Photos Scanned And Provided By: Mustafa Pirmohamed
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Dilip Majithia, Ashwin (Ayno) Parmar, Harkishan Mistry, Bharat Parmar,Nilesh Majithia, Nayan Majithia, Murtaza Dinani,Giyas, Mukesh Kanabar and Sudhir Parmar.
Standing back row L-R 1 Not Known 2 Nizar who was staying near Mohsin Dabo’s house 3 Mehboob Lilani 4 Nizar, Mehroon’s brother 5 Aunali Versi 6 Gulam Hameer 7 Habib M. Habib 8 Taki Virani 9 Gulam Dinani 10 Anver Virani 11 Mohsin Millwaro 12 Nizar Sampuly Standing Front row L-R: 1 Muslim M. Habib 2 Diamond – Sakar’s son – who had cloth shop in Sokoni 3 Shiraz – Gulnar’s brother 4 Mustafa Pardhan 5 Younger brother of Meroon 6 Murtaza Dinani Sitting: L- R: 1 Diamond Shivji 2 Mohsin Dabo 3 Iqbal Lilani - Photo courtesy Mustafa Hasham Caption HabibVirani
Games and kid activities in 1960s, 70s…
We had cricket grounds at Mtanda and at Indian Sports Club – now Mkonge School and Sabasaba grounds. We played everywhere – I remember playing cricket in the mosque compound (ladies section) using tennis balls. I was afraid of playing cricket since my mom had told me a story of a friend of her brother in Zanzibar who got his hand severed due to an injury from a cricket ball. Therefore, there was no question of me playing cricket with the ‘lakdano ball” (wooden ball) as we used to say. Only tennis ball was OK for me.
Football was the main game for all kids. We even had a small team of friends in Stadium Primary and we remember having taken a team photo which I had kept in my album. Twenty years later, I gave it to my team-mate - unfortunately he lost it. For me, taking part in football ended – I was not a sporty guy anyway – when, as a goalkeeper, someone kicked me hard in my stomach. I even remember that it was the ground opposite the police apartments near Lindi club. The earliest football I remember is when my late uncle Mohamed took me to Mpilipili grounds to watch. Sadly my uncle died when I was 7 years old. He was 32.
Then there was Rounders and Hockey – we had a special ground for that near the Stadium. Volleyball was very common - one good player we had was Gulam Alibhai. I remember volleyball being played in the boarding house grounds. The Boarding house had a volleyball court – if we could call it so – and we played there. Many times I was more of a spectator sitting on the wall separating the boarding house and my home.
Someone had the idea to introduce Rugby at Lindi Secondary. We played on the grounds between the headmaster’s office and the Geography Room/Biology Lab. In the first game, someone knocked my glasses – and that was the end for me. No more rugby. I was the kind who did not like to push or be pushed!
We of course had many sports activities in school – including athletics. It was one sport which interested me: javelin, shot putt, relay, short races. I did not take part in them but I do remember to be good at sprinting – running - hence my nickname - pikipiki or pikibhai
Swimming was not my take since the drowning of our friend Mustafa. However we did go in water just to play. It was enviable to see so many friends going for swim during picnics at Mitema.
There were several picnic spots. The famous one was Mitema, but people did go to Rasbura, Kitunda (Mwitingi) and in 1990s I heard of people going to Mchinga, much farther away. Mitema was the most common picnic spot. I had been to Rasbura and was fascinated with the 100 steps we had to climb down to reach the beach. There is one trip which I specially remember when our whole extended family went. This was when Marhum Liakatali Fazal, a cousin from Tanga had come to Lindi. A jolly and adventurous guy, he took us all on this trip which we remember very well. It was one trip when all the ladies in the family participated. We even took a Primus stove to cook over there.
The Sunday walk was some sort of parade including a fashion parade. Boys and girls in their best clothes would take a walk starting from the Boma to Lighthouse. I don’t know whether anyone went as far as the samshan- the Crematorium. Probably none, as that would be the last thought in the minds of the youth. The seniors would be seated on benches at the Boma and some of the boys perched on the fence of the PC house. Some girls would be seated opposite the fence of the PC house. A few cars would disturb the youths who walked in the centre of the road. There was some sort of fixed Sunday schedule for many - noon at Mitema, evening on Sunday walk at the shore and night at the Novelty theatre.
Among the games kids played were Langdi, pakdapakdi, kho-kho and hututu. Gili-danda was a game I was always afraid of. The boys would play in the streets and I was always afraid it would break someone’s car window or house window. There were so many other activities that kids were involved in – some really weird. I remember sitting down at drainage channels near the stadium school when it rained and observe the thousands of tadpoles swimming. While waiting for our younger brothers Murtaza and Aziz , I would go in the bush behind the school with my friend Late Majid Lodhi and try to look for lizard eggs. We could find them in crevices in the fallen branches. We did nothing to them – only held them, admired the little eggs and threw them away. The blue-coloured eggs of birds that lived in the tree opposite the Mandir attracted me. We would go and look for one or two nests which might have fallen on the ground. The birds were yellow in colour and the eggs were blue. Isn’t that strange? - we thought. We even moved our fingers in the smooth lining of cotton in the bird nest. What a great feeling! God is amazing to have created birds who made their life so comfortable with that kind of smooth sleeping place.
