Those were the days, my friend
I don’t know who wrote this, but it will certainly resonate with many I grew up with. If you know the author, please post a comment. Minor edits are mine.
To the wonderful kids who were born in Africa and survived the 1950s,
60s, 70s and 80s.
First, we survived being born to mothers who took aspirin, ate
whatever food was put on the table, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
They were mothers who did not check their blood pressure every few minutes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs and bassinets were covered with
brightly coloured lead-based paints. We were put in prams and sent out with
ayahs to meet other children with ayahs, whilst our parents were busy.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when
we rode our bikes we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took
hitchhiking or going out on our own. As children, we would ride in cars with
no seat belts or airbags. We sat on each other’s laps, for God’s sake. Riding
in the back of a station wagon on a warm day was always a special treat.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and NO ONE
actually died from this. We would share a samosa; dip a chapatti into
someone else’s plate of mchuzi without batting an eyelid. We ate jam
sandwiches or pickle on bread and butter, raw mangoes with salt that set our
teeth on edge, and drank orange squash with sugar and water in it. We ate at
roadside stalls, drank water from tender coconuts, ate everything that was
bad for us: njusu, mix, kababs, bhajias and kachori; but we weren’t
overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day during the holidays, we
were never ever bored, and we were allowed freedom all day as long as we
were back when the streetlights came on, or when our parents told us to do
so. No one was able to reach us all day by mobile phone or phone. And we
We would spend hours making paper kites, building things out of scraps with
old pram wheels or cycle rims, inventing our own games, playing traditional
games called hide and seek, kick the can and rounders, ride old cycles and
then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After
running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We swam with an inflated tube which we got from somebody who was replacing their car tyres. We swam in the open sea without wearing any protective clothing or reef shoes. We never used sun screen lotions. We ran barefoot without thinking about it; if we got cut we used iodine on it which made us jump. We did not wash our hands ten times a day. And we were OK.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes; no video games at all, no
99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no mobile
phones, no personal computers, no iPods, no internet or internet chat
rooms, no TV, full stop.
We did not have parents who said things like “what would you like for
breakfast, lunch or dinner?”. We ate what was put in front of us and best of
all, there were never any leftovers. We polished the lot.
WE HAD FRIENDS, great friends, whose parents we called Uncle and Aunty, and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees numerous times, got cut, broke bones and teeth and
there were no compensation claims from these accidents.
We ate fruit lying on the ground that we shook down from the tree above. And
we never washed the fruit. We had a bath using a bucket and mug and used
Lifebuoy soap. We did not know what conditioners meant.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode cycles everywhere and someone sat on the carrier or across the bar to school or the pictures, not cinema, or you walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
Not everyone made it into the teams we wanted to. Those who didn’t had to
learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They
actually sided with the law!
This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk takers, problem
solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
Please pass this on to others who have had the luck and good fortune to grow
up as kids in Africa, before the lawyers and the government regulated our
lives, ostensibly for our own good, that changed what was good into bad and
what was bad into worse