Saturday, March 6, 2021

What do we really celebrate at Christmas?

‘Tis the season to be jolly,’ so goes the Christmas carol, ushering in one of the most popular holiday seasons in the world.

Christmas is upon us once again and given the retail sector’s propensity to cash in on the excitement with all the decorations and specials, one cannot help but feel engulfed by the Christmas spirit.

But what does Christmas mean to Batswana?

Granted, we all know Christmas is a holiday traditionally celebrated by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ but do people actually remember Jesus on December 25th?

Does our hedonistic approach to Christmas blind us from the religious aspect of the holiday? Do we get caught up in the gift sharing, three course meals, travelling, merry making and utter decadence, that we forget the real essence of the day?

LEA’s Director of Corporate and Stakeholder Communications, Nyaladzi Kutjwe disagrees.

“We always make it a point to reflect and impart the true meaning of the day to our kids.”

But like many Batswana, Kutjwe’s Christmas would not be complete without the usual company of family and loved ones.
“We usually get together with our extended family and enjoy an array of delicacy,” she says. “But sometimes I prefer to travel with my immediate family and see places.”

Kutjwe says the last vacation they took was to Swakopmund (Namibia), a favourite destination for many Batswana.

“Christmas is the time to reflect the image of Jesus, a time to give, forgive, and love one another. It is time to do something for the less privileged,” says Pastor Boitirelo Kabo of Seventh Day Adventist church. Being a pastor, these things must come naturally to Kabo, Christmas or not.

“Generally, my family do not do anything out of the ordinary on December 25th,” Kabo says. “We wake up to a prayer, and sometimes go out for a meal.”

The pastor blames extensive commercialisation of the season for people’s disregard of the true purpose for the holiday.

Given the scope of his work and the entire burden that comes with being a government spokesperson, one would imagine Jeff Ramsay lying on a hammock at some island sipping on some Caribbean cocktail. But that’s not the case, he says.

“I usually spend my Christmas with my extended family in Phakalane or Moshopa playing games with the kids and learning about history,” he says.

Ramsay says occasionally he entertains guests from overseas.

Like most other Batswana, it seems, BONELA’s Executive Director, Uyapo Ndadi’s Christmas plans do not make provision for Christ.

“I travel a lot during the course of the year so I choose to spend my Christmas holidays in Tutume watching soccer tournaments and occasionally visiting the cattle-post,” he says.

And what would Christmas be without the food? Ndadi says he tosses his diet routine out the window come the holidays. “I get to eat as much as I want without worrying about weight and try as much as I can to enjoy the gift of life.”

But a Christmas day does not get any simpler than that of Botswana Premier league Chief Executive Officer, Bennet Mamelodi.

“After a hectic year, like 2013 has been for me, I say a prayer in the morning and spend most of the day sleeping and relaxing until late in the evening when I go out for dinner.”

For most children, Christmas is all about receiving; it is about gifts and getting a whole new wardrobe. But 12-year-old Bosa sounds way too mature for her age.

“Christmas to me means spending time with those you love and who love you. It’s not about presents as a lot of kids think. It’s about appreciating and enjoying the time you have on this Earth. It is also about forgetting those bad feelings you might have about someone and celebrating the birth of Jesus,” she says.

“Christmas to me means being able to spend time with family and friends back home (Mochudi) and making up for all the times that we have been apart. And since I live in the city (Gaborone), it presents the best opportunity and enough time to catch up,” says Maduo Radikgomo.

But what would Christmas be in Kgatleng without dikhwaere (choir competitions).

For Daniel Molefi, from Mabalane, nothing beats spending Christmas day watching dikhwaere while enjoying a drink or two with ‘home boys’.

It is clear, however we choose to celebrate our Christmas here in Botswana, the religious aspect of the holiday invariably takes a back seat.

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