Is Christmas really a time of joy?

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CHRISTMAS is my most favourite and enjoyable season of the year. Not because of its religious connotation but because of the relative quiet and tranquillity descending on my favourite city.

To get a full understanding of what I am hinting at, please just go and listen to that song by the late Jackson Kaujeua titled Vandu Ombura Maiyanda Rune (When is the year coming to an end?).

And the song goes on “OVina tjiva vitupe ondjira” (So that some things get out of the way).

It is this act of temporarily disappearing that has made me enjoy the festive season in Windhoek.

Because for once, a rarity that has become an expensive luxury, relatively speaking Windhoek becomes a quiet, calm, peaceful and tranquil place.

Not that those who have been dispersing, taking leave of the capital to various destinations, some to their so-called native homes, have been responsible for much of the consternation and crazy-like hustle and bustle throughout the year.

Yes, some may have been but this time of the year the city seems to offer some people, once in a while, to get to enjoy the full freedom of its streets, and other venues, thanks to the exodus that the city is afforded this time of the year.

Already this week such calm and peace seem to have descended on the city as it streets seemed somehow deserted.

All of a sudden this week, and last week, streets in the city were emptying, with the usually narrow streets having turned into some dual carriageways, having been rid of the usually heavy traffic congestions, most cars and their occupiers having retreated to wherever. And that is the only thing that pleases me about the festive season.

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/or assumed busy schedules, to allow the enjoyment of the fruit of a year’s hard labour.

Consequently the period presents, especially for the assumed deserving, an unparalleled flow of drinks from endless fountains and mountains of food to the point of obliviousness to the so-called disadvantaged in our society and communities. An euphemism for the impoverished. Mark the adjective impoverished as opposed to poor to accentuate that their state is not necessarily something of their own making, or natural, but partly visited upon them by past unjust socio-economic dispensations, a legacy of capitalist-colonialism, and the perpetuation, if not consolidation thereof in the post-independence era.

But most disheartening, while the period should be of equal value and meaning to all, especially given its religious derivative, it has hardly been given the wasteful consumption that has, for better or worse, ever been its hallmark, to the exclusive enjoyment of a few and with the majority of the wretched condemned to hand-outs.

Note the various benevolent Christmas parties this time around by one or the other corporate body, which again is only once a year with the beneficiaries only thought of once in a while, and the decadence by the well-to-do of our society and communities, usually again a convenient label for the greedy and selfish, is guaranteed 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Cognisance, however, must be given to well-meaning organisations and individuals seized round the clock the whole year with the plight of our down-trodded, and not downtrodden, because the latter implies their state of being is their own making.

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 and gruelling poverty, squalour, hunger and destituteness, existing side by side with abundance, extravagance and lavishness bordering on waste, are revealed.

The flipside is even during this period seeing senior citizens and other vulnerable, again an euphemism for the neglected, reaching out their hands to passers-by to drop something. These outstretched hands, an everyday spectre, seem only hypocritically noticeable during the festive period.

Surely such a spectacle cannot be pleasing, be it to the eye, soul or heart, 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 and spirit, be it that of a senior citizen, orphan or vulnerable child? What love is that that ignores these wretched amidst bountifulness?

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 unjust and unequal society.

The fundamental is for society and community to look at the root problem and source of our continued unjust and unequal society.

We should remedy such injustices and inequalities than toying with the palliatives of Christmas handouts and gestures, which, as well meaning as some may be, are nothing but placation of a decadent culture born out of the exploitation and maltreatment of sections of our society.

So rather than really looking forward to the festive period, one cannot but dread it for its heightening of the realities of the contradictions in our unequal and unjust society and communities.

By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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