Life before whatsapp or facebook or twitter;

So I overheard two teenagers in a kombi yesterday that were blabbering about how they are addicted to whatsapp and Facebook. They were claiming that they could not survive without these social networking platforms. They were pitying people that grow up before these technological advancements…And it got me thinking, yes we had no whatsapp, Facebook or twitter, but life went on as normal.

Growing up in the 90s there were various means of communication and forms of entertainment. For example the telegram that was charged per word. It was the then ‘instant messaging”. All you had to do was, write your message, count your words not once, not twice but thrice, making sure the message was short and point and most importantly that you had enough money to send the telegram .Because, if you did not read it your message would sound like jargon. After that you would dress up real nice and smear Vaseline on your lips and go to the post office and send your message.

Then they were the famous love letters as well. Some of us used to be post girls and post boys. Our sisters, brothers and cousins bribed us with sweets, sherbets, biscuits and a whole lot of other nice stuff. All you had to do was to deliver a letter that had been “baptized” with a bottle of perfume and most importantly to learn how to shut up…

If you had a brother he would send you to his girlfriend’s house to let her know that he was waiting for her. Using you as a scape goat was better than him going there himself, because chances were that he would come out running like his pants were on fire and the girl’s father with a knobkerrie and all sorts of insults. If supposedly, the alleged girlfriends’ parents knew the boy’s parents, then he would be in trouble. The parents would briskly walk to the boy’s house and shout to their heart’s content and even threaten the parents and in some cases something like “ubophele inja yakho”. But to some extent, it’s a good thing Facebook was not there, because most of us would know the kind of lifestyle our parents led back then.

Then there were the auto books. Most parents hated these including my mother; you had to convert a notebook because they would never buy you the book. It was like our mini Facebook. Your friends would write their biographies, what they liked, and their crush and yes the most popular song at that moment. We would scribble the lyrics in our auto books and sing along to the song whenever it was played on the radio. Man….growing up was fun.
Then they was the Walkman and the Discman. If you did not have one you just felt out of place. People used to exchange cassettes and disc like crazy. If you happened to lose the cassette all hell would break loose and in some instances people would exchange a couple of blows.

Then, there were the landlines. Many of us are guilty of sky rocketing the telephone bill. They were tactics that were designed for even stealing a locked telephone. Forks were everyone’s best friend. If you were so unlucky and you received a phone call when it was a full house, you would strategically tell your friend that you would meet the next day at “ABC” a Seventh Adventists Book store in Bulawayo. Little did the old folks know that we were saying “A -Badala baseCeleni” meaning can’t talk now my folks are near the telephone…Some of us would ‘’steal the phone’’ so that we could phone in and talk to our favorite DJ on the radio and many a times, we would get caught because, we would reveal our identities.
Then there were the phone shops that just sprouted everywhere and became an instant overnight sensation. I hated the phone first ones with a passion, because they never was a guarantee that I would escape without the cashier with confiscating your shoes or hat so that you would bring the money you owed them.

My sister was always a victim of over phoning and the cashier having to confiscate her shoes. For some reason I think it was just a waste of time because she would never wear any fancy shoes to the phone shop. The phone shop era came along with the famous yellow man advert. The yellow was too bright so much that it hurt my eyes, but the advert was hilarious.
I had almost forgotten about pen pals. They were so trendy back in the day; I remember I had a pen pal in Scotland and I would wait for almost 6 weeks to get a letter from her from. The anxiety killed me, but it was always worth it when I received her letter …If you did not have a pen pal you could easily get one on the Edgars magazine with the Penny.

Then they were the secret codes, whereby you would add a phrase to every word and parents would look at us as if we had lost it and we belonged in an asylum. I think what bothered them the most is that, they could not make sense of what we were saying… Growing up without Facebook or whatsapp or twitter was a blessing because you never feared that your life could be shared with the whole world or that your mistakes and misfortunes could go viral in a split of a second…Besides families had decent conversations then because no one was on their phone typing away and everyone could spell back then…Yes spell properly not the gr8 but a proper great…
Care to share your thoughts with me….
I am Imelda…..Qhawekazi ( female warrior)

A walk down memory lane….A snippet of how growing up in the 1990 and early 2000’s was like….

