District Director – Have you paid?

Do you remember having to write that famous essay on “My Holiday“? Did you ever struggle to pen a story about that one holiday? Well, not me as I always visited my grandparents for the holidays.

My grandparents live in a township called Chitungwiza, about 30km south of Harare in Zimbabwe. Holidays there were the best thing that ever happened to me. In particular, I couldn’t wait to play table soccer (we called it slug). It’s all I ever lived for when I was visiting. I would take my daily allowance of $3 and exchange it for 10c coins in Mr. Hamandishe’s tuck-shop then I would play myself to ecstasy with my new found friends. By 11am all my coins would be finished and even though I didn’t play much after those coins were finished I would only return home when I saw my grandfather walking towards the tuck-shop at dusk. That is after numerous attempts from my grandmother who would call me for tea, lunch, afternoon tea, etc. I would be caned for this and my grandmother would whine about how I need to be careful about playing with cheats from the township – but, I didn’t listen to this attention seeker. This was my routine for the 15 days of holiday I would traditionally spend at my grandparents.

After a few holidays at Mr. Hamandishe’s slug (table-soccer), I mean my grandparents’ place, I discovered that I was a township favourite. I didn’t know why until one day I figured it out. You see what would happen is that when I got my $3 every morning, I would give it to Jerry, the slug ring leader who would apparently do me a favour of getting this note exchanged into 10 cent coins inside Mr. Hamandishe’s tuck-shop. I didn’t care to count these coins when he came out of the shop for I would be on a high to play my next game. Jerry, however, did not actually place coins in the slot to get a set of balls. He had devised a way to use a money clip to draw balls from inside. So, I would play many games in the morning, thinking that we were using up my coins yet he was cheating the game. By the time it was 11am, when the first batch of kids left school from their hot-seating, he would tell me that my coins were exhausted and he would play slug with his friends while he used my money to buy sweets, NikNaks and Freezits. Then once in 3-4 hours after 11am, he would let me play a game and so I helplessly watched and waited for my next turn. This broke my heart but, there was no way I was going to tell Mr. Hamandishe because he already suspected us of this dubious activity and I would be implicated and wouldn’t be able to play again. I didn’t dare tell my grandmother as she would stop giving me my daily allowance. So, I kept quiet and kept on with my routine but, My Holiday were no longer as enthusiastically written as they used to be. 

One holiday, I went back to Hamandishe’s slug but, this time, no one was there – which was surprising! I thought to myself, I just need to get a playing partner and my essays will be back to their former glory. I went out to find my more trusted friend Charlie but, alas my story was not going to come this time. Charlie told me that the slug had was in an unplayable condition because Mr. Hamandishe could no longer afford getting it serviced as he was not receiving any money from it. I tried to exchange some of my $3 into 10c coins and against Mr. Hamandishe’s advice slotted in 10 cents, the balls came out but, I could no longer enjoy the game. Since that day My Holiday essays were boring, fake and a struggle to write.

From this, I learnt the importance of Paying to Play. Even though I wanted to Pay to Play now, I couldn’t. The same is true in Toastmasters. The organisation and your club rely heavily on your dues to service your needs. Your timely payment of your dues will enable you to continue enjoying the benefits of this organisation and ensuring that future generations can enjoy the benefits that you got from this organisation.

On January 16, still recovering from December spending, when my Treasurer told me I could renew my membership, I quickly sacrificed what I had left to ensure I was a paid member and could continue to enjoy the benefits of Toastmasters. I can’t imagine the story of my life without Toastmasters and so I would like to invite you to join me in Paying to Play – otherwise we won’t be able to Pay to Play like with Mr. Hamandishe’s slug.

Have you paid?

Frank Tsuro DTM

District Director