Christmas season; traditionally in Africa and Uganda in particular, people travel back to their villages during the festive season. My family is one of those whose traditional norms are still highly respected. Every christmas we travel to the village. But that’s not the issue at hand, the issue here is village christmas and especially the church part of it.
In my village going to church on christmas is shockingly not a very pleasant experience. First of all mass which is supposed to last for one hour and 30 minutes max goes on from 11:00 am till 3:00pm. This is so frustrating but not the worst case scenario yet. The priest or priestess or clergy man or woman has a yearly habit of not sticking to the sermon. 5 minutes into the preaching she (ours is a she) she will switch to talking about herself and how her year has been. Woman, we did not come here to hear about how you lost your goat to an unknown disease or how many tragedies befell you since last christmas. But trust her to indulge you in all of these stories. She will go on and on and this usually leaves me asking myself how it’s connected to the days sermon.
We have learnt to tolerate this nonsense because christmas is the only day of the year where we are part of the congregation at her church. Then comes the choir; the choir I’d bet starts rehearsing for christmas as early as June, but still on that day they sing like they were ambushed, dragged out of their beds, handed lyrics to the hymns and forcefully threatened into singing. There is little or no energy in the hymns as they agonise you by shouting / screaming on top of their voices. It gets worse when the switch from vanacular and try to sing a song in English. (you cry on behave of the British Empire) Whatever they do to the songs, someone should put vocal and key copy right to protect those hymns.
Then on we go to the dancers. There is always that one experienced dancer whom the rest must keep their eyes on or else you’ll be busting your own moves. That one dancer sets the pace and moves for the rest to follow. Which brings me back to preparation; the dancers have also been rehearsing since June but they display similar ambushed antics as the choir.
Order of mass is something these village folks and their leaders know nothing about. Last christmas i was equally ambushed when after giving offertory they decided to sale the items there and then. Am not sure if your churches do this but at my church selling of items brought during offertory is usually at the end of mass before the final blessings. However last christmas the order mysteriously changed. It’s unfortunate I wasn’t around to witness the selling because i stood up and left. So then, this christmas the same almost happened but the congregation protested and threatened to boycott mass. The look on the woman’s face was not a pleased one. She saw how rebellious her congregation was getting towards having their funds un wrongfully extorted and it came hand in hand with a massive frown on her face. Those items which include food stuffs are usually sold for about 45 minutes. Remember you’re dying of hunger, you’re hungry, angry and disgusted with this whole process.
I’d be lying if i said i get the gist of the preaching during christmas. In my defence the preacher usually says nothing about the readings. She goes on to turn the ceremony into a testimony of how difficult her year has been of which she constantly reminds us that the “Lord is good.” Totally true, but woman preach about the Lord not yourself. We couldn’t care less about that goat that died and the unsolved mystery behind it’s untimely death.
The best part is when mass is done and we go back home to feast, watch tv and complain about the church part of the day like we do every year. Hope you had better luck during your christmas.
** HAPPY HOLIDAYS **
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