A trip down memory lane as Kenyans decry the erosion of their ‘culture’

It is Throw Back Thursday (TBT) and I couldn’t help but remember how I enjoyed a certain post where Kenyans were decrying the erosion of their ‘culture ’, never to be seen again.

In this context, culture means those things that people who grew up in the 80s and 90s did to survive, went through or did for fun. Only people in this age group can understand. The post made me feel nostalgic and I miss those days as well. If you are from that time you may remember some of these things when growing up.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr
  1. Re-charging battery cells in the sun

When was the last time you saw a battery cell? I honestly can’t remember and I suspect this has been caused by more people having electricity in their homes and hence they do not need batteries to power their radios.However, in the past when you needed to recharge them you would just put them in front of your jiko or on your roof and voila!They would be good as new

Old school radios are no longer here with us as the various brands have tried to outdo each other in giving us the best of electronic models. Right now, more people have electricity in their homes and with the older generation having left the cities, it is hard to see the radios.

  1. Open air Movies

Everybody waited for them on Wednesdays and Fridays with movies such as Rambo in mind. The open-air movies were projected on walls making for a big screen experience for the eager little faces. As much as the children loved the experience, some mischievous characters would wait for darkness to come and hit others with rotten eggs, beat others or just do little acts of mischief that would be retaliated by their victims in the next session.

Although the children loved them, the open -air movies presented nightmares for most parents because it would be hard identifying your child from the sea of faces watching movies intently. Some children would hide or run away because they did not want their parents to find them and make them go home to prepare for school the next day.

If you lived on the other side of Uhuru Highway, your version was more or less like what I have described above only that you watched your movies in the comfort of your car or your father’s car with your friends or other loved ones. This was definitely at the famous Fox Drive –in premises.

  1. Watching TV at the neighbor’s house

When growing up, most of us never had TV sets at home and the few neighbors who had them would be gracious enough to let all the children in the neighborhood watch their sets.

This free viewing, however, had one condition and this was you would not dare spoil the neatly made seat covers (vitambaas). Most people just ask the children seat on the floor and we didn’t mind as long as we could watch Ramayan, Kiini Macho, Zingatia, Superbook and so on. It’s hard watching TV alone when the rest of your friends are watching the same program together and some kids would opt to watch TV at a neighbors place just because the rest of their friends were there.

  1. Refusing to take a bath

A middle-aged man on the internet could not hide his disappointment after learning that young boys actually take long, luxurious baths every day. He said this was seriously eroding our culture where boys just refused to take a bath without any tangible reason. I have really thought of why he would want this particular part of our culture upheld but couldn’t come up with a tangible reason.

  1. Sliding in the Mud

The rainy season is here with us but you will not see a child out in the rain let alone sliding in the mud. Someone reminded me how we used to go to high places and slide all the way down to the base. There were experts at the game whose main role was to ensure they had made the place as smooth as possible for an easy descent. As much as it was thrilling to most people, it could also be quite scary and many kids lost their small teeth or broke their limbs in the process.

  1. Copying/cutting out lyrics from Sunday Nation

Before the advent of Google and social media, it was not so easy to get lyrics to your favorite songs. The only way you could get them was by putting your head next to the weak speakers of your parents’ radio or by buying the original CD/cassette as they sometimes came with a sheet of paper with all the lyrics in the album.

Sunday Nation came to the rescue of most people who just loved music or the hopeless romantics who wanted to send the best love lyrics to whoever had caught their eye at that time. The former group would cut out the lyrics and stick them in books, making for quite an interesting collection which would be subjected to competition with peers.

Photo Courtesy of Nakuru Children’s Project
  1. The first chapati

Children these days don’t get so excited when their mums cook chapatis unlike our days when we would eat the delicacy when our dad had received his paycheck. Then it was a big deal and you would announce it to all and sundry and they would want to make themselves friendly t you in the hope of getting an invite.

However, there was something about the first chapati; it was always reserved for the last born. How else could a mother show that she dotted on the youngest member of the family if not by giving her the first chapati from her pan? I was a beneficiary of this part of our culture and apparently so did many other lastborns. What other aspects of our culture can you remember?

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