Why do we seek validation and affirmation in other people, titles or brands?

I have always been baffled by those who seek value from associating with particular people, having certain titles, or owning specific product brands.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Why should anyone be given value by owing a Ferrari, for instance – yet, there are those who actually give Ferrari value by being associated with the brand?

It is rather curious watching those who love being pictured with their Bugatti, or wearing a Rolex, or flying first class on popular airlines – who actually have to fork our huge sums of money for this status symbol.

Yet, there are those in this world who themselves, in fact, are offered large cheques to be photographed with a Ferrari, wearing a Rolex, or flying on a popular airplane – since their association with that particular product adds value to the brand.

Whilst, some cannot wait to be seen putting on the designer jacket – spending a fortune in buying it – there are those who are actually paid to wear the same product as their profile gives value to the brand.

I always, seemingly in a jocular manner, tell my family – the moment you see me flaunting anything that I own, it would only be after the manufacturers have paid me handsomely – because my value in life will never be increased by a thing, but I should be the one who increases its worth.

What am I getting at?

I have been following the state visit to the UK by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – being the first head of state invited to Buckingham Palace since the ascendancy of King Charles III to the throne after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II’s passing on 8 September 2022.

However, what I observed on these two countries’ main broadcast media is extremely troubling – as the coverage of this visit is poles apart, and the contrasts glaring for all to see.

Whilst, the SABC and eNCA (both of South Africa) are over the moon about the entire visit, and this morning was awash with the state banquet hosted by the British monarch for his counterpart from the southern African nation – but, this exhilaration was clearly not being shared in the UK.

This morning, the BBC and Sky News were more concerned about the possible selling off of Manchester United by the Glazer family, results from the ongoing football World Cup in Qatar, the new bid for Scottish independence, and a gruesome shooting at a Walmart store in Virginia, USA.

I never came across anything on the visiting Ramaphosa.

Not ever the major newspapers in the UK carried this story on their front pages!

Why?

Does this not all come down to power dynamics?

The one who feels validated by associating with a particular brand or person – which or whom they feel adds value to them – is more excited about the association, and would want the world to know about it.

On the other hand – the one who really has nothing much to gain from the association, or already feels self-assured about himself – does not regard the association in the same light.

We saw, with jaws dropping, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa performing the same star struck act when he shook hands with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, when they bumped into each other in Kigali, Rwanda, at an Africa Green Revolution Forum.

The euphoria on the Zimbabwean side was exceedingly high – with pictures of the handshake, and some supposed ‘praise’ by Blair on Mnangagwa’s policies during a presentation, making news headlines and going viral on social media.

Of course, nothing of the sort took place in Britain.

I am quite sure, even Blair himself forgot about the encounter and the apparent ‘praise’ (likely uttered, as we all do, as a simple acknowledgment, out of common courtesy, of the other speaker’s points during a discussion) within minutes.

So, why do we, especially our African leaders, appear lacking self-assurance that we crave for affirmation and validation from such associations with global powers?

This is the same mindset when we love being pictured with so-called ‘celebrities’ or other popular figures – who hardly know us – which we then post all over social media?

Is that also not the same reason we appear so obsessed with these PhD (doctor of philosophy) degrees – attained either through learning, or awarded in our honor by universities – as prefixing our names with the title ‘Doctor’ or simply ‘Dr’ somehow makes us feel more knowledgeable and important than everyone else?

Why do we seem so afraid of being respected for our wisdom and intellect – most visible in how we think, behave and our impact – without the need of a title attached?

I actually heard of a certain high ranking Zimbabwe official who would be so engaged when journalists omitted his title when addressing or reporting about him!

Do we surely feel we cannot be respected if we do not have a PhD, or if people do not know we have the treasured degree?

We can go even further in the choices we make in our personal relationships – with most people opting for multiple sexual relationships as a way of seeking validation that they are attractive and desirable.

I find the whole thing rather worrying and unsettling.

Why do we not believe in who we are, and our worth?

Why do we act as if we need someone or something else to add value to who we are?

Why the constant craving for validation and affirmation?

If this a function of a low self-esteem and diminished confidence in who one is?

I am not a psychologists or sociologist- and, so not in a position to provide an authoritative answer – but, this is a discussion I would want to take further with those who may have their own understanding on this issue.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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