Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Who Stole Our Culture? Technology Did

Who stole part of our culture? Technology did. I was barely seven-years-old when I owned my first car and nine-years-old when I got my second. The first was a Datsun with a chrome finish along with big fat 4x4 tyres. It was custom built for me and throughout production at the factory, I was there – supervising, advising, changing the design every now and again to the annoyance of Production Manager. Nevertheless, he bit his lower lip and made the changes that I demanded accordingly. When production work started on the second car, he was less than amused for this time I went overboard with the specifications.

My Datsun Looked Like This - Except Better

The Datsun wasn’t built in a Japanese factory, but in the garage of Dad’s home. It was a wire car that had everything from a steering wheel to a sturdy chassis. It was not welded together but, held in place with rubber strips cut from the tube of a discarded car tyre.

That was how we played as kids back then when we had time. No, I tell a lie. While we did want to play, playing time was not a luxury as it is today. Playing back in the 70s was only done when parents had gone to work. The moment we heard the car drive through the gates at 6:00pm, it was it was every sibling for themselves. It was scatter time to bedrooms to pretend we had been engrossed in books.

But we didn’t spend all our time driving wire cars. We did other stuff too.


I’ve asked about, and nobody seems to know what dulu means – except, it’s a seed of sorts and it’s also a game of marbles. I really can’t remember the mechanics of the games, except that we used to dig a small hole in the ground which, if you got your marble into it, you earned points. With the fingers of say your right hand arched to provide stability in the same style used when playing pool, the marble was placed between the tip of the middle finger of the right hand and the index finger of the left hand. Using the index finger to pull the middle finger as far back as possible, the marble was launched to hit other marbles out of the way.

A Game Of Dulu


The best I can elucidate kwepena, is that there are two girls at either end of a 5-meter strip. With one girl in the middle of the strip, the two girls would throw a ball – often made out of banana fibre to try and hit her. In between trying to avoid being hit, the girl in the middle would have to pile stones on to each other to win the game.


I stand to be corrected on this, but omweso is not a Luganda word as most people think but, is derived from the Swahili word – michezo which, means the ‘game’. Omweso requires a board of 32 pits, arranged with eight pits lengthwise towards the players, and four pits deep. Each player's territory is the 16 pits on their side of the board. The normal way to win the game is to be the last player to be able to make a legal move, possible by capturing all an opponent's stones or reducing the opponent to no more than one seed in each pit.
The catapult

Kids today own catapults, would have most likely have bought them from the supermarket – and a Chinese version at that. Aside the joy of owning one, the real ‘meat’ of a catapult, was foraging deep into the kyalo thickets with Shamba Man and looking for that perfect ‘Y’ branch, leather pouch and cutting the rubber straps from the tube of a car tyre.
A Palestine Boy with A Catapult in Gaza 
Those are some of the games that defined our cultural heritage and which, we have since lost out to technology. Today’s generation of children will never know what is like to play a real game as we did growing up in the 70s because today, games are defined as PlayStation, Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run, Grand Theft Auto and Fruit Ninja for example and all played on our smart phones. So, tell me - where is the excitement, the quest, the euphoria in playing games on a Samsung, Techno or Apple smart phone?  

Playstation 4

Pictures: Amazon, The Guardian, Edge Ug, Alamy

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