My acquaintances have recently written on related subjects. Mr Joe Phadima wrote about the agony he had to endure in a high school reunion recently. Mr Sandile Memela wrote about how a friend of his had complained about the agony of socializing with people who are in the middle class in South Africa. I am a patient man, but I am losing patience with how some of my acquaintances are alienating me while trying to network with me.
I don’t disagree with my big-headed friend who put it to me that I am shy introvert. In any case, I am not renowned for making funny jokes or for sharing orthodox opinions. This big-headed friend goes on and says this is the reason why dating women for me is as rare as a solar eclipse, despite the high interest expressed by some good girls. He says the reason I don’t go to parties, despite my love for good food, is because I can’t dance. I regard his insight as objective so I generally do not challenge it. I digress.
I often meet people I have not met in a very long time. We used to be good friends/comrades and celebrate seeing each other. We catch up briefly. I say I stay in Pretoria, mostly because of the large amount of rent I pay there. We exchange numbers and/or emails and promise to keep in touch. The same goes for strangers that I meet and get introduced to. This can generally be regarded as networking. I like it. It is nice to know people on a first name basis and have a conversation with them about this, that or the other.
Unlike Mr Phadima or Mr Memela, I don’t mind someone telling me about their expensive car, clothes, furniture, cellphone, etc. My agony is generated by ‘tender predators’ (c) [I coined this phrase. I’m still going to approach CIPRO for paperwork before the media uses it without my permission.] Tender Predators (TP) are the friends who have Close Corporations that trade in all aspects. Yes, their CC trade in all aspects. They are always hunting for mostly government contracts to provide all sorts of services that are physically possible. Let me hasten to say that TPs are not bad people. It’s generally good people who, due to unemployment or insufficient wages, choose to make income for themselves. I know this from personal experience.
Not all Tender Predators are corrupt. Some Tender Predators sniff everywhere for tenders. They follow newspaper adverts, government website, tender bulletins, on the internet and so on. They also establish social networks with people who will be able to tell them which sources to watch for which tenders. Other TPs go and advertise their innovation to authorities that they think would best benefit from that innovation. Obviously there are a few TPs that make a bad name for their fellow predators by engaging in corrupt practices. At least the long arm of the law is there to deal with them. Social networking or business networking is not inherently corrupt.
However, like most things in life, there are predators who are extremist. This is where my agony deepens. Those who know me are aware that I don’t issue government contracts. They also know that I don’t know people who issue government contracts. Those I get introduced to and are interested on contracts, I tell upfront that fortunately I don’t work in that unit and I also don’t know people who work in those units in government or elsewhere. Ordinary TPs accept and understand this fortunate reality. But there are stubborn TPs who will insist that I’m either hiding things from them or if I don’t know the ‘right’ people, I should make it my business to know those people just so as to feed into their predatory instincts. This turns the entire social networking exercise ugly. I start regretting having met the person. Answering their phones becomes burdensome. Mr Ndumiso Ngcobo went as far as labeling me a counter-revolutionary and an enemy of the National Democratic Revolution because I can’t help him get a contract of taking ID photos. I didn’t even know there was a tender bid for that sort of business. I thought people just show up in front of offices with cameras and start taking photos of people who pass by with the hope that they will pay for those photos.
It’s cool to have friends. Shy as I am, I love networking. My big-headed friend even blames me for that I sometimes go to the bar with them to watch them drink and when the debates get heated I seem like I am the one who has had most drinks. He says I win most debates because I remain sober while they drink. We debate all kinds of crazy stuff;
* God does not exist,
* we will start a church when I turn 60 in 2041, to which I’ll be the founding bishop and attract multitudes of believers like Pastor Comrade Vusi Dube of ECC,
* crime should be legalized to ensure that criminals don’t shoot during armed robbery they must take the stuff that insurance can replace,
* Julius Malema should serve more terms until he turns 35 because he is good for the current generation of ANCYL,
* Lobola makes love a commodity it should be abolished,
* The Two stage theory of the revolution is a fallacy,
* developing computer software to communicate with the dead,
* Orange juice is not made from oranges,
* The former President of the ANC voted for the ANC,
* The tree falls silently in the forest when there is no one and the stone remains soft until you touch it,
* the size of the persons head is proportional to the bytes of data the brain can hold,
* Rural development is a fallacy it should be replaced by urbanisation,
* Tender Predators are an irritation,
* All races evolved from black people,
* HIV does not cause AIDS,
* the NDR and freedom charter are reformist,
* use of 3rd umpire and a need for quotas in cricket,
* Jesus was a coloured and therefore black,
* and other worst things.
Even though times are tough for most of us and we often get desperate, let us try not to spoil the good social network we may have. There is more to good friendships than monetary value.
Let me conclude by saying a friend warned me that it might not be a good idea to write about this. He stated his reasons. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and write, mostly because I intend to refer TPs to this page so they don’t have to keep barking the wrong tree.