KWEZI AND I...African then and now

Last weekend, Kwezi came rushing by my bedside waving her swimming costume and talking very fast. From what I could make of her conversation, she wanted me to get out of bed and take her swimming. It really didn’t matter that it was at 7.30 am in the morning and all I wanted was an extra two hours of sleep.

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Nasra and Kwezi

Last weekend, Kwezi came rushing by my bedside waving her swimming costume and talking very fast. From what I could make of her conversation, she wanted me to get out of bed and take her swimming. It really didn’t matter that it was at 7.30 am in the morning and all I wanted was an extra two hours of sleep.

I told her that I had no money and she would have to wait till I got paid. Of course she didn’t understand this but luckily for me, she was bored and she found something else of interest and swiftly moved on.

As I was ‘collecting’ my sleep again, I was taken aback by the children today and the children that we were.

Until some three to four decades ago, growing up in Africa was one of the most interesting experiences anyone could ever have. While today’s child wants to spend all his or her free time watching television, swimming or glued on one gadget or another, we preferred the outdoors, running around playing hide and seek, making our own toys, plaiting hair, trying to cook food in tins as the boys played football or made toy cars from wires. It was a more interactive and fun way of doing things. Today, we have to dress up to go watch our children play football. We have to pay for dolls. There is subscription for TV and our children are not even curious enough to find ways to have their own fun.

Then there were our families and the rules.

Your parents; if you were fortunate to have them; were the encyclopaedia of everything. Whether educated or not, they had an opinion about everything, they were the best story tellers, they were always right and questioning them was tantamount to treason. At least most times.

Your mother’s eye spoke volumes. It had a way of switching from approval to disapproval without batting. If there were visitors, you would find yourself talking while once in a while glancing at her to see if the eye was still “happy” with you. That eye had a way of keeping us in check but it seems Kwezi is too young to notice that I have started practicing it on her, or she is simply ignoring it.

You were free to sit in the sitting room but if there were visitors, you were expected to greet them politely, answer the questions about your age and performance at school, linger for a few seconds and silently walk away and give space to adults to talk.

Of course Africa is still a great continent but it has since progressed; embracing technology and many other innovations and along with the advantages that advancement has brought us, our children will never know the true essence of how much fun it was growing up in Africa.

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