Early on the morning of 25th December 2016, I woke up to experience the difference it would be if Christmas really, physically, manifested among people. But only to realize that it was just a normal day like all other days of the year.
I thought I had marked my calendar wrongly; that I had to go by the roadside and ask an airtime vendor nearby if it was really the much-hyped Christmas Day; and she said it was. I was further surprised that she was at work and things looked the same way with bodaboda cyclists, just like any other day, waiting on their stages. What is more, my neighbour’s house girl was busy washing utensils.
In my neighborhood, there was nothing like smoke or anything like the smell of either chicken, meat or aroma that signified a big day.
The issue was that, I almost came to a conclusion, that maybe all my neighbours were Muslims, only to realize that most of their names were of the Christian faith.
A few of them had gone to Church and others were busy in their houses whispering about which bars to hang out from later in the evening; and the boys of my age were busy arguing about Arsenal -Manchester games.
Others were playing music at a high pitch. Ironically, the only song I can remember was from my neighbours’ six-year’ old boy miming ‘Gwe Nimiro Nze Faama…’ which further proved that it wasn’t Christmas at all.
Later, towards 9.00 a.m, I received a call from my friend, who happens to be a Pastor; and he asked me if I could join him for lunch. I said, ‘No’, because I felt a little bit exhausted and never felt like going out, but in the end I realized that the only place that could make me refresh after a long year of work was Bubezi, a village in Mpigi, where I am more popular than any celebrity in the world.
While in Bubezi, the mood was different. Almost every radio in each house-hold was playing some kind of church hymns and Christmas tunes that unlike my Kampala neighbours’ six-year old and the othre kids in their poor English mimicking Boney M’s popular Christmas song (Meyii Bo Cha Jiza Klast w Oboo.. Oh Lisimansi De);literally meaning (Mary’s Boy Child Jesus Christ, was Born on Christmas Day).
Visiting old friends was a problem. The bodaboda which are the main means of transport almost became impossible that day; most of the cyclists had gone to the churches, and others had decorated their motorcycles with balloons, flowers and washed them clean in preparation for evening gigs – symbolizing the relevance of Christmas.
In whichever home you went go, you would be welcomed with the smell of spices, pork, beef, rice or chicken, that even if I had I been blind, I would simply have recognized the unusual difference.
Almost all doors were closed and those left at home, were either the sick or at least a few children who missed getting new Christmas clothing from their parents. With that dirty village lifestyle, anyone would understand that their stomachs were up in the teeth, full of pre-official Christmas meals.
The issue is: in every family you would go to, you would be welcomed with a meal or a piece of meat since food was in plenty.
Christmas was the day when I saw beautiful village girls with no elements of body enhancement, wearing strong scented perfumes and soaps and with no make-ups and limping in high heeled shoes but amazingly happy that they could kneel to greet every old person they found along the road. Just like a child born and raised in the same village, I went to visit my childhood teacher who welcomed me with a lot of happiness and gave me food that made our conversation sweeter.
All that I missed were the celebrations that went on into the night, but literally I can draw a picture how much fun it must have been because even before I left, the popular village drunkards were a few liters down away from getting “silly drunk”. One who mentioned my named with a heavy tongue asked me, “If Museveni was the president of the Kenya of Mpigi…”
It was a day that gave my life a vacation from an atmosphere where good food means Café Javas or KFC, with everything almost that we call normal. Indeed it was a Christmas worthy celebrating with not just a virtual change on a Gregorian calendar but physically manifesting its self.
It really made me happy that I pray to God that I will be alive on the next Christmas to finish my story by giving you a glimpse of how Christmas is celebrated at the night in my village.