Everybody needs good neighbours

Buruburu Estate has always been a pleasantly unassuming place – a kind of urban melting pot with all kinds of people from diverse backgrounds living together in harmony. For the most part anyways. There are always those neighbours who consistently test the limits of good neighbourliness because they do not want to adhere to community guidelines. These are the kind I want to write about today. Issa rant!

First off, let me talk about individualism. The extreme kind that’s slowly creeping into our community life, threatening to turn neighbours into strangers and in the process kill the heart of our African culture. Back in the day, it was just as normal to be sent next door to borrow a few matchsticks, as it was to have a neighbour knock on your door asking for a cupful of sugar. Today, I know many people who would rather sleep hungry than ask the neighbours for help, myself included I think. It’s a pride thing – what will they think of us? This pride might just be the end of us. A thriving community life is built in a large part, by a willingness to be vulnerable. To let people in, even a little bit. It is sad that today, we hardly even take time to befriend the parents of the kids that our own children spend their time with. That is if we let them play outside in the first place, because we have seen guys who move in and just as they do with their possessions, keep their children under lock and key.

Then there are those residents who refuse to pay security fees. There’s one who claims that she doesn’t need security because Jesus is her protector. A woman of good standing in her local church, who when she is in need, will call the watchman or the committee to help her. I don’t get it. What Would Jesus Do? He said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s, so I believe he would not be a defaulter. Borrow a leaf from him perhaps? Some estates deal with such residents through naming and shaming – putting up a list of defaulters at the main entrance for all to see. One family sent their son with a ladder and other tools, to pull down and deface the list of shame in the middle of the night. Hmph! They should know that even at 2 a.m. walls still have ears…and eyes.

What about garbage collection? I’m sure you’ve seen those bad seeds who don’t want to pay for their garbage collection – they wait for you to take yours out then, as soon you go back indoors, bring out their trash and add it to yours. And they do this week after week. How is garbage disposed of where they came from? Shame on them. But these are not the worst. The ones who take the cake are the ones who dump garbage on the pavement along the road. They probably do this in the middle of the night too because early in the morning, voila! There it is, just like magic. What in the world?! Even if these people came straight from living the hermit life in a cave, really? They will be heard complaining how cleanliness in the estate has really deteriorated, and will not even bat an eyelid whenever they pass by the scene of their crime.

All the houses have a backyard, with a designated laundry area, but that is not enough for some residents. You will find them washing their clothes in their front yard, which no one has a problem with, except that they go ahead and pour the dirty, soapy, and sometimes stinky water out onto the street, inconveniencing fellow residents as well as creating an eyesore and health hazard. The surprising thing is that even when the matter is raised, they don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing. Seriously, which planet did they come from?

What irks me is that they are probably the same neighbour who after inconveniencing the heck out of everyone including you, will say a hearty hello every time you meet or be the loudest participant in the residents’ AGM even though they contribute nothing to the kitty.

I just think there should be a boot camp for people who are moving into the suburbs from the rural areas, the ghetto, or from Mars. They need to know there’s a way things work, which is worlds different from what they are used to. And while we are at it, we could introduce a refresher for those of us who got in already. If one passes with at least an A+, they must show their commitment to full compliance by signing along the dotted line. Otherwise, they should ship out.

Be a good resident today!

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