The nearer the latrine the tastier the food

Excitement always precedes the fleeting festive season, only to be followed by a bumpy ride filled with moments of intense quietude that border on detachment.

This has been evident in the last few years, particularly in the last couple of years when the whole world suffered from the harsh and unignorable effects of COVID-19. In light of unproven scares about Deltacron and projections of increased infections in Europe and the US, assailed by feelings of pessimism, do you get the sense that 2022 is receiving a rather tepid welcome from most of us? Would you consider it too much of an incredulous stretch if I advised you that my buzz words for this year are love, wellness, hope and perseverance? I am however, acutely aware of the fact that these words seem to be facing fierce and intense rivalry from their more negative and forcefully potent siblings; passiveness, infirmity, despair and lassitude.

Of course, the latter words combine the depressing baggage and unfortunate heritage from the preceding year. I would be the first to agree that balance is essential. As much as we cannot underplay the gravity of the times we are living in, I would hazard that dwelling in prolonged negativity is not crafted into the resilient DNA of mankind.

Rather than take the easy route of dispassionately attributing our challenges to a supreme spiritual being or a debased evil one, it is in our nature to resist intimidation by the most grueling forces of nature, to take calculated risks and to crave for opportunities for evolving our thought-processes in a positive manner.


It is in our genes to satisfy our curiosity by learning and taking advantage of our moral sensibilities, to exploit acquired wisdom, and to explore, develop and embrace sustainable solutions for tackling our challenges. I hope these views will find resonance for many in the country.

It is an annual ritual for people to draw up resolutions for the new year. For some, the brilliant stroke of strategy and enduring sense of fulfillment start and end with the half-hearted setting of those resolutions. However, they are less interested in the implementation of initiatives and milestones aligned to the achievement of such resolutions. And they are always decidedly slothful in reviewing their performance periodically during the course of the year. Though I appreciate the importance of setting goals and meaningfully pursuing a progressive path in life, I must admit I have never been swept by the euphoria associated with the perfunctory setting of annual resolutions.

Nonetheless, for this year, I believe it is vital to flush a few practices down the toilet. This will enable us to reinvent ourselves for our own good. It is in order to set resolutions that clearly demonstrate that we do not buy into the view that the nearer the latrine, the tastier the food. In fact, many would vehemently disagree with this notion. For the vast majority, the idea of consuming favourite flavoursome victuals near a latrine of any nature is as distasteful as it is nauseating. Nonetheless, their actions often belie this view. In view of this challenge, I want to suggest a few resolutions that we can take on board.

One, resist the growing unprepossessing culture of latrine lips. This practice is associated with the use of speech that is peppered with obscene and vulgar language and is common among young ones under pressure to prove their assertiveness, especially in social media platforms. The uncouth language used is always demeaning to the targeted recipients and to a large extent crosses the line of decency. The two languages that are commonly used in Botswana and many others are blessed with great and endless vocabulary that can be used without arrogantly stripping anyone of their dignity and unnecessarily going beyond the pale.

I have also seen latrine-lipped managers and bosses. In an attempt to assert their authority, some of these flinty individuals have stumbled on the path of spurting out profanities, often in quick succession, when demanding accountability and performance from their subordinates. No reasonable excuse can ever be proffered for this unacceptable conduct. Apart from butchering the dignity of their staff, what else do these uncultured people achieve? Isn’t it true that once defenestrated for any reason, we have seen most of these individuals shamelessly disguised as models of humility!

The unfortunate latrine-lip culture has seeped into some homes. Purged of the slightest of moral compunctions, some married people would happily hurl a string of vulgarities to their mates. Since the law does not allow them to physically violate their spouses, they turn to this form of psychological and emotional abuse to viperously demean and humiliate their mates. For this year, I would suggest that the first resolution should be, to extirpate the unsavoury culture of latrine lips. If you have never played in this unhallowed space, make it your resolution to continue staying outside. Anyone who strenuously or effortlessly stray into the latrine-lipped circle figuratively demonstrates that they believe that the nearer the latrine, the tastier the food. Two, I know it sounds trite, but I would say, continue to observe COVID-19 protocols.

We don’t have reason to believe that this disease will be conquered any time soon. All the more reason to be careful. And there is nothing exceedingly difficult about toeing the line. What I have observed though is that the views of some of the young ones are hyper-realistic. For some odd reasons, they feel impregnable and well equipped to ride out infections.

At the end of last year, many morally fragile teenagers attended the so called cross-over parties, where they ushered in the new year in style, a glaring euphemism for no masks, no physical distancing and wild-partying. The parents of petulant children who were refused permission to attend these parties suffered the worst unfilial behaviour and abusive silent treatment for days. Need we remind teenagers and folks in their 20s and 30s that they are not invincible! Much as the thrills and delights of flying the coop might be enticing, it is important for sense to prevail, and to place life ahead of momentary bouts of joy. By ignoring the COVID-19 protocols, young ones may be unwittingly subscribing to the twerpish absurdity that the nearer the latrine, the tastier the food.

Three, the world abounds with a paucity of well-rounded model employees, please resolve to clamp down on the practice of whining and malingering, and clutch on to the elevated status of being a superstar at your workplace.

The spirit of being co-operative and collaborative should define our professional demeanour. We need to embrace the phlegmatic temperament of listening and communicating properly. This would be discernible in the celerity with which we respond to internal and external queries, our agility to rebuff the jobsworth culture, our maturity in robustly debating difficult issues without treading the ad hominem and provocative route of blame-shifting, the imprudent track of sealioning, the apathetic course of procrastination, and the irresponsible self-justification path of spinning feeble excuses. Let’s harness our creativity and resourcefulness and resolutely build a team that will deliver on its mandate.

Never one to lose hope on my compatriots and knowing full well that many appreciate that food doesn’t get tastier as one gets closer to the latrine, I will, with a guarded measure of confidence stick to my buzz words for 2022; love, wellness, hope and perseverance! All optimistic as we start on another long and what promises to be an arduous journey of 52 weeks through an unyielding and unforgiving terrain. For all I care, the negative world can keep its passiveness, infirmity, despair and lassitude.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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