MIKASA………ATA N’KWAMBIYE 14!
If you have children, then this visa na mikasa is for you. It has nothing to do with you as a parent, but a lot with parenting. I will take my dear reader to the days, when he was the headache of the family-teenager. Somehow teenagers are the ones that dictate what is trendy, what is in fashion, and what is the in-thing. Then the adults are the ones who will lecture on the negatives of whatever the teenagers have decided to copy.
“ It’s just a fad.” A parent will be heard to say to another one.
“Buda naye bwana mambo yake aaah,ati hataki nisikize nyimbo za kizungu. Asema ni nyimbo za kufru, na kuvaa hataki nivae kama jamaa, wala hataki nivae viyatu hivi.” A teenager will be heard complaining to his peers while pointing to his shoes, which are the trends of the time. It is interesting how fashion waves come with vigor and then they just die, leaving few hard lines. Towards the end of the seventies Afro was heading towards the grave. I remember owning one. People use to keep those afro well groomed and shimmering. The competition was on how big was your afro. I wonder how many Chanuwas had been lost trying to keep the Afro. Chawas got confused. They first thought that with the black rain forest existing, they would have the best time of their lives. Little did they know that the owner of that black rain forest was planning to water the forest with some chemicals and some other afro sheen jelly to keep the forest at its best. With this in effect, the tenders of the Afros committed genocide of some kind. Then came the age of Shaggy. Shaggy was at the same time that dreadlocks were. The followers of Bob Marley kept the dreadlocks and the followers of Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, kept the Shaggy. Disco was the in thing for every teenager. Any teenager that wants to be accepted by his or her peers had to know some few hits so that he may not be referred as “anzubaa huyu atana nae.” Unless you are from Majengo, Kisauni, Magongo, Chamgamwe, and Likoni area, Lingala or Tanzania’s music meant very little to you. During the forty days of mourning on the death of Kenyatta, my radio was directed to RTD alias Radio Tanzania Dar-es-salaam. That period was one of the sweetest and memorable times for me. Marjan Rajab has just started to be famous with hits like Mwana, Nidhamu ya kazi, and Nyerere. Then there was Milimani Park, with songs like Duka la Ushirika. Life was fine south of the border, while in Kenya the radios were airing nothing but mourning songs and the like. At this time the Kenyan local musicians were busy composing songs in praise of Moi and cleaning the chupa za fanta to be used later on as part of the band. Immediately the mourning ended the first hit was, as expected, Kanyaga Kenya, oooops sorry, I meant, Tawala Kenya. Then came songs like Mama Kifagiyo, Mangelepaa came with Embakasi, and Walter, while Sam Mapangala came with Diblo, Chrismas and vunja mifupa. I am not sure whether Mbaraka Mwinshehe was still alive or dead, but his songs were aired nonetheless. At this time Bob Marley was still the most favored, and Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie were rising very fast in the ladder of popularity in Kenya. Among the groups it was Abba, Boney M, and Whispers and Temptation. Then Bob Marley died. I was told my soccer team Black Dragon Dudu Baya was the only one that put the flag at half-mast. Michael Jackson became a mega star after releasing his album Thriller and coming up with a dance that came to be known as Break dance. Now the teenagers in the island have become really serious with their shaggies. They continuously comb it, and make sure it is well oiled. Then the attires changed. People now started to wear pants that were short to the ankles, and white socks. They put on some shirt and a jacket, the Mombasa heat notwithstanding that, made the shoulders protrude and give the feeling that one had broad shoulders. The die-hard Michael Jackson fans were even seen walking around with one glove. The interesting part was about the shrunken pants. The wearer defends the wearing as,
“Hata mtume piya alikuwa akivaa nguo haipiti kongo za
mato ya miguu.”
“ Ehe lakini wewe hukuvaa hivi kwa ajili ya kutaka
kufuwata sunna, wewe unvaa hivi kwa sababu Michael Jackson yuwavaa hivi.”
