I don’t remember the content of too many ‘80’s progis – I mean there were hardly any for kiddos to watch. I recall a weekday schedule of obscure cartoons/ children’s programmes starting at 6 (or was it 5.30?). There was a German cartoon about, I think, a bird which flew from valley to valley saying ‘Auf Weirdessen’ and of course there was Danger Mouse, there was also at least one Russian (then USSR) cartoon with communist messages probably hidden in the background. Remember Archie & Sabrina (with Jughead, a dog, and some other occupants of an all-American tao). There were also some Kienyeji progies, like one was about stories, so there would be a grownup sitting with a circle of kiddos and the grownup would say “Hadithi, hadithi,” the kids would respond “Hadithi njoo,” then the grownup would say “Haya basi, hapo zamani za kale…” I also vaguely remember a progi called You asked for it (with Casey Casem??), one called Butterflies that I never saw but kids were always talking about, and there were progis like Button Moon, Pingu (which are both still being shown worldwide).
But majority of VOK airtime was filled with progis that were boring or weird (remember Majitu? Haiya it made me think that shetani has dreadlocks). On weekends there would be Dunia Wiki Hii on Satos, followed by a footie game like Gor Mahia v Harambee Stars, then later in the evening there would be Football Made in Germany (sijui Bayan Munich v Cologne), then there would be a boring movie later, halafu Kufunga Kituo. Remember the national anthem being sang at the start and end of each broadcast day? We used to stand to attention and sing along.
As for news, I wasn’t interested in them then, it was propaganda anyway; kila siku they would anza: “Mtukufu Rais…” aah even if there was an earthquake somewhere they would still begin the news with details of his daily activities. Usually such activities consisted of “giving” at a harambee, planting a tree, or being sang to. Kumbuka Mass Choir on public holidays? I can’t remember any of the songs, but it was like the way the North Koreans line up to sing to their dictator. The Mass Choir kids would practice for months, singing songs ‘praising’ “baba Moi,” ati sijui amejenga taifa (wapi?) Then Muungano Mass Choir would sing a mixture of religious and patriotic songs. The whole day on TV on a public holiday would consist of the events at Nyayo stadium or Uhuru Park; I can’t believe people actually attended the thing (apparently later in the ‘90’s the attendance rate fell drastically mpaka they stopped holding them?)
The rest of VOK was filled with junk imported from sijui South America (sorry to South Americans, lakini why does Kenya need its soap operas?? Si we can make our own) called the Rich also Cry, No one but you, Wild Rose – lakini these began in the ‘90s. In the ‘80s the soaps were Dallas repeats and Dynasty; all I remember about these was the big shoulder pads, big hair, heavy jewellery, and JR wearing a cowboy hat (also remember Bobby? Those Dallas chicks were always saying “Aww, Bobby, why you gotta go?” or something) Bobby later turned up in a sitcom on KTN whose name I can’t recall. VOK also showed Gillet World Sports, and a collection of documentaries from anywhere on the planet. I remember one about Mali, another about Egypt, oh also I remember Around the World in 80 days.
Ah remember URTNA? It was a series of progis from across Africa (I think ilikuwa kama an exchange thing). I kumbuka there was a Ghanaian soap opera, there were music progis and perhaps current affairs ones. I wonder if URTNA iko tu, I hope it is.
I have to say that VOK’s own progis were not of the highest quality. Kulikuwa na Vitimbi, Vioja Mahakamani, both of which were just plain genius. VOK iliwapatia rubbish sets/ props, lakini they made good progis from what they had. Remember Vituko? There were also other dramas, and in all of them hakukuwa na chakula. For example if there was a scene where the characters were supposed to be sipping tea, you could clearly see that the cup was empty and if they were supposed to be eating the plates would be empty if it was a children’s progi (or it’d be ugali/sukuma for adults).
Lakini those Coastarian progis had endelead. When VOK-Nairobi was shooting progis in a rubbish indoors set, Coastarians were shooting on-location. I recall Fedheha, Zingatia, Tamahaki (sp?) and I think Tushauriane was also Coastarian. There were recurrent characters like Mzee Juma and sijui Mama Sofi. The women in those progis would say “Sitaki! Usiniletee mie!” and “Huko huko!” mpaka they became catchphrases that we used – like if we were playing hide & seek and someone didn’t want to count we’d say “huko huko utacount”
Mnakumbuka Music Time with Fred Obachi Machoka? That progi used to come every Sunday and it was repeated during the week. That Machoka furahishad people, is he still on TV? Aah tena there used to be that thing where you could send people happy birthday greetings and sijui for a whole hour on weekends VOK would air them.
When KTN tokead (in ’91?) VOK started bringing better progis. KTN yenyewe ilikuwa full of American progis like Alf (a talking furry alien), Fresh Prince, Hanging with Mr Cooper, 21 Jump Street (apparently it’s still shown!), then later Family Matters (remember Steve Urckle!), Living Single, 227, Saved by the Bell and dramas like Sisters, North & South, Life Goes On. It’s amazing how one remembers progis from way back but I can’t recall most progis from a couple of years ago (there are so many channels here). Even in Kenya they have six or so free channels now, so it has endelead beyond the one channel we grew up with. Remember when VOK said that people had to pay a license fee? Heh-heh the whole nation lengad.
Although we wished there were more TV programmes to see, I think that because kiddos nowadays can just sit all day watching TV, they don’t have the impetus to go out and play like we did. If it was my kiddo I would funga the TV with a padlock and say “go out and play.”
PS:- For in-depth memories of '80s TV you have to see http://nicholasgichu.blogspot.com (esp the Oct-Dec 2004 archives, this guy has great recollections y'all!)