Every year during Christmas time, I always want to do something for the village children here in "Kazembe" which boast of the largest village in Southern Africa, of over 20,000 people.
They don't get any presents or gifts during this time. As it was never their culture. But lately, commercialism has made it all the way out here in the bush with a few pictures of Santa and the idea that they are supposed to get something on the 25th of December. So through the whole month of December, everyone you meet will ask or remind you by saying "My Christmas" expecting money or a gift. But they have missed out of what Christmas is all about. First it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus and all that comes with it. Then you are supposed to help others and give them some joy which they might have not gotten through the year. It is not about getting at all, but that is what has now entered into their Zambian culture. It is a time for getting! It is sad that it is so, I tried many a times to so many to explain the run down of Christmas to no avail. So we decided to give at least some joy to the children by giving them a treat.
So we started a tradition a few years ago by buying thousands of candies and taking them down to the main street and passing them out to the kids that came up. It was a very strange thing in the beginning and most would not even accept it from me, as the culture goes that anything out of the ordinary is attributed to witchcraft or Satanism. So I started to eventually get a crowd of kids which became overwhelming, so we started to just throw them up in the air in different directions to encourage the children to move away. Then we started to walk through the winding path in the village throwing candies everywhere. This was fun and exciting as I saw the kids scrambling for the treats. But then I began to see the crowds growing at an alarming rate. Soon thousands of kids were making noise and running with us everywhere we went. We eventually got in our car and made a quick getaway before they realized it.
Now after going over the situation, we decided for next year to bring more helpers to throw candies and to park our car in a better spot. So as Christmas approached, we got all the candies and pillowcases ready. On the day of Christmas all of us went out and started throwing the candies further and faster. We had got about 5000 pieces! This went well in the beginning, but as time went on, about an hour, and word spread through the village, more and more kids showed up, I felt a bit like the pied piper. There was no end of children showing up. Soon the center of the market place had thousands upon thousands of kids. I then realized it could be possible for us to loose control of the crowds and some kids might get hurt, so we made a brake for the car while one of our kids, distracted them with the last bit of candies. As the car turned on I honked the horn for the signal and he darted for the car. He made it just in time..
Well, this year we wanted to try something different. Tim and I got up at 2 am in the morning and packed our things and made for the center. There we picked up one of our workers and started our throwing of the candies throughout the village. Not a soul was on the paths. I could hear a pin drop. So we finished in about an hour and went back to the orphanage to sleep the rest of the morning away. Then at around 9am I got a call from the local police station saying that many villagers are coming up to him and delivering handfuls of candies that they had found around the village. They said it was JU JU and that a Satanist had visited the village last night with JU JU candy, and that they are telling everyone not to eat it. Esp. they children. The Police said they then explained that they new of the ordeal and that Thomas "The white man" had informed him the night before about his intentions. But they did not believe him. So Thousands of candies have now been given to the police and their children....HA!
So we are thinking of doing something different next year which would be to dress up as Santa Claus and sit in a chair while the kids stood in a line organized by the police while I passed out the candies. This I think would work....or like I say each year.....What do you think?