Wednesday, 30 April 2014

First World ‘Problems’

This day in age, life’s drive seems to be tied to a cellphone,
A cold coffee is seen as unacceptable, more so than an under furnished home.
Food left too long in the fridge is discarded, the first and last slices of bread disregarded
And walking 20 minutes to catch a train is seen as unbearable, one would rather be carted.
“I hate my dad, he got me a Samsung S4 not an iPhone 5S…”
“That girl has the same top as me; I need to buy a new dress!”
Power is lost for a minute, nations come to a halt
Weeks seem to be ruined, because the air conditioning is ‘too cold’.

Phones hooked on charging cables; modern day slavery chains,
A day without it is unthinkable, in its company you yearn to remain.
But look around you; did you have a meal, and a warm bed to sleep?
Do you have clothes on your back, shoes on your feet?
Now imagine the life of the girl forced into bondage, simply because there’s no other way
A healthy and sustaining life they fail to maintain.
Traded like handshakes they’re abused from one master to the next,
While other people complain about not having ‘Unlimited Texts’.
You dream of starting a family, with a loving spouse and kids
But she’s only 14, beleaguered and already expecting her first kin.

South of the world and equator you find a young boy, face baked by the sun
Rising before the early bird, in order to begin his daily errand run.
Heels cracked with neglect, bones exposed and under slept.
Not a soul left to fend for him and his siblings,
So the life of responsibility he’s been forced to accept.
The caveman lifestyle is his own as he does not have the luxury of light,
No stove to prepare his food, or padded bedding keeping him warm at night.
The breeze blows over his body, through the crevices formed by his ribs,
He embraces his younger sister, trying to protect her with the last bit of warmth he has to give.

“One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold,” is a story often told but never understood,
No one will better comprehend these words than those lacking food.
Her mother was struck with an illness, thus she is forced a life on the streets,
Begging from one car to the next, selling her body in search of ‘decent upkeep.’
One man’s trash becomes her meal for the day,
Maybe for the next three, who knows when she will finally get a break?
Young men forced to fight for the freedom of their countries,
Ironically theirs was stolen from their grasp,
But who dares argue with the Third World Trend, that doesn’t risk facing judgemental brass.

While faces are caked with cosmetics, all she has on her face is despair,
Rummaging through garbage in search of a morsel to spare.
The only thing ‘designer’ about her clothes is their unique wear and tear,
She could be mistaken for a cheetah, with her face visibly lined with dry tears.
Hair lying unkempt on her face, searching for meaning with her stares
A rainbow of waste lies behind her, that’s how we may see it, but she sees a bed.
Before you complain about life being too hard and think fortune evades you
Think of those that have nothing, no food for the table.
Let alone a table for the food, no bed to sleep, no place to call home
No opportunity to read a book or gain education, even though they are more than able.
Often we are ungrateful, disarray becomes common
When we forget that a Third World Blessing, is seen as a First World ‘Problem.’


Russell Gwata (2014).

(NOTE: I own no copyrights of the picture used in this publication.
Reviewed by Denise Hebborn & Uzma Kayani.)

Monday, 28 April 2014

From the frying pan to the fire:

So I've just finished a two week internship that I had the honour of being selected for at Bell-Pottinger. Just a short background on the company, it is the UK's leading PR and Consulting company, working with large multinationals to improve not only their brand image, but public perception as well. Now, coming from studying Business Law, this is a major leap, but the opportunity presented itself (as many have during my time at this university) and I had to take it up. 

The title says it all really, I literally went straight from the frying pan to the fire. On my very first day I was tasked with completing media profiles and short memo's for senior staff members, a fair enough start one would assume. As the days went on, the tasks kept rolling in both in quantity and complexity, and I soon found myself swamped with duties, a real 'worker'. Now, this situation can be taken one of two ways, either I'd sulk about it and say I was incapable, or knuckle down and do what was expected of me, even more than what they expected in fact. I received great feedback on all my tasks, which were a bit reminiscent of University assignments instead in this case, it wasn't a case study I was analysing, it was a real current situation! I found this helped me when I came back to uni, experiencing some things first hand gives you a greater appreciation for them and a broader view on how different questions can be answered.

I left with more experience, world class links and a great name on my CV, all achieved from two weeks of commitment. I can only imagine what I'd have achieved in a month, or two, or six! My point is use your time here wisely, you can either enter university and leave with a degree, or enter and leave with links, work experience, a great social circle, and real future prospects. University is more than just a chance to get a degree, it's the real opportunity to build your future brick by brick, the ball is on your court!




