Saturday, May 28, 2022

The trouble with blindly adopting Halloween

During a drinking spree, someone recently asked me if I like Halloween. After taking a swig from my cold black label quart, I was thinking that he was referring to the classic TKZee album that had hit songs such as We Really Love This Place and Mambotjie.

So I quickly said yes. After realising that he meant the actual gothic Halloween, I retreated from my answer. “No that is not my cup of tea because I’m black!”

As a popular celebrated event, Halloween seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in Botswana, especially in Gaborone.

I personally noticed last year that within the expatriate community in Botswana, people were gigging it up to celebrate this festival that they had brought with them. So much for doing what the Romans do when in Rome!

Halloween is an American event. It is said to have originated from a pre-Christian festival known as Samhain.

According to research, “it is believed that the spirits of those who died during the previous 12 months were granted access into the other world during Samhain. Thus spirits were said to be travelling on that evening.”

So do people now celebrating Halloween in Botswana know this? I doubt it very much.

Today many Batswana who celebrate Halloween have absolutely no idea why they celebrate this satanic event. All they know is that, come October 31, they dress up in ghoulish fashion and hit the clubs.

Some play evil, scary tricks on children and go as far as organising gothic Halloween parties for adults.

And this is where yours truly has a problem with Batswana who take part in celebrating Halloween.
If Halloween had African roots, Batswana would likely brand it evil and occult.

“What? You want me, my husband and my children to go around dressed as ghosts, witches and the devil Satan? Are you crazy?” they would say.

But since it came from Caucasians, Batswana, as well as other Africans have embraced it, no questions asked. Poor Africa!

Meanwhile, in Botswana, women who are branded as witches are driven out of their family homes.
In fact to be killed is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone in Botswana as well as in many other African countries.

And this is how Botswana and other African societies behave towards eliminating witches. We loathe them. We also believe that the devil is alive and working round the clock, so we don’t like him either.

Most people claim to be born again Christians and as such they look down upon ghoulish behaviour. Practices such as Halloween must not be accepted, well, unless the white man says it’s okay to accept them.

I find it unoriginal and hypocritical for Batswana and other Africans to find this acceptable. We kill our beliefs, traditions and cultures and buy in to anything that comes from outside Africa, regardless of the fact that it goes against almost everything we believe in.

Funny, isn’t it, how our people will even go as far as practising foreign events like Halloween even more fervently than those who originated them!

Granted, we live in a global village and there is nothing remotely wrong with cultural exchanges. But sharing of cultures should not come at the expense of destroying local culture.

“So long as there is alcohol at such celebrations, Batswana will be more than happy to attend them,” says Inalame Moleele, a resident of Tonota village.

Another Tonota village resident, Tutu Sephobe, suggests that people who celebrate Halloween are really desperately in need of divine intervention.

“We should refer them to churches such as Zion Christian Church or Eloyi, so that they can cast out evil spirits and demons from them.”

In Botswana and elsewhere, people don’t realise that Africa is seen as an untapped market for many businesses.

Along with the celebration of Halloween come the branded hats, jaw dropping out fits, costumes and the rest of the paraphernalia they make us buy.

Not everything that comes from outside is positive. This is one solid fact that Batswana have to realise. I’m just thinking out loud and these are just the reflections of an ordinary humble African.

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