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Growing up eMalokishini back in the day

22 Feb 2020 at 18:12hrs | Views
Cotton farmers made headlines this week for the wrong reasons. The merchants allege that the farmers are adding weight to their bales of cotton by hiding a few stones inside.
I could not help but smile when I read the article. Ingqondo zenkomponi!

 Growing up eMalokishini, we used to raise money for football bets and idengwa (movies) from collecting and selling scrap metals and amathambo (bones). Some bullies used to force innocent-looking youngsters to add stones into their collection bags.

 With the scrap metal, there was a big green lorry that used to ferry us from eMalokishini to koScrapper in the industrial areas. To jump onto the truck, one had to show their collection to the driver and his assistant. At times this meant splitting your collection to get some of your friends on the back of the truck. It was fun. The truck will do the rounds eMalokishini - Pumula, Magwegwe, Njube, Matshobane and then into eGruv (Thorngrove). They would weigh our scrap metal before giving us the equivalent in coins - it was very, very rare to get eyephepha (one dollar). I hear the clerks, then, also used to make a killing because none us knew how to read those weighing scales.

 As soon as we got our monies, we would dash to a bakery few blocks away and buy ugqu otshisayo (hot bread) and cream doughnouts. Others simply went back to the truck and started gambling - uski.

It was the same with selling bones emakaratini. Some of us would stuff the roller meal plastic bags with bricks before filling it up with amathambo. One day our trick went awry. Our buyer called his vicious dogs and ordered all of us to empty our bags. Besides the embarrassment that gripped most of us, that day the chaps selling bread recorded little business. It was the same for uski and football bets.

Another interesting story that made headlines was of Ingwebu Breweries eyeing export markets. That would be nice. I have missed the stuff on the occasions that I have gone "overseas" like eJobeki. One time we had to search all over Soweto for masese but without any luck. The other time I had to carry my own Thatha Fives and Takura Fives. The other passengers in the combi complained throughout the night but when we touched Joubert Park, the attention and offers that I got from Onjivana! No ways, no amount of rands could make me part with my stuff. My khabhiza in Hillbrow loved the stuff.

Now about ikhabhiza, I bumped into one of them, uJB recently and he said I left a lot of detail concerning the new buses. I also got an sms from BabaZwiko which read: "Hie Phiri, you are the best on Saturdays. Do you remember those Albion 'Mganda' buses of the 80s. I hope these FAWs buses won't end up like that."

 Well, I remember those Albions very well. The way they used to labour up eBrijini leNguboyenja while cyclists and that dare-devil Peugeot 404 driver knicknamed John Love seemed to fly past. Then came the "Funny Face" buses. They were faster and had more space. I even had the luck to ride on a double decker bus when I visited Matero lokishini in Zambia's capital Lusaka some years ago.

 We loved those buses. As kids, we used to drive bricks around the yard. Remember the story of a kid who was driving a brick in the bedroom and warned: "Basopha Masawa ngizakugxoba"?

 Then came imaginary buses where one pretended to be the driver with the rest, the passengers, clinging onto his big shirt. The driver had to reproduce the difference sounds made by the buses - hammmuu. hahahamuuuu (double clash). pipiiii - (hooting) and tswiiii for sudden breaking that would have all the passengers bumping into each other and the driver! Nqinqo. when one of the passengers wanted to drop off. The only advantage of these 'buses' was they could do a sudden 90 degree turn without losing their balance.

 Later we graduated into izimotha zamawaya. We would collect wires, design and make cars with them. We used to take pride in doing the biggest and the strongest car. We would drive these cars to the shops and load some of the stuff on them. The more beautiful and stronger your car was, the more likely it was to be stolen outside the shops or from the roof tops of chicken runs or toilets or ekitshini (illegal structures) where we used to keep them overnight. You see where some people perfected their carjacking skills?

 Bus termini where meeting places. I remember Magwegwe terminus, in the mornings students from eHigh School (Mpopoma) in their safari suits would stand in their own group. Then there was a group abemanda (industrial sites). The bus inspectors would be seen proudly holding their walkie-talkies and shouting "Kelvin North over.over. over can you hear me over."

 School children in uniform used to pay half fares. As a show of respect the children would offer adults seats - something that does not happen these days.

 In the evenings, there were two popular dropping off points - at the old police station (Now opposite Ntshamate Primary School) and the first turn facing the rent office. These were dropping off points for obaba headed for the beergarden. On Fridays it was common to find children hanging around these bus stops waiting for goodies or groceries so that obaba could join ikhabhiza without having to worry about forgetting the stuff ebhawa.

