Growing up in Africa


The way the Indians of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’, and 70’s generation grew up in East, Central and South Africa.

 Bharatbhai Dajibhai Patel of London, UK spotted this article.

 The article bring back the nostalgic memories and the horror of it all as compared to the way we bring up our grandsons and granddaughters here in UK and most of the Western World.

 With acknowledgement and sincere thanks to the original writer, Bharatbhai says:

Dear friends,

Bit long, but please try to read through to end  !!!!!! No doubt thousands will reciprocate

 This is  how we Indians grew up as kids in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia Tanzania and South Africa…..

Our childhood was one of the best….

our love and respect for our parents was second to none

and our respect for all our teachers was in our genes…..

We gladly looked after our younger brothers and sisters without a fuss…

We attended mosques, temples and gurudwaras and prayed regularly

In essence, we enjoyed life…..

 How true and so well articulated.

 To the wonderful kids who were born in Africa and survived the

40’s, 50’s,

60’s, 70’s.

First, we survived being born to mothers, some whose husbands

smoked and /or drank while they carried us.

 They took aspirin, ate whatever food was put on the table, and

didn’t get tested for diabetes.

 They were mothers who did not check their blood pressure every few


There were no nurses or doctors to pamper them all the time….

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs and bassinets were covered

with bright coloured lead-based paints.

 We were put in prams and sent out with ayahs to meet other children

with ayahs, whilst our parents were busy.

 We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets,

and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets, not to mention the

risks we took hitchhiking or going out on our own.

 As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags.

We sat on each other’s laps for God’s sake.

 Riding in the back of a station wagon on a warm day was always a

special treat.

 We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE

actually died from this.

We would share a dosa; dip a chapatti into someone else’s plate of

curry without batting an eyelid.

 We ate jam sandwiches or pickle on bread and butter, raw mangoes

with salt that set our teeth on edge, and drank orange squash with sugar and water in it.

 We ate at roadside stalls, drank water from tender coconuts, ate

everything that was bad for us from mumfalees to bhel puri to

bhajias and samosas, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

 We would leave home in the morning and play all day during the

holidays, we were never ever bored, and we were allowed freedom all day as

long as we were back when the streetlights came on, or when our parents

told us to do so.

 No one was able to reach us all day by mobile phone or phone. And

we were O.K.

 We would spend hours making paper kites, building things out of scraps

with old pram wheels or cycle rims, inventing our own games, playing

traditional games called hide and seek, kick the can and rounders,

ride old cycles and then ride down the hill, only to find out we

forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to

solve the problem.

We swam with an inflated tube, which we got from somebody who was replacing their car tyres.

 We ran barefoot without thinking about it, if we got cut we used

tincture of iodine on it, which made us jump.

 We did not wash our hands ten times a day. And we were OK.

 We did not have Play stations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games

at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround

sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no I-Pods, no

internet or internet chat rooms, no TV, period.

We did not have parents who said things like “what would you like for

breakfast, lunch or dinner”. We ate what was put in front of us and

best of all, there was never any leftovers. We polished the lot.

WE HAD FRIENDS, great friends, whose parents we called Uncle and Aunty, and we went outside and found them!

 We fell out of trees numerous times, got cut, broke bones and teeth

and there were no compensation claims from these accidents.

 We ate fruit lying on the ground that we shook down from the tree

above. And we never washed the fruit.

 We had a bath using a bucket and mug and used Lifebuoy soap. We did not know what conditioners meant.

 We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

 We rode cycles everywhere and someone sat on the carrier or across

the bar to school or the pictures, not cinema, or you walked to a

friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

 Not everyone made it into the teams we wanted to. Those who didn’t

had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

 The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard

of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers,

problem solvers and inventors ever!

 The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

 We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned


Please pass this on to others who have had the luck and good

fortune to grow up as kids in Africa , before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives, ostensibly for our own good, that changed what was good into bad and what was bad into worse.

Those were the good old days my friend?

Regards & Best wishes,

Bharat D