Be great...


Russ.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Reminiscent:

It’s been a pretty hectic year, I can’t deny that bit, but I’ve learnt a lot about myself and it’s been invaluable in shaping up my future. Sometime this month I took a second to look back on my life five years ago. I’d have never guessed I’d be where I am now, emotionally, physically, even academically, let alone being in England now. It’s a nice feeling to look back and know that you’ve made progress, I mean, if you could write a letter to yourself five years ago, what would it say? Have you surpassed your expectation s or have you settled for mediocrity?

This blog is going to be short, that will give you all a chance to look back I guess, and now having thought about 5 years back, what can you do today that will make you proud to look back on 5 years later?

Make the most of the time you have now to be able to look back and not hold any regrets. University will be fun, though it will also be challenging, foundations are built or destroyed there so don't find yourself looking back crying over spilt milk. Be open to new experiences, new friends, challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone and take every opportunity to do some good that you can. Opportunities here have knock on effects and speaking from experience, some decisions I made in first year will undoubtedly shape the rest of my life. I mean, if I can do it, a guy from a small African country called Zimbabwe, then, so can you right?

Live. Love. Laugh.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Life’s short:

I know, from the title you’re probably assuming that this is going to be a gloomy post about death and all that nostalgic malarkey, but this time around I’ll try to add a positive twist.. Key word there being ‘try’. If you’re still applying to Uni, chances are some of you are still a bit confused as to whether you’ve chosen the right course. Don’t panic, this is normal, I’m nearly finished my 2nd Year and even I’m still confused!

Granted you have the freedom (I didn’t really have it), I believe that you should choose something that you truly enjoy and (borderline) might even do for free. I mean, if every job paid the exact same amount of money what would you see yourself doing? At the end of the day it is a bit sad because money inevitably is power, as much as we hate to admit it, which sways careers. For example I’m studying Business Law but (as you may have noticed) my true passion lies in poetry. I reckon, of you can’t pursue your passion; try do it in your free time, like I do. So if mom and dad want you to be an accountant, and you literally have no choice but to do that, if photography is a passion of yours never let it die and make some free time aside for that.

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re middle aged and evaluate your life and ask yourself “Is this what my life has really come up to?” If you can, chase your passion, because when the salaries and job perks are all gone, you’ll still have it, and wouldn’t you want to go having lived a happy and fulfilled life?


In my opinion, rather be poor or just adequate, and genuinely content, than filthy rich and miserable. I don’t know, we’re all different, but that’s what Russell Thinks.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Unspoken Love

Two hearts seem to have reached a place that not many get to explore,
The temptations they escaped, whispers they silenced and through the improbable they tore.
Accrediting their union to destiny would be a mere understatement,
As their paths always seemed to meet again, as if they silently waited.
The past became the present and suddenly gave promise of a future,
He cherished her, he adored her, looked up to her, he knew her.

He found weaknesses where she posed strength,
Not many were so lucky.
To see beyond her bold speech, confident smile and deep peering eyes, selectively trusting.
At first she kept her guard, but soon it would fall
When she realised he meant no harm, and slowly her heart began to warm.
One would assume they would constantly express,
The love they seem to be unable to digress,
The connection, their similarities and choices they wouldn’t regret.
Over music they bonded, it always said what they couldn’t
So conversations were sometimes substituted by playlists,
The notes struck the perfect silver lining, pristine and stainless.

How is it possible for two souls to find complete cooperation with no words exchanged?
Even when words, glances and voices are taken away the emotion remains the same.
Like the bond shared between twins, as two beings separated at birth
Such is their unspoken link, that seems to be able to bind heaven and earth..
Because when he needs uplifting she is his heaven, when he needs to be grounded she becomes his earth.
No mineral, stock, or goldsmith could ever dictate her worth.
The distance between them seems to bear not a meaning at all,
For all he cares he could be starving, broken, defeated and poor.
During the day they frolic, and at night they pray
Send their prayers up to the heavens for the Creator to pave their way.
Boundaries need not be discussed, as somehow they thrive on their unspoken trust
Their muted unison, their unspoken love.

Alas the ‘Wordsmith’ seems to be at a loss for words,
The poet can’t think of a rhyme,
He could ramble on for days, even months,
But will never be able to capture the essence of what they share in a matter of rhyming lines..

