A time when TVs fascinated Africans

Back in the day, television (TV) was a precious possession that cost an arm and a leg to for any African. Owning a TV set meant one was wealthy.

Back in the day, television (TV) was a precious possession that cost an arm and a leg to for any African. Owning a TV set meant one was wealthy.

People felt privileged to glimpse at a television; it was so important that if a man owned one, he was considered stinking rich, but if someone broke it accidentally, it was like murder—the penalty was severe punishment.

Anah Kagoire, a 35-year-old mother of three and a resident of Remera, lived during a time when television was a rare commodity.

Kagoire tells her story:
“I grew up in Burundi before I moved to Rwanda. I came from a poor home that couldn’t afford a television set because it was very expensive. One day, I heard my friends in the neighbourhood talking about some equipment that could display motion pictures.”

This mother of three was fascinated by what she heard and badly wanted to see this machine with moving pictures. Compelled by eagerness and curiosity she began to inquire about the village’s TV whereabouts. 

Her friends told her that the rich farmer owned one that was in his house.

“I was told I would identify it, because it had ‘extended ears outside’ (antennae),” said Kagoire.

“One evening I paid a visit and could not believe what I saw; to my surprise I was not alone at his home, we were more than thirty people who had walked for more than 6 miles to see the television.”

“It was connected to the chloride-Exide battery and the pictures were white and black. We were all glued happily to the TV until the owner told us to leave because he wanted to sleep. We all left for our respective homes happily.”

Thereon, Kagoire’s craving to watch television intensified.
“The eagerness of owning a TV became intense in my mind and when I got a job and got married I owned one. I felt so happy and I think those who don’t have TVs are always behind news and it’s sad,” Kagoire said.

Currently, television is as equally important as it was in the past. The only difference is that TVs are much cheaper, efficient and readily available. The first thing people do when they move into their own apartment, is to buy a television; when children get a good job, the first gift they take to their TV-less parents deep in the village is a TV.

However, there are individuals who argue that television is unnecessary.

James Kaijuka, a 37-year-old businessman who works for the Bralirwa Primus branch in Kimironko, disagrees with individuals who say that television is very important.

“Television is just a want and not a need. It is for leisure and as far as I’m concerned, television can interfere with my daily programme and so I don’t need it,” Kaijuka said.

“I have enough money to buy one but I’m just comfortable without it. Maybe later if my children would love to have TV, I will buy one for them; right now, there is no need,” he said.

The African society values television because it is a source of entertainment, education and information. Even those who don’t own TV’s willfully, will swear that they will one day, buy one.