Ndumiso Ngcobo
Ndumiso Ngcobo

When people used to like me

I remember a time when people used to like me. Those were the days.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the older we grow, the wiser we become. I don’t know any more. I hope you don’t dispute the fact that being liked by people is significantly better than being despised. At no other prior stage in my life have I been more disliked than I am now. And yet, when I was seventeen I possessed the wisdom to always behave in a manner that ensured my popularity with friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers alike. It was not uncommon to hear mothers in my neighbourhood go, “If all the boys on this street were more like that Ngcobo boy”. And I would be pleased.

I like to believe that I have a pretty scientific, logical and systematic brain. (Stop giggling and acting all immature). Having a systematic brain means that I have an acute appreciation for the inputs necessary to achieve desired and predictable outcomes. Or something along those lines. Today I get to dazzle you with my theory on how to get people to like you. Let’s call my theory “How to Keep Friends and Remain Popular”. It has been my observation that there are two rules one needs to follow to be popular.

1. Stuff your own core beliefs, principles and worldview.
2. Give people what they want.

By employing these two simple rules, you’ll be well on your way to becoming more popular. The more astute reader will recognise these rules as the pillars of the JZ Model, if the in-depth, dazzling analysis emanating from our nation’s high-calibre newsrooms is to be believed. A good example of how I remained popular back in the day is that I used to have many conversations that went something like:

    Friend: Waiter! Two singles of Scotch for my buddy and I.
    Me: Actually, I don’t really like Scotch. I prefer beer.
    Friend: Whatyoutalkinboutwillis? Of course we like Scotch.
    Me: Apologies. I don’t know what came over me. Waiter, make that a double Scotch.

Legendary jazz guitarist and singer George Benson learned this valuable lesson at the feet of another jazz legend, Miles Davis, so to speak. In one interview Benson shares how Miles once said to him, “George, let me tell you what I told Jimi Hendrix” and how he got all excited because he figured Miles was going to let him in on a deep secret to success in the industry. Miles’ secret was, “Play loud. They like that. Give ’em what they want”. As ridiculous as it sounds, the advice worked. George Benson would become one of the most popular jazz artists of his time because he was not afraid to venture outside the traditional jazz boundaries. He gave us what we wanted.

Giving people what they want is an integral part of being well-liked and popular. It is the cornerstone of friendship. I am being dead serious. This is your lucky day because I’m about to give you a gem of my own in the mould of Miles’ — the definition of friendship according to Ndumiso Ngcobo. Friendship is an arrangement between two people where they trade in their individuality for acceptance in return. True, lasting friendship is achieved when both individuals reach a compromise by departing from their true selves respectively and meeting each other in a no-man’s land halfway house. Perfect symbiosis achieved.

If you think I’m being cynical it’s because you’re one of these naïve, self-delusional, can’t-handle-the-truth saps I’m trying to help in the first instance. You just want me to tell you what you want to hear. No siree. No way, Jose. No how. That was the old Ndumiso. Meet new Ndumiso, the arsehole. That is, after all, the most popular description for people such as me, who have neither the time nor the inclination to give people what they want.

One of my personality disorders is that I don’t possess the natural predisposition to dispense advice. Not directly in any case. Being prescriptive is just not my modus operandi. This is often a source of great disappointment for, say, a young man who sends me an email asking for advice on how to get a book published. My MO is to share my personal experience, my beliefs and my opinions, nothing more. And then I come across as an unhelpful, self-centred bastard, which (if we’re going to be totally honest) is probably accurate. If the shoe fits and all that. That’s my way of leading up to the fact that I cannot give you a “How To” low-down on becoming a bona fide prick. Few people can reach these lofty heights. The best I can do is to point out that I have observed that the two quickest ways of transforming yourself into a first-class prick like me are:

1. Attain a state of clarity about your own paradigmatic standpoint on life.
2. Articulate your views.

For best results, practise rule #2 in the face of dissent and don’t waver even when people get offended and give you the hurt puppy look. If you do this you’ll be well on your way to becoming a social pariah like me. Oh, and I’m ascending towards that state of sweet rapture at an impressive pace. My “Former Friends” folder is swelling up mighty fast. And I’m not even done. At this rate when I die they will only find my corpse in a Hillbrow flat ten days after my expiry date, when the stink becomes unbearable. I predict that I will die alone like a dried-up locust clinging onto a blade of grass in the Karoo veld. Only two people will show up for my funeral and they will be the poor municipal grave diggers who have to be there to cover me up for my eternal dirt nap.

Don’t be mistaken; I still have many people I consider my friends although this may not necessarily be a mutual feeling with every one of them. I hope that when (if) they read this they will remember the story of the frog, the scorpion and why the scorpion stung the frog. It is just in the nature of the beast. And no, I’m not asking to be understood. I don’t think I’m misunderstood at all. I’m understood just right.

I will forgive you, my dear reader, if you assume that a single event triggered off this melancholic rant. Not really. It’s been gathering for a while but I just hadn’t had the inclination to crystallise my thoughts until now. And then it just came together at this moment. The alignment of the stars? Just the perfect blood alcohol level? Who knows?

