Related imageI don’t know what stood out in your childhood, nevertheless, as you ponder about it, I’m just about to sound old and dilapidated, okay, to some of you. Well, never mind, I’m neither that young. I’m a soul that struggles to be identified as a millennial. But technically I’m not one in as much as google defines it as someone who becomes of age in the 21st century. Leaves me to wonder; I’m I in the same category of life with those sensual kids that rock the likes of Ten Over Ten show dressed like they’re attending a swimming competition? Shudder not! I will let them be.

I tell you what, my elder sister Liz has loyally been listening to The Sundowner show on KBC English Service for decades now. She puzzles me as to how she doesn’t get over it and probably grow legs to something more contemporary. Speaking of contemporary music, I really wonder if it’ll end up passing the test of time. There was something magical about 90’s and early 2000’s music. Anyway, back to Liz; to measure her degree of obsession with the Show – she can easily kill (not literally though) to be at home by 6 pm to tune in to the nostalgic programme regularly hosted by Catherine Ndonye and a few other awesome bunch of presenters.

That said, most of us fondly recall the late Nzau Kalulu’s (Rest in internal peace sir) baritone voice when he hosted the Show decades ago. It was phenomenal. Of course, we have to give up for Ndonye for unshyly flying the Sundowner flag ever high for as far as I can remember. In retrospect, the late 80’s kids should forever epitomize the beauty of growing up listening to such sensational presenters?

The Beat Time was the mother of all popular music, then hosted by the talented John Karani and Charity Karimi. You see, many will reckon that John Karani stands a chance to be ranked higher than the likes of Maina Kageni as the best radio presenter of all times. This was one guy who had quite an admirable chemistry with radio not to mention the massive following pre-social media era. If you were born in late 80’s or earlier, you must have waited for his other show Saturday Night Show, to jot down lyrics of popular hits which he used to share since there was hardly any internet then to google lyrics. Groove Time hosted every Saturday morning was another sought-after Show that entailed live-call voting for popular music to grace his coveted weekly chart. Jeff Mwangemi alias Crucial Mundu who hosted Yours For The Askin’ every Wednesday night, was similarly dribbling his talent on the radio effortlessly.

I was privileged then to always obtain a copy of the Sunday Nation. It was priced at sh.40/- which would mean saving for the rest of the week to at least go through Wahome Mutahi’s Whispers column, peruse through the Lifestyle edition, crack my ribs with Head on Corrision by KJ and finally check on the featured artist and song lyrics. One would then cut off the song lyrics and stick them on a collection book that was a must-have for every late 80’s kid. Speaking of which, I still hold beef with my brother for misplacing my 300-page musical album book that took me years to compile and form my identity as a teenager.

But before all these were vintage record players, radio cassettes and walk-man gadgets. Every home worth its name had to own a cassette player and loyally buy musical albums. Interestingly, one used to rewind the music using a biro if your dad didn’t own a classical JVC radio or worst case scenario, a Sanyo one. There was no piracy then neither were there avenues to download music. Walk-mans were spotted with rich kids which instead of playing the cassette in the family radio, one would insert the cassette in the gadget and listen using mini-size headphones.

Apart from great music, late 80’s kids must have come across landline phones that one would queue like they do in some banking halls. I remember accompanying my dad on a number of occasions to make those magical calls. And they came with no much privacy apart from confining oneself in the tiny booth, making peace with the would-be callers comfortably eavesdropping your conversation besides having to deal with the wrath of their impatience if you hang in there longer than expected.

Advancements came through in early 2000’s when Simu ya Jamii was launched. At least with Simu ya Jamii, there was no embarrassment of running out of cash as it was post billed and not limited to functioning solely on coins. It was extremely convenient for students who didn’t enjoy the luxury of owning mobile phones then. These digital calling booths were as common as mpesa shops but that quickly changed in a couple of years courtesy of influx of affordable mobile phones.

With mobile phones came the puzzle of scratch cards going for as high as sh.300/-. That was the cheapest for Kencell. Funny enough, the card was slightly bigger than a standard ATM card. This was also the time when calls were classified between peak and off-peak time. Dear 90’s millennials, during our time we used to wait up to 5pm to make calls that cost a whooping sh.10/- per minute. That alone melted our hearts. I mean, it was quite affordable. Michael Joseph, the then Safaricom head honcho, termed Kenyans as quite bizarre for having peculiar calling habits.

As telecommunication industry was leapfrogging, social media was miles ahead. Yahoo was one of the biggest powerhouse in the web services. I will not lie to you that I used Hotmail. You remember 2go social site? It was a fast paced messaging app that almost overtook Facebook until it went under.

But far before that bravado was well baked Kenya football. KFF was a body that stood tall and ran on systems. Talent was tapped all the way from the grassroots. At barely 8 or so years I’d name the entire Harambee stars squad. Don’t get twisted, not English Football but local football. From the tall lad who wired the team Musa Otieno, to the light-skinned midfielder Titus Mulama, to the dribbler John ‘Mo’ Muiruri, to the likes of Tom Juma, Mike Okoth, keeper Francis Onyiso, six feet center-back Joseph Shikokoti and many more, Kenyan football was a piece of gem to marvel for. Interestingly, in the absence of TV screens then, I’d listen via my pocket radio while grazing my dad’s livestock as the dynamic duo composed of Jack Oyo Sylvester and Ali Salim Manga revolutionized football broadcasting.

And that’s when you realise you’re growing old, by holding on to your childhood memories that seem to be bombarded and faintly buried each passing day by the so-called conventional realities. That said, Kageshi just reminded me my birthday is a few hours from now! Can I just deal with that? Thank you Andreaders.

