During the holls, especially, tulikuwa na mob time on our hands. When we fikad seco we felt sweet ati we were too old to play, so people took up the pastime of re-telling movies – mnakumbuka those groups of people hurdled round one person telling everyone, scene by scene, about a certain movie. Yenyewe we were bored kabisa. I kumbuka someone relaying Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. Hah-hah when I finally watched that movie I was like woah! Jameni people had story-telling skills.
Chicks also began to write their own novels. There were so many people writing novels lakini there was a waiting list to soma them. We used to soma kina Sweet Valley High (a series about twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield andikwad by Franscine Pascal – amazing the details I kumbuka), Sweet Dreams (different teen romances), Mills & Boon, Harlequin (like Mills but more daring), Temptations. Aah those vitabu were ufala kabisa, yenyewe when you grow up you realise that romance sio kama hivo. Hakuna mambo ya square jaw bones na chiselled arms. Sijui one kitabu was called “Pink Champagne” and we were marvelling ati “ai, pink champagne? Hatujawai kusikia mambo kama hayo.”
There was also Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. In one special edition they all met!!! Nancy Drew was dating a guy called Ned (he didn’t like anchovies on his pizza), na walienda hapo na pale wearing dark clothing, solving crime mysteries. They were like teenage detectives, much like Famous Five (maze I somad all the Famous Five books repeatedly, I could do a mtihani on them) – they were always going for picnics in Kirrin cottage and drinking “ginger beer” with their mbwa Timmy. Oh na pia Danielle Steel novels were popular – I remember watching a movie version of one, ilikuwa slushy sentimental kama those progis the Bold & the Beautiful/ Sunset Beach (for boys there was Wilbur Smith).
When people started writing their own novels they were almost always romances, na ziliandikwa kwa exercise books – hata zile za squares. The people in those novels were all white (haiya?!) and they had a Dynasty-style life; when you fika in wazunyes’ countries you realise hakuna kitu kama hicho, yote ni fiction. One day in seco a teachay caught someone writing their own novel during her lesson and she confiscated it. Maze the teachay somad the novel in the staff room and although she somead the chick to stop writing novels during lessons she threw in a complement. I’d love to soma those novels now, maze I hope those chicks are still writing.
In tao there wasn’t really much to do – but can anyone kumbuka that video arcade on Moi Avenue? There were pinball machines, fruit machines, and such like; ilikuwa packed kabisa, just thithino pekee. In tao there were also cinemas – aah when the movie Break Dancing tokead my big cuzo took me to see it (kumbuka Shabba Doo and the characters break dancing on the ceiling). Lakini for the most part cinemas showed movies from years before (mambo gani hayo?)
In chuo like after exams there used to be a company which showed us movies on projectors. Those movies were so bizarre (I recall one involving an evil bat) or they were deemed inappropriate for some age-groups, so half the school would be nyimwad the movie. I remember, when a kissing scene was about to appear, the projectionist would ‘thogotha’ the reel and we would miss the scene. Aah we used to tusi him for that. I also kumbuka our headie refusing to show the Naked Gun movies cause he thought it was about nudity (ushamba kabisa hapo).
Mnakumbuka how, in tao, people had loads of time to spare, even if they had jobo or biashara, so like you’d see people standing on avenues just talking for almost an hour. Kweli there is no hurry in Africa. There would also be those “meetings” that grownups had (“let’s meet and have tea/samos”) in cafés which would endelea mpaka lunchtime and into the afte. I used to penda them, I recall ordering all sorts of things – apple pies, carrot cakes, cream donuts, whilst the grownups endelead talking. People also used to go to other people’s offisis and just chill/ kunywa chai, thus taking the saying “haraka haraka haina baraka” to the limit.
Also in tao people would stop to watch a commotion, like in a mini-riot (mnakumbuka “mob justice” sides of River Rorry). There were preachers who used to set up a pulpit on a street and people would stop to listen, putting mashilingis when the preacher said “give and you shall receive.” There were also those waganga-types who would sit somewhere, draw a circle round them, and tell passers-by ati if anyone walks into the circle they’ll contract a disease. Yenyewe people would go out of their way to avoid the circle, hata karibu they were kanyangwad by passing vehicles.
Aah I almost forgot ASK show (‘Agricultural Show of Kenya’). Hakuna mtu ambaye alienda Show ati kuona agriculture. It was an opportunity to go on the merry-go-round, that ‘train’ for kiddos, the jumping bouncy-castle thing (woe if someone’s shoe-buckles tore it). Merry-go-round was a must, but it had a long, long mlolongo, mpaka you could waste the whole afte just waiting for your turn. When you did get on, the whole thing was dizzying mpaka I decided never to go again. In Show there were also tents with “wonders” – as in “ingiene hapa kuona half-man-half-goat” or “hapa ndani kuna magic extravaganza.” There was also the Tatoo in Show, but that started in the evening (or the day-one wasn’t the real thing). Yenyewe Show was not a safe place. There were storos of kids getting kidnapped in 1982 na several years later they were patwad selling mandao in Dagoretti Corner.
People used to ajiriana to meet in Show (ati “tukutane on KCC stand” – the KCC chapos with ghee were tamu kabisa) lakini ASK was so big and there were so many people. Lakini it was great makosa not to make an effort dress-wise ‘cause come Monday kiddos would say “I saw so and so in Show dressed like a shao.” Aah maze if you turned up wearing those Bata rubber shoes you’d be enjoyed kabisa. Every year people would get excited about Show, na kama you weren’t taken there by your paros it was big deprivation. The food used to be taka-taka of every kind, from those sweet-foam thingis (candy floss), to packets of chips which were floating in oil, to nyam-choms (but the nyam-choms in Show were ngumu).
When NBA started being aired on TV, backe became the in-thing. Basketball pitches started appearing on every Esto and all the teenies would dress up like Michael Jordan (complete with head-bands). Chicks would sit on the sidelines and squeal. Then there was Rudge (rugby); guys used to eat protein with bidii so they could join the team. Sports were aplenty (like hockey was played in chuo and in Esto fields). For chicks there was rounders – to paraphrase Comic Book Guy in the Simpsons rounders is the “worst game ever.” I hate sports with a passion anyway. However, mob times sports “lessons” involved being told to do ten laps round the field (aah bana, not ten laps again) so even rounders was a welcome change.
Also there was the pastime of going for picnics in Uhuru Park. If a hawk didn’t kamata your ham sandwiches it was sawa. Some people were brave enough to hire and ride a boat in the Uhuru park pond-lake – heh! If the thing fell over those people could catch Bilharzias. In places like Uhuru Park, Jeevanjee gardens, KICC, kulikuwa na Crusades every weekend. Maze those things were packed, and sometimes there were preachers from West Africa telling the congregation about how they used to eat people but now they were okolewad (haiya I saw a news-piece about something similar recently). After hearing such things watoi couldn’t sleep that night.
Other pastimes included watching Esto dogs fighting, going swima (in YMCA mnakumbuka ‘Teacher Tom’? He was a Frenchman who had been in Nai sijui since serikali ya gereza so he talked Swaha and he was always swimming backstroke), going to Kenya National Library (hah-hah those books are apparently still ibiwad) or MacMillian library (remember that kienyeji song-video shot outside MacMillian with the lyrics “she wore black and blue”?).
Lakini thinking about it we actually had many games and pastimes to choose from.