Field Fodder

it was quite clear to him that to achieve success
called for as much brain as brawn
and so he toiled with tact and bone
until he could do no more

and every moment he tried
as much as mind and body allowed
that his work and thoughts
became the very food he sought daily
from dusk ’til dawn

so a routine he followed
and which almost nothing ever foiled
year round… late nights and early morns
which meant the forfeiture of many pleasures
except when he was playing the field
to find inspiration for the poems

© Heath Muchena, 2017


On the Question of Culture

If you’re down with the culture, hip hop culture that is, then you’ve probably been bumping the new Migos album, if that trap sound is to your taste. After having given it a good listen, personally I think a number of the tracks are well-crafted. As far as the release as a body of work, it’s solid. I say that because the album title itself manages to conjure up the question of culture. For any trend observer, it’s quite obvious the hip hop genre and elements associated with it have penetrated many cultures beyond the black.

I came across a remark one of the group members made which got me thinking and ultimately sparked the idea for this piece. In a statement, he reportedly said: “It’s time to let the culture be known. It’s time to claim it.” I found that particularly fascinating and here’s why:

Firstly, let me pose a question. What does culture mean to you? If you’re wondering what my answer to that question is, then let me elaborate: aside from the obvious which is – everything relating to ideas, arts, social behaviours, and customs; personally I feel it’s much to do with ownership. That’s why I can relate to the aforementioned statement in quotes. What is interesting is that the question of ownership, as a black man writing this from my own personal observations of self and kin, is one we have not given enough thought, if our collective actions are anything to go by. But the fact that there are more conversation around it signifies a forward step in the direction of gaining some perspective and hopefully the betterment of our grasp of that particular subject since it has great implications beyond the scope of this article and which I can’t claim to have the expertise to expatiate on and consequently no intention of asserting because that is up to the people to contemplate, debate and ultimately act upon.

I’m no expert but in my humble opinion I believe that it’s time for a shift. Time for us to think more broadly as a nation of people however geographically dispersed. Time to be aware of our position relative to power. In essence, it’s time for Africans and those of African descent to rise up and begin to establish the basis for equal equity in today’s civilisation.

I remember a time when mama asked me what I wanted from an education, and what I was to do with it, and who I was hoping to become as a result of its attainment. I told her: “Not a superstar but a disrupter, an African innovator, the black Jack Ma” and what I meant is simply – something akin to what he is to China. She replied: “Now you’re talking my son. Go ahead, explore everything the world has to offer!”

Years later, after having traveled to other parts of the world, mixed and mingled with people from different cultures, and even having met many of my own people who are like-minded, I’m more than ever convinced that there’s still a greater need for us, especially the people of Africa, particularly the youth, who make up the world’s largest young demographic, to realise that success doesn’t equate to fame. There’s so much more we can offer outside our most notable sphere of influence which is admittedly, predominantly in the entertainment industry. But for that to occur on a larger scale than is currently, and by the numbers necessary to secure not only our advancement but our very livelihoods, then we need to adjust our reference points and widen our sources of inspirations.

For clarity’s sake, I’m not insinuating that there aren’t African people, or those of African descent who have made great achievements outside entertainment. But there’s need for a change in our attitudes and expectations for ourselves in order that we don’t continue to fall victim to ‘culture vultures’ and actually see our creativity and ingenuity translate into the upliftment of our collective condition which currently, at this point in history is still in a state that is dire. Because even though we are influencers of today’s globalised culture, we don’t have the systematic structures in place to make us bona fide beneficiaries.

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


Back from the Brink

the sky’s hue
matched the waters too
that everything in view
seemed cornflower blue

then she appeared from behind
the boulders by the beach
and I observed her walk the white sand
carefree but with dignity

like a mermaid out of the ocean
grace had come to shore
heaven must’ve sent to earth this woman
who in all honesty I could not ignore

and so with my charms turned on
yet subtle in my approach
this humble startler could no more
let love lie fallow

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


Davos Downhills

nearly all of life
to most of us
has been reduced to quixotic possibilities of happiness…
our purpose and the loftiest of intentions
encouraged by fanciful pursuits of gain
that our very natures have changed
as we continue to be incentivised
to acquire the little that remains
of all the capital already in the hands of a few…
forced to play a losing game
seeing as the failure to attain
our desired pecuniary advantages
only leaves us vulnerable to contempt
making life unbearable
and inflicting the ultimate torture
on our bodies and our brains

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


79.9

Perspective is the cousin of self-deception; and everything exists within creative desire, nothing beyond.

