“As we light up this tree, may the spirit of Christmas shine upon each and every one of you, and bring forth the light of love to empower you to see beyond your troubles today and hope for the best in the coming year.”
Christmas is always a time that most of us travel to reconnect and bond with our families. It is a time that we try to be with one another. There is usually huge movements of goods and people. Guys travel from the cities, towns and shanties towards the rural areas and vice versa. Others decide to travel down town to the coast. It is all about peoples preferences. Though these days it is pointless to travel since most families live in the cities. The only thing they do is pick up a central place and all roads would be leading there. It is usually important since most family members see each other during this festive season.
So everyone would be in a rush and hurry to be home by Christmas Eve. The rogue ones would show up on a Christmas morning. Not that anyone seemed to really mind, so long as they were home. Home with family. Houses would have been decorated with colorful balloons, ribbons, flowers, green leaves and other glittery stuff to kick start off the merry making celebrations.
This takes me down back to memory lane when I was a child. Deep down as an adult I still yearn for those past Christmas days. Those days when all roads would lead to Ndarunyi village. Our parents normally had that behavior of hauling us to shags during the December holidays. We didn’t quite mind it. In our child-like minds we had the freedom to do anything. From playing bano to playing football bare foot and of course dune rally with our remote controlled toy cars. I honestly miss the scent of the read earth. But that was not just it – going to shags so that we could be free from the ramshackle of tuition. Nope we went to shags because we had that pride. A sense home. A sense of belonging. The essence of home. Having the green hills surround your home stead. The freedom of sleeping in whichever house one would like, because we were a community. And each child was raised by the community. Any parent would discipline you if your troubled ass was in the wrong. The cheesy ones never had enough of them.
So back to where I was. Pops (Man man) and his siblings would normally take an annual December leave or a couple of days off during the festive season in order for all of them to bond. Chapattis would be cooked by mother, Aunt Essie (total disciplinarian back then) and Aunt Hanifa. Apart from chapattis, there was a vast assortment of dishes. Anything that you would have felt to nourish your taste buds with. Uncle Seif (Maalim) back then used to own a lot of goats. Getting a goat was no issue, as long as his palms were a bit greased, that would be fine. One goat would be slaughtered on the eve before Jesus was born, and the other one early morning on his birthday.
“Are you guys going home for Christmas?” A friend would ask when we were kids.
And in my defiance I’d answer them, “Daweghala cha mzinyi Mbololo.” Because to us Mbololo was that place. That place we highly regarded, it was like heaven. It was a place that tied us down to the core and bond. Not just by blood ties but by friendships that morphed in to something great.
In Mbololo, Santa didn’t arrive with his reindeer Rudolph. But he came along the lines of a dark grey Toyota corolla AE 100, a Subaru or at times a footsubishi. Apart from the food, we used to sing carols in a mush of Taita and Swahili. But mostly in Taita lingua which did not grasp my younger mind. System could simply not override, and each time that happened I had to restore default settings. We would sing carols till midnight before we would retire to sleep. Our fathers would still be drinking vodkas and beers. To them, sleep was for the weak. Our mothers always made sure we never dilly dallied past our bed time hours. The only exception was that eve of Jesus birth. I can’t remember any of the Christmas carols in my language. Sigh. It just skipped me like that.
On the day of Christmas there would be a lot of preparations, from cooking arrangements to slaughtering of the goat, and other flurry of activities. The best part was that we got to put on new clothes. Ha-ha, everyone can relate well with nostalgia and we would go to church. Well we went because it was Christmas but to be honest we just wanted to show case our new garments. After church we would rush back home, because there was one delicacy we could never miss. You would not have eaten chevon (oh, that is the name for goat meat) if you did not eat mshasha.
Mshasha was like a ritual, “ndekujie mburi kama kusejie mshasha.” Mshasha was a mixture of liver, other goat innards and a little bit of blood mixed and cooked together. The goat kengeles were also another delicacy mostly eaten by guys. But where we come from equality was and still is the norm. After that we would have a huge feast and guys would catch up on lots of things. Everyone would be happy. A barbecue was always a must as something else simmered in the kitchen. But because mothers loved so much the world, they would not let their kin go berserk on hunger. Traditional brews would be made. For those who liked to have class and taste, a crate or two would be unleashed and 750 mills bottles of whiskeys and vodkas a single at a time. Every market has its mad man and every family has that crazy uncle. It would not be complete if he never graced the occasion.
I don’t recall much, but back then it was heaven. I’m looking forward to this Christmas because I get time to spend with family and folks I have not seen in a long time.
Back then we was tight, we still probably are. Stolen dreams took our childish ways, but nothing has changed now that we are grown. We are still one blood, one family. We are grown right now, but that child still resides deep inside us. That one that reminds us that we are still young in heart and that it never grows old. In our mindless ways and timeless phase, it would always be on a loop.
Christmas back then taught us that water was thicker than blood, ties that go deeper than the love we had for friends. That your closest family would ride with you till the end. I don’t know how it would have been without them in my earlier younger years. The brothers and sisters I never had in my life.
The birth of Messiah brings us love, joy and hope. And because after his birth, the next day is Boxing Day. Well it symbolizes the opening of gifts that Jesus was bestowed by the three Magi (wise men), but it brought about the essence of ohanna. And ohanna meant family, and family meant nobody gets left behind.
Have a merry Christmas and don’t be singing, “single bells, single bells, single all the way oh how much fun it is to flirt with other people’s bae. Hey.”