Some things go without saying, some doors don’t always need to be opened,
I guess that’s what’s made it strong and golden, their love… Unspoken.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Chronicles of a 2nd Year:

It’s about time I get back on a University focused blog post, it’s been a while haha. The second year has been a summit, LITERALLY! My first term (September to December) was packed with assignments and coursework, back to back and for at least 2 months straight I couldn’t get my head above the water. It’s true what they say, the difference between the 1st and 2nd year can be seen as quite a big leap, obviously depending on the programme you study. I guess I was a little lucky because I tried to stay on my feet the whole of 1st year, but even with all my preparation in some aspects I found myself lacking…

It more or less comes down to preparation, as well as being in the correct mind-set to take the year on by the horns, otherwise a lacklustre approach will poison any prospects in the 2nd year. University has now more or less ‘kicked in’ and it’s now literally sink or swim so it’s always advisable to try and get going as soon as possible. Not that I want to make you scared or anything, not at all, just letting you know something that not many people told me before my 2nd year began so you’ll probably be in a better position than I was! Lol.

BUT, my second term is a lot less intensive, I find myself having a lot more free time to study and get some work done so I finally get to breathe before my exams… *exhales contently* Now I can begin to focus on my upcoming placement as well and though the first half was busy, I must say I’ve enjoyed my 2nd year, made the best of all my opportunities which is something I’d also encourage you to do. Opportunities ALWAYS present themselves in this University; you just have to take them. Speaking from experience, one last minute decision to join a mentoring scheme that I knew nothing about has led to a yearlong placement at the illustrious IBM so that goes to show that if someone from a little country in the south of Africa can make it this far, so can you!

ALSO, remember how I play for the Uni Basketball team (for those that do), we're still unbeaten in two years and have a big cup game this Wednesday (26th Feb 2014) against a team a few leagues above us, cue the butterflies! #workhardplayhard

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Smiling Assassin

The green gleam of the moon shining off the surface of the murky swamp illuminated the entire forest,
Night time seemed to signify life as the orchestra of insects in plants chimed all in a perfect symphony,
Music to the ears of the alligator.
Some say his smile is fake, for it’s the one he passes just before he grants death,
But can he really be put to trial, for his natural instinct, for his murderous and sin filled breath?

The lone raft dances smoothly in the water,
In line with each passing wave, like a ballerina at the mercy of her dance partner,
The wave sways, so does she.
In the distance sings a dying motor, one that seems to be choking on its own fumes,
During the daytime it was silent, it seems like it uses the night time as it’s muse…
And then you have the lone wanderer, searching the open expansion as if in search of meaning,
He remembers a love once felt a kiss once tasted, all he sees in his mind is her smile, gleaming.
He slowly walks to the leaning tree looking out into the swamp where they had said they would meet,
But instead of him, the illustrious smiling assassin that day she did meet.


He was too late, couldn't have arrived at a worse time,
Instead of insects and the odd amphibian, her dying screams provided that nights chime.
He often returns to the spot, the location her life was ended.
Breathe in, breathe out, here’s to another day of pretending.
Pretending he doesn't still hear her voice asking him why he let it be,
Why this has become her resting place and her home, the swamp, and peering trees dressed in murky green…


Russell Gwata (2014).

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Game Changer's Code

Dreams are born in sleep and achieved through action. Anyone that’s ever done anything great in their life started urged by an idea, which became a passion, that turned into an urge leading on to a hunger to succeed. If you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, don’t expect anyone to hand it to you, take life by the collar, each morning you wake up out of bed what are you doing to clench that vision? That dream…

