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November 21, 2018

School holidays seem to have lost their essence

School holidays seem to have lost their essence.
School holidays seem to have lost their essence.

You know who I feel sorry for in this day and age? School-going kids. When I was still in school, one thing I always looked forward to were the holidays. April, August and December were exhilarating for me as I didn’t have to attend classes to listen to Miss Ndun’gu teach Maths in primary school and Mr Singh drone Physics while doing my “O” levels.

Holidays were divine and we anxiously waited for them for months. It was time to engage in all sorts of activities. At times we would tour neighbouring areas to see what nature had to offer. Other times we would sit in glued to television screens to watch programmes which ran on only two Kenyan TV stations in the early 1990s.

Some school mates went swimming if they could afford it. Or to the movies – this brings Sarafina madness to mind. Movies were a thing for older students in secondary school and college. Life was easy and we didn’t have serious stuff to worry about back then. We wolfed down food to feed our growing bodies. We knew the people we were supposed to look up to and those to stay away from just by looking at them go about their business.

Today, school holidays have changed a lot. My perspective has not changed just because I am now a parent. It’s a whole different ball game all together. The students who are lucky to survive an arson attack on their school go home, and as expected, they engage in activities teenagers love. They eat anything and everything they find edible in the house, much to the displeasure of their parents whose pockets suffer major dents.

There is also another problem parents will have to grapple with. First, almost everything seems to have gone haywire in our country. Matatu touts were once some of the coolest people in estates – as far as secondary school students were concerned. This is the reason increased incidences of pregnant school-girls were not uncommon as touts had the ‘swag’ that most girls found irresistible.

The touts today are animal-like, especially those plying Embassava route. They now think exhibiting predator-like behaviour is more desirable than being cool. This could be the reason they are voluntarily offering unsought services they believe the society needs urgently – becoming the moral police who undress anyone they think is ‘indecently’ dressed.

This has dealt a heavy blow to young women, who have barely started enjoying their holiday, as they are not able to look their best when out with friends. Having had to be in full school uniforms for three months, the recent events have robbed them off the freedom to loosen up and they must remain in conservative clothing. No more dressing like Beyonce and more dressing like Mother Teresa and her Calcata nuns.

The young lasses will not only miss out on stylish clothing, which we were lucky to don during our heydays, but our juvenile youths are at high risk of being sexually assaulted more than ever – young men included. Leaving home is no longer an option for many, and they are forced to sit at home watching YouTube – those who have access to it, at least. Just over a decade ago, the options were narrowed to two stations and remote controls were not easily available so one had to manually operate the set when switching to another channel.

Today, the number of free-to-air channels are numerous but sadly, the programming is uniform. Almost all TV stations air music shows at the same time, news at the same time and so on, which tend to carry the same content!

The pressure to keep up with the Kenyattas and Chandarias is always there in every society but today, everything has simply gotten out of hand. Some parents are even doing somersaults, just to delight their kids. At this rate, it should not surprise you that some adults are looking to hook up with ‘spring chickens’ in their offices yet they have no time for their offsprings – very difficult times indeed for teens. They simply do not have a role model to look up to as their parents are nowhere to be seen.

As the youngsters enjoy their holiday, it’s only fair that we recognise how different the landscape has changed as they wait for Christmas and the New Year holiday. Being young in Nairobi is difficult with all the madness. And for this, I salute you, Nairobi teens.

Venue Review: Zero Plus Café, Balozi Estate, South B

Do you know the flavour of the month currently is Nigerian? If you haven’t been following, hot stuff airing in our media come from the Western African state. Actors such as Ramsey Nouah and Genevieve Nnaji are household names where movies are concerned.

When it comes to music, sounds of P Square, Yemi Alade and Chidinma complete an ideal party. Books by Chimamanda Adichie has become the face of African literature, with one of her speeches being used by none other than Beyonce Knowles.

While accessing their arts has been a simple affair, so is getting their food, which we only hear about. The prices of Nigerian dishes in our restaurants can be a turnoff, as some dishes go for Sh3,000 and even Sh4,000. I was, therefore, pleased when I was invited to the opening of a new restaurant behind Balozi estate, Zero Plus Café. Located off Mombasa Road, opposite Winners Chapel, it is easily accessible. The restaurant is on the first floor but has no ramps for wheelchair users.

While the outside of the restaurant doesn’t impress, I have to say I liked the décor. It is a small place that accommodates few customers. Main customers in the restaurant appeared young and mostly Nigerian nationals. Going by the menu, it was easy to tell why this was the case. It had yummy Nigerian dishes such as egusi soup, eba and so on, in addition to Kenyan meals such as ugali, rice and matumbo.

The Nigerian dishes were retailing at no more than Sh1,000.

Mr Salakho, the owner of the café, offered me a cold Tusker, which was retailing at Sh170. This was reasonable price. I enjoyed my drink, as I watched football games.

Recap of the venue:

Good: Good service, decent décor, TV for sports fanatics, Nigerian cuisine at reasonable prices and clean washrooms

Bad: Disability-unfriendly

My verdict: This little café offers a uniquely Nigerian experience if you were looking for it.

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