(So Lenox Mhlanga used to write for the Sunday News, my favorite newspaper when I was a youngin back in Zim coz I thought it was the shyt, well, it had the short story column and the lighter side column (written by Lenox and was funny as hell) and the bizarre news stories and Boyd Maliki's fresh cartoons among other things. Loved the newspaper so much I'd buy it with my own money instead of spending it on frozens, and if I was broke I'd go and get it from the neighborhood men, though I'd have to lie and say "My father said to borrow your newspaper" when of course I was borrowing it for myself. Anyway, I'm presenting Lenox below, happy to have found his blog). I must say I'm inspired to do my own remembering so one of these days I'll respond to Lenox's post with my memories.
Do you still remember all those years ago, when going into town seemed like going somewhere very special like heaven and your mother made you "dress up" for the trip or threatened that if you don't finish your food uyasala. And when in town, wailing for fresh chips from ko-Royal Sunflower and a coke? Sipping the 300 ml bottle of coke for ever ungafuni iphele?
Remember racing with old tyres or half bricks, to see who was the fastest. Today they are shoving bricks at each other. Playing soccer with ibhola lamaphepha (plastic/newspaper ball) and not smoking imbanje. Going to the shops to go play i-slug (table soccer) and not robbing defenceless women? And if you ran out of money, usually 10 cents, you then filed down two cents or hammered a one-cent coin flat to use instead and it always got stuck? And u-Davie wemagrosa would be out to get you and your tshomis. Those were the crimes then.
What about the fights? About you falling out with your buddies and because they threatened ukukubamba? NGIZAKUBAMBA (I will deal with you) meant that you had a hard time going to the shops unescorted. You were forced to go the long way round to avoid them but you never told umama or ubaba. It was the same with the end of the school term, as we approached the beginning of the holidays.
You had to be on your best behaviour to avoid someone saying -NGIZAVALA NGAWE! Running away was not an option because the whole school knew which fights were on the closing day bill. Not that some did not- leg it (run away) because kwabo kwagwala akulasililo. Disputes were settled by simply amabele enhlabathi. Having a weapon in school meant being caught with an Eversharp pen pea shooter or an eraser catapulted by a 30cm ruler and not i-Okapi (knife) of nowadays.
And then kwakulabo MATHANYELA, the Bulawayo City Council sweepers who hated being called that, kumbe oma-bhimu (Garbage collectors.) What about the work crews zako BCC ababepheka izitshwala zamagabha. And amongst them there was always a Phiri, Banda, Sibanda or Ndlovu. When you saw them riding along in their big BCC trucks or walking along the road in their navy overalls, you would shout, Sibanda! or Phiri! and wave in their direction and one of their number, a Sibanda or Phiri would respond in like manner waving frantically obviously very impressed at being recognised and you and your friends would laugh your lungs out.
I'm not finished just yet. Can you still taste and smell, eating raw jelly from the packet, ukukhuma itshukela, powdered milk, kumbe i-Milo? You would forget to wipe off the evidence and the usual katsi-katsi (hiding) would follow? What about ice-lollies made from cold drink in plastic holders in the freezer, eating Willard's Peanut Butter on the fattest slice of fresh Lobel’s bread? Eating guavas till your stomach hurt and being constipated for days after that. Lisa khumbula umabrosi, imango, ama-peaches lomumbu owosiweyo emgwaqweni? And you knew that come mumbu (maize) season you would have it for breakfast, lunch and supper including inopi, umxhanxa, inkobe lembambayila, of course.
Having relatives overseas or in South Africa was a very big deal. For relatives abroad, it was essential for the whole family to go to the airport and wave goodbye by the balcony. And when they came back, you expected them to bring you new shoes (which you wouldn't wear, coz you were saving them for Civics day) and Mars bars or Chappies.
Remember when, there were two types of takkies, o-Tommie and North Stars! And the only time you wore them at school, was on Civies, (from civilian clothes as opposed to uniform day.) Which for some reason we called CIVICS day. Do you remember when nearly everyone's mom was your mom and they could thuma (send) you to amagrosa (shops) and reward you with i-five cents for amatshaps (toffees.) There was no danger of you absconding because after all she was your mum anyway!
*check out Lenox's blog here