“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”

Times have changed greatly. In the olden days, as kids, we were always looking forward to the end of the year when Christmas would come! Literary, Christmas began with the onset of the month of December.

Times have changed greatly. In the olden days, as kids, we were always looking forward to the end of the year when Christmas would come! Literary, Christmas began with the onset of the month of December.

 The most important days in the village calendar were “Pasika” (Easter) and “Noel” (Christmas); people worked and planned for the two great
festivities.  

It is not coincidence that the two were separated by such a long time so that people can enjoy one and then the other!  

As most of you may know, these two days are Christian festivities though; other people have now embraced them too!  I hear, if you go to China, most cities begin preparing for Christmas as early as in October; to them, this marks the period of the year when “the world” (read western Europe and USA) buy lots of items in anticipation of the birth of Christ!

The Chinese are “Christians” in the sense that they earn the Christian’s money!   These days, it has become fashionable to celebrate Christmas even if you belong to one of the other faiths, even those that would love to insult the man that was born and laid in a manger (nearly 2000 years ago), it is seen as fashionable to mark this day without even caring about its significance! 

In those days, we would be bought new clothes, these would be cut and tailored from  the likes of Matiyasi, Benon, Ndora, Kipampali e.tc, from the town of Poroti (as Kyaitamba TC) was popularly known.  

The tailors worked day and night to make sure that, all the people’s clothes were ready in time for the festive season.  

Every man worth his name, had to make sure that, his wife and children were clothed in new attire or else, he would be the talk of the village (after being befallen the calamities of not doing so).  

Of course, those that could not afford the new attires did not have to despair; they could buy all sorts of “new” clothes from the various second hand sellers.  

Yes, these clothes though used are after all new to their new owners and hence can be termed as new eh!  

Just a minute, I was forgetting, we used to have all sorts of returnees, not that they had fled but, they had gone to Kampala and other cities to make money, yes, they would return with all sorts of goodies for us (the villagers).  

In as far as we were concerned; the city returnees would bring us items like bread, margarine, spaghetti etc.  Before I forget to remember, they bought along rice as well.

As a matter of fact, it was next to being a taboo to enjoy a meal of rice on any other day rather than Noel and Paska!  This reminds me of a more recent situation; way back in the early 90’s, I bought a bag of rice and took it to the village somewhere in July, not that Christmas was round the corner but because famine was torturing the people and I thought some sort of dry ration would ameliorate the situation.  

Guess what? When I went back for the Christmas festivities, they still had the bag jealously kept for Christmas. 

Back to the village, the men would be busy brewing all sorts of brews in anticipation for the Christmas. The likes of “Lord” (not Jesus), most probably named after the likes of Lord Delmair and the likes, Beyeza, Kilembe, Kipapa etc, had the bars fully stocked with all tribes of booze, these ranged from banana brew (tonto), kwete, crude waragi, Bell beer, Nile Special, Pilsner etc.  

People would drink until they literary died!  As for the foods, several chicken, goats and cows were “massacred” to satisfy the human anger or was it hunger!  

In the olden days, the Juke Boxes would be loaded with a set of new and recent vinyl records and later on, when the radio cassette took root, the so called
music studios spent countless hours recording music that would be played during Christmas and New Year.  

On the night before (Christmas Eve), we gathered and formed choirs that would roam about the villages at night, singing Christmas Carols.  

Normally, we went through the various trading centres and tea estate camps, reason being, these are the places that would have a high yield of collections (carols were not for free).

In most cases, there was night mass at the parish churches, people went for these masses with small bottles of waragi (local liquor) in the pockets of their jackets or coats.

As said earlier, the whole of December was a festive month, people ate and drank as never before or after, briefly, and they lived and died for Christmas.  

On Christmas day, we used to gather in huge family gatherings for the meals.  Imagine all the wheelbarrow pushers, house maids, traders, students, thieves, name them, returning to the village for an annual get together!  

These were grandiose feasts, we ate and ate and ate until we were “fed up” (read Dr General’ Idi Amin’s terminology for satisfaction).  This is like living in slumber land, who can afford  all that extravagance?

All I can say is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my beloved readers.  Thank you for all the support you have
accorded me this year, I am looking forward to being with you for yet another year.  

May God abundantly Bless you all.

Mfashumwana@fastmail.fm

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