See this picture? This is my mum when she was in form two. Now being her son, it is hard to believe that this is really her when I compare the way she looks now and the way she looked back then. Well, basically because she is not slim anymore. I believe that is the effect of giving birth to three young men.
So seeing her picture dated back to about forty years ago got me thinking and doing a lot of comparison with our current generation. Most of them will be in relation to what she tells me is different between our generations.
The dress she is wearing in the picture is the standard of decency. That is both today and back then. The elapsing of times has only shortened the dresses and the skirts thus the compromise of decency, according to her. Decent is presentable. It is the hallmark of self-discipline and self-respect. And this is shown through how you present yourself outwardly. It is easy to say that that was the fashion of those days. But she’d ask, “What’s fashion compared to decency?” You wouldn’t go to an interview dressed like you’re going for a girls’ night out and when asked why the short dress you say its fashion. You have failed the interview already. That reminds me, the latest lesson she has been teaching mjangos in this house is about how to appear during an interview. I’m sure the culprit of that topic is going to read this. Hehe. She also talked about how the identity of genders has been played with by today’s fashion. She said this after seeing a picture of an artiste in the newspaper who actually recently had a huge concert. I had perused through that newspaper before and saw nothing to raise a conversation about. I wasn’t surprised that she raised one out of the outfit he was in. He had worn this type of fit-in t-shirts that extend far beyond the waist line. If they were worn by girls they’d qualify to be mini-dresses. Besides that was the design of the fabric. Her judgement pronounced that if you were to look through the lens of clothes that were marked as masculine and feminine in the golden days, that so called t-shirt looked more feminine. This applies to the wearing of studs (she called them “Earrings za wanaume.”), hairstyles (which we shall also talk about) and even make up. She is disappointed to hear and even see some men doing make up. I am too. The society today has failed to keep watch over the lines that draw the boundary about what’s masculine and what’s feminine and to what’s decent and what’s not decent.
Yes she is spotting a neat afro. I wonder the other kinds of hairstyles her fellow form twos had. She says decency requires little to no expense at all. If you don’t have the money to get a killer haircut or hairstyle for the ladies, it doesn’t cost you anything to simply comb your hair. It is better to have nobody compliment your hairstyle or whatever you’re wearing than having them say you look like you were spat out from an elephant’s mouth. For the men, if you can’t maintain it, trim it. For the ladies if you can’t maintain it, blow dry and comb it. The pressure to be in possession of what’s trending makes us miss the whole point about what’s decent and what suits us both in appearance and how much we can afford. Your hair says a lot about you, especially if you’re a man. Your seriousness in life is measured by your hairstyle and among other things of course. For the ladies, if there is one thing that men adore is a lovely hairstyle. Some like it long like I do while others like it short but we all like it looking lovely and stylish. Not to say that you do your hair for us. But you know it does matter to us because well, some men amongst us have reached the levels of paying your bills including your hair.
The use of cosmetics to enhance beauty dates back to about 7000 years ago. In the 1900’s however, make up was hardly used. It was used by those who were rich since unlike the low life people, they stayed indoors away from the sun. The case is different today. Mjangos do make up regardless of their status in the society. The use of cosmetics has gone to extreme levels which has seen mjangos bleaching their skin. My mum would say, you’re beautiful just as you were created. Well she’s not against make up. The only problem comes when you cannot do without it. It’s like a uniform you have to put on every time you’re in public. We all know one thing about uniforms; you won’t have it on forever. Some girls have placed their self-confidence in makeup which is quite dangerous. There is a story I tell mjangos whenever the issue of makeup comes up in a conversation. I know of a chic whom I had never seen without makeup. It had never clicked that she was always in makeup. Until that day we met and I literally passed her. She called me by name and it took a minute to recognize who she was. In my head I asked her, “My dear? What happened? You have been wearing a mask all along!” Ladies here’s a free tip. If you want to settle with a man, consider being natural bit by bit. It really helps our conscience to also settle with you. Besides, back in the 1900s mjangos did settle well without makeup. My mum is a living testimony.
She accepts the fact that times have changed. There is nothing much she can do about it but instil those values that held the fabric of their lives from back then in her own children. She expects me to do the same when I get my own and so should my brothers. I am courteous enough to extend it to my friends and audience here. And maybe, just maybe, the moral fabric will grow stronger again.


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Written by The Mjango

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5 years ago

There’s nothing new under the sun.
The minis date back to the late 1900’s. Believe it or not, those one’s were way shorter ??. Within the next 5 years give or take, what she’s wearing in that picture will be trending ?

Patie The Nangila
Patie The Nangila
5 years ago

I choose descency over fashion. You can be descent and still be fashionable,you know.

4 years ago

Maybe they will ?