Don’t mention it. I’m just doing my job.

[email protected]

  • Belle

    … post-election blues,maybe?

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za Musa

    You are going the Mbeki route, look where it got him!!

    Trust me, take the JZ route, you’ll be liked by all and sundry.Its more fun,I suppose.

    Smile, hug, agree with taxi operators, go to church, sing, marry etc

    See, if more fun!!DJ Sbu tried it, he put on a mask, called himself a funny name and generally made a fool of himself.

    He made money, got hired by Ukhozi FM even when when he couldn’t speak the language!He is liked.

    Its more fun, trust me.

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    Bollocks Ngcobo

    People like me because i have the penchant to talk absolute crap on a constant basis and become great amusement to them, and most of the times i’m a good listener and drinking pal. None of the soft stuff you write about…chief!!!

  • Lunte23

    hmmmm interesting popular liked people are not really who they are? They are just pretending or rather just mimickers?

  • Gugu


  • http://letpeoplespeakamagama.com Lyndall Beddy

    Don’t worry – after you shed the hangers on, the gems you never noticed will still be there. and there will be new friends.

  • Jerry

    This crap is like when some so-called avant-garde artists put dogshit in a glass and call it art. Then some pseudo arty-farty type then finds meaning in it. And the rest of art-lovers try to find meaning in the non-sense,afraid to look stupid if they say it is nonsense.

    What exactly are you saying. Plain English might help.

  • http://mynewsblogs.24.com/sipho.hlongwane Good Charlie

    Chief, did you vote Cope?

    I did too…
    and I’m just as inclined to be blue…

  • Dithabana

    joh! Unfortunately Silwane is right “this time arround” as JZ would say it.

    I’ve always being the populist until the day I asked my KZN colleague about JZ’s stance on gays. What was I thinking? It got ugly when my objective nerves allowed me to mention the book “Shaka Zulu” whereby the author insinuates that Shaka Zulu could have been gay himself.

    I was just saying that was what the author of that book was implying, thats all.

    The next thing I know is that I actually was now treading on a fine line, in a way. I was instantly advised “lets drop it there” finished en klaar.

    I started to wonder what happened to my likeability? The good thing is that it was not that difficult for me to “bounce back” into my populist mode.

    I then towed the line and accused the writer of that book of rascism, lies,stupidity, impartiality and any other crimes that popped up.

    Phew! I nearly lost my greatest asset; my popularity.

    I have made my Pretoria Church Square resolution and it is not to gamble around with my populist nerves ever.

    I hope all the clever people would concur that I was in no manner whatsoever trying to start a new topic called “JZ and gays”. I am sure all the clever once understand that I have no interest whatsoever in such kinds of absurd topics.

    Thank you for hmmm? Nothing Fuze

  • ncedo

    You sound more like person who voted IFP. Go back to the drowing board.

  • http://www.youtube.com/elections2009 Siphiwo Siphiwo

    perhaps, i’m arsehole–because people hate me so much (my vehement support for african national congress is the cause).


  • http://letpeoplespeakamagama.com Lyndall Beddy

    Mark Gevisser wrote a similar article for the Cape Times about how bereft he felt at not being able to vote ANC for the first time.

  • James Tobias

    Use and abuse those around you. Those who remain will be your true friends.

    Always remain friends with yourself.

  • jay

    Friends? Who really needs them?

    I am just content to have some enemies who do not hate me as much as others………

    However, I still carry a lot of bandages to repair the damage backstabbers do to me as a matter of course – capice?

  • Matlhodi

    Man I could’nt agree more with you man!
    Totally calling a spade a spade is the best route to take especially with friendships – because I bel;ieve that is the core basis of being a true friend. Telling a friend not what they want to hear but what reality says!!!

    great piece of work there – keep it up!!!

  • Maya

    I had one of those sarcastic sadist secretive unfriendly boyfriends,who never wanted to please me even if it was appropriate or be compassionate cause i had lump in throat…not cancerous i later found…so in short a real asshole the devil would be scared to invite to dinner types and i always thought he’d change umm no…but in all i got no bullshit i had harsh brass reality everyday….safe to say i dnt miss him,so being real true and honest dnt buy you many friends not saying be superfucial,but being the stick up the horse’s ass is not a fulltime career,you dont get brownie points in hell…so in short if one is inclined to be godzilla stay indoors lock door crawl under cave and slit your throat, life has enough pitfalls to have pitbulls as friends lovers or partners

  • http://www.surfandsunlight.blogspot.com Aasia

    I am actually going to take your rules and implement them. Like you, I have had enough!

    Thanks Nondumiso, and why is your new book STILL not available yet?

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    [email protected] “Nondumiso”

    if i could get a crisp Castle draught each time i read something on your posts(especially from the commentators) i’d be a happier man…wider as well

  • Sibo

    @ Ndumiso

    Oh you have no idea how right you are! I used to be one of those people, people pleasers, loved by everyone until it dawned on me that I wasn’t being myself. Now i say whatever I like and am not liked by many, I’ll still use my old tactic when it suits me because sometimes that’s just how you get what you want, so don’t completely stop telling people what they want to hear, use that route to get what you want!