10 years ago: Those born in the millennial era will never understand all these things and all the fuss people make of the 90s but there is prolly no era like the one we know. Before all the phones and video games, there was a life!
We have grown by leaps and bounds. We have filled the roads with cars, we have fenced our homesteads, but we are not any happier. In fact, we are more depressed, more lonely and more confused. The development and growth did not reflect in the happiness of our hearts. It was null and void, a mirage of all that we hoped for. Today’s #SOUG is different, we take a look back at the things we miss.
We miss the good old days when we ran to police, and not from police. We miss the good old days when we took photos, exhausted the films and waited for the day when the film had been ‘washed’. We miss that anticipation, the excitement as we reviewed photo by photo, ‘the dead and alive’. Then we had to decide on the photos that would make it to the albums.
We miss the good old days when we kept certain cups and plates for the visitors. We miss the cupboards that were always under lock and key, waiting for that important visitor. We miss the times when visitors carried something along for the host families. Then we had that main front door. The door that only came to play on the big days or when that big visitor visited.
We miss the days when Christmas and Sunday food took ages to get ready. We miss the organic Christmas trees. As they dried up with the festive season, waiting to be set on fire come New Year’s day. We miss the Christmas decorations, the balloons, hard-earned through the game of numbers and gambling, how we all aimed for the bigger balloon, never too close to it, but almost there.
With more choice in our lives came all the unhappiness. For a mind left with many options never gets satisfied. The days were simpler, the black and white TV sets, one or two TV stations, and one resident news anchor. You did not have to shuffle through a million stations to find what to watch. After all, the TVs shut down at midnight.
We miss the days when we made our own toys. We made our own footballs from a collection of empty milk pints and rubber ties. We made our toy cars from a collection of metallic tyres. We drove with old bicycle rims and car tyres. We recycled, re-used and saved our environment long before someone had to tell us about sustainability. We longed for the days when we played hide and seek, dodge-ball and the like. We made aeroplanes out of paper, leaves and old plastic bottles. We grew up as one solid community. We talked to each other, not about each other.
We loved our President so much that we assumed every plane that hovered over deserved a ‘bye bye Museveni’. There was a time when politicians worked for us, not on us. All those days are memory blinks in our span of neurons.
The dating did not come any easier. It required sacrifice. It required bracing the night mosquitoes while hiding under the nearby tree, all covered in a bush of weeds. You stood and waited for her to appear at the appointed time. She came by, we whispered our heaps of promises. Then you returned home. She escorted you, then you escorted her back, then she escorted you, and the infinite trail of escorts went on.
We miss the days of letter-writing. We miss the writing pads and the skill that went into choosing the perfect one. We miss the opening lines of the letters. To my ocean in the drop, the caramel in my porridge. For those without the words, we had Shakespeare and Song of Songs to consult. Then came the dedications. How could you miss Shania Twain or Celine Dion? Finally the letter went out, covered in kisses and hugs. Then we awaited the reply. That surely did come, after so long. But because we waited, we valued this reply. These days have been erased, it is all instant now. We have run out of words, we have employed emojis.
There was a time when taxi journeys cost as low as Shs200. There was a time when the Shs50 note could buy lots and lots of stuff. It could mean the difference between four pancakes and an empty stomach. Love was as cheap as it came.
Before CDs came to shove, there was a time when Ugandans bought music albums. All it took was a purchase of the tape and have a cassette player at hand. You could get a pen or pencil and rewind your tape. This touch brought a connection to the music, and brought the musician closer to our side.
Today’s generation will never relate to the happiness that came out of sucking nectar out of some flowers. They will never relate to the bed time stories of ‘awo olwatuuka.” That there was a time when rats were so rich that they gave out money for every tooth.
Now here we are, waking up every morning to a gridlock of traffic. We hoot endlessly. We long for the weekends. Then we get taken by our phones, we laugh away, notification after notification. If only we could confess to ourselves; “adulthood is a scam!”