Christmas in Luwero District
Best clothes for Christmas.

Christmas in Luwero District

Enoch reminisces the good ole days.

By Enoch Mutabaazi
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First published: December 23, 2005

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, right?

As far as my childhood memory is concerned, Christmas marked a week of eating bonanza. It was a time when boundaries to neighbors’ homes were suspended as families took turns to feed the rest of us from seven households.

Christmas period starting December 23rd also announced the date when men imposed coups on kitchens relegating women and children (the usual custodians) to fetch water, fire wood and, well go to church or congregate in a near by tree sheds.

In my home village, found in the cattle keeping areas of Luwero District, going to church on Christmas (and any other day) was a complete monopoly of women and children, smartly dressed in new Christmas attire.

A father or husband who failed to purchase new clothes for the wife and children risked a domestic uprising plus becoming a hot topic of the community’s rounds of gossip.

The wife would report the husband to her gossiping group (often fellow women). And soon the gossip reaches the innocent children who often spilled the beans in the presence of their fathers thereby causing domestic fights.

But such incidences were always avoided as men interpreted it as a serious damage to their ego. One would rather borrow from friends or sell off the most beloved of their cows, to buy food and buy new dresses for the wife and children.

Preparations for the food and booze would be done in advance, preferably in a month’s time. This was done by booking the amounts of booze one wanted from the brewer of banana wine and booking bunches of bananas, all paid in advance.

Although my community is predominantly a cattle-keeping community and therefore a big supplier to the country’s beef, eating meat was a rare happening- only reserved for festive days like Christmas and show of courtesy to visiting close family friends and in-laws. Only in these circumstances would a family find a cause to slaughter a small bull and, depending on the numbers of visitors, it was never an issue if children and women missed out on the meat, just as long as the visitors were satisfied.

That is why Christmas week was always welcome by all with prospects of feasting for seven days. With that, chances for one to miss out on meat were limited as the uncaring adults were knocked out in the initial rounds of the festivities. The adults, often the men, had a lion share of the meat soon after the bull was slaughtered, leading to a loss of appetite in subsequent days.

Christmas week was also used to mend and enhance social relations as families had the opportunity to commune together and talk over their differences.

For children, the prayers were for Christmas Day (December 25th) not to come on the day you will be in bush looking after cows, because you would miss out on showing off your newly acquired polyester dress or shirt.

As each of the seven days of eating and boozing ended, the gender divide would take center stage. Here men and grown up boys sat in groups normally outside the houses while women and girls kept indoors. Both unmarried boys and girls were strictly prohibited to get in contact with each other during night hours.

After the evening had fallen, the singing and dancing would be replaced by boastful chants as men teased each other about the beauty and numbers of their cows. Usually, cows would exchange hands, and this would go on until the end of the week!

That was more than 15 years ago. I wonder if that is the way Christmas is still celebrated back home in this village. That is why I have to go there this year and find if things are still the same as it was in those certainly good old days.

By Enoch Mutabaazi
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First published: December 23, 2005
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Enoch Mutabaazi is a media practitioner at Ultimate Media Consult with more than six years experience in the print and electronic media. Since he majored in Broadcast Journalism at his graduate studies Mutabaazi first worked as a reporter at Uganda Television (now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation TV) before he discovered his multidimensional skills in writing and public relations at Ultimate Media Consult. He is currently the Production Executive at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and writes occasionally.