Back to our village life, we anxiously waited for any of the two important annual festivities: “Pasika” and “Noel.”
The word “Ssekukkulu,” is one of the catch words we adopted from the Swahili word “Siku kuu” (big day) to refer to Christmas.
Unlike the town dwellers, we always looked forward to the Noel and when that came to pass, we would begin the count down to Pasika (Easter).
A lot of nice things were reserved for these two days; not that “Id el Fitri” and “Id aduha” did not exist, but because we virtually had no substantial number of Mohammedans to warranty the commemoration of the days. Besides the only one Doka, a descendant of the Nubian remnants of Emini Pasha’s soldiers, there was no other Muslim family I can recall in my village.
The entire village had several Christian churches of Catholics and Anglicans. Although, majority of the villagers were of the Christian faith, there was a huge number of “bakafiri” (earthiest cum pagans).
When I look back to the days of these so called “pagans,” I’m left wondering whether that was the right terminology for them!
These guys actually worshipped God through a god; say the “lubale, nyabingi, lyangombe, kibuuka, kagoro etc! In actual sense, they all seemed to concur that, Christmas was worth celebrating.
Just like their Christian counterparts, pagans too bought their wives and children new clothes, plus beef and rice for the Ssekukkulu celebrations.
The route from Fort Portal in western Uganda to Kijura where Mfashumwana village belonged was plied by several Leyland Albion buses that were a typical ingenuity of the “Mungereza” (British).
The bus was shaped more or less like a loaf of bread; forget the likes of Kigali’s “bread centre” and imagine the “Hot Loaf” though not real hot.
The Leyland buses were quite different from the so called Isuzu or Scania coaches, in that, the buses of today look more or less like “bald headed” individuals, unlike the ancient ones that had a rack on the roof!
The ancient buses had some sort of ladders for the “turn boy” to climb on top where the entire heavy luggage was carried.
It was common to see the poor turn-boy sweating early in the morning, trying to load heavy luggage on top of the bus.
Towards the festivities, the buses always came back fully loaded, with several passengers standing in the alley way and others seated on top of the bus (on the luggage rack).
It was a normal practice for the turn boy to travel on the outside of the bus, perched on the “ladders.
The conductor on his part would travel hanging out of the bus; with the right foot on the staircase, his entire body would be swinging like a pendulum due to wind generated by the speed of the bus.
We kept our ears tuned in to the sound of the bus in a bid to dash and welcome any “VIGs” (Very Important Guests) who happened to travel for Ssekukkulu in the village.
Most of the VIGs came from Fort Portal, Kasese and of course, the most important VIGs came all the way from “Kibuga” (not the play ground or airport) but city of Kampala in Uganda.
With all the excitement brought about by the good “invaders,” the village would get filled with all sorts of goodies, clothing, alcohol and edibles. At the moment, we would be entertained to luxuries like bread, soda, biscuits and sweets.
Of course these VIGs always came along with several kilos of rice; it was such a “sacred” diet that was only prepared on big days.
As one passed the many homesteads in the village, the common smell or rather scent was that of rice and beef prepared all over.
If a man failed to afford his family at least a kilo of rice and beef, he would be a laughing stock for a long time.
What was really amazing was the fact that even those people who did not know or never heard of the “child” who was born in Bethlehem, joined in the Noel and Pasika ado!
Sometime last year, a certain child went to a Catholic primary school and got confused by the “crucifixion” of this child Jesus.
During the mathematics lesson taught by a religious nun, he always tried hard to understand everything; back at home he would do all his home work without playing at all.
One day, his father asked him as to why he was taking his studies so seriously without a break for play.
The boy simply answered, “When I joined that school, I realised that the teachers, especially nuns were very serious in whatever they did.”
As the father became so perplexed at the boy’s conduct and behaviour, the little boy also kept wondering, “In every classroom there is a huge plus sign, with a guy nailed to it, I suppose this guy must have failed his mathematics tests, I don’t want to end up the same,” the boy explained.
‘Ssekukkulu’ in the village