The Business Of Being Social: Then And Now

At the beginning of the 90s, I was a young lad with a huge to-do list. I think I was to a large extent, Jack Of All Trades. I wanted to act, sing, be a top athlete, write, and you name it. I wanted it all. I also believed I could be anything I wanted to be. I still believe that, but at least now I know I am never going to play in the NBA.Life is better when you’re content. Do you think?

Life wasn’t the same, obviously. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, etc. To say the least, the business of being social was different. Way different. You couldn’t just “block” people and forget about them. I could have a misunderstanding with my childhood friend Stephano, and a few minutes later he’d knock at my door asking me to play. No grudges.

The memories of the 90s came flowing when I came across the above photo credit to my good friend, Othman Michuzi. He is a talented photographer who likes to roam the streets with his camera dangling on his right-hand side shoulder. Great young man with unbelievable talent to photography.

Usually, he captures images that show real people, real life. I know you’re a real person too. But the folks Othman wins are just different. These are ordinary folks who will probably not even read this. They are busy with life. Busy making ends meet. It’s a struggle out there. With Magufuli’s ways of doing things, it’s going to be rocky for a long time. Brace yourself.

I grew up during communism in a country that believed and carried socialism on its back. Access to television was unheard of. There was no Internet. It wasn’t available. Occasionally we got international magazines from older folks who had travelled outside. They had to be smuggled in. You could be sent to jail for having an international journal.

There was one radio station owned and operated by the state. I still remember how we used to gather around one radio listening to the broadcast of competitive city match; Yanga Vs Simba. Lucky, we had incredibly talented broadcasters. It felt real. We felt like we were right there seeing everything “Live”.When I tell my kids that I first used a computer at the high school, they think I am an alien. They can’t imagine. They’re growing up with 4K television, iPad, Smartphones, Video Games, etcWii. Yes, mine were the days of experimenting what was called DOS…Disk Operating System and the likes. Remember how you’d plug in CD-ROM and wait for like 5-10 minutes for it to load and stuff?

A lot of other folks never saw a computer all the way to university. I was lucky that I went to a school with a fabulous exchange teaching programs with countries such as United States, Germany, etc. Our computer lab was donated by Germany if I am not mistaken.

Different from today’s world, we used to meet in person. Early morning, you’d look across from the street and see people gathering. Within minutes, the place would be packed. Usually, it was a place with a shade or close to the street shops. That way it was easier for folks who had developed smoking addiction at the young age. I tried smoking but never carried it on. You can read why here.

The stories would flow. Due to lack of fact-checks possibilities, a lot of lies passed around. Bob Marley smoked weed in Harare in front of all African Presidents attending the independence ceremony. American musician, Marvin Gaye was killed by his father for being gay.

If you urinate on the side of the road your Mom’s breast will fall off. Stuff like that. It’s like we had our own street Wikipedia but with no fact checkers whatsoever. If Donald Trump was elected out there during that time, he could lie about everything and no FBI Director would call him a liar.

Nowadays, people don’t meet. They communicate online. They brag. They fake. The unreal world full of fake news is dominating. When people meet, they’re still glued to their phones, tablets, etc. That lifestyle annoys me. I am right in front you, and you’re busy conversing with the world a thousand miles away?

Talking about faking; I recently met someone I had followed online for a while. To say the least, nothing was close to what she appeared online. It was like meeting a ghost.

One of the joints I used to go and hear or “learn” a lot of things was at my barber. His name was Muba. Muba was a great barber. Well-liked and very smart. His barbershop was right in his parents’ backyard. So technically he had no “shop”. There were benches and the chair. No electric shaving machines either. He had razors and pair of scissors.

At Muba’s joint, there were all types of stories. You can imagine. I had no confidence to contribute to stories. I tend to be shying in front of peers. I listened more. Some of the folks at Muba’s could have been great comedians if they had lived in different countries. They made us laugh.

Funny thing is whenever a woman was being attended by Muba, no one spoke. It was like a creed of some sort to never speak in front of women especially at Muba’s joint. We couldn’t even talk about sports. Everyone just minded their business. Some would leave. So I learnt (wrongly) to treat women differently especially in social settings. Lucky for me, I developed a whole lot of respect for women from my upbringing. My Mom and Grandma played a significant role. They’re two adamant women I know.

Back then we played sports and games. Real ones. I played soccer as a goalie. And then played basketball with my friends from the same neighbourhood. Belonging to something outside your extended family was cool.

Music helped us a lot. It certainly helped me to learn English. Remember those days when cassettes came with a cover containing lyrics? Anyone? Yah. I loved those. It was the best gift anyone could give me. I mainly learnt a lot of English from listening to Bob Marley.

At home we had this Phillips radio cassette that I’d forward and rewind hundreds of times just to hear words like “Road of life is rocky, and you may stumble too, when you’re judging someone, someone else is judging you too”. You know what song is that? That is Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley. If that radio cassette could talk, I am sure at some point it would have snapped on me with “F*$* OUT!!”.

You want me to talk about dating? Yes, I did go on some dates. Unlike today, very few of those dates were reported or known to parents. Anyway, let me save that story for the next chapter. To finish up for today, let me say the following;

While I appreciate the technological advancement and changing paradigms of how the world operates, I think the human touch of social networking is running dry too fast. I’d like to see human being maintaining certain extent of humanity that I see. It is important. Go out and meet real people. When you’re out there, show people that you’re happy to be with them or around them. Don’t act like you’re bored as hell. Okay?

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