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First impressions count, they say, but can you always trust the wrapping?

First impressions count, they say, but can you always trust the wrapping?

A cliché and another cliché ● the perils of ironing ● diplomacy & history ● cycnical evangelists ● the priest who is a conman ● dressing down ● a few stereotypes ● the idiocy of genius ● paranoia as an interview technique

“Clothes maketh the man,” so I am told. And apparently, “First appearances count.” Interesting ideas.

I was never one for dressing well. Wrinkles used to be par for the course, and the exercise of keeping my shirt tucked in still eludes me. My clothes are ironed nowadays, though not by me. I object to standing over an ironing board, having had plenty of experience of invariably getting the seam in the wrong place. I now pay someone to do my ironing for me. She’s very good at it but I still have a certain amount of wrinkles, but at least it’s not me doing the ironing. That’s my concession to looking decent. Now on with the show…

Clothes are a form of diplomacy. The right apparel is an emissary that conveys the message of the wearer. The burning question is: can you trust the message?

History is littered with well-dressed men and women, all of whom had a major impact on life as we know it. These were people who made an immediate good impression on those around them. They had to in order to be credible. Now consider the fact that at least one major fashion house got its first big break with an order for jackboots and snappy black form-fitting uniforms for an elite national security unit. Like any good diplomat, clothes can tell the most outrageous lies and still make them look good.

The first type of lie that clothes tell is the uniform. A uniform is supposed to demonstrate a specific role and the calibre of the individual who wears it. Senior legal professionals wear outrageous wigs. The medical profession is associated with white coats and stethoscopes. What police wear depends on the country. All of these professions are supposed to ascribe to a high level of ethics, yet all of these professions have their examples of corruption, or the sort of ethics that would make even the most cynical televangelist with a choir full of buxom eighteen year olds think twice.

It’s not just individuals who wear the uniforms that can go wrong though: occasionally the entire profession can be corrupted. Witness the example of the fashion house and the jackboots.

The second lie lies in the individual who adopts the clothing as a façade. After all, if ‘clothes maketh the man’, then what more is needed. The extent of this lie depends entirely on the individual. There is the well-dressed office worker who couldn’t do the job even if you offered him double pay or a huge end-of-year bonus. And then there are the hundreds of stories that feature modestly dressed priests, missing the rings and the inevitable loss of money on the part of some individual possessing an equally large measure of gullibility and greed.

The third lie, the lie that arises from omission, is found in the people who propagate the idea that clothing is the key indicator of a man or woman’s personality. Perhaps all is not so well if there is no need to look any deeper than the surface.

A new dress code is emerging. Across the world, people are discarding suits, ties and epaulettes in favour of casual slacks and cotton shirts. The underpinning of the change is an honest desire to be comfortable and seen as removed from the camouflage of a uniform or a suit. Yet even apparent casual attire does not always speak of homespun honesty and the sort of values that come from the rural setting which many of the labels seek to emulate, albeit with a very cosmopolitan approach to prices.

The problem with ‘clothes that maketh the man’ is that this approach builds a stereotype. It’s not the sort of stereotype that says ‘my colour good, every other colour bad’, but it still deludes us and leads us away from the true worth of an individual.

There are exceptions to the rule: Gandhi made do with a strategically placed loin cloth and shawl, and many of the greatest minds appear to have difficulty telling a blue sock from a pink one.

Perhaps the best strategy in determining a first impression based on clothes is not immediately to admire, but to ask. “Why on earth are you wearing that?”


 

About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.