All Aboard The South African Nostalgia Train!
You can deny it all you want, but when everything you grew up with starts becoming extinct and little kiddies begin calling you “aunty” or “uncle”—you’re ancient. Next thing you know, you’ll have an overwhelming urge to forward WhatsApp chain messages and watch status videos on full blast in public. Mess! Shame, we love our baby boomers. I just thought it could be lekker to reminisce about the good old days.
What do you say, are you game? We could take the nostalgia train and transport ourselves straight back to the early 2000s. When we had no fashion sense, were besotted with Bibos, and managed to break the family telly after our parents explicitly told us not to play TV games on it. Sorry, mom.
Well, let’s get going and unlock those core childhood memories millennials may have forgotten growing up in Mzansi.
It’s the early 2000s and you’re queuing at the school tuckshop during recess. The sun is doing the most and you desperately need something to quench your thirst. But, you only have R1. Do you go for the last ice-cold Jay Apple Bibo, or do you get two guava bompies instead? The Bibo, right!
We stanned the iconic fruit juice and all its funky flavours. I bet Paolo Peach, Taka Strawberry, and Johnny Orange sound familiar? They even ran a recycling campaign where you could win awesome prizes in return for the empty Bibo packets you collected.
Then, out of nowhere, the Coca Cola Company discontinued Bibo in 2004—a sad loss for a generation in love with the cheap-cheap drink.
Dragon Ball Z Tazos
Before we all wanted to be a Simba chippie, we were obsessed with finding all the Dragon Ball Z tazos hidden in every packet of crispy goodness. You’d carefully navigate your fingers between each potato chip, every so often slipping one into your mouth. Slowly pull out the circular metal tazo encased in a plastic sleeve, and cross your fingers, hoping this was the one you’ve been hunting for weeks.
Simba probably made a small fortune off our measly allowances with the way we consumed Nik Naks, Lays, Doritos and Fritos in the truckloads. Their Dragon Ball Z Tazo promotion ran only in 2003. So, South African millennials were racing against time to collect them all!
The worst was finding a tazo you already owned, but they made great trading options and luckily, there was a way you could win your friends’ Dragon Ball Z tazos. I don’t remember exactly how the game worked, but I think if you managed to flip another person’s tazo on its opposite side with your tazo, you could keep it.
We still owe Santa’s elves an apology for making them work overtime in the early 2000s, building every last TV Game scribbled at the top of our Christmas wish lists. They were all the rave, and the one we begged for the most was the TeleGamestation.
The gaming console was almost identical to the PlayStation, except it still used cartridges which you occasionally had to blow into for it to work. Remember those? You didn’t mind though, because a single cartridge contained a plethora of games to play.
And if for some reason, unbeknownst to you, you ended up on the naughty list and the fat red man gifted you coal instead of a TeleGamestation—there was always a friend you could visit to play on theirs. So, the joke’s on you, Santa.
Am I right in assuming that we all wanted to be YoTV Wildroom presenters while growing up? Sade, Psyfo, Carly, CC, DJ Switch, and Sly just made it seem so cool.
If you’re too young to remember, YoTV’s Wildroom was the first South African TV show hosted completely live by kids. Airing on SABC 1 at 15:30 – 16:30 weekdays, it ran from around 2004 till 2006. The show was entirely unscripted and viewers could dial in every day to win prizes, take part in games, or even control what presenters wore or ate on the show.
Who can forget about the iconic Snack Attack! We were both revolted by and craved those sandwiches with the beans, chips, sweets, and anything edible you could find in the fridge on them. Sies! Let me whip up one for lunch, quick.
M-Net Open Time
Do you know how we use VPNs to stream some of our fav shows we normally can’t access? Well, you didn’t need that back in the day. M-Net willingly gave us access to their channel for mahala! Even if it was only for two hours, you couldn’t wait to watch the latest episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama. That’s if your parents didn’t hog the TV to watch their soapies.
Almost 500 000 of us tuned into M-Net’s ‘Open Time’ between 17:00 – 19:00 weekdays and even doubled over weekends for programmes like Idols SA and Survivor SA.
The best was when they forgot to switch the encryption back on and you’d still be watching, hoping to catch the first half of the 8 o’clock movie. That’s until 2007 when M-Net decided to ghost us and forced us back to watching Anaconda every other Sunday on e.tv.
There’s a study that claims people who are “celebrity-obsessed” are idiots. Now how come so many of us own multiple degrees, huh? It’s giving “BIG loser energy”. But, we love everybody, so let’s keep chugga chugga choo choo-ing on the nostalgia train.
For many millennials, our fixation with pop culture started with heat South Africa. A tabloid magazine that peaked in the early 2000s. That’s also when the paparazzi had no chill and ‘dololo’ celebrity scandal was off-limits. We loved it! I remember reading all about the iconic 2007 Britney Spears ‘meltdown’, a beloved local rugby player’s shocking affair, and all Lindsay Lohan’s partying escapades explicitly in heat.
Unfortunately, with the rise of digital media, there was no more need for heat, because you could easily find whatever “skinner storie” you were looking for online. So, in this case, digital killed the print star; heat closed its doors in 2015.
Literally, nobody told us to do this, but for some reason, all South African millennials followed the same formula before hitting that sweet spot in a MXit chat. It would go something like this:
The Dark Knight (15:03): Awe, hw r u?
CuTiE P!E (15:04): Aweka! Fine nd u?
The Dark Knight (15:06): Gud tx. Wud?
CuTiE P!E (15:08): Jc @ da join nd u?
The Dark Knight (15:08): L2m
CuTiE P!E (15:10): Wul2?
The Dark Knight (15:11): Da radio. Wujcw?
CuTiE P!E (15:13): My cuzin.
The Dark Knight (15:15): Kwl
Once this was out of the way, you’d start sharing the juicy details of your day or flirting with that one contact you only knew on MXit. Well, not with those boring contacts though, because that was far as the conversation went. And before you knew it, your finger would accidentally slip onto the “Delete Contact” button. Yikes!
It’s very sad that MXit now appears on lists like these instead of dominating the social media sphere like it was supposed to! Please tell me how you manage to fumble the bag when you have zero competition?! I know how—poor business decisions and an unwillingness to adapt. That’s what led to MXit’s downfall.
Now, whenever the beloved instant messaging app is mentioned, we think fondly back to those chaotic MultiMixes, dissing JoeBanker, buying skins, and changing your status to “In Love” just to tell someone it was with yourself. Oh, and ‘The Dark Knight’ was my real MXit name.
Nostalgia is good for you!
It’s fun to think back to the days you rushed home from school to switch on YoTV Wildroom while sipping on a Bibo, excited to show your friends your new Dragon Ball Z Tazo. It makes you appreciate where you came from and realise just how much you’ve grown. Surprisingly, it’s also really good for you.
Researchers found that nostalgia subverts anxiety and loneliness, and can even make you feel warmer on a cold day. That explains the warm fuzzy feeling you get when thinking back to happier times.
So, whenever you get a desire to reminisce about the time you had no “adult” responsibilities—just hop back onto the nostalgia train. It’s always on time, won’t cost you a cent, and if you bookmark this blog even easier to board!
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