Poverty is not a state of mind

Written by Moudy Mudzielwana

On Apr 11, 2020

Braving the cold winter and scorching sun during summer in a quest to become something and confirm to parents that we are not failures. Teachers had tough time trying to find out if we knew what we want to become. We were a bunch of happy kids who did not know any difference amongst us.


All we wanted was to be good at what we do. There were few career choices and idols beyond what was already known like teacher, soldier, nurse and police. If one look closely, everyone wanted to be part of those in the forefront to help community, no one worried about being best and being ahead.

University life came in and we started experiencing technology and the differences in culture and backgrounds. Those who wished to experiment became experienced and some became fathers/mothers and some became drug/alcohol addicts and worse drop outs. A painful disappointment to parents and whole communities. That brilliant child has become a disappointment to own communities.


Those who did not even know they were poor started to experience mental lapse comparing themselves to others who ate at cafeteria with bursaries and those who bout groceries and have cell phones when they have to collect food from home monthly and could communicate with families when they had travelled home. Mental state became competitive ground and battlefield for ambitions to change the status. Finishing school became the mission ambition to be first and responsible to solve our family situations which were not bad before exposure to external environment.


Everyone studied to finish, get a job and be the first to buy accessories for parents and siblings, be the first to drive, be the first to build and dress like a success. In local communities, we wanted them to reference success with us and we lived to the best we believed was best. The competition in life got us too busy and those who failed to be successful at school had a backdoor opportunity through politics and talent. It was a question of what is worth going to school and earn peanuts when one can play soccer, music, become politicians, farm and earn more.


Some used their experience to motivate others and changed their status from failure to a success using communication skills than formal education.


The country was busy, too busy with soft skills and we all believed we have made it. We competed on ambitions than greatness and we all feel inferior when our fellow age groups seems to have better and we feel comfortable when we seem better than them and we do not care if we are a success or not as long we know they drive a polo and we drive BMW or an Audi. Perhaps an expense we juggle to maintain and stay afloat.


Covid-19 leveled the ground and reminded everyone that besides all activities, there are players that have been playing a finite game that requires results no matter what. People have been killed foe being ahead, people have been divorced for not matching desires, careers are changed for not giving enough, people are unhappy because of choices they make, people are losing money seeking define to intervene in our lives. Nobody knew that ambition game would not be won through competition. It was not a mental state that influenced us to be in debts and incriminate ourselves, kill one another and greediness, it was lack of knowledge of an infinite game of life where abundance comes to the collective. No one knew the privilege we had to be amongst those who went to school and we looked at those who did not achieve anything as self-destructive fellows. When high on the ladder we forgot, we do not make choices to be born under certain family conditions. We do not think deeper on why someone’s brains could not be developed faster than ours because we believe we are gifted and have worked hard for our careers, no it was not hard work but work of those around us to make us want to be different.


Covid-19 has leveled the ground, no matter how qualified, gifted, talented, passionate with what we do, most careers must restart and we start from scratch. It would not be the privilege and pride but the wisdom to collaborate and realize we are a community. Many of us have realized we spent many years in Gauteng and other economic towns doing nothing but living to meet daily needs. We became victims of poor financial management, poor emotional management and abused our mental state and our physical bodies in a quest to match the competition of being better. It was not mental state to give away our lives so we can be better, it is lack of self-awareness. No one worked to know what they are and we got into a marathon to be better and never look like failures.


In lockdown, millions had to go home where even their dogs and chickens have forgotten them, some had to squatter from friends and families, some are begging for food and many are on the verge of giving up because what they thought was high class life was financed by lies and lack of understanding of our role in our lives. This lack of understanding was not because we knew the difference. You are never poor in judgement when there is no alternative thoughts. People born in an environment where poverty is normal, their normal is different and once exposed they create own normal and that does not make them fools or intellectual.


When someone says poverty is a state of mind alluding that life is about decision making say so because they talk of experience where they measure two experiences and find one better than another with references. When successful drop outs started what they started and their tools became our lifestyle, they did not know we will all need their products, but hoped they make a living through such products and it worked. Our parents relied on agricultural products to raise us and make a living, their state of mind was not at fault to hope that after education, we will look after them because they believed educated can make better choices unfortunately ambitions made us neglect routine grounded lifestyle to experiment best and good life.

We cannot rely on motivation but draw to our humanity and mental stability to recreate what we are without all materials and lifestyle. The mental state or state of mind we need is what will differentiate us from what we are than who we are and what we do. It is all irrelevant when we are in our houses locked in or back home hoping to find our jobs, careers still reserved for us and if not, we are like anyone and whether your decisions are good or bad, they will not define a person in us. What we can learn out of this situation is that we do not control our destination but what we do and how it is done. The finish line is not definite or finite. Living on ambitions overlook steps and processes where we need to develop ourselves than skills and needs. Without needs and wants, we can start by being human before our careers.


Economy is about careers and ambitions yet humanity is about human health, mental state, emotional state, spiritual state and physical state. Once we spend this lockdown working on those, our bodies and brains can serve us more than money, cars, alcohol, beverages and food. We are not good because of decision making but living without knowing ourselves because we read, experienced and taught of life that we should live if we want to be a success and we never questioned what was success in our society before education because we believed education creates a successful career but which form of education?


Before we teach our kids success according to historical books, let us tell them what we are and what makes a human before careers. State of mind do not make poverty, poverty is an experience and success is a feeling and may not be success according to book. It is good to talk and go home to sleep on a loaf and be poor to make a meal that someone think it is a poor meal because we made such choice. There is no other alternative best if we never knew the other side.




Moudy Mudzielwana

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