It’s Christmas season, arguably the most exciting time of the year. It is a time when everyone is in a the mood to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Dean Karemera and Donah Mbabazi talked to a cross-section of people about their Christmas memories and what it means to them.
Larissa Neema Umami – Rwanda’s Miss World Supranational representative
My most memorable Christmas is when my elder brother played Santa Clause. Before going to bed, he asked every kid at home to write down things they wanted for Christmas. I remember I woke up early that day and found a box outside with my name on it. I was so happy.
Arnold Kwizera – TV Presenter
My most memorable Christmas was in 1997 because it is the last Christmas I had with my mother. She later passed away. I had all my closest friends at home, my mum and grandmother; we went to church together, came back home for eats and drinks and spent the whole day playing and talking.
Jesse Maxella Kiyingi – Business Development Manager, KFM
Christmas is a time when families gather for celebrations and my memories of Christmas are centered on family gatherings. At home, we have a tradition where children, parents, grandparents and grandchildren all come together. It’s usually the time when we get to talk to people we haven’t seen the whole year as we share drinks and food. 26th and 27th December are reserved for visiting relatives and friends and after the two days, we sit and do an evaluation of the year as well as plan for the year ahead. Since childhood, this is how it has been, despite my father having a Muslim background. I think it’s because most people are crazy about Christmas and for him it is more about family than celebrations.
Sandra Natukunda, Accounts Executive, Hill + Knowlton Strategies Rwanda
My most memorable Christmas was when my dad surprised the family with a trip to Kasese in Uganda. We visited Queen Elizabeth National Park and other tourist sites. It was a great bonding experience for the family and it remains one of my most cherished Christmas memories.
Denis Nsanzamahoro – Actor
The most memorable thing is that everyone would be in a joyful mood, especially the children, maybe because another child (Jesus) had been born. I remember my parents would make a manger. I used to think that everything was real and I would spend hours looking at it just to make sure the baby didn't cry. I also remember that our parents would be lenient with us; we would walk around the neighbourhood without worrying about being punished once we returned home. Then there was the drinking and eating. We would drink so many sodas. Those memories are still with me.
Didier Nkulikiyimfura – Director General in charge of ICT, Youth and Information and Communication Technology
Of course there are those memories we have from childhood and I still cherish them. However, the memorable thing for me about Christmas is that it is a time to reflect on my own life and the gift that God gave the world. As I remember, there’s someone who gave up his life for us; it reminds me that I also need to give back to others. Secondly, it gives me hope about the future and a better life. To me it is not just a festive season or ceremony; it is a time for deep reflection.
Arthur Nkusi, Comedian
My fondest memories of Christmas are when our parents would buy us new stuff. Everything would be new from the shoes, haircut, socks and matching clothes. I remember a time when my parents bought me new shoes but they didn’t fit, after much thought, I decided I wasn’t going to tell them because I might have to wait till the following year to get a pair. I particularly remember Solelite shoes; we would walk around the whole neighbourhood for people to see. Then going to church as a family is also one of the best memories I have about Christmas.
Martine Gatabazi, Bralirwa, Marketing Manager
Each year is a special one because wherever we are we have to make sure that we are together as a family. One of the most memorable Christmas holidays I had was a few years ago. I was in the states and I was with some of my friends, we decided not to do any special parties for ourselves, so we put ourselves together and went to a homeless centre and we served dinner to people who were there, it was really special.
Jean Claude Nkurikiyimfura – Director, Agahozo Shalom Youth Village
My memories of Christmas are being with family. That is a time when we gather as a family to celebrate and interact. To add to the merry making, my father was born on Christmas, so it is a double celebration. As if the double celebration wasn’t enough, I later got a niece who was born on Christmas. Now, that made it even more wonderful. I also remember that it is a time when as a family we reflect on the past year, how the year went and even lay plans for the coming year. It is also a time to give and be an inspiration to other people.
Lion Imanzi – Musician
Christmas is usually a special time especially for children and as a child, what I remember most about Christmas is the gathering of families. Depending on our culture, background and upbringing, it was very rare for parents to be dramatic in front of their kids but I remember that every Christmas at the stroke of midnight, my dad would give my mum a gift. And then we would also exchange gifts. Those memories have stayed with me and I do the same for my children because I want them to have such memories when they are adults.