Westernization au Ulimbukeni?

I was at church the other Sunday.  I had walked in late, as usual – I still don’t get this though – I always wake up so early, but I always get to church late!  I have decided to blame it on the mirror.  Somebody has to take the blame, but definitely not yours truly. Anyway, the church was jam packed – again as usual.  Us, late comers, the young and the old, always get to enjoy the fresh morning breeze as we sit outside on the garden plastic chairs.  Halafu the late comers are the ones who are always reeking of booze.

                 “Moan … God, do I have to go to church today … I’ll pray in bed … besides I always talk to you when I’m intoxicated …” is it just me or do we all get really religious and one with the Almighty when really sloshed.  Once I even saw the pearly heaven’s gates.  Kweli tena! So the negotiations with God continue, “… okay, I agree because of you my week was fruitful and beautiful … I agree, without you I wouldn’t be where I am today … “ at this point, your bed is getting cozier and warmer – but He always wins. 

So groaning you get up and drag your heavy head to the bathroom.  Between negotiating with your eyes to open, your feet to walk and finally arguing with the mirror that the face you are seeing on the mirror is not yours – you find yourself getting to church late again!   Anyway, so basi bwana, this heavily pregnant older woman comes in – there is a bunch of kids occupying some of the plastic garden chairs – but they don’t move.  Imagine, this heavily pregnant woman walks in and these kids in minis and loose pants just sit there – some of them chewing gum even!  Yes, chewing gum kanisani I tell you!! 

Anyway, the kids do see the woman, two girls look at her and start giggling.  The mothers have also seen the woman.  They steal quick glances at their spoilt kids and proceed fanning their heavily made-up faces with the Chinese fans they got from their shopping trips in Dubai. 

Ingekuwa enzi yetu, one of the mothers would have given one of her kids that eye, that look – we used to call it the laser beam look as it sliced right through you with no warning at all.  Anyway, so if it was our time, one of the mothers would have flashed one of her kids that look that would have made him get up as quickly as a flash and let the older person sit on his chair. Tena if you are late getting up from your chair, she makes you go fetch ten chairs – from God only knows where – of all the other late comers who have just walked in.  Halafu lets not forget that you are in church, so no talking – mama wa enzi zetu would remind us with just one look.  Without knowing your bearings, you go around like a headless chicken until you find the chairs. 

So the poor heavily pregnant woman wobbles to this chair.  It was unoccupied at that point.  There was a 3-4 year old who seemed to be high on something was using it more as a jumping castle than a chair – one minute he was sitting on it, the next he was running around, chasing his own shadow.  Again, his mother did nothing to stop the chaos he was causing.

                   Ni mtoto bwana,” she would have said, if she was asked, “mwache acheze.” 

Hello!!  This is a church!  Not a goddamn play ground!!  We are here to pray not to play!!  Duuh!!  Anyway, so the heavily pregnant woman wobbles to the chair.  Bwana wee, the baby mama wacha ampe lip!  I promise you even the Almighty  all the way up there stopped concentrating on the blessing he was showering us with at that moment and stared at the baby mama, bewildered. Quickly I got up – to the rescue – and offered the woman my chair.  Manake ilikuwa ni aibu!  And the kids, hell, they kept on blowing on their gums and giggling.   

What’s happening to the African adabu and heshima, our parents and the parent of our parents and so-forth have been instilled in us for years?  Why have we failed to do the same with our kids?  Yaani their morals have gone out the windows kabisa Haya basi, this other day I went to visit an old friend.  Well, she is more of a dada than anything.  You know, those older girls you grew up with whom always whacked your ass, just to prove that they were older than you so they knew better.  Anyway, dada’s house was packed to the brim – with her daughters’ friends enjoying a sleep over.    Getting a ‘shikamoo’ from them was an issue.  Simply because they were as tall as I am – and ‘hi’ is the order of the day – or simply just a nod.  And what did the mother do?  Nothing.  She just smiled and said the same annoying thing – which is about to turn into a national anthem soon, if we don’t start discipling our kids.                 Waache watoto,” grr, I’m so getting tired of that sentence, “ndio wakati wao.” 

The table then got laid … there was enough food to feed the whole Africa – halafu vikibaki they go to the dogs, no viporo in the fridge, all in the name of Uzungu.  I think dada saw the surprised look on my face.  There was savoury rice, chips, pizza, pasta, mash – there was even pilau and biriani – not to mention the poultry, seafood, meat dishes and salads.  There were six girls and each had her own special dish.  Haya bwana wee.

