A perspective gained

An appetite lost

The other day I was witness to an inhumane display on my lunch break. It was a display of abuse in the form public humiliation, rooted in income inequality, the likes of which I have never seen.

My colleague and I ate at this incredible restaurant called Tasty’s. It’s a restaurant that expands into the courtyard of Lilongwe City Center, where they have a daily braai. The inexpensive and “tasty” food comes in an elephantine portion, eaten in a beautiful courtyard in the shade of gorgeous African trees, buskers playing their take on Western music, with the odd traditional Chewa and Malawian song thrown in. It’s great! I love[d] eating at Tasty’s.

There was this little kid on the other side of the fence who was begging. We later learned that he is known to sometimes steal from patrons (food, cell phones, and money). One Tasty’s employee told him to leave and the little kid defiantly said “no” and proceeded to yell at patrons. Easy enough to ignore, I think. It also made you think about his life; he might not have always had the best cards dealt to him and was doing anything he could to survive. I’m not justifying his actions, but still.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
- Plato

Anyway, this employee at Tasty’s picks up a stick and starts chasing him, he grabs a rock and threatens to throw it. A large crowd started to gather. I didn’t understand what the crowd was saying, but their laughter when the lady beat him with a shoot of bamboo gave me an idea.

The kid threw the rock, thankfully — and narrowly — missing the lady. An onlooker decides to participate in the “festivities” by pinning the kid to the ground and running water from a hose on his face and in his mouth.

Finally, the police come and calmly take him away. Overall they should have just called the police from the start. They didn’t have to beat the kid, laugh at him, push him and make him get angry enough to make the situation worse. The actions by the older — and supposedly more mature — party was a catalyst to violent behaviour. If he refused to leave, simply call the police and wait. I lost my appetite.

It was especially hard for me to witness this, as I come from a different culture and I cannot judge — I can only comment silently. I understand that things operate differently in different parts of the world, but nevertheless I didn’t feel great walking away from lunch that day.

Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
- Nelson Mandela
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