he sun is out, summer is here. Weddings and other happy occasions, a reason and a season to celebrate. Hurray!!!, BUT hang on, where is my invite?
Home away from home, only the new home doesn’t smell like home. I cannot sniff the sweet aroma coming from mama’s cooking. The cows mooing, the ‘boys and girls whistling and jostling with unruly goats in pastures green. Home away from home I miss the piercing laughter of women walking to the river to fetch water, babies on their backs and 20 litre buckets of water on their heads. These are some of the scenes I miss about home. Then, BANG, the unpredictable happened, we are now scattered all over the world. Some in Canada, others United States, South Africa, you name it, we are all over the world.
How I miss those community weddings
Those wedding when the community could be or expected to attend, or get this, they ‘invited themselves’ and no offence was taken from either side. We all miss those good old days. Wherever we have settled, we want to have a bit of home into our new home, away from home. Somehow this appears to be a challenge. What we see and view as UBUNTU is greatly challenged. By being away from home, we face new personal and ‘moral’ challenges. New personalities develop and grow as individuals. We embrace the new home and what it presents to us. We adopt new things and a whole new mindset. We get a ‘new education’ or nothing at all.
Here’s one of the dilemmas of being away from home. Away from home I still want to be the true person who adheres and respects what is seen and believed to define ubuntu, and on the other hand, I want to embrace the new me.
A scenario of one of the dilemmas we face. I have observed and wondered what the answer is. To claim I have the answer will be a damn poky pie.
Away from home, we have made friends, formed friendships within our communities and outside those communities. Old friends and new friends, we make life happen. Our children have done the same, jelled and become a part of a bigger community. Ubuntu teaches us that anyone old enough to be my mum, dad, aunty, uncle must be given the respect regardless of whether they are a blood relative or not and that is so commendable.
Social beings that we are, invites to celebrate joyous occasions are exchanged among us and boy or boy! don’t we just know how to make those parties count? We sure know how to play the dance floor. So, you see how I miss those good old days back home! Roll on years, we are still home away from home, but we still want the ‘old home’ in the new home. We have weddings, baby showers, birthdays and graduations. We celebrate just about everything worth celebrating.
WHAT HAS GONE ON HERE? Why are the invites becoming selective in some quarters? Are we not a community, are we not friends, acquaintances and am I not that ‘special aunty’. Surely, I deserve to get an invite, how come others have been invited. They must really hate me or not like me. So, all this being ‘friends’, eating together, chatting on the phones and exchanging ideas has been just a fallacy. Its ok let them get on with it. When I get an occasion going I will certainly remember who invited me and who did not. Hypocrites the lot of them!!
These and many other comments fly by and are loosely used.
I struggle with this kind of mindset, and I find it disturbing. Is being invited to occasions by my acquaintances an entitlement and should I in turn invite them to my celebratory occasions? Does it REALLY mean they don’t like me if they don’t invite me? Acquaintances that we have also have other acquaintances too, and based on their pure, honest judgments emanating from a good place, (one would always hope so) have the prerogative to choose who they invite without anyone who hasn’t been taking it personal. If we are true to ourselves folks, no matter how hard we try it is impossible to invite all our friends, family and acquaintances to every occasion we choose to celebrate. Even if one person tried, they are likely to ‘genuinely overlook just that one person.
This mindset makes people become secretive both ways. The invited and the persons inviting. The invitees are made to feel scared to openly share the joy and the honour accorded to them for being invited in case in sharing the one that hasn’t been invited or who feels the entitlement might be upset. People tread on egg shells unnecessarily.
You are not invited
The big one now folks! If you received an invite and you know no malice from either yourself or the person that invited you, be free to share and not be secretive. Do not take on the pressure of others. To the one who has invited, do not allow people to take you on a guilt trip. You wish you could have everyone around, but it is impossible. Do not be made to feel as though you don’t like people, or you have singled them out. After all, in the grand scheme of things if the truth be told none of us are so ‘important’ to feel people hate us or are singling us out.
Invited or not, if we are genuine and UBUNTU is still what we claim defines us, we will find ways of being happy and celebrate joyous occasions of those around us. How about thinking this way: my friend has not been able to invite me to her celebrations for whatever well-intentioned reasons, I am going to offer them my full support whichever way I am able to. That, to me is authentic, undiluted UBUNTU. If our friendships and associations are detected by receiving or not receiving an invite, then we truly have lost the point.
Different people come to our lives at different junctures of our life’s journey and each play and take different roles in our lives.
One crucial aspect of this invitation sage is ignoring specifics of invites. Picture this,
‘Regina Jele Ncube you are invited to________. That is a specific invite to a specific person. There are no caveats at all. How come I turn up to the occasion with my two children (in my case grown up ones- adults) I really do not see anything stating Regina & family on the invite If I am wrong, I am not above correction. Ubuntu would compel me to pick up the phone, text or use whatever media to seek clarity out of respect of the host.
Another states, strictly no children, and surprise, surprise I rock up to the occasion with my children. Why? The person inviting me has their valid reasons for stating that. They are not against children, and yes when you get to the occasion they could be other children present that have been invited together with their parents. Some of us start scrutinizing the individual (host)- God help that individual if they do not have any children of their own. We start to think they are not maternal at all and we find hurtful reasons why they don’t have children of their own- REALLY- All because of an invite?
Let me throw the spanner into the works here. If you had a scheduled work interview for a job standing between you and your next mortgage payment and a better improved livelihood depended on this interview. You have 3 little ones at home. What would you do? Would you not move heaven and earth to find childcare, so you can attend your interview? So, the question is, why not have respect for the person who is inviting you and adhere to the specifics of their invite? That is having self-respect and respect to the person extending the invite. If all else fails, turning down the invite is also an option. In no way does it diminishes the occasion, but it proves you hold your friend in such high esteem you are not to disrespect them and their expectations on their joyous occasion.
More sophisticated ones go on to say, Please RSVP by the ______, Some tend to ignore this as though it is not important. Let us accept the fact that some people want to work with numbers to the dot. They want to plan, they don’t want any surprises on the day of the occasion. It really isn’t rocket science folks, again its respecting yourself and the person and giving them that much-needed opportunity to plan for the occasion.
The aim of this article is solely to educate and remind each other the value and importance on good etiquettes. Respect for one another and for everyone to be true to who we are and to our limitations. To accept the social dilemmas that face us, to challenge ourselves and be open enough will make us a better people. Whichever side of the pendulum we choose, be true to ourselves and accept others find themselves on a different side of it. Above all, whatever we do, let’s do it in love.
The good book also teaches us in 1 Corinthians 14 vs 40 to do things in an orderly manner.
Let’s always remember, being invited is an honour not an entitlement.
Happy celebrations everybody.