               “We are having the savoury rice, but the girls don’t feel like rice today,” she explained.  The little guys in my head and I all went ‘huh?’ in unison.  I mean, whatever happened to ‘y’all going to eat what I have cooked!’ 

Halafu have you noticed that these kind of kids always sport those creatively-spelt black American names – such as LaQuanna, Zhan’nee, T’Keyah, LaShonda, Tyrone, YaSheema … and then there are the Precious, Ebony, Candy – these names are so creatively spelt that you have to go to school so as to learn to pronounce.  Don’t the mothers who give their daughters such names know that the Moneeshas, Queetas and Shone’etas of this world can cook a storm as well as they can dance to a Beyonce video?

                  “I have taught them to speak their minds.”  Okay, hold on there, dada.  I don’t think this is what they mean by speaking one’s mind.  This is called – having it their way and being spoilt.   So there is dada Mary, the kids’ nanny, busy laying the table while the girls are dancing to Beyonce’s video.  I call two of the girls and asked them if they would help dada Mary.

                 Dada quickly jumped in, “waache tu watoto wacheze.” 

Lunch was delicious – yaani it was finger licking good – and loud.  We could hardly hear each other with the girls jumping into our conversations.  Again, if it was enzi zetu, duuuh!  Tena a separate table ya mbali would have been set for us kids, lest we made noise and interrupted the elders. 

So when we were done, I expected, well, I thought the girls would clear the table.  Again I asked – okay, don’t go groaning on me now!  I’m not blonde for nothing – jamani, I am sometimes slow.  I just never learn fast enough.

                 This time the girls replied me from the lounge – while gyrating their teenage hips to a Shakira video – in unison, “dada atasafisha.  Kwani kazi yake ni nini?” 

                 “Can they cook?”

                “Ooh no!  What for?  Heaven forbid, no!  Si dada wapo?”

                “How do they manage at school?”  I just had to ask – my lower lip was hanging on the floor, I promise you.  The girls then went to a boarding school you see.

                 “What do you mean?”

                  “I mean when it comes to washing and cleaning?”

                 “Oh sometimes they pay other kids to wash for them.  Sometimes when we go visit we take the dirty laundry with us,” she explained proudly, “unajua I’m teaching them to be Westernized.  Besides apart from wadada, we have washing maching, microwaves, blenders … blah blah blah ….” 

I swear I never knew microwaves could cook!  I was too flabbergasted that day to remember to ask dada to show me this miracle microwave.  Next time I will sure remember – for I really could do with one!

Anyway, sasa huu uzungu utatupeleka pabaya!  Maybe our parents were right when they insisted that ‘children are meant to be seen and not heard?’  They have been given the chance to be heard, now look at what is happening.  They were so right to teach us the value of money and hard work.  Huu sasa ni uzungu au ujinga?  Ulimbukeni?! 

~ by saharasoulfood on February 2, 2007.

10 Responses to “Westernization au Ulimbukeni?”

  1. sometimes, i feel the same way. especially when nothing is going on in my life.. arggh.. your post reminded me of something.. or someone. ah whatever!

  2. kumbe other people are flabbergasted by these teenies these days as well?i thought it’s just me na ushamba wangu! man the things they do! i went to a barbeque last month, i hadnt hung around teenagers in a while, man was i suprised!!The things they were talking about…..and smoking?i hope they were cigarettes. Mpaka wasichana imagine??!!The “pieces of fabric” they were sporting ndio usiseme, God forbid! Tembea usiku uone jamani. Enzi zangu, bording school? Corridor scrubbing, maize farming. I learned soo much, although at that time i thought it was sheer torture, kumbe it was preparation for life…..

  3. It is sad we are copying up to what is not there to copy. If it is westernization then we are exagerating it. I know a lot of teens in the west, that work even for their pocket money. U will find them in fast food joints ,kiosks , etc working. Not because their parents dont have money, but because they taught how hard it is to get money.I even know some teens who are so good in budgeting ,I could ask for advice. I guess too much western television is doing its part to brain wash

  4. Great topic and important one too.I would call the whole thing ulimbukeni coz calling it westernization would be fatally wrong.I see gear shifts,when the westerners are learning that they have been wrong all along in ways they raised most of their kids,poor africans,with the juggles of tv,games and laws that pays no attention to culture and tradition,parents are busy encouraging their kids to be stupid and irresponsible.By the way,nowadays to be stupid is cool,right?However,we will reap what we are sawing.And we will reap it bad because same kids that we raising in .com fashion will be the one to kick our behinds when we go back to the beginning of the circle

