Opinion / Columnist
This and that with Mal'phosa - Christmas; Is it still Ho Ho Ho?
07 Dec 2014 at 11:37hrs | Views
Anyone who still believes in those big old men with long, white beard, red work-suits, and over-sized gum-boots who appear on TV at this time of the years every year, going 'Ho Ho Ho, it's Christmas at ok; and displaying wide generous but fake smiles? They come in many different images with some sitting uncertainly on seemingly over-speeding sledges drawn by either an over excited army of dogs or a confused team of deer? Well, I stopped believing in Father Christmas when I saw the first black one at Meikles along Selbourne Avenue in 1990. he sat there, seeming unsure whether the kids will love him as they should love a father Christmas. He was quite hesitant even in giving them sweets from his letter box.
The kids looked at him skeptically too. On TV, he was white and big and had a booming voice. Here, he was tiny, dark and not so kind. Even OK had a big white man on TV to remind us it was Christmas and OK was celebrating with us by selling to us at 'Low low prices.' But when we went to OK, there he was - huge of course, and sitting on a small chair near a big toy car. And the toy car was for sale. I looked at him ngamehlo okuzincengela, hoping he will like me and then give the toy car to me. He gave me a sweet and forgot about me. For, there were many of us who had queued just to share a moment with him. 'Ho Ho HO' he went on with his ugly, alcohol corroded voice. I was disappointed. Out side the store, I smashed the ice-mint onto the pavement and stomped it with my tired school shoe until it was some glittering sticky powder. My heart was quite sore. Afterwards I never wanted to look at Father Christmas on the Christmas cards. The stingy, unkind, uncaring old ma-overall abomvu!
A friend tells me the last time he stopped believing in Father Christmas was when he was asked by his company management to act as Father Christmas at trade fair in 1980. He had never imagined a young black father Christmas, let alone with a surname like his; Sidambe. He says things got worse when one neighbour identified him and he gave the neighbour's child a sweet. The neighbour unwittingly instructed the child, 'Bonga bhudi. Wothi eNcube' And toddlers scrambled to snatch sweets from his bag. He heard himself going 'Ngizakutshaya lokhu, demed.' Father Christmas is not supposed to swear. He is supposed to sit there and be kind and be happy and be generous and be Ho Ho Ho. Ncube was not amused. Up to now the neighbours still call him Father Christmas.
Another one says these supposed messengers of the birth of Christ are crooks. He says emakishini they go about soliciting presents for orphanages. When you open the gate to donate whatever you have, in the spirit of Christmas, wham! A revolver right into your face, and they want more than just the rag-doll you intended to donate. Some abuse ama geli, and are prepared to kill abantwana bomlungu if the girl doesn't want to show them isisefa.What an abuse of our trust!
Children will always enjoy Christmas. It gives them an excuse to put on their Sunday Best and test and taste adult stuff and come late at home. We used to, during our time. Familiarity builds contempt; Christmas is no-longer as exciting if you have seen over fifty. But I guess it gets exciting again after eighty, since one is a child again and is supposed to be thrilled by small joys once more.
Things were 'scarce' during our times – you could only get new clothes and or shoes only on Christmas Day. I remember twins who had to share a pair of shoes in our village. One had to wear them all morning and the other all afternoon. A fight broke out when the first one decided to go away the whole day and only came back home at sunset. But nowadays parents buy gifts and clothes for their children any time of the year, and when they do buy on Christmas day, it is just an addition to an already over-flowing wardrobe or toy store. One struggles to find a suitable gift for one's children. They want to upgrade their 'phones or wardrobe or sound system. Little things that used to give us pleasure are no-longer enough for them.
At home, the economic melt down 'eradicated' all the excitement of Christmas. For the last thirty years we have been forced to run behind trucks, hoping they are hoarding some goodies. We have learnt that Christmas is just a luxury we used to afford as kids; not any more. The shelves have virtually been empty, and we have depended on relatives in the Diaspora to put some cheer in our faces. Bonuses that our parents would use to boost supplies during the festive season are now given at the whims of the employer. So, December is just like any other month. And we hardly listen to the noises that Father Christmas makes – it doesn't concern us. It just sounds hollow and irritating; like those maddening 'Bearer's cheques' and 'Wondo yeminda' jingles.
There have also been so many organizations or cults challenging the veracity and validity of Christianity as a religion. These groups have managed to convince large populations that Christmas is only a money spinning gimmick, just like Valentine's Day. They also argue that if it had not been for the millions abafundisi make from Christianity and the Bible, Christianity would have been dead long ago. The other day one said to me, 'Malphosa, where are you.'
' At church'.
'You sound depressed and am not surprised. Religion makes you depressed.'
'Well, what business is it of yours that I believe in what I want to believe in?,
'No, of course it's none of my business but it pains me to see you waste away your life in something without proof.'
I try to quote a verse to support my belief. He is not interested. '
There you go again, with your verses. End of thinking capacity?'
I shut my mouth before I could utter a fu*k you! He is not done with me;'If I may ask, which god do you believe in since there are so many images of him. There are as many gods as the religions in this world. So which one is yours?'
'The one and only'.
'And are you not tired of saying prayers that are never answered?'
'Alright I understand you man. Let's drop this. I will speak to you after Church.'
'Yes I agree but one more question; if I had a head injury and became violent and murdered or raped or blasphemed, how would I be judged?' I dropped the call.
Well, there are many people who have begun questioning the Bible and Christianity itself. Regardless, I think the spirit of Christmas can never die, especially among pagans. Christmas is an excuse for some to leave no stone unturned in seeking what pleases their wild spirits. It is an excuse even for some Christians to engage in some mischief, drink a little, be unfaithful a little, jive a little, covet a little – just a little of every 'sin'. I will pray for forgiveness tomorrow – phela inkosi isenawo umusa. Ho Ho Ho to all of you. Ngiyabonga mina!
Source - Clerk Ndlovu
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