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


Shtick or Shtum

in the social sphere
recognition is desperately sought after
cris de coeur in hopes that others will hear
voices within – that moment – that hour

but one wonders if those wishes are sincere
or whether we’re just inclined to jibber-jabber
projecting fear
parceled up in laughter

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


It was early in the AM peeps, excuse the sound of my voice :)

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a freeing of the faculties

in the rear you’ll find custom
and ahead lies more discovery
but here, right now
neither in the spectrum of imagination nor illusory tangibility
is insight into everything one embodies
should your faculties be freed…

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017


Why You Need To Redefine Yourself Away From ‘Job Titles’ In Today’s Workplace

Job titles constrain. As an independent party in the global workforce, I’m free to express my personality and showcase my capabilities more accurately.

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Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Until now I hadn’t even given the subject concerning the classification and identification of capabilities by job titles much concentrated thought, only the occasional consideration that any adaptive species is bound make when confronted with opportunity constraints.

It often used to be the case that when someone asked what I did, that is, what my job title was, it always seemed as if they were inadvertently pitching themselves against me in one form or another. Admittedly, I haven’t felt any such discomfort with disclosures since my exit from traditional employment.

That’s not to say I don’t have remnant memories from years past when I used to work in chain stores, bars, call centres, and not forgetting the one time I gave a field sales rep job a good go, knocking door-to-door, and trying to convince residents of Manchester to swap their home phone service providers to the marketing company’s client’s service and getting absolutely snow-stormed this one time on the job, that I vowed the next day I’d be a no show.

It was never the fact that I didn’t take pride in the jobs I had, but there was always the feeling that once I told someone I was a call centre agent for instance, they’d most likely paint me with a particular brush, to the exclusion of other skills which weren’t necessarily associated with the specific job title.

These days however, I feel more confident about my professional depiction, since I now hold the brush and can showcase the full skills palette without subjection to an employer’s or industry’s view of what a particular job title represents, as far as what or who I am. As an independent party in the global workforce, I’m free to express my personality and showcase my capabilities more accurately.

When I think back to the days when I’d spend considerable time laughing at ridiculous GIFs while stuck behind a desk, pretending to be productive, and waiting to knock-off, I cannot help but regret the time wasted. Sometimes I wasn’t all to blame, I think some people will have had similar experiences working for companies that were inflexible with their permissions e.g. imposing unreasonable internet restrictions or not allowing their workforce to indulge in other activities deemed unrelated to their job title/spec, especially during times when there were no tasks to complete and you’d be expected to simply stay still which to me made no sense.

Depending on the task at hand, I could be a communications expert, digital estate developer and manager, social currency analyser, trends observer, Experience Economy Researcher, Ideation Strategist, or simply a Creative

That was when it was just a matter of only working to earn a cheque. Now my days have never been busier and more productive. Between executing tasks, sourcing a supply of work, setting up a start-up, self-educating, and networking, there’s little time for petty preoccupations since I’m always constantly shifting my skills applications from one task to the next, which warrants the wearing of different hats, and ultimately the tailoring of titles when prospecting.

Since opting for full participation in the ‘gig economy‘ which Guy Kawasaki described as what “most people are using to make ends meet“, I quite fancy myself more of a versatile operative, and depending on the task at hand, I could be one of several things: a Communications Expert, Digital Estate Developer and Manager, Social Currency Analyser, Trends Observer, Experience Economy Researcher, Ideation Strategist, or simply a Creative, just to name a few.

Essentially, all the limitations that I used to feel when I was making use of singular or official job titles and the subsequent undervaluation of my offerings are no more. As long as my credentials justify the title and the title is aligned with my skill set then I’ll certainly make use of it for the purposes of conveying my capabilities to potential working partners, especially if the title has pertinent application and best describes the nature of the work to be carried out. I think a few years ago the popular term was ‘dabbler’, but that is usually associated with, and carries connotations of, ‘loose skill’. So I prefer to use more specific titles, which would bring clarity to the level of know-how or depth of experience, even if I have to invent them.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that in this evolving labour economy, one has to adapt or die. I certainly don’t want to experience the latter, in the professional context of course, and due to the diversity of my undertakings, I’ve stopped assigning stringent nomenclatures as far as job titles are concerned. In fact, I’ve started modifying them as necessary, depending on the nature of the job and as long as the particular title encompasses and highlights the specific aspects of the particular field, especially in cases where the pre-existing job titles are not quite fitting or are limiting.

Originally written for and published in The Huffington Post, South Africa Edition – 20/01/17.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/heath-muchena/


The Manifestation of Destiny

Don’t be all prayer and no practise. Remember, proportion, properly understood, is fitness for purpose. So keep a good balance between the devising of a scheme and its activation. Because too much thought devoid of action will yield no return. And it is as much true of the mason as it is the poet, that to build the perfect life for self, one shall have to, often with little or no help, plough through the pain, in order to attain whatever it may be that one aspires to gain. Therefore, let it be that when you utter amen, it be so in speech, as much as in deed.

 

© Heath Muchena, 2017