  5. By e-mail from Jay Ronnie, USA:

    I liked your blog and can easily be convinced that you walk the talk. Recall words of Sen. Barack Obama, “..tough talk doesn’t make you tough..” Sina shaka wewe unafanya kweli 🙂

    I happened to meet a Tanzanian old man who lived in the US in the 60’s and 70’s kwa maelezo yake anasema…hayo yanayotokea Tanzania sasahivi ndivyo ilivyokuwa Marekani ya wakati huo. Hakuna aliyepoteza muda wake kurekebisha mambo ndo maana leo mtoto wa miaka 7 ana mpenzi wake na mzazi huruhusiwi kukemea ama sivyo utaitiwa Polisi kwa kumnyanyasa! Hii ndiyo maana ya uhuru kwa ‘definition’ ya Kimarekani. Je, uhuru una maana gani kwetu sisi??

    Kuna mema mengi ya kuiga kutoka Magharibi lakini si kila jambo. Pamoja na umasikini wetu tuna vyetu vya kujivunia. Kwa mfano, haki ya akina mama kupiga kura nchini marekani ilitolewa miaka takriban 150 baada ya uhuru wao. Tanzania akina mama wanapiga kura tangu tupate uhuru. Haki ya watu weusi kupiga kura nchini marekani si ya kudumu. That’s right, it is renewable! Mara ya mwisho imeongezwa muda wake tarehe 27 Julai 2006 na Rais George Bush. In fact rais Bush kaamua kusaini mwaka mmoja kabla haijaisha muda ili kuonyesha ‘UPENDO’ wake kwa watu weusi. Hii itakuwepo kwa miaka 25 na rais bado ana uwezo kisheria wa kuiondoa wakati wowote akitaka. Bush kamiminiwa sifa tele kwa kutoa muda mrefu zaidi ya marais wengine (i.e1965,1970, 1975, 1982). Sisi kwetu kuna Wahindi, Waarabu na wengineo ambao ni raia na sote tuna haki sawa. Sikatai ukweli kwamba na sisi tuna matatizo yetu, hayo yanafaa kurekebishwa.

    Wale waliooa au kuolewa huku ughaibuni wanajua nini kipo kwenye jamii hizi. Kwetu wanandoa wakitofautiana kuna wazazi, wasimamizi, ndugu na jamaa wa kusaidia kurekebisha mambo au basi kutalikiana kungwana. Huku hakuna kupoteza muda, ni mahakamani na ukiwa na bahati mbaya ni risasi…utajiju! Mifano ni mingi lakini ninachotaka kusema hapa ni kwamba, tujiamini na tulichonacho na tunapohitaji kuiga tuchague kwa busara ama sivyo tunaelekea kubaya. Hili si jambo la mtu mmoja mmoja bali ni la jamii nzima kwakuwa mwanangu akiharibika atakutana na binti wa Sandra na kumgawia mambo. Jitihada za Sandra kutoa jicho kali, kemeo na ‘midoli myeusi’ inakuwa haina maana tena

  6. By e-mail from Stella Rupia, USA:

    We don’t have to imagine what will happen when they become parents, as Jay commented earlier, that’s what’s happening today in the western world where parents take kids to talk-shows on behaviour issues that would not have existed had they enforced structure and boundaries.

  7. […] stand, lakini there is hope.  While some parents are appease their spoilt brats in the name of uzungu, others are doing otherwise.  A sister and a good friend has been blessed two beautiful kids.  […]

  8. can u mail me plz

  9. ooh God thanks for =saying that, I do feel the same too. They can get to your nerves all in the name of westernazation but thei is total ulibukeni. As far as I know westanazation is not supposed to take away our respect and if it does then it is total crap.

  10. Well my dear,
    Any parent that doesn’t teach their children the good old fashion heshima na adabu, is in for a rude awakening sooner or later. Wanasema, unavuna unachopanda.

    There will be no ”dada” to change the old age nappie and the kid’s better be able to afford your nursing home fees!

    We blame it on the ”western world” but that’s just a lame excuse. After spending a decade in the west I still give my 15 year old the laser look and it works just fine! I am not against a whack on the behind if necessary either … luckily the situation hasn’t presented itself :))

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