I grew up in Masvingo, which back then was only a small town in Zimbabwe, home to the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe. My parents weren’t rich, but they did have a house in the low-density suburb. I went to a government school and almost everyone treated everyone else with respect. We didn’t have fast food nor eat out mainly because there wasn’t anywhere to go and bills had to be paid. Homemade meals had a menu usually featuring sadza accompanied by one of the following green vegetables, cabbage, potatoes and sometimes with meat.
$1 Zim dollar could buy you a freezit (a slushie like beverage in a plastic pack) and maputi (popped corn snacks).
We saved money to buy jelly babies and smarties candy. There was this weird candy from Arenel Sweets which looked like cigarettes. I played pretend as I smoked the sweets.
I grew up during a time when the TV would start broadcasting at 4pm and TV “ended” just after 10 pm with an epilogue and national anthem. Before TV “opened” the TV just showed the big circle of the broadcasting signal while playing music from Radio 3 station.
After school, we came home, did homework and chores, before going outside or having friends over. We had plenty of time to play in the great outdoors and the holes in our clothes, we got them the hard way, through skinned knees from play. We played on swings in the park, pushed bricks pretending they were cars then graduated to toy cars crafted from wires. We hung out with friends, played hop scotch, hide and seek, cops and robbers using sticks as guns. When the street lights came on you knew you were late and should have been home an hour ago.
We drank water directly from the tap water and didn’t need to boil it first… bottled water was a TV construct. Coca-cola was so fizzy if you shook it all of it would empty on the ground… Soft drinks were only available in glass bottles that needed to be returned for deposit. Coca Cola had a promotion which got you jumbo mugs and drinking glasses. Calypso Juice came with a puzzle game- stay cool with Calypso.
Family prime time on TV meant watching 227, Paraffin, Mukadota, Mvenge Mvenge, Dougie Howser, Family Matters, Alf, The A-Team, Macgyver, Knight Rider, Different Strokes and Full House. We watched WWF and did the stunts we were told not to do at home, at school, the logic made sense. The censorship board worked overtime, you never saw people kissing for more than ten seconds without a commercial break interrupting.
Parents were to be feared and obeyed. What they said was LAW you did not question it and you did not talk back. In school, we stood up and sang the National Anthem, Ishe Komborera Africa (God Bless Africa) and listened to our teachers. Please and Thank You were part of our syllabus.
I think we turned out ok…