After i turned 12ish, it was becoming increasingly difficult to hang out with my family which comprised of my parents and my siblings Daphne and Nigel. I have to name these 2 because all of a sudden they are salalas now. Go figure. Talk about wrong timing. When i needed them to be salalas, they were not there for me. Family time at home in the safety of 4 walls and closed doors was okay…i didn’t have to be embarrassed about anything. The problem was when we had to spend time outside the home…at their chosen family time hangout spots…majority ruled. While other young hip cool families went to Pizza Inn, Chicken Inn, Creamy Inn on a Sunday afternoon, mine would go to Mereki. I was traumatized. Yes, Gen Zs, hanging out at Pizza Inn was VERY cool back in the day. I would always lose the vote, with my clueless siblings excited about eating loads of meat on the boot of the car…a buffet of sizzling pork, beef and sausages with sadza, onions, tomato and cucumber… compared to 1 or 2 pieces of chicken and chips. I would eat my food while hiding in the car, pretending to be listening to James Maridhadhi on Radio 3…my favorite station then…least im seen by someone from school or my crush. There was this bottle store in Waterfalls that my dad liked going to with us that had braai outside…well i think it was considered Waterfalls or i convinced myself that thats were Waterfalls was…it was very popular, i am forgetting the name…along Beatrice Road and all i knew was that my crush lived in Waterfalls and i wasn’t taking any chances. They didn’t understand that the stakes were high. I was a salad!!!

You couldn’t over do the salad thing without looking like a fool. There was a very thin line between looking cool and wack. You had to make it look effortless…like when they say “Im basic…”on social media just because they have a white t shirt and sneakers on…but with a Prada bag on their shoulder. You see…there was the real salalas who understood the game well. Rich kids…from maDale Dale…who travelled a lot, had access to the global world and had a genuine fancy accent. They didnt even try…they just were. Then there was the wanna be salalas, who looked and sounded genuine enough. These were usually coached by their real salala friends and copied their habits well. They had an accent as well, but this accent would come and go depending on how emotionally stable they are in that moment. Anger would generally force the ghetto out of them. These also had a high chance to act a fool kumusha and all of a sudden refuse to eat things they grew up eating like chicken feet or maguru. I think i belonged to that group, until i went to mission school and was diluted by beating buckets while upside down like drums for entertainment in order to create a beat to dance to in the middle of the hostel. After experiencing mission school, it was very rare not to have gone at least 1 rating down on the salala scale. Wack and “gwash” things happened there and it was usually out of your control. I remember on sports galas, private school kids would look at us funny. I guess we might have tried too hard to fit in with them. We were definitely worlds apart. We disliked them for it but also wished we were like them.Then there was the salala wanna bes who wore sweat bands on their heads in a kombi on their way to Eastgate, sometimes in groups of 2 to 5. They would either match outfits completely or wore similar colors. These were usually loud colors like yellow, lime, green, red, bright blue, orange…some would have bandanas…and the cherry on top for the outfit would be the white towel on their shoulder and white sneakers on their feet. I’m not sure if they were aware that the musicians they were copying had those towels to remove sweat during a performance. I guess they were in their own right, “performing” in the streets. Then there were the hopeless salala wanna BEs…those you had to convince that the famous singing group was One Twelve (112)…not One Hundred and Twelve. Those had no chance to making it but were nonetheless very vocal and argumentative about their misguided information.

Being as close as possible to being a salala was like a badge of honour…for teenagers. Song books were so cool. The more international songs you knew the cooler you were. The more pictures of celebrities you had in your song book the cooler you were. Right around 12 is when i stopped dancing to Chimbambaira Chiri Mupoto …a song i absolutely loved wriggling to…i had to give it up. I had to… During the holidays, id sit close to the radio and carry the radio to my room at night waiting for particular songs for me to “dub”. Id put a tape in the radio and once the song came on, id press record. The next day id rewind my tape with a pen and knew right were to stop, exactly were the song began. My connection to cassettes was insane. I knew the ribbon on my cassettes so well. I would play it enough to catch a few lines then quickly write them down in my song book. Then repeat the process over and over again. I did this ritual with an admirable tenacity and passion for hours on end.

Then…like the world was coming to an end… the news was announced that there was a law in Zimbabwe banning international music on radio in order to support local artists. It was the worst thing that happened to my salala life. It was the death of it. I was crushed. Where was i going to get reference in order to stay valid in my salala lifestyle!!! However with time i got used to these new songs…then ExQ released “Ndiri Musalala” and all of a sudden, being a salad seemed ridiculous…it was no longer cool anymore…Urban grooves made it cooler to be in the middle…a salad but not a salad. Just right.

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