Sunday December 22 2013

OVER THE SEAS : A long and different Christmas experience

By Jan Ajwang

“When you take Christ from Christmas, you are left with M&S”, said the preacher.

He used M&S (Marks and Spencer) the departmental store to illustrate how Christmas has been commercialised. Everyone laughed because indeed we have been in Christmas mode for nearly three months.

The first Christmas adverts or carols were heard as early as October and the tempo has since been building up. By November, the city was lit up with beautiful lights on the Cardiff Castle, and above the streets.

The large departmental stores have equally been as busy, because almost everything has been on offer. There are very attractive food bargains from the food outlets... yes even KFC .
I happened to have visited other towns like Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge and London and the Christmas mood and the shopping has been on for weeks, unlike in Kampala where I suppose the real party or shopping is yet to start or it started a few days ago.

And since ‘tis the season to give’ the street musicians in Cardiff are equally making a killing. You could easily think someone has turned up the music in a store only to see a choir, an individual singer or instrumentalist... playing some Christmas music and if they are engaging, a crowd grows and pounds and pennies alike are thrown into a large box just in front of the performer. Speaking of music, I know that several Churches in Kampala will be doing a great job on musicals and carols.

Now, you can imagine how excited I was to be in church for the Christmas musical featuring an acclaimed guest musician. I was very wrong to expect a Watoto “cantanta” with fast and exciting music to dance to. I actually was instead humbled to sit through one or two hymns and then for most of the part it was “classical”.

You know that high pitched voice that tears through your ears, and makes you worried for the singer’s throat. It came with some old carols and a song in Latin and Mandarin. Yet there were claps, nods and standing ovations from the congregation either out of genuine like for the performance or out of shear good manners. I mostly missed the experience I had often taken for granted while in Uganda.