When my old man Grandpa Richard was younger, they never took time off to snooze, booze or get tattoos. They were too busy engaging on more productive forms of art, like dancing to theIsukuti and carving out calabashes. And when they did indulge themselves in some mindless skin defacing schemes, they sought out red ochre, which would wash out the following day and not stick to their bodies forever. Their art didn’t degenerate indigenous African art—it embraced it. Anyone spotting westernized tattoos was instantly identified as a Mafioso and ex-communicated from the community.
These days though, it seems like every reprobate young chap with a few shillings to spare wants to turn their skin into a canvass, and emblazon gothic writings flaming on both ends across their backs.
“The artwork you guys display on your bodies is pretty sick,” Complains Grandpa Richard. “Why would one ruin beautiful and smooth African skin with a bunch of wretched ink?” He poses.
When reprehended, my comrades defend themselves by stating that tattoos are a form of expression and a way to convey their emotions. Tattoos are surely a way of expression, the expression being ‘I am a spoilt degenerate.’ Call me stupid, but I totally fail to understand what the spider tattooed below your knee has anything to do with emotions.
Speaking of self-expression, why not save the cash and buy a dictionary instead? I came across a comrade of mine who had his girlfriends’ face engraved on his stomach, with the words ‘Sweat Angle’ (sic) below it. I probed for the meaning of the words, and the chap replied “She’s my sweet angel, that’s why.” The dude had had the tattoo on for three years and he never noticed it had been misspelt! Here’s my suggestion comrades, why not tattoo grammatical rules on your hips instead?
Other comrades argue that tattoos make them unique. When 40,000 comrades decide to get dragon and barbed wire tattoos, how does that make them unique?
Tattoos never lead to anything but regrets. When you sober up in your forties, you’ll finally realize that having a naked woman tattooed on your neck isn’t as awesome as it was when you were twenty. And what if, seven years later, you discover that those Japanese hieroglyphics do not say “Anne’s got swag” as promised, but actually say “mating with gazelles?” Girls, just because you enjoyed that one night stand does not mean you should tattoo his face on your bum and his bum on your face.
No, we shouldn’t judge you by your tattoos at all. But life is full of perceptions, and one day you’ll wake up and realise that you missed a great opportunity because of that middle finger tattoo on your biceps.
The year is 2030, and Kenya just elected a president with a cobra tattooed across his chest, names of his ex-girlfriends inked on his knuckles, and skull bones printed across his forehead. Not a pretty sight, I tell you.