31, 2017. In fact, yesterday was the last day of the year, the last day of the month and a weekend! Who wouldn't want to go motivational here? Or to send those links with the instruction, Touch here , for the recipient to be motivated and psyched up for 2018? My own WhatsApp profile picture is a very wide, clearly marked and straight road written 2018. There are no potholes on it. It holds promises to a stress-free 2018.

An inventory of WhatsApp and Facebook posts that contain 2018 in them, reveals that the bulk of them are motivational texts, some clichéd, some ingenuous. The most recurring one, another cliché is of 2018 being depicted as a flight. So the post inevitably starts with, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard the 2018 flight. . ."

Another one, an ingenuous one, is of a wall clock whose hours are all the things that made 2017 a burden: darkness, stress, failure, sickness . . . you can fill in the blanks to make them twelve. So as the hour hand clocks 12 midnight on January 1, the second hand starts deleting all the undesirables of 2017 and putting in their stead all the hoped for desirables of 2018.

Every New Year brings hope and optimism. For example, one post in which the account holder expresses boredom with his old self, has these words: "New Year, New Me." Another one in which the account holder is looking forward to a pay rise reads, "New Year, New Salary."

Then of course, the prophetic declarations, "May 2018 Give To You What 2017 Failed To Give!" or "May 2018 Be Your Year", or, "May 2018 Be A Year Of Supernatural Speed", or, "In 2018, May All Your Enemies Be Scattered In 8 Directions" (Type Amen if you believe).

The most hilarious of all 2018 social media texts, for me, came in the form of a Press conference. It features a press release by a general who is flanked by two other generals.

The mood is a very serious one. The general promises us that 2018 is safe and sound, that they are only targeting criminals around him (disappointment, sickness, failure, 2017 etc.), and that once all these criminals are dealt with, things will return to normalcy (in this case, normalcy means the coming of 2018).

Another version of this Press conference features a table on which one can see one bottle of Jack Daniels and another one of Amarula. These two are surrounded by numerous bottles of Castle Lite. So, the general's Press conference is actually a response to the restlessness and massive drinking that characterise the festive season.

According to him, Jack Daniels and Amarula are safe; the generals are only targeting criminals around them, which criminals seem to be the numerous bottles of Castle Lite. Of course he concludes his address by imploring us to stay safe and be responsible during this period before inserting, Asante Sana as his parting shot.

Another group of social media (motivational) writers are those who make their 2018 resolutions public. Some of the resolutions read: Stop drinking; Stop smoking; Lose weight; Start a project; Do away with fake friends; Stop cheating, and a plethora of other resolutions.

The irony is that for many, these will be the same resolutions for 2019! Why? Because the magic is not in the numerical name of the year; the magic is in the person!

The truth is, we think of the New Year as the coming of new beginnings. We think things will magically change. We think all problems will disappear because the name of the year has changed. Some people celebrate so much the coming of the new year that by the time the first day of the new year ends, they would have actually added more problems to those they would have carried over from the previous year.

It is good to have great expectations for each new year. But we should not burden the new year to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The motivational quotes, prophetic slogans and church themes are not bad. But what is bad is when these slogans and themes are not met by action.

You will discover that even though it's a new year, the sun still rises from the east and sets in the west; winter is still biting cold; you still need to pay your fees; you still need to deal with the things that you failed to deal with in the previous year; you still need to take your car for service; you still need to work hard and do something with your life!

Unless something about you improves or changes, the new year is still another number on the calendar that you hang on your wall. Even the things that you blamed for taking you down in 2017 might still be around in 2018. So, unless you change your attitude and habits for the better, you will be shocked to discover that the change in the name of the year does not translate to any change in your fortunes.

Don't leave anything to luck or fortune. As we psyche ourselves for 2018 using all those posts, we should know that it is what we do in 2018, not 2018 itself, that matters. If there is anything special in the coming of the new year, that special something is you.

It is you who can make 2018 what you wish it to be. 2018 is a blank slate upon which you can create your life.

So from me, Tanaka Chidora, Happy 2018! May you dream big and act big!


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