Those were the days when you could count the households with fridges eEriyeni on your one hand. Actually the popular sitshebo was inhloko. The meat pieces where hung on washing lines for most of the week. Kids used to call it "stereo" because it meant eating meat for several days.

 The buses used to have a notice by the door: "Please ensure you tender the correct fare". Inside there was a cartoon (done by the late H Musa of the Woza-cartoon fame) of a naughty-looking youngman ripping the seats with a razor blade. Behind him stood a policeman dangling handcuffs. Maybe it was with this in mind that FAW chairs are made of strong plastic.

 On the notice inside a bus, Chisale had ikhabhiza in stitches recently. He claims he knows a bit of Chinese because he has been working for them for a while now. So he claims one of the notices inside the bus reads: "Lapha gada muntu kalo Lokishini kuphela".

 Now with our love for idengwa at Number Two (Emabutweni), Matshobana, Sizinda and Beit Hall, I can imagine what could have been like if we had these Chinese buses then. Now coming from watching Bruce Lee or any other karate movie, we would have had enough space in the aisles to demonstrate Bruce Lee's moves.

 It would start like: "You killed my master.." Then dushhh!, dushhh! dushhhI and then flying kick in the aisle.

 But then, jumping on a bus from edengwa to Old Magwegwe could have taken the thrill of dealing with gangsters on the way back home. Our route was littered with minefields in the form of nasty gangs. These gangs were more than willing to demonstrate a few skills that they had seen edengwa.

 At eMatshobane, there was the Black Power gang that was notorious for tying people onto the railway line. Those were the days when the railway kids used to make us believe that you could overturn a train by leaving a needle on the railway track.

 Now while most commuter operators are charging $5000 for a trip, the buses cost $1 000. More and more people from eMalokishini are opting for the buses.

 EMalokishini will never be the same after the clean-up operation. Sahwira, who used to boast to ikhabhiza that he is a landlord eBambazonke is in deep mourning. It is only this week that we learnt that the several houses that he used to own were wooden shacks eMbare that have been razed down.

 Emalokishini we will miss the cobblers that normally seat under the trees emakhoneni and doubling up as omaburawa. The talkative barbers that are always ready to take off at the sight of the amapholisa kaMazayi (Municipal police). Omasalu who sell amaveji and are also reliable sources of the happenings eEriyeni.

 As for oMaMkhize (shebeen queens), they are having the last laugh.

 "Heh! Heh! Heh! We are fully behind the clampdown of Amatshabhini. Heh! Amatshabhini this, amatshabhini that. inxeba leyinye indoda alihlekwa," uMaMkhize has been telling her patrons.
Tomorrow is a big day for the Warriors. Let's wish them luck to surmount the Gabon hurdle on their way to qualifying for the World Cup.

 For your feedback, zikomo, ngiyabonga, ndinotenda..

 "You always write about eLokishini and its not bad. But I think the name eMalokishini with Wills Phiri will do. - Pros Mandla Sibs (south)".

 Will have to consult Mdhlax about this one.

 "Michael Jackson is trial ngokudlalisa into yomntwana. Imagine how many ogogo would stand trial because of ukubhema igwayi labazukulu? - Gorbachev R S."Eish!

 "I would like to join your khabhiza. What does it take? - Thando."

 You need to have enough money for izangatha. The rest you can keep it for later koMaMkhize (sheeben).

 "Mr Phiri, please stop criticising Jehovah's Witnesses. What you are writing is not true. And you know it. I don't know why you do it or you want more people to read your column by using Jehovah's Witnesses. Ha! - 0X1365739."

 I do not remember critising JWs. I have never believed in the holier-than-attitude that most Christians are fond of. I have so much respect for Mboni zaYehova and every God-fearing person. There were plenty of them in my neighbourhood at Old Magwegwe and I used to attend some of their prayer meetings eMakaratini. I wrote about how Catholics, Anglicans, amaZion, Seventh Day Adventists, ZCC, JWs and Rastafarians keep their faith long after leaving the church.

 "I enjoyed reading your article about "emalokitshini". It revived good old memories way back in the 70's at Magwegwe Primary School. Now I am an adult and far away from Bulawayo but felt so near. - Meria Kavalo, Blantyre, Malawi."Zikomo amai!
Source - chronicle
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