So it is a few decades down the line, I am watching a documentary with my grandchildren and my outcast film-maker daughter (infamous in her field for asserting that the only stories worth filming are those written by her dear father). The doccie is the much anticipated “All Time Greatest Dramatic Moments in SA TV”.
I am going crazy, the house is riddled with laughter and awe. We are all adding our own flavor to every moment they show. Reminiscing and reflecting on how each moment touched our respective generations.
When the show the “kikiliki” Yizo Yizo rape scene, I tell the young ones of a time, long before their time, when those gendered ‘men’ fancied themselves lords over those gendered ‘women’ and their bodies. “Hara what’s gender?” The youngest one asks. I find it difficult to explain how people were differentiated on the basis of sex without sounding silly. They laugh, as they often do, at the stupidity of our generation. I’m embarrassed but happy.
A scene of Zola 7 also makes the cut, where the hit “Don’t Cry” was launched. I’m raving mad! Singing at the top of my voice well into the next segment. Which also come from my generation. I hear the theme song “Ayayeye Muvhango…” and I start to panic with excitement.
The first episode. The death of Mashudu. The snowball that got the whole thing rolling. I can’t wait to relay this tale! There’s a huge grin on my face and my loyal audience is ready. Duma ka Ndlovu’s biographer comes on; “Ah mean lark the death of vhoAlbert was a stroke of genius! Pro’ly thee best thing Duma ever wrote. Best thing ever!”
At this point I should nod my head, shake it or whatever. But I sit still glued to the screen. Their eyes are glued on me. The silence is too eerie. The oldest asks, “Granddad, dafuq?” I remain mum. My daughter pauses the TV and starts to laugh hysterically. She knows our clueless face that we share. “You have no clue do you?” She rubs in the salt. I try to deny it. Blaming old age and memory loss. But no one buys it. I have written many books on my generation’s culture: from TV, radio, poetry, music, social media, memes, and even selfies and groundies. And 90% of the time I can quote any book verbatim at will. It’s embarrassing to everyone.
The six year old child of my hippie renegade child who believes that there’s some value in ignorance gets up to hug me; “it’s okay not to know grandpa.”
“Ahhh…sweet” my daughter cooes, “now just admit you don’t know so we can continue the show and you will learn with the kids.” She says with a victorious smile.
“So you know?”
“Of course I do. First year varsity. Had you bothered to help me with my studies you would’ve known.”
I ignore her bolekaja call and reach for the remote. She grabs it before me. “Mpho just say you don’t know it won’t hurt.” She’s enjoying this to no end. “I don’t know.” I grudgingly say. She lied. It hurts. “See,” she can’t hide her relish.