Is it cat-calling or nizonda ama-gents, ladies?

Women do sometimes get a tad selective in how they react to our overtures, the writer says.
Women do sometimes get a tad selective in how they react to our overtures, the writer says.
Image: funwayillustration \ 123rf

Let us take a hypothetical journey back into time. What do you mean, why 'hypothetical'? Don't be absurd, please! Because technological advancement, for all its wonders, has not yet been able to turn back the hands of time, that's why!

Anyway, our hypothetical backwards time traverse locates us on the banks of a random river in Mthonjaneni (modern day Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal) in 1786.

It is from this safe haven among the reeds that we witness a group of men, one of them burly and certainly more regal in appearance than the rest of his party, intercepting some young maidens with clay pots balanced on their heads.

"Aw' dudlu ntombi! Awushikile phela madolo kanyoko! Angethuki wena ngethuka uthando!"

The girls are justifiably annoyed, angry even, at the announced intrusion by these men who, having no immediate duties on hand, have elected to go on a women harassment spree in the scorching Zululand sun.

Not only harass them with their unwelcome romantic overtures, but even proceed to instruct them to raise their bead skirts to partially expose their buttocks.

A year later after the alleged "harassment" incident, in July 1787, one among the maidens gives birth to a baby boy who would later become the architect of the Zulu nation.

Okay, snap back to reality!

The year is 2019, the scene is no longer a river in Zululand and the actors are not warriors accompanying King Senzangakhona on his courtship escapades, but metrosexuals who'd rather take to Tinder to seek their Mona Lisas.

Times have greatly changed and it is considered highly injudicious, forbidden even, to whistle jubilantly and shout 'Aw' ngadla mina mntakababa, qoma ntombi ngikwenz' umama ekhaya' while pursuing a random woman passing by.

But where does this leave us archaic pantsula types who, plainly not happy consorting in the virtual space -with its minefield of misleading profile pictures - still elect the old-fashioned way of stopping a random woman in the street with that Tokollo (he of TKZEE fame) inspired line of: "Sweery! Uyazi ngikuthanda, noma ungathini. or ufuna ama-Big Shots, amaBig Fish?"

Surely that's not cat-calling? Or is it? How can a pantsula's declaration of his undying love - and subsequent request for clarity if the object of his affection would rather opt for 'amaBig Shots, amaBig Fish' (read tenderpreneurs and Idris Elba-looking types) - be construed as harassment?

The way I see it is this: before women even decide whether or not someone approaching them is in fact harassing them, they do a hasty assessment: Is he my type? Is he handsome? Does he smell good? Is he potentially monied?

If a brother ticks most or all of the above boxes, his "Hello beautiful - I came across your profile here on Facebook and became somewhat interested" makes him a potential bae.

If she does not respond with a "Thank you" accompanied by that smiling emoji with rosy cheeks, and hearts where its eyes should be, she will go to her wall and write "It is so refreshing to know that there are still gentlemen out there."

But woe betide a Dickies pants and All-Star sneakers-wearing pantsula if he should send an inbox that reads: "Hey baby gal, manje awugcwali mhlampe ukungishova ama-digits akho ngithi ukukubamba ngomsindo ngiyisosha jampasi?"

Not only will she ignore this very sincere, straight to the point request for her telephone number, but she will sprint to her Facebook wall to write an injurious status update.

Just to make sure that her annoyance is missed by no one, she will insert an emoji .

Look, don't get me wrong, I am obviously not advocating for harassment or cat-calling here, that would be a foolish stance to take; all I am saying is that women do sometimes get a tad selective in how they react to our overtures.

Let us, at this juncture, once more step into our time travel machine and heard back to our lookout place among the reeds on the banks of the river in Mthonjaneni in 1786.

I want you to closely monitor the reactions on the faces of Nandi and her friends when they are intercepted with “Dudlu ntombi” by the male strangers. The presence of a certain face among the suitors holds some definite advantages.

Can you see how the anger and annoyance quickly dissipates and is replaced by smiles when they realise that among their catcallers is none other than King Senzangakhona himself?

But if that knot of men had been led by the gluttonous Manyosi whose only claim to fame was finishing an entire goat by himself, I do think that Nandi would have later on that day logged into her Facebook account with a message like: “Umuntu  akasenasithunzi, sewakhuzelwa ngisho oManyosi ogimba!” #Catcallingmustfall

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