“aaah sasa na wewe usiyafanye marefu.” And the conversation ends there
There was another group that was seen on Sundays in their best, walking with a cane. This trend of people always walks in groups. They never walk alone. They try to present themselves as some kind of music group that they saw in Ebony magazine. All these trendy guys were known as Checky Bobu. The name came about because when they meet, they stand on one side and watch the girls pass by. Anytime a girl passes, one draws the attention of the other by saying, “ Check Bob, check check upande ule wa barabara.” The walking has also changed. Now akina Check Bobu, when they walk they bounce. Other factors that help build the character Check bobu, were the TV, with programs like Solid Gold, Soul Train, comedies like Good Times, and the popping up of video stores. We can’t forget Saudia and those who worked there. They supplied the island with vidudu kutoka Saudia. On these days, the saying goes, “ Mume n’wa Saudiya.” In the nineties, I was told that the theme changed to “Mume n’wa Toronto.” Movie theatres came with films with the theme of break dance, flash dance and the others. The movie Mad Max had its effect on the teenagers too. Suddenly teenagers from the families’ zinazojiweza insisted that life couldn’t go on without a motorbike. Their biggest maskan was opposite Regal Cinema at Digo Road. Now if you had a motorbike, a shaggy and dresses like someone from the US of A with a Rayban then, you were Check bobu per excellence. Akina yakhe like us who never kept a shaggy, nor dressed like a pop star or had a motorbike were referred to as “Mabendu,bado hawa wako nyuma.” A derogatory word used to the Giriama’s who work as houseboys.
Break dance came like a storm. Suddenly every teenager was dancing on his head. Some theorist came with the theory that break dance could cause some airports to form on the heads of the dancers, prematurely. For your information, my airport has nothing to do with break dance. You are cool if you knew how to break dance. Interesting though was the fact that at that exact period, the madrassas came up with zamuni. I don’t know whether it was a way of the maalims to lure the kids out of the streets from the dances of wazungu or it was totally coincidental. Check bobu would be seen at Leasure le qua, on Sundays listening to Safari sounds performing life, and then in the evening they would get in their cars, or motorbikes and rush to Light house. Maghrib was not important to most of the check bobus. At the lighthouse they would assemble with their vehicles and go up and down along the tiny road, modeling their vidudus and hairstyles.
Please don’t concoct the idea that that was all what was going on, NO. There was the other group who was totally against these trends, and paid more attention to the world politics and Islam. These are the ones who were referred to as mujahidin or kwa istihzai, they were referred to as maswahaba. Then there was tarabu. The competition was big time. The main competition was between the two super stars in the world of Tarabu; Juma Bhalo and Maulidi Juma. The tarabu fanwere always heard saying,
“ Ushaisikiya namba ishirini
mpya ya Maulidi?”
“ Ni Ibilisi akusumbuwae…..”
“Mpaka n’kainunuwe na mimi.”
“Nnapitiya kwa Mbwana
nikaisikiya hapo. Asema ataanza kuziuza Jumamosi.”
One thing about Tarabu was the musician were always singing about the other. Most of the time their music was heard in ceremonies, in the women league. With the guniyas on all sides to stop men from coming in, the women felt free to dance without being self aware that maybe some pervert is watching her. It seems the musician and his band are harmless and not perverts, or they must be doing something that made them not to worry the women present. With all the Maguniyas men still manage to peep through the wholes of the maguniyas, or by pulling the guniya down until they have access to peeping. These people were referred to as makozimeni they are the least respected in the society.
In the beginning I mentioned that this week’s visa na mikasa is for all those who have children, and soon they will be put to the test. The trend now is to buy an over size jeans, and then let it drag down your bottoms. Even with the help of the belt, they still go below the waist, much below the waist. Therefore a cool teenager today has an oversized t-shirt, an oversized jeans that begin somewhere in the middle of his buttocks. From his waist down, it is like this: A boxing short then the hanging jeans, then a wall that is hanging between his legs due to the size of the jeans, and then the sneakers. Basically he is dragging himself as he is walking. Are we ready to deal with it??