MILLENNIAL ZONE 023: VINTAGE

Previously on millenial zone: https://andrewismme.wordpress.com/2020/08/15/millennial-zone-022-jamboree/

Mr. Mwangi cut out a very reserved personality. From the outside, he appeared gentle, with nothing much to write home about. He’d be easily overlooked as any ordinary tutor, that wore unkempt beard look and who harbored a liking for oversize suits. Moreover, he was not the razzmatazz type or the overly aggressive that settled scores with students who didn’t complete assignments. Rather, he had more that he paid homage to; like his cigar, his little munchkins and football. Interestingly, he wasn’t keen on female students who spent moons of years strategizing how they’d seduce male lecturers be it by dressing erotically or chasing for their phone numbers. He never enjoyed being chased.

On the contrary, rumours travelled every span of a few years of how he’d be spotted in those hidden getaways in Rongai or far off in Kitengela with those slayer types that he had secretly cornered out of his powerful position – Student’s Dean, if not from his emotional intelligence. He’d score emphatically when it came to playing mind games and chasing wild cards.

Mr. Mwangi’s wife was a lecturer too. She was teaching literature units in Igwa Miti University of Science & Technology. Having met in the early 80’s in University taking a common course, a BA in Education, they had evolved from being classmates to bubbly friends that would hatch to lovebirds overtime while in school. They would go for simple outings and enjoy simple meals in tandem, in Rware town, a shopping center adjacent to their college, whose tiny economy heavily depended on the school population. By then, no students resided outside the school hostels. In any case, Unis were never congested or overrun by every earphone-wearing kids. They were for the genuinely bright kids from the village who wore dusty feet, soiling long walks to school and who studied hard and late hours, unlike today, where every kid gets admitted to University, regardless of their grades.

These few genius students would be sponsored to campus by the entire clan and village through harambees – not CDF. During the long holidays, they’d be treated as local celebs who were revered by all and sundry while they sauntered around the village. They’d take teaching in tuition classes as a way of giving back to the community. During their graduation, the village would break loose while every kiosk closed to grace the rare occasion squeezed in battered matatus marooned by graduation paraphernalia. 

Speaking of graduation, they’d religious frame the graduation photo in their bachelorette rooms donning those black flappy gowns and the iconic hats. Graduates then would easily melt into the workforce especially in government jobs and emerging blue-chip corporates.

They would listen to soul music from the JVC radio cassette in the hostel as they played poker game as they reminisced life back in the village. Funnily, one had to rewind or play the favourite song by rotating the reel-hole using a biro. Never mind rich kids would saunter hanging walk-man radios round their necks. Commonly, Mr. Mwangi would recall walking in the cold nights with his peers every 9th and 10th of every month to watch a film stowed on a lorry much to the delight of the village boys.

On lucky days, they’d stroll to City Stadium to watch local derbies. You realize by then, the likes of Gor and AFC Leopards were still archaic rivals. Local football was by far highly regarded. Stadiums were in many a time full to the brim. The Mwangis would be in attendance since Mwalimu was an ardent football fan. He’d don the Leopards blue jersey while keeping a symbolic Afro hairstyle that made Mrs. Mwangi melt away. Speaking of which, female pants were unheard of then, but that didn’t allude they weren’t stylish. They’d be in miniskirts that gave way to long, oily legs while harboring ponytail hairstyle.

Telephone booths were too common by then. Souls would queue for hours to make calls back in the village through the chief who was among the few who owned landline phones. The luckier ones would be here too, to make calls abroad to their counterparts who would have earned scholarships in first world countries. They would join two 50 cents coins using chewing gum to trick the calling machine when they ran out of the 5 shilling coins. When they were completely broke they’d make reverse calls much to the annoyance of the recipient.

When they had chumz, Mr. Mwangi and his pack of friends would throng Club Boomereng at Museum Hill if not Florida 2000 in CBD which were among the top clubs in Nairobi by then. But they were never referred as clubs but rather discotheques which back in the rural areas, it had always been a taboo name until recently where kids and parents can jam to the same songs in the same entertainment houses, chasing the same girls. Back then, fewer ladies imbibed beer or even smoked, unlike today whereby the female gender has brought their thirst to men’s doorsteps. Gone are the days when ladies would shy from going out or being spotted smoking.

Mwangi, his boys and their girlfriends would stroll to these discotheques dressed in piped pants that would somehow cover part of the shoe otherwise known as bell bottoms. No belt but would tuck in their flowery shirts and fashionably honour the 80’s style of wearing knitted sweaters tied around the shoulders. On the other hand, the privileged dudes would dress in suspender trousers, normally in striped linen suits. The urbanite guys would popularly dress in don’t – touch – my – ankles pants that would gladly expose their colourful happy socks, while in official shoes.

For Mwangi and his pack, they’d dance to Kwese kwese which involved moving one’s upper legs back and forth while the arms synchronized the moves, if not break dancing which was also a big thing back then. In a nutshell, Rhumba music was way popular but equally preferred was Soul music. In sharp contrast with today’s entertainment joints, the 80’s discotheques didn’t have restaurants, neither would they have plenty of sitting area. There was also nothing like VIP sections. What remains constant is perhaps the counter and the seductive barmaids. Humans would literally pour to the ballroom which was commonly a spacious area and dance all night holding one’s drink.

When the night wore, these university students would retreat to their hostels of course dealing with the biting cold since taxis were for the privileged. Remember there were no riders then but what made life easier was the fact that, Nairobi was much safer especially after the 1982 coup, which in hindsight had made the former president acquire more grip in running of day to day operatives. 

Speaking of which, the city was very orderly unlike in the days of our Lord today, where traffic rules merely work. Garbage was regularly collected around the estates, and along the streets, while there were designated areas for residential developments, schools and other social amenities. Public transport was seamless and perfectly worked especially with Kenya bus and Stage coach buses strictly following a particular schedule. The city had a population of less than a million, meaning there was hardly human congestion to overwhelm the social infrastructure.

Back in the hostels, the fortunate enough who had girlfriends would eventually retreat to female hostels and kill the rest of the night which ironically, was a strange culture in campus. Ladies were more tolerant and accommodating hence why bonking took place in their hostels. Male hostels were ruthless then, leaving only the courageous ladies to have the party there. Rape cases were more often than not common in male hostels hence why many campus ladies shied away from dudes’ hostels.

To date, Mr. Mwangi marvels growing up in the 80’s. Life was less complicated and far less hectic. It was perfectly normal having to wait for a fortnight for the campus photographer to deliver the non-coloured photos. What was more fascinating was attending the highly popular Safari rally events in KICC cheering at the likes of Patrick Njiru and the late Jonathan Toroitich propel their speeding machines. This would be followed by following the events in KBC radio as the likes of Leonard Mambo Mbotela dutifully broadcasted the events.

The Mwangis eventually did a church wedding back in the village thronged by all and sundry. First forward, their marriage struggles with the usual marital challenges. At one time, they fought over a text message in Mrs. Mwangi phone after a male student fell for her thick body, never mind the age difference. This made Mrs. Mwangi swore never to dress in low tops that exposed her well – endowed cleavage or above the knee dresses, just not to trigger her male students’ bull-like testosterone hormonal imbalances.

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