My name is The Sumo; Sumo for short. You can call me Mr Sumo if you so wish or even Sumolicious if our relationship develops to the pet-name-calling level (which I hope it does, ladies). I’m 147kg of strapping Zulu male, 1,79m tall and handsome beyond measure. I’m proud of who I am and am happy being the mammoth of a man that I am. I represent a group of people you will come to know as the Big Sexy.
The Big Sexy is a group of people that I represent; well, more like a group of people and a mind set that I want to develop and cultivate. Let me give you a bit of history on me so that you may better understand what I will be trying to do with this blog.
I was raised in a township just outside of Durban, born in the early Eighties; I experienced the latter end of the political turmoil that has since gone to shape our rugged social and cultural landscape. After attending what were then known as black schools for the first four years of my education, I was yanked out of my seat of superiority as the number-one student in my lower primary school to a “multiracial school” (whites and the rest), where I would disappear into mediocrity for those first few years as I struggled to grasp English fully as my new language of instruction, my new school culture and my new surroundings.
When I went to that distinguished prep school in Durban North, I realised for the first time just how dirt poor I was. A whole new world was revealed to me, a world I was convinced my parents had intentionally hidden away from — the evil people. It was a world of computer games, 12-speed bicycles, sports days and parents picking you up after school, bringing gifts of ice cream and take-away burgers. All of this was unheard of at my old school, where you were lucky if your parents even knew which grade you were in. It’s kinda hard keeping up with your child’s education while dodging tear-gas canisters being fired at you on your way to work.
I attended multiracial schools for the rest of my life, but all the while I lived in the township. We never moved out of the ‘hood as I had expected or maybe even hoped. From there, my problems multiplied. Growing up I had always been fat. That’s OK, there was slightly more of me than the neighbour’s kid and every street needs a fat kid, right?
There was another aspect of me that made me stand out and be different: I was black in a predominantly white school. That’s cool, you know; I was probably part of some scientific research sample and I was happy to do my bit for nation building by being a lab rat in this little racial-integration experiment.
Back in the hood I was the school-blazer-wearing coconut and at school a poor, second-rate township charity case. No matter what I did, I could never quite fit in completely. There was always something different with me, a minor detail maybe, but a difference nonetheless that always seemed major to me. Fitting in became a huge part of my thought budget. I’d spend a lot of time saying, doing and playing the right thing in order to blend in either at school or in the hood.
You do not have the vaguest idea how important a well-placed “Howzit, bru?” or “Eita, lova” became to me, because each misplaced greeting meant disaster for me and months of PR work trying to fix the slip-up. Because if the neighbourhood bully, Squnsu, ever heard me utter a word of English, it meant at least a week of beatings for me. And if he detected a twang in my voice, it was curtains for the fat boy.
Fast forward past tertiary education, and what an education it was, and I currently work for one of the biggest FMCG companies in this country. I am now placed smack-bang in the depths of the corporate world, where being different is unacceptable. In order for you to be successful, you have to conform or die, literally, but vitality salad lunches are a topic for another day altogether.
With affirmative action doing its bit to correct race and gender inequalities, or attempting to, the only place that’s now left to rampant discrimination is the other main difference between human beings besides skin colour. When you first meet a person, you probably first notice their race and followed by their weight. You’d meet me and say the following:
1. He is black.
2. He’s fat.
3. He is handsome.
I’d prefer you first noticed how attractive I am, but that’s not how your mind works.
I was listening to an HR person giving us a presentation on diversity at one of our out-of-office bonding sessions and he said that studies had shown that overweight people were unlikely to be promoted. He said that a thinner person with the same qualification and experience was more likely to get the job ahead my fat self. Eish … I had been in the corporate world for a few months and I simply laughed this assertion off as myth, but five years later I’m still sitting at the same job level and wondering just how much truth that statement had and what other mysteries are being hidden from all fat people.
I’ll be writing a letter to T-Boz soon arguing for legislation to be drafted that will govern the acceptable non-discriminative number of overweight people employed in the private and public sectors. I will head it “FEE” (fat economic empowerment); I hope it gets the public’s approval.
As I said to you earlier, I want to develop, cultivate and represent the Big Sexy. In this blog I will go into great effort to attempt to make you, the thin South African, understand the issues that affect us bigger individuals. I will attempt to figure out your prejudices towards us and explain to you ours towards you. I want to promote a positive attitude towards my people and nurture understanding between us and the rest of you.
I will also comment in general on life through my eyes as a larger-than-life individual. It’s the everyday little things that will amaze you the most about us. A plain ride is a simple matter of commuting for you, but for us it is a series of emotional ups and downs that can only be stabilised by frantic beer consumption, in my case, or raiding the cookie jar in others. I will delve into such issues at length to give you our feelings on such matters and attempt to nurture understanding.
The reason I go by the name of The Sumo, besides my rather large disposition, is because Sumo wrestlers are national icons in their country, to be admired and looked up to. People are in awe of all of them and hold them in the highest esteem as the best athletes in their country in their eyes. Have you seen their wives?! My word, are they beautiful! This is the type of awe-inspiring respect I want to reinstate in all large individuals.
Where in Nguni culture a lady of largish proportions was the catch of the village back in the day, now she is shunned and told to join the gym and eat leaves and grain if she has any ambitions of getting married or getting a job in any sector that involves face-to-face interaction with other people. Don’t get me wrong, a healthy weight is a wonderful thing, but don’t punish those of us who choose not to fight our predetermined genetic disposition.
Hi. Welcome to an audience with The Sumo. I represent the Big Sexy. See life through my eyes, see life through lard.