This month our Village Life column is from M’e Mantai Musa. M’e Mantai is the Maliba Trust’s Community Liaison Trainee. She lives in the neighbouring village of Ha Mali and runs the Saturday youth program at the Ha Mali Community Center, co-teachers a Business Education Class for out-of-school individuals and assists with Village Support Groups.
“The Christmas Holiday celebration begins as a homecoming all through December. Many people work or go to school in South Africa or other places but this time of year everyone comes back and it is a happy time as husbands, wives, children and friends are now home together.
On Christmas Eve, we will go to church; usually the entire family attends with the exception of some of the younger men. From about 10pm until 4 or 5am we will sing and pray, read the bible and celebrate the birth of Christ.
After that we will go to our homes, and start to cook foods. We have already been cooking for days but on Christmas we will finish baking cakes, breads, making salads, sweets, jelly custard, vegetables, papa and meat. Some people will kill sheep, goat or chicken to cook but we do not kill pigs, they are killed in the winter months, or cattle. Others will make and serve joala which takes about 4 days to be ready, and beer.
As the feast begins we are joined by many from the village. If we have we serve food at our homes to anyone who comes then we go off to visit others and share of their food and drink. The children especially love the generous sweets and cakes available at any open house.
Adding to the excitement, each child is given two sets of new clothing for Christmas. They will wear the first on Christmas Day and the second on Boxing Day, 26 December. If the family has enough money even adults will be wearing the Christmas Clothes and we will dress our homes with new tablecloths & curtains. Even if not new our homes, curtains, linens and blankets are made extra clean and fresh to greet the visitors. If there is still enough after all that the children are given some money and sweets.
No one works in the fields on Christmas Day, it’s a time to eat, drink & visit. Finally we go to sleep so we are rested and ready to do it all again on Boxing Day, this time visiting anyone we missed the day before.
In years past there was much singing of traditional songs but that seems to be no longer the tradition.”
M’e Maintai and I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and all the best of the New Year!