Sucking nectar out of yellow flowers from the school fence – as if competing with each other – was a strange activity but the sweet outcome made us do that. When walking along the mud houses near the light house one of our friends showed us how to look for tekenya – little insects which tickled. We used to dig the very small mounds at the front part of the mud huts and take out tekenya. Let them do some tickling on our palms and then throw them. This was another weird activity.
The ‘yoka’ game by kids was not a good game. Boys would call each other by shouting their names and then would pretend going about their own business. Some of the kids earned punishment from adults for this. One guy, the worker at the mosque, whom we used to call Lamfella was victim to this. He earned a bad name as he used to splash water on the baraza to stop boys sitting outside when sermons were going on inside.
Then there was an activity which was definitely not good. Lizard-hunting. Mohamed Jusab once took a whole group for lizard hunting. Each boy had a small tree branch. We looked for the lizards underneath the huge trees. We only looked for the big ones. Mohamed would shout “ Chichi - Maaro” – “ Lizard – Hit” and we would all act on his command. In restrospective, this was evil. Opposite the police station there were lots of trees and big lizards. Some started shouting ‘Maaro’ and the police came out and chased us away. I don’t think we continued that again.
We used to go round rubbish (trash) bins at shops and collected thrown envelopes which had stamps. Got a lot of stamps from these. Stamp collecting was a hobby for some of us.
Tree climbing was common especially if we wanted to watch football. I was not a keen watcher but would sheepishly follow the group. The common place would be near the Arab Fort. There were lots of trees and we would perch on the trees watching football. We would also watch boys walking over the stadium (now called Ilulu Stadium) wall and police following them up.
I once climbed a tree opposite the Musafarkhana. Somehow when I was climbing, my glasses fell down and me too. Someone was on the ground buying food from a vendor. I fell on his back. Luckily no one was hurt.
We also hunted for fruits. When we went to mosque for morning prayers on Sundays or holidays we used to go fetch the fallen kungus from the tree between the old mandir and the mosque. It would be dawn, still dark, and I don’t know how my friends always got something in that dark. When they got kungu which had marks of being bitten by birds or bats, they would say these were the sweet ones. They would be relished. During the evenings when no one was around, the boys would throw sticks and stones to get the kungu from that tree. There were several other kungu trees in town where we got the fruits. Sometimes we would go to Fizzabai Jangbari (Habib Butchery) house and she would we give us kungu from her tree. They were really sweet ones. We dried the fruit stone and took out the badaam of kungu – a favorite childish food.
We hunted for mangoes, mapera (guava), jambu (zambarau – the purple fruits, rose-apple), furusadi (similar to blackberries) and kunazi (jujube berries) at the cemetery. Furusadi was also available from trees whose branches extended on the roof of the toilets of Fizzabai house near the mosque. So we even climbed the roof to get Furusadi.
One day when we went to cemetery and were quite early, we wanted to have mangoes from one tree. As usual, stones and sticks went up. There was no boundary wall at that time. Some other boys from the opposite side were also throwing stones. One of them hit me in my left eye. I was wearing glasses and I got a cut under the left eyelid. I started bleeding and Marhum Hussein Katoto got hold of me and took me in his car directly to the hospital. I got stitches in the left eyelid. Of course, everyone at home was shocked. I got a lot of pampering that evening. My mom kept comforting me in bed and there were lots of ladies who were visiting me. The room was full of ladies.
Asmini flower picking was one of my hobby as my aunt Khatija would tell me to bring them. They were not the normal asmini but the ones that grew on tall trees. We used to call them wild asmini or jungle asmini. You could find them opposite the Jamatkhana and the ground near the school.
When walking along the shore, we would sometimes try to dig out the bait for the fish as somebody had told us how the fisherman got their bait from these little growths in the sand. We would take them out and throw them again. It was not good looking for bait when we had no intention of fishing!
Occasionally we had a stickman walking through the streets. A man would attach two long poles to his legs, decorate himself and walk through the streets. Kids would follow him.
I particularly liked the man who would come outside our shop with his big drum and start beating. People would gather. He would proclaim: ‘Mbiu ya mgambo ikilia ina jambo” meaning the beating of drum means there is something for all to hear. He would then make an announcement. There would be more kids around him than adults.
I liked growing groundnuts (peanuts), kothmiri (cilantro, coriander), methi (fenugreek), viryali(fennel), marchi(chillies) in the compound of my home. Our neighbour, Pushpaben, wife of auditor Muljibhai Patel, whose son Piyush was my friend, used to call me to help her in her enclosed garden. She would plant a mixture of vegetables including Tindora (ivy gourd). She would tell me that I had ‘green’ hands. The vegetables flourished very well and that made her happy. She would call me to join her son for fire-crackers during Diwali. She would give us an ‘ungo’ full of fire-crackers. We lit them from her balcony. Sadly, Pushpaben passed away last year (2011).
