Spirit of Ubuntu, in big and little things…

That gut wrenching moment when you are in the supermarket, and an announcement is made that there is a car on fire outside in the parking lot. All motorists drop shopping baskets and gush out. The relief of finding that its not your car mingles with pity and empathy for the shocked owner of the vehicle thats burning. Some motorists quickly move their vehicles away from the ticking time bomb. You stand there transfixed, at the same time in awe of selfless human beings that risk limb and life itself, trying to put out a fire that threatens to engulf the vehicle of a total stranger. Subconsciously, you find yourself harking back at the time when government made it compulsory for all motorists to carry fire extinguishers in their vehicles, and most of us cursed like hell. To think that that one small fire extinguisher may actually not be enough when it comes to it…

Yesterday I witnessed the staff at Montagu Spar in Harare battle to put out fire from a vehicle parked in their lot. They brought out all the supermarket’s fire extinguishers. They did all they could to help the distraught motorist who momentarily could only just stare and breathe. Although he possibly only managed to salvage the body, because the entire engine got fried indefinitely, worse things could have happened, had people chosen to stand aside and look. It was extremely dangerous, and there was no way of measuring the level of risk these men took being so close to the bonnet, the source of the fire, which was progressively making its way to the petrol tank.

May this spirit of ubuntu persevere. It may well be the only thing that will take us through.

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Our roads not a safe place

That little red triangle that can preserve someone's life

I nearly died today. That’s no exaggeration – said the first two sentences of a frantic text message I sent to almost all my friends last week. I continued that text by thanking them for whatever role they have each played in my life and wished them peace, and that there be peace between us, where it may have been lost. Some thought I might have simply been overreacting, but when you have been confronted by a near death experience, I hardly think so.

It has taken me almost a week to discuss this experience without difficulty. As I drove to work one morning last week, a haulage truck turned right onto my path and I had nowhere else to go but to head for the ditch out of its way. Both the car and myself are fine. But as I sat there with the fear of a thousand Jews in a concentration camp, I thanked God for mercy, life and ABS. Meanwhile, anger, disappointment and concern piled up high in my bag of mixed emotions, and I realized that what they say about your whole life flashing in front of you must be true. I mean – I just recently turned 26 for crying in a bucket. I genuinely think I could have died and it made me reflect on a lot of things, including appreciating all the friends I’ve got.  I must say though, that little text message landed me a lot of counter texts and phone calls, some from friends I last heard from eonaeons ago! So that’s a way to get all your friends to call!

Jokes aside, the experience made me realize that one can never be too careful. Nomatter how cautious you are, staying firmly on your side of the road, putting on your seatbelt, using hands-free – there will always be some reckless lunatics on the road who just don’t give a rat’s ass about the lives of others, albeit at the same time endangering their own lives in the process. Some just don’t realise that they are endangering the lives of other motorists with their actions.

Almost every day I see potential accidents and witness near misses in the traffic. There are those who are always in a hurry and do not have a second to honor the right of way of others.  Then there are the commuter omnibus drivers, who operate on a traffic code known only and exclusively to themselves; the speeders, the ‘cutters’ and the very annoying tailgaters who follow too closely behind, leaving you no peace of mind to apply the slightest of brakes. All this to handle, never mind the nightmare of potholes littering our roads. The experiences are always infuriating, especially when all one can do is sit there and think how unfair it all is and there is nothing you can do about it except probably to sometimes press firmly on the hooter, even though that serves no practical purpose apart from just giving you the satisfaction. They are the kind of experiences that make you take a deep breath and say a little prayer each time you get behind the wheel, dreading what is to follow in Harare’s traffic jungle. For me it is all suddenly ironic, considering that I have recently been seriously mulling the thought of participating in the formula one motor racing. I have since scratched this off my bucket list and thought after all, I don’t want to risk my life in that way, even though sometimes I find the need for speed and an adrenalin rush irresistable.

I have found it interesting that these days, Power FM’s morning breakfast show is discussing these issues, including sometimes encouraging motorists especially of broken-down abnormal load vehicles to take precautions of alerting other road users or texting in for a warning broadcast. Quite noble.

I have also been following, with great interest, a lively and ongoing discussion that has been taking place on Dipleague among concerned individuals to establish a traffic accident fund. The fund is meant to benefit people meeting various criteria after being involved in accidents that could have been avoided. One individual who lost a parent after their car collided with a stationery heavy load vehicle motivated this initiative. One of the things this group of individals will be advocating for is the mandatory carrying of the red triangle by all motorists. I noted with a heavy heart that the group of concerned citizens is convening today for their strategic planning meeting, but I will not be able to attend. A lot of positive developments have already taken place including the participation of a volunteer doctor, and technical individuals offering to do a website.  As I pack my desk, getting ready to set out for the long drive home, I pray to God that this endeavor works, and that all of them travel safely to their rendezvous to make it work.

*Individuals interested in partaking in this initiative may get in touch with dnatech@live.com, 0912 765 652 / 04 335648