Posts Tagged With: Africa

#9. Once upon a time, life was simple

I grew up in Africa. Kenya to be precise. Nairobi to be even more precise. My childhood spanned the 80s and the 90s. While the U.N. was busy describing my upbringing as mundane, deprived and deplorable, I was living some sort of a dream. A dream where the world was simple at least as far as I was aware.

Blue Band

We called margarine blueband, because that was the only brand available. We called toothpaste Colgate, or Aquafresh. Or close-up. But you were clear that you didn’t want the ‘close-up’ Colgate because it really had a sucky taste. Television began at 6pm and then, eventually at 4pm – what a treat. So while there was no television to watch, we played  outside, as in ran in the dirt and socialized with other children.

We grew up with ONE, yes one television channel. In high school, we ‘got’ a second one and boy was that revoluntionary. Enter the world of MTV, Fresh Prince of BelAir, Murphy Brown. Those were the days.

Choices were simple. Never mind that structural adjustment was in effect and my parents faced very complex decisions everyday. As a child, choices were simple.

I miss that childhood. Continue reading

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#4.Education – Why it is still important

When growing up, there was a swahili song on the radio that had all parents and teachers excited. “Someni Vijana”  they bleated out of tune, hoping to manipulate encourage us at the time to get an education. The lyrics basically say study young people, increase the level of your effort, at the end of your education/studies, you will get a great job.

Someni vijana,

Muongeze bei ya bidii,

Mwisho wa kusoma,

Mutapata kazi nzuri sana

~Henry Makobi

That was the 90s. That was Africa. That was within structural adjustment. A lot young people followed that formula only to be disillusioned by economies that were neither ready to absorb them nor appreciate their talents or skills in any monetarily gainful manner as promised. Continue reading

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