About the African Santa

Author, Stella Riunga Rop. 

What you need to know:

  • For those interested in keeping the myth of Santa Claus alive, I have a proposition for you—African Santa!

Brethren, there’s something about having children that causes—in even the most jaded of us—the stirrings of excitement around the Christmas season.

I was at a newly opened megastore, mostly selling homeware, with my husband the other day when we decided to look at what kind of Christmas décor they had. There was the usual traditional stuff—the string of lights that gets so tangled up it might take you until New Year’s Day to unravel it, balloons and so on. And of course, hundreds upon hundreds of smiling, pale-white Santa Clauses.

Let me just ask you, who on earth is Santa Claus? He seems to me to be someone’s imaginary jjajja who, instead of enjoying his government pension (I reckon he was a postal worker in his active years), likes to flit around people’s houses like some sort of night runner. You know we don’t have chimneys, right? So where does this imaginary grandpa pass through? Not the door, because we have dogs and guards, not the windows, because his potbelly won’t allow him, and definitely not through the walls unless he is some form of evil spirit!

For those interested in keeping the myth of Santa Claus alive, I have a proposition for you—African Santa!

First of all, African Santa does not prance around in 30°C heat in a woollen suit! No, he strolls around in a smart kitenge shirt (maybe even a kanzu) and sandals.

Also, African Santa scoffs at the idea of having his hunger assuaged by mere milk and cookies after several nights of dodging night guards, delivering bulky packages and managing his drove of delivery donkeys.

What the African Santa needs is a good, heavy meal to help him keep going, something like matooke and rice with beef stew or groundnut sauce (preferably left simmering on a jiko, wrapped in banana leaves, but no pressure!). 

Can you picture it? Shops full of African Santa figurines and costumes, nativity scenes to replace the gaudy plastic Christmas trees, and fundis doing roaring business making as many cribs and mangers as they possibly can—how lovely it would be!