Excessive Consumerism and Material Trappings

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro As from today the whole country, or a section of it proper, lapses into some indulgence for the festive period, more aptly for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether we all believe in Xmas and the biblical birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God or not, is immaterial. What is important is that the period offers us the opportunity of taking a breather from busy schedules and to allow the enjoyment of the fruit of hard labour throughout the year. Consequently the period represents, especially for the well to do, an unparalleled flow of drinks and mountains of food to the extent that it has lost its original meaning. But that should be the least nagging. Not what is most nagging, at least not for me. What should be bothersome is that with few exceptions, the feasting parties seem so much drowned in the drinks of the season and consumed by the eateries to care to pause for a moment and look beyond their close-knit pumped-up exclusive environments to see whether their next door neighbours have a drink or bread on their table. In this day and age this holy day seems to have been usurped by material trappings and the penchant for consumerism that knows no bounds. This is done with little thought for the presumably poor of our society. One needs look no further than looking around beyond one’s immediate surroundings. Soon the glaring poverty, squalor, hunger and destituteness existing side by side with abundance, extravagance and lavishness bordering on waste are revealed. It was not a good sight seeing an old man the other day in front of a supermarket reaching out his hand for what any passer-by could drop on it. This is with other people emerging from the same supermarket with trolleys overloaded. Surely such a spectacle cannot be pleasing be it to the eye or soul when we are approaching what is supposed to be a period of joy. Yes, the joy that may be talked about may be spiritual joy. But of what use is spiritual joy to a ravaged body one or the other of our senior citizen, orphan or vulnerable child? What love is that that ignores this wretchedness amidst bounties we only are prepared to drown and suffocate us and our next of kin in? Everywhere one goes one meets this reality of the so-called rich trampling on the so-called poor. Xmas notwithstanding. The norm seems to be that the rich deserve more. Even Christmas, a period that is supposed in one way or the other to bring smiles, albeit temporary ones, especially to the faces of our supposed poor, seems to be the worst period accentuating the contradictions of our unequal society. Only at the beginning of this month the media carried reports of about 90,000 Namibian orphans and vulnerable children facing a Christmas without food. I don’t know whether in the meantime the situation has improved but this is not the kind of news one would want to hear around this time. In this light one cannot but appreciate instances and individuals who around this time have been thinking about their communities. If Christmas is not the time for our communities, especially the infirm and vulnerable, what worth is Christmas then? Yes, Christmas may be only once a year but the same cannot be said of the wants and needs of the marginalised, material and otherwise. If Xmas is about the powerful and greedy throwing a broadside at the exploited, then it is nothing more than just a fad of the decadent life of the powerful abrogating the country’s wealth to themselves and their cronies.