It’s about that time of the year. The time you started looking forward to from as early as the first minute of the year 2017. Time to indulge yourself in pleasantries and vices you can afford. There are those, with means, who have managed to put away some money to take their; families, lovers, besties, side chics and FWB’s for treats down to the coast or some exotic beaches and the like. Shops display products on ‘Christmas offer’. Tour and Travels firms have offers for the holiday lovers. Business is booming. All in readiness for Christmas day, it’s just A DAY – twenty four hours.
Entrance to most supermarkets and various shopping malls have someone dressed as Santa ringing a bell as he ushers in clients. Most eateries and entertainment joints are packed with most bars recording high number of patrons. The mood is set. The footloose, are travelling upcountry. Travelling to show off their ‘sophistication’ to the village folks. A few with means, fly. While majority opt for public transport, others make do with personal or leased cars. It’s time for mishpocha to be united and pass those family resolutions – like forming an association or sacco, or having an investment plan. As long as people travel back to town, all done and said is left where it belongs, in the village.
As people in towns make their preparations, we in the village too are busy. Getting ready for the BIG DAY. Ready to welcome our loved ones back home from town. Making sure the village is a ‘paradise’ for them. Comfortable by village standards. Just like in town. We the villagers meticulously plan for Christmas, and time is invested the preparations. Mostly begining from as early as mid November.
Sparking off the whole process is renovations done to the houses. The mud walls are redone. Those with grass-thatched roofs have a more tedious job of ensuring the roof is repaired just in case it has some leakages – this is the most stressful as thatching grass has since become a rare commodity. Thanks to the ever growing population. To make sure you get your grass when you need, one is forced to book in advance, as early as 4months. If you are unlucky, someone sets fire on the grass fields and that means you don’t get to repair your roof. For those lucky enough to have iron sheets, their work is simplified – they only have to worry about then earthen floor and the mud walls.
To get the walls and the floor done, patience and some hint of aggressiveness is required. This is so when you don’t have cattle in your homestead as one of the most important material is cow dung . During this season the demand is quite high, and the number of cows or bulls within a village are quite few. Not forgetting, it’s a dry season so there’s very little grass for the cattle to feed on. Yet still the entire village puts their hopes on the few underfed cattle to supply them with this precious good. Children are woken up by 6 a.m and sent with basins and sacks to the nearest home to collect the dung. Woe unto you if the home you are sent to has dogs or is gated. You have to stand by the gate until the owners are awake and the gate opened, because knocking would be so rude – some don’t mind it though.
Picture this: You are the owner of a gated home who is lucky to have some few heads of cattle. You are deep asleep, probably dreaming or maybe, just maybe, having morning glory. Somewhere in the middle you hear a knock at the gate. You try to assume it hoping it will go, or that you just imagined the rapping on the gate. The knock is persistent and there’s no sign of it going, instead it’s growing louder and bolder. You curse under your breathe and get out of bed grudgingly and walk out the house, praying it’s something worth it. You walk to the gate and on opening you are met with faces of barefoot children carrying basins and sacks. The smallest one, a boy, is standing at the front, has mucus streaming from his nostrils, he removes his tongue and licks them clean. You almost throw up . Yuck! His head patched with ringworms. He has blue t-shirt with words ‘I love Obama’. He has on a pair of torn black shorts. You take your eyes off him and study the other three. They are all scared to talk. In your mind you already know what they have come for – cow dung.
At this moment you have two choices: First, you can chose to let them inside the compound. Which means they’ll definitely be back the next day and you’ll have to sacrifice your sleep, for up to a week. Secondly, you can opt to send them away. Give them some lame excuse like your cattle have had constipation and haven’t been letting out any dung. Or that they hate being disturbed early in the morning, worse off, by kids trying to pick their dung, and that doing so would earn them deadly kicks.
In readiness for Christmas, when the houses have been redone. Some go an extra mile to put some writing on the walls – “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. Some remember to add the words ‘WELCOME!’.
What really does wreck my heart are these ‘civilised’ guys from town. They carry with them some misplaced air of sophistication and braggadocio. They complain and compare almost everything with whatever they use in towns. Lame lines like “Mbona maji ya huku si tamu” or “Mbona huku hamtumii unga ya hostess.” While truth be told they seem to be living a desperate life in town than we do back here in the village, and the closest they have ever come to tasting the ‘unga ya hostess’ is on a tv advert. Funny enough,it could be coming from someone who grew up here in the village. Walked barefoot. Went swimming in those muddy and dung-filled streams, occasionally swallowing that unhygienic water.
We , villagers, can not go through all this pain to prepare to welcome people from town,only for them to make a bagatelle out of it. It hurts. Then as they will be leaving the village, after apopemptic speeches soaked in fairytale promises, they’ll trick us into lending them money to use as fare back. There has always been a cri de coeur about those who, after going back to town, don’t remember to clear the debts left behind, and phone calls go unanswered. What a shame!
Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.