The game changer is the guy that got out of his bed and decided to make something out of his life. Being comfortable does not mean accomplishment, it means fear. Fear to walk paths less often trod and fear to dare, to question life, systems, and how we have all conformed to them. The world has advanced from the stone age, to the industrial revolution and to the smart age that we so effortlessly thrive in now. Were cavemen not living seemingly comfortable lives? They had food, shelter, families and good health. But it took one person that dared to dream, dared to harness the elements of nature, dared to make the first efficient and long lasting light bulb, a man like Thomas Edison. The worlds greatest inventors and pioneers are people that took on everyday problem by finding a way to practically deal with them, the world seemed fine with modern mp3 players until Steve Jobs woke up and decided to make a difference. You see, greatness, desire, drive, they’re not taught. They are embedded IN YOU. All it takes is you tapping into that and truly realising your potential.
Maturity begins when you realise that you have to fend for yourself, and be aggressive to get what you want. How many more times is the go-getter more successful than the laid back ‘comfortable’ individual? An education won’t make you great, a degree won’t make you live any longer than you’re entitled to, but drive will. Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Maverick Carter, Paul Allen and Michael Dell, all have things in common, neither of them have college degrees but what they did have is a dream, the difference between them and the rest of us is that they actually got up and did something about that. A degree is a label, it’s a piece of paper that supposedly make’s you a better person than one without but as Albert Einstein once famously said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” Look at the major companies you know, Apple, Nike, IBM, even Microsoft, the chances are that the founder and/or CEO has less qualifications than his/her senior subordinates. Meaning, you pay top money to get the top education, given the highest academic honours possible to work for someone and help build their dream instead of your own? Sixteen plus years in education, countless books, teachers, lessons, and massive school rooms and hallways to end up in a 4x4m cubicle with irregular toilet breaks and lunch breaks given to you? Bear in mind, these are those that have it better off than most employees, these are the “seniors.” I know we need ‘systems’ they apparently make the world tick right? But why live, learn and be ‘trained’ to be a king/queen only to end up being ushered towards being his servant.
I’m not saying quit school, I’m not saying leave your jobs, what I’m getting at is that if that doesn’t fulfill you and make you content then why not dare to be different? A friend of mine once told me, “If your WHY is important to you then the HOW doesn’t matter.” Meaning if your drive and reason for believing is important then how you get there is down to you, are you willing to shed blood, sweat and tears for it? I could even take the contextual view of giving examples of good sportsmen and women you know, the Michael Jordan’s, Pele’s, Shelly-Ann Fraiser’s and Jessica Ennis’ of the world. Talent only got them so far, the rest was hard work, determination, and focus to go beyond what their talent ‘allowed’ them. Even the best work, wake up early and put in the hours, AND THAT’S WHY THEY REMAIN THE BEST, what’s your excuse? In the immortalised and ever-so referenced words of Kevin Durant, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
Companies need workers, schools need students, but why can’t you be the company? Why can’t you be the GAME CHANGER…
Image

Friday, 3 January 2014

'Resolutions'

It’s just about that time of year when people start the whole ‘New Year New Me’ vibe right? So much can be said about these (mainly) false statements but I’m not going to get into all of that, I can only grab your attention for so long after all.

Besides stating the obvious inevitability of the majority of these resolutions going bust after a week, instead I’ll pose a question. Fair and fine, lets say you legitimately want to ‘change’ and have new goals and the like, why wait until the New Year to initiate that change? If it’s something you really want to get started on why wait till an entirely brand new year to decide to change. Why not just wake up tomorrow and be a ‘new you’ there and then? Every single morning you wake up, you’re given a chance to be that person, to change not only yourself but the world as well. No need to hide behind a calendar event to make things happen. If you’re going to wait till the following year to make things happen, whats stopped you all this time that’s not going to stop you in 2014? Unless you’ve landed some multimillionaire contract on the 1st of January, or you’re being let out from prison or oppression on that day then everything that held you back in 2013 will still be present in 2014 right? All that’s changed is your perception of it. The fact that it’s a ‘new page’ makes you reckon everything has been left behind, but it hasn’t. Maybe it’s a matter of you not using the turn of a calendar year to make a difference but just waking up, and making it happen.

Instead of preaching to people all you’re going to change about yourself, why not do it quietly, if your change is that significant they will notice, and actually point it out to you. Don’t speak know your success or goals because there will always be people waiting for you to trip up, and they’ll let you know when you do. Personal goals are meant to be PERSONAL GOALS, that way failure can only be credited to you and not an ill-wisher. I’m not saying be sly about your motives, okay I’ll be a typical guy and use football as an example. Sir Alex Ferguson probably had tonnes of major players he failed to sign but we only know of a handful because he kept it behind closed doors, so we’ll never see him as a failure. Whereas David Moyes (new Manchester United Manager) let the media know of the big signings he planned to land, and when he failed, did he not just look like an underachiever unable of carrying out expressed intent? There you have it.

Sometime it’s beyond you fair and fine but when given the option, the only person you should feel need to confide personal/characteristic objectives is the person in the mirror. I mean, if you really want to make a legitimate change, start tomorrow (hypothetically speaking). After all, practically speaking, whats the difference…?

Besides, I’m sure you’ve all heard this before. I’m not coming up with new life principals/philosophies off the top of my head on a regular, I’m not yet on that level of intellectual genius. In most cases, I just express things that everyone thinks, but never stops to say…