Friday, January 20, 2012

Ndoda Zibonele

I've been following the tragic tale of the stricken Italian cruise-ship, the Costa Concordia. 11 people perished and a further 21 are still missing, after it ran aground off shallow Mediterranean waters. But what rankles even more is the behaviour of crew-members and the ship's captain itself, Francesco Schettino. Reports say that once disaster hit, crew-members shoved aside old-ladies to get to the life-boats. The captain himself was one of the first to evacuate the ship, and he refused orders from the Italian Coast-Guard to return to his ship. So much for the ideal of captains going down with their ships!

The insane behaviour of the ship-captain captures the Me First Individualism of today's age. Everyone is consumed in his own affairs, in a hamster-like, non-stop hustle for survival. No-one has any time for anyone else. Even amongst my fellow Africans, famed for our communalism, our Ubuntu, the ethos of dog-eat-dog individualism is now deeply entrenched.

The Ndebeles of Zimbabwe say "ndoda zibonele", meaning man will always take care of himself. But in today's age this maxim has now been stretched to its logical conclusion, with each man now, literally, walking over dead bodies to maximise his own utility. I shudder to think where humankind will end up with this insane and unhealthy behaviour.

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