Rainy season

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life — Band Aid 1984

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.

Christmas in London

Christ­mas in Londen

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.

Christmas in Madagascar

Christ­mas in Madagascar

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.

RIceThe 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?