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Birthdays were not part of my childhood at all, for obvious reasons. They were too prestigious for our family and many akin ones in my village. In fact, the closest I came across a birthday hosted for me was when one of my sisters, fresh out of college happened to have fallen in love with a new hobby; that of baking cakes. So, my birthday and I found ourselves in the right place, at the right time, in the season when someone close to me had amassed a new skill. Predictably, she had to prove to us that she could bake and since my birthday was closing in, it was only rational to test her skills on the very day. I was actually lucky and honoured to have the village photographer attend, and document the memories to date.

29th of November was the day; should have been in 1996 or 97 there about when we still bragged of a cassette radio and listening to KBC English Service. That was in my formative years of life when closing school equaled to weeks of grazing our dad’s livestock. Grazing pastures were plenty then and life was more favourable. At least we didn’t grow listening to news of high school kids burning their schools (Apart from the unfortunate Kyaguli High School fire tragedy on March 2001 that left 63 students dead and Nyeri High School inferno in 1999 that claimed the lives of 4 prefects) or husbands turning against their wives and unleashing bloody terror on them. I will forever miss those days we listened to John Karani, Charity Karimi and the late Nzau Kalulu (RIP) of The Sundowner. The latter was today’s Jeff Koinange. The days when wearing a marvin, baggy trousers, oversized hoods and jackets was trendy. E sir was such a big deal! Rest in eternal peace, bro.

At least you now appreciate where my argument of overrated birthdays is coming from. However, that shouldn’t be construed to mean I’m against birthdays, in fact ebu invite me for one! Haha. That said, I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend that is too familiar to you and I. Of adults abusing kids birthday parties and converting them to house parties and hook up bashes. See, the kid is left to wonder, who the hell could these drunkard adults be celebrating?

Yes, your jirani will knock at your door to solicit for cutlery and utensils for his one year old son bash. As you wonder how many people could have been invited, you’ll hope your precious plates and cups won’t get broken in the melee and excitement that comes with hosting a One year old’s birthday. Well as you’ll go out to peep, you’ll meet the sight of a tent in your tiny compound and several dozens of plastic chairs and some booming music. What will be unknown to you is that in a few hours’ time, about 20 – 30 adults with hardly any kids, will arrive to celebrate this one year old son who by now will be hugely disillusioned and disturbed by this staggering number of humanity.

Soon the show will start, just short of having some local celebs in the midst going by the hype and glamorous faces all over your landlord’s compound. You won’t even manage to dash to the shop or do laundry. How now? How do you walk to the clothing lines when a big time show is happening and some booze smelling next door? There will be lighter moments though, when your eyes will dart and stubbornly stick on those urbanite ladies with cleavages all-popping and more kilometers of thighs all bare and unperturbed by your gaze. Yes, these ladies will be here to celebrate a one year old and acclimatize him with what to expect in his near future. Mind you, it’s a kid these PYT (Pretty Young Things) will have never met or heard of before, apart from a few days ago when they got wind of a bash from a groupie Whatsapp message sent out to all who care. This is how it read;

Admin: Hey ladies; Satoo kuna bash ya birthday kwa Amoo, ule wa Subaru Forester ya blue. If interested tupatane tao stage ya gari za Otiende – Langata. Please guys, 2pm don’t be late.

Sasha: Kuna alcohol

Admin: In plenty

Stella: Ni yake ama ni ya wi-fe

Anita: Does it matter?

Admin: Ni ya katoi kake kana turn 1!!!!

Jenny: Am so in …walai sikuwa na ploti ya weekend

Admin: Come ready to mingle, ma sponsor ni kibao

Carol: Count me in guyz it’s time nimepata mwingine kile kimzee cha kipara ni mdomo tu na hakina any!! 

Keshi: wololo weekend made

Tabby: Following

Annie: Nimemiss Amooo…Can’t wait, alipata ata mtoi…gai!!!!

Milly: Woisheee mningonje niko na class upto 2

Nemoo: Dressing code

Admin: As you’d wish bora utese wanaume 

The kid will be confused and feel so uncomfortable with this kind of ambiance. He won’t even have a bite of the cake. His hunger senses will have hibernated at least for as long as these souls will be here. He will do thundering cries and steal the show all for the wrong reasons. He will resist every faked attention including the pleas of his mum and dad. He will disappoint and embarrass them with more cries here and more cries there. The crowd will pause for a moment for his address of unceasing cries, restlessness and a fatigued face armed with emotional eyes pleading with them to leave. He will try to communicate that he is not party to this mockery of a so called birthday, in vain. He will be scared by the smell of cigarettes and the sight of packs of Guarana littered all over.

But who said the show will come to a stop? Not after all the juicy Whatsapp invites and promise of campus-like ladies ready to be sponsored at a small fee plus free alcohol. So, the catchy music will play even louder dwindling and burying the cries of a son of man, who will have pulled a Riek Machar stunt by now. For Kageshi and many of you who detest watching hard news on TV, well this guy was the immediate Vice President of South Sudan who fled Khartoum citing fears for his life. This has resulted to rising tension in the country thereby frustrating the peace talks between the government and the Opposition.  

The show will sneak in to the early hours of the night punctuated by erotic dancing moves, streams of alcohol that will show no signs of drying up and all the debauchery you’d imagine of, in between. Later on, the already drunken souls will fire up their pricey engines filled to capacity by these PYT ready to cruise to the After Party somewhere in town. Meanwhile the imageries of the so called birthday party will soon crawl their way to the social media to smoother egos and to trigger envy for anyone who didn’t receive an invite.

That’s a birthday for a One year old in the days of our times, today! It’ll cost the host couple an arm and a leg to hold it, all for the wrong reasons.


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