So, the other day my sister and I were going through our family album and we were just reliving the moments in the photos. Photos used to be so popular in the 90s and so were a lot of other things. Many of us just cringe, because if it is not the clothes, then it would be the hairstyle or the hideous makeup which definitely needed a make down because it was obviously overdone.
I have to admit that growing up in the 90s and early 2000s was a blast. I remember how dolly dresses and pallazzos were the clothing items in fashion. They came in the most bizarre colors and they looked like a bad color day. Not forgetting the gigantic flowers that were in bright colors that made you scared that a swarm of bees would attack you. The pallazzo pants were always too wide but very fashionable .I vividly remember that my mother had a black and white suit of pallazzo pants and she used to wear the suit with black spice gals sandals, John Oakley glasses and a DK sling bag, she did look fashion forward then, but now she just cringes when she sees that photo. Whilst others were rocking shapeless dolly dresses others rocked the pleated skirts.
Some were quite nice but the moscrepe ones were hideous and were a NO!! NO!! especially for those “abangamatsha/ matshapa” Whilst women were rocking these trends, men were rocking the printed and plain viscose shirts and power tennis shoes, gosh they were so fugly (funny+ ugly=fugly). I hated those with a passion, for some reason my father thinks they were super cool. Funny enough I think most men just loved this trend with bell bottom trousers that were so tight that you would think the men were paralyzed from the waist down. Then they were the Afros that did not die a natural death in the seventies. So shiny and some shapeless and drooling will styling gel.#yuck. When my sister and I go through our father’s photos we just burst into fits of laughter and for some reason, he thinks we are not fashion frenzy.#soridadfashionfromthe70swashorrible
Besides the fashion, the hairstyles were also one thing that fascinated me with the 90s.Women loved to perm their hair and up to this day, the smell of perm is like a sewage it’s a good thing that it didn’t make it in the 2000s. My mother used to take us to the saloon to blow our hair. I still do not get what good that did to my hair. It just made my Afro bigger and easy to comb and gosh I just hated the smell. Then there was the set hairstyle that looked like a bird’s nest and I even wonder what was so unique about that hairstyle .I remember rocking this hairstyle at my preschool graduation. Gosh, I hate that photo, so so much, but I looked cute. Men rocked the famous “punk” box cut, English cut. I just wonder why the barbers left that patch of hair on the poor men’s head, making them look the cocks.
Then there was the makeup, you would swear that it was a clown at first glance or maybe a canvas, a child was experimenting on. The red lipstick was very popular and so was the blusher that made people look like ‘omaqanda phokolo”.
Apart from the fashion there was the music and the dance styles. The artists most popular in the 90s were the Soul Brothers, Lovemore Majaivana, Leonard Dembo and various bands, my dad and my uncle used to love the Soul Brothers and I remember at family gatherings that, this was the music that was played the most. In the early 2000s there was Arthur Mafokade with the hit ‘Mnike” .This song rocked the airwaves and I remember my sister and I begging (okay begging is understating it)Our mother bought us the radio cassette so that we could be able to listen to it whenever we wanted to and not wait for the DJ to play for us on the radio
Mnike came with various dance styles, the twalatsa, and tsipa, get down. The twalatsa must have made people‘s calves hurt because the dance required them to stand on their toes and trust me ,looking at it now it just looked like a ballerina dance gone wrong. The tsipa dance required the dancer to leap in the air and come to startling halt, pulling the dress and the pants so as to reveal their tootsie pop, only for them to vibrate their tootsie pop a few times and the dance was over. I still do not get why there was so much fuss of leaping in the air and why they wasted so much energy for a dance that would last for 30 seconds tops.
Then there was the food. I remember how cafes were so on trend; most people wanted to meet for lunch or breakfast at the dingy cafes .Most of them were located along Lobhengula Street. The children used to love eating the yellow buns and drinking their soft drinks from the bottle. During the eating most of the bun would go into the bottle than into their stomachs. When they were done eating there would be what we used to call ‘divers” in the bottles of the soft drinks, the particles of the yellow buns. Who can forget Renkini when the legendary yellow buns are mentioned; A popular treat among those on their way back to the rural areas.
They were also the famous doinks, the Jupiter snacks, the Victoria cracker jax, biscuit crumbles“inkumane”. I remember that at Lion Stores they had cool drinks that were in colorless bottles shaped in any toy you could think of. For some reason I think parents bought us the drinks because they are a bargain, a toy and juice at the same time. Many mothers did try to discourage us from buying biscuit crumbles from the vendors, but all their efforts were to no avail. I mean come on; they were not always where we were.
There they were the everlasting sweets from Lobels, they were two types, the brownish one and the greenish one…Boy, I used to love those sweets, and if my mother or teacher caught me eating the sweet, I would hide it in my jersey or blazer pocket. When I wanted to eat it later, it would be having some fuzzy God knows what stuff. I would briefly try to pluck some of the things and quickly shove into my mouth… I really enjoyed my childhood.
Then there was the issue of losing pencils at school. My mother did not tolerate any carelessness and in the 90s, parents could beat the hell out of their children and it was never called child abuse. But they always insisted that the bible gave them the right to hit the hell out of me. Trust me it was quite a punishment but it made me who I am today….A law abiding citizen.

