At home I have a t-shirt that says, ”All I want for Christmas is January.” At home I could wear it every day of December except maybe five. I don’t know about other countries but I know I don’t have to explain to my compatriots the downside of the US holiday season. Although I thought about that shirt a lot this past month, there were many days I did not want December to end here.
Tanzanian Christians, of which Dodoma is primarily comprised, celebrate Christmas of course, but not in the over-the-top, soul- crushing way we do at home. After much questioning, I learned they do have Santa. Sort of. My lovely new friend from Virginia, Diane Wright, brought an Advent Calendar for me, complete with a picture of Santa on his sleigh of toys, and 24 little pieces of chocolate hidden behind their numbered doors. One of the best things about December here was the almost daily arrival of Kelvin (7), and Piuus (10), who live next door on weekends and holidays and other random days and tend to come by for a visit when they are here. (They love my electronic fly/mosquito killer because it makes a very satisfying snap when you get one of them. They also enjoy lighting my citronella candle/playing with matches. But I kind of had to put a stop to the playing with matches thing when one of them picked up this large, triangular, 3-d dried seed pod and started to light it and I thought he might blow his face off. Which would be bad for both of us.)
To my great delight Kelvin and Piuus shared the Advent Calendar. (There will be a future blog about sharing, at which Tanzanians are so good- these two young men are amazing sharers.) Remember I got the calendar in November and Tanzanians don’t feel the need to cover everything with Christmas until a week or so into December. So I really had little information about Christmas here.
I’ve read so many books lately about neo-colonialism that I decided to explain to them that the Santa on my calendar was only white because he was made by white people. Santa could just as easily be black- no one knows because no one sees him. Then I see Santa on billboards downtown for Coco-cola, and he’s white, and I feel stupid. How do you know the color of an imaginary person anyway? What color is the Easter Bunny by the way? I guess the Tooth Fairy is sort of opaque?
The kids at Canon Andrea Mwaka School (CAMS) told the story of the Nativity at school, and I was lucky enough to catch it. Not to be missed! The teachers and staff there are so clever and the kids so much fun. One kid dressed like Herod in a toga-like thing singing I Just Can’t Wait to be King, from of course the Lion King.
CAMS also had the service at the Cathedral the Sunday before Christmas, which was also fabulous. One of their brilliant staff, Sarah, has a family friend who took the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and rewrote it as a Christmas song. Amazing. And here is some of it. I hope.
more to come…