In which I want to better myself

22/03/2008

Some weeks ago, I met one of Susan’s friends. We had a great day, starting off with coffee at one of my favourite haunts. I took one sneer-filled look at this girl, and immediately dismissed her as a ditz. Come on! She was wearing labels, labels, and yet more labels. Sunglasses, jeans, top, everything. Well, almost. The only thing that wasn’t a label was the bag from Woolworths. But even that looked very supermodelly. No matter that she bought it for R100 at the sale.

So immediately I thought of her as an inferior label whore, whereas I am a label snob. (It probably means I can’t afford labels, so I look down on those who can). Whatever. And when she opened her mouth, it was only about her boyfriend and about money. I later understood that she supports her family on her tiny salary, so I felt bad for thinking so little of her.

But what made me think hard was when she asked me where Scandinavia is. I did my best to appear “educated” and “snobby”, and gave her a run-down of Scandinavian countries. I thought to myself: “OMG, how can anyone be so stupid?” I knew where Scandinavia is when I was in primary school, why doesn’t she know this at 26/27?

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and everywhere I go, everyone who talks to me, I am bombarded with phrases such as South-Eastern Asia, Eurasia, Eastern Asia and Western Asia. I felt flummoxed. What’s happening here? Am I supposed to know the difference? I thought Asia was just that: Asia? Was I wrong? OMG, I’m stupid.

I can’t blame my school education. Really, I can’t. I can’t even blame it on the fact that I only studied Geography until Standard 7. That’ll be Grade 9 for those of you who do not know the old Standard system.

I blame it on my ignorance.

Although I do believe that my old History teacher should be replaced with a younger, more liberal teacher. Something I remember happened in our final year. Or it might have happen during the previous year, I can’t remember which.

We were discussing the year’s curriculum. She had this cute habit of sitting on one of the school desks and talking to us, with her short little legs swinging around. She was adorable, probably still is. She had a tiny little voice and was pushing 60. So, she sat there with the book on her lap, staring at the class and told us what we’ll cover. “South African history, tick. The UN, tick. African history, tick. No, hold that thought, people. African history is mostly about war and genocide and you won’t even be able to pronounce the people’s names, never mind even spelling it. So I think we won’t be covering African history.”

So, please do not test me on African history? At one stage, I would have been able to identify every single country on the African map. But I’m only recently starting to appreciate that every country’s history is about war, and to a lesser extent, genocide. It’s not just particular to the African situation. Read Levi’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller and The Unbearable Lightness of Being and you’ll see what I mean. Or don’t. I’m such a typical lover of fiction, that I tend to refer to fiction and not non-fiction.

So yeah. I shall buy some biographies next week. I shall use Wikipedia right now to learn some more about Mr Idi Amin Dada who expelled Uganda’s Indians. OMG.

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2 Responses to “In which I want to better myself”

  1. Goblin Says:

    You know what, I have no problem in being ignorant with some things. I just can’t find the energy to actually care about some stuff. The Goblin is blissfully ignorant in some areas 😀

  2. callith Says:

    I find it difficult even reading the newspaper. There are just so many references to unknown people and institutions, I end up spending more time on Wikipedia than actually reading the damn article.

    😦

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