Before the beating came, you fore warned a couple of times and with a string of comments and the “talking eyes”. The comments that were most popular were, I can see these days you are gaining weight for the rod” ngiyakubona these days usunonela ugodo, ngizakulungisa”. This comment was enough to make you miss meals for a couple of days as you feared to be beaten up. But you know how it is, mischief and I never got divorced, it would follow me and my mother would give me hiding. Swift, fast, with pauses and comments and warnings, what you did wrong, when with who and why. I miss being a child when it comes to making decisions but I do not miss the beatings.

Then they were the rhetoric questions you could not answer. If you answered yes you would get beaten and vice vesa. At times keeping quiet was also regarded as a sign of disrespect. An example was the statement “Am I mad”, if you said yes it would be death at a funeral for you and if you said no, you would be asked why you did what you did what you and get the hiding. If you kept quiet, you would be regarded as a disrespectful child who was stubborn and growing too big for their boots.

Then there were the Christmas celebrations. If you did not go to the rural areas, the rural folk would come and visit. They would bring goats and chickens to add on to the Christmas feast. This was the one time, a child could eat a drumstick and go and dance with their friends at the shops. This time of the year gave us the privilege of asking for money” Christmas box” from our parents, friends and families without being given a death stare…Christmas meant getting a set of new clothes without asking for them, most parents used to buy the clothes, several months prior to the big day. They always claimed to be saving as the prices would be sky rocketing in November after everyone had got their bonus at work.

I remember that there were the grocery clubs. Our parents would team up with a few of their friends and contribute money every month and buy some groceries that would be share d equally in December. They were always some crooks that would use the stuff if was kept in their house and it would be discovered on the day of the sharing. Hell would break loose on that that and you would be guaranteed a fight unless there was someone who stopped the fight. Pity some people always step up in the wrong moment.

I had almost forgotten the games that we used to play. We would ask for coins so that we could play the Foosball but we called it “islug”. It was mostly played by the boys because it was more of a soccer game. They would bet and who ever won would be hailed the champion of the weekend and them tasting the glory, they would want to hang on to it. In the high density suburbs the popular games were “mamtshayana” ,”mam 25”,”mamfiller”,”ara”,”scotch scotch”. We would play these games all day and not once return home for a meal. Our parents would have to call us a couple of times before we could come home.

In most cases we would come back home in the evening so that we could bath, have supper and go to bed because we would be so tired. Like in every game they were the champions and everyone’s blood would be boiling when the team head would start selecting members from their team. Everyone wanted to be picked “ukupikwa” because no one wanted to be a remainder. Being a remainder meant that you were the unwanted or were the worst player. This also meant that you could be eliminated fast and first and you were the one who paved way for the stronger players so that they could win the game and you could get to play again…

Then there was the famous Ezomgido musical show hosted by Eric Knight and John Phiri. You would dance till joints hurt. The presenters were likely to play 90% of the songs you knew by heart. Most families were very supportive and most nicknames emanated from this show. The current one is not as interesting as the one in the 90s.
Then probably nothing anyone wants people to remember, that is the nicknames. Grandmothers were the ones that usually gave us nicknames and it could be anything whether it was your favorite show, musician, dance, or if you made a mistake of a certain word, then that would be your nickname. I remember my cousin was nicknamed “fawketts” after he failed to pronounce the word Fawcetts. We would laugh till the cows came home…

Then there was the mode of transport. Back then they were no kombis they were the Peugeot 504s.You had to make sure you would sit in the seats if you knew what was good for you. This is because, if you sat at the back, you would have to sit uncomfortably crisscrossing with other passengers. If it was not your lucky day, you would board a dirty Peugeot, the other passengers would be constantly stepping on your dress and you would get to town or home as dirty as ever.
I still think that growing up in the 90s and early 2000s was a blast…Care to share your own experiences.