Some of the games we played were strange. Like the one in which we obtained the stamens from teta tree bud opposite the musafarkhana. We used to open the buds, and fight the stamens with each other. The colored petal was called ice-cream which we ate. The whole street was lined with teta tree which blossomed with red flowers every December.
We picked some very small, dry, thin pods, brought them home, put them in water and they would burst. Some of the boys played with ‘upupu’ – I did not. It caused itching. Some even brought it to school.
There was one game in which we would make squares and rectangles on the ground, throw a pebble, and jump one-legged over the square containing the pebble. This was our ‘hop scotch’
We had very few toys. One of the most famous local toys was lorries made of ‘mabua’(the tissue in the stem of maize or sorghum plant). It was a great innovation by local vendors.
We also used pebbles to play a game in which we would sit on a floor, throw pebbles on the floor, take each one and throw in the air, making sure the pebbles on the floor are not disturbed while picking. This was called ‘panchika’. It was a very good pass-time.
Jack Magongo was a famous magician although I had never attended his show. I also remember a particular show called ‘ Maut no Kuwo” “Well of Death” in which some outsiders had come and the show ran for several days. An over the ground wooden structure resembling a wide well was constructed near the stadium. A motorcyclist would drive from the ground making several rounds until he reached the rim of the well where all the spectators would be.
Antakadi was a game when kids would sing a song, and the next person followed by starting a new song from the last letter of the previous song. I would just observe this. Some boys were so attached to songs, that after morning prayers, they would go and sit underneath a particular storeyed house where songs were played on the daily morning programme of All India Radio. That house, opposite former Kanabar and Yusuf Dhanji house, has now been demolished.
All India Radio and Pakistan radio beamed special programmes for Asians of East Africa every morning. This was a must in all households. Later on in the 60s, we could hear BBC and Radio Tanzania, Radio Germany, Ethiopia, South Africa, etc. These were the common radio channels which also aired Swahili news programs.
According to Jayantibhai Patel of Lindi Stores, the Novelty Cinema was started by Late Kassamali Hameer and the charges were Sh 1 and Sh 2 for the shows. We also had women-only shows – Zanana shows. The first film shown at this cinema, was a silent movie called Albela (1950s). An incident that I remember was when Jaffer Hameer (not related to the owner) had arranged for us to go to movie. I went there bare-footed – kids at that time roamed around bare-footed except when going to school, mosque, etc. He told me to go back home and get my shoes on. I do not remember whether I went back or not.
The movies which kids would go crazy about were the ones shown by Aspro Van. Aspro was a common pain-killer in those days and their van would go around towns showing movies. Whenever the van came to town, the kids would go straight to the hockey grounds immediately after maghrib prayers at the Society, watch the movie and reach home late. The movies were nothing but adverts but it was free and it was rare entertainment.
Kids ate all kinds of snacks and fruits. We had the wild fruits called Mbakatika – which we picked from a huge tree at Babuseth house near the old Mandir. Vendors would sell them too. We had Shirazi, Vitoro, Mithi Ambli and Khati ambli. Some liked Kashata and kahawa. Snacks like bateta na sambusa were sold by vendors but the ones we bought from Rukhsana Bhimji’s mother were very good. Sekela tesa (roasted groundnuts) of Lindi were of unique taste. We also had bafela tesa (boiled groundnuts), sekela muhogo (roasted cassava), makai (roasted maize/corn) and garam bhajia from Deluxe hotel run by Fida Sumar. The best Gubit (made of molasses – sukari guru) in town was from Sherali Khatau house. Ladu made from sorghum (Mtama na ladu) were favorites also. So were tarkishi tarbuch (Lindi matango – large size cucumber pieces with mithu marchi) from Pipishop opposite Jivan Jeraj shop. Other common fruits were mangoes of all types – kizungu, dodo and boribo. Dadam (pomegranate), Sitafal (custard apple) and ramfal(soursop) were available from mosque also. Magongo were unique. Thorny inside but juicy. Many years later, when I used to visit Lindi I got the taste back – from Hussein Kalyan who had a Magongo tree at his home.
Weddings were special treat for kids. We would join ladies groups cooking ladu for the occasion. In our case, the car garage would be a place for town ladies to meet. Some weddings were different - for example the wedding of my uncle Mohamed in Newala - the whole town went to the mosque in some sort of procession! We never had that in Lindi! At Anver Merali’s wedding held at the Fidahussein Co building next to Mandir, we as kids were surprised at an old lady throwing four eggs in four directions. At the mosque, kids would be excited with the presence of photographer with flashbulb. Every time a photo was taken, the bright hot flashbulb would pop out onto the mat. Any kid trying to get hold that piece of bulb thinking it a toy would burn himself. A bulb would be inserted in the camera each time a photo was taken and it would pop out onto the ground once the camera was clicked. Really interesting! One of the wedding songs which my aunt Khairunbai Moledina used to sing was , ‘Nasi tunaweza, kuipamba meza, kulia vijiko, kama wangereza!’ When I translate it now, I do not find any wedding connection of the song - It translates, “ We, like the Englishmen, also know how to decorate our dining tables and eat with spoons!’ Eating with spoons was a prerogative of the Englishmen?
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