If there’s one thing black and white peo­ple do not agree on, it is what tem­per­a­ture set­ting the air con­di­tioner should be at

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FIRST PERSON -

so warm you can prove bread in it. In­sults are ex­changed like vol­leys at the US Open, and even­tu­ally HR is called in to ref­eree. I’m lucky be­cause I’ve never been em­broiled in that kind of ar­gu­ment. My friend Zinhle says it’s be­cause I don’t get cold the way most of my peo­ple do. But I will say this: I, too, have ex­pe­ri­enced glacial tem­per­a­tures that have left me feel­ing frag­ile and shriv­elled up.

When I was awarded the Nel­son Man­dela Wash­ing­ton Fel­low­ship at the Univer­sity of Notre Dame in In­di­ana in 2014, I spent time in­side the Men­doza School of Busi­ness build­ing, where the tem­per­a­ture is cen­trally con­trolled. It felt like sum­mer out­side but win­ter in­side. When I tell you that the build­ing was colder than my freezer, I’m not ex­ag­ger­at­ing.

Dur­ing our lunch breaks, we would sit out­side to thaw out like chicken cut­lets. Imag­ine 25 Africans, some from places l ike Niger and Sene­gal, where tem­per­a­tures can rise to over 40 de­grees, stuck in a freez­ing room for hours. I’ll never com­plain about the air con­di­tion­ing again, es­pe­cially in a coun­try like ours, where we have big­ger prob­lems to deal with than the of­fice tem­per­a­ture.

The Way I See It

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