THE big sign of this new disease is there all to see; the fight for the TV remote control. A typical Bongoland family has on average three generations living in the house; the senior adults, the youth and teenagers and the children.
Divide those groups into gender and you have five or more different interest groups in TV viewing. There is Dad who goes for news and documentaries. Mum goes for the soaps and sit-coms (situation comedies) but is being drawn more and more to her Smartphone, relieving the pressure on the TV.
She now spends more time on Whatssap, Messenger, Facebook, etc. The youth are together on music programs; hip hop, singeli, udaku related to famous musicians, Tanzanian comedy and the like.
It is especially exciting for them when something like a dance or music competition comes up. When it is big game soccer ndio usiseme… At least in my house, there is a subcategory of female youths and some not so youthful ladies who specialise on Bollywood and Nollywood movies.
Based on their characters and personal lives, I see that no lessons are drawn from these movies at all, it is purely entertainment. I’m told that they get hair styles and dress designs from watching these movies.
I once had a housegirl who was consistently ‘unguzaring’ maharage. I came to know that once she had mastered the art of operating the CD, she would put the pot of raw beans on the ‘jiko’ and settle herself on the sofa for a long haul of Bolly wood, Nollywood or one of the Chinese or Philipino series.
Cheap copies of these CDs are sold for peanuts and our youth spend their lives following the adventures of these far off stars. You would never see them wasting their thoughts and intellect on the screen; they are too smart and know exactly when you are coming back so all will be quiet by the time you return.
A good hint as to what is happening behind your back is the growing stack of CDs on your shelves or drawers. Can they read and write English? No but they appear to follow accurately what is going on in the story and can tell their colleagues who missed an episode, what went on in their absence.
The smaller kids are, of course into cartoons. Slight problem there too; as parents make sure they don’t stay too long watching and not very close to the screen as it has negative effects on their eyesight and general health.
They need to go out and play physical games as well which are good for their health. It is always tempting to leave them watching the TV screen because it sort of keeps them out of trouble…
After the TV screen it is back to the Smartphone screen. When do these people think? When can they contemplate life? When can they plan? When can they think of solutions to problems relevant to their environment? Then there is the also the internet.
An extremely powerful tool that it can change lives for the better. It has so much content that it will take several whole lifetimes to go through it all; it is virtually impossible to exhaust.
There are answers to most questions in almost every subject. Take You-tube for instance; If you want methods for bending a piece of steel or a special pilau recipe you will find it there.
If you want to build a light aircraft, you can get full instructions there. From solutions in building construction to playing music to learning a foreign language, it’s all there.
But what do we use the internet for? We use it for ‘malumbano’ and ‘vijembe’, political or otherwise. We use to display our ‘assets’, sort of soft porn, if you ask me.
There are also some good games which sharpen the response skills of our kids and at times we do need to relax after strenuous work, so we can be entertained by a computer.
However for many Bongolanders entertainment seems to be the sole purpose of the electronic media. We follow up avidly the goings on in the personal lives of our film, media and music stars.
We chat and we share gossip. This also happens in developed countries, but they already have bread and butter and infra structure; we have to get our own priorities right.
If one was a conspiracy theorist, one would say ‘Wazungu wametuletea hii kitu ili kutupumbaza!’ Did they tell us to use these powerful tools for killing time and non-productive purposes? Let us change and make a difference to our lives by using properly these powerful tools for progress.