We are in the midst of the Christmas season, a time that evokes warm feelings and brings people closer together. Last year at this time we lived in England, and in London we saw the christmas lights, the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and the illuminated shopping streets. We sang Carols in St Martin in the Fields. During Christmas it mostly rained, but later we had a lot of snow.
This year we traveled to Tana in order to undertake our Christmas holidays from here. The rainy season has started and everywhere the water is flowing unrestrained from high to low. It flows through the rice fields, where the young rice rises in bright green shades. The water flows along the road, it flows over the road and under it. The taxi-brousse bravely struggles through it.
The song Do They Know It’s Christmas creeps into my thoughts. A group of artists, under the name of Band Aid, produced this song in 1984 to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia (I wrote about this earlier). Of course, the song paints a completely distorted picture of Africa. I do not think anyone will shed a tear because there is no snow in Africa (in fact, there is snow like on Mt Kenya). Or take this sentence for example:
Where nothing ever grows,
No rain nor rivers flow.
If this is about the African continent, it is simply nonsense. If only the situation in Ethiopia is meant, it is still nonsense. The famine was caused by mismanagement and violence of a despotic regime. The low rainfall on top of this had terrible consequences because people who had no more structures, also lost their last resort: own production of crops.
The landscape we drive through is full of promises. Water is life — for humans, animals and plants. Of course, water can also be destructive. But in the form of rain which is looked forward to, it’s a true Christmas gift. “The only gift they’ll get this year is life” — not to be turned down!
And the central question of this song, “Do they know it’s Christmas time?”, is easy to answer: Christians and shopkeepers know it very well. The first thing we saw on arrival in Tana was a seller with plastic Christmas trees. Complete with snow.
P.S. Also read this (old) article in Times : Do They Know It’s Simplistic?