By Karl-Chris R Nsabiyumva

Some guy just called my colleague and presented himself as an “advisor at the state house”. He wasn’t even calling for state matters mind you; he was inquiring about a personal business file he left here but the dude didn’t even mention his name… nor did he mention the name of his business. Man WHO ARE YOU?! And NOT what do you do!

A very good friend of mine played a little game on some people and I some time ago. It was very simple but the impact of it was very significant. He randomly asked us to present ourselves and the winner was the person who managed to give the most information about themselves before referring to their job or whatever they spent their day doing. It made me realise that we often define ourselves by what we do and it’s wrong. Like I always tell people who like to call me *insert employer’s name here* I had a life before my job; and God forbid I lose it, but if it were to happen, I would still have a life after it! This has made me wonder if I would enjoy being called “Mr President” if I were to ever become President of the Republic (not that I’m even aspiring to do the job); I don’t think I would. My name is KRis, so please call me KRis!

Okay, I understand that the form of presentation depends on the context. For example, when I go to professional meetings, the next thing I mention after my name is my job title because that’s what the context is about: work. But meet me outside my workplace and it’s unlikely I’ll tell you what I do for a living. Why? Why do you need to know? Okay, maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive here, but I personally don’t like talking about work after work… unless we’re like debating (I enjoy a good debate) about something work related. However, I’ve observed that some people quickly refer to their job titles as a mechanism to impress the masses… isn’t that sad? Like what happens to them when they lose their jobs? Do they become the “ex-state house advisors”?

Anyway, there’s another introduction phenomenon, far more ridiculous, that has me shaking my head so much I’ve started carrying some Panadol with me to relieve the pain: it’s people – most likely elite kids – who go around referring to themselves as umwana wo kwa… almost forgetting to mention their own names. Okay, I get it that it’s often best to mention your parent’s name when introducing yourself to an older person (to facilitate your “identification”) but when you walk up to a peer and start telling them who’s your mummy or daddy, eish that’s lame; like, really lame!

I believe that there comes a time (or age) when a man/woman has to create their own identity, work to become their own man/woman. I believe there is no greater pride when people refer to your accomplishments and not your parents’ (position or wealth) when talking about you and defining who you are, even if the indications go something like… it’s that guy who drives a shiny red “girly” car; the guy who made a fool of himself writing about how he got friend-zoned; or even, the guy who spends his life on social media, like does he even have a life? (Like, how do you know I’m always on Facebook, Twitter or whatever if you aren’t always connected yourself?) Anyway, back to our topic…

So who are you? Is it fair for you if people are only interested in what you do, who you’ve slept with (oh I almost forgot this one), rumours they’ve heard about you or who you’re going to inherit from? Okay, maybe you don’t care; maybe you don’t want any real friends; maybe I’m the only one who loves it when a grown-up engages in a meaningful discussion with me (okay, usually it’s after they’re aware of what I do, and I don’t mind; that’s how they work) before asking me mbe burya uri uwo kwande? I was going to mention a few other things people usually know me by but I was told I brag too much (my own mother used the term Kwireshangishwa… imagine? *SMH*) so I’m going to cut it down a bit…

But the bottom line is: who are you? The way you present yourself (or others present you) says a lot about who you really are and what you’re capable of. Are you a person whose life is only defined by what they do between 7:30 AM and 5:30 PM; a mummy/daddy’s girl/boy; a gold digger; a person who’s pants are too lose; … or are you SOMEBODY?!

(Image source: mikesvoboda.com)

Karl-Chris currently lives and works in Bujumbura. Check him out at misterburundi.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @Mr_Burundi