Ideally, at this time of the year, the days are meant to be filled with festive cheer and everything around us is supposed to look much brighter. Our moods ought to be lighter and the spring in our step should be evident from afar.
When I was younger, Christmas meant six things; Church, kids parties, carols, presents, family get-togethers and lots of good food.
Ask someone else and they will tell you the seasonÃ‚Â presented the opportunity to wear new clothes, eat, drink as many Fantas as they could (or hold on all day long the one bottle they were entitled to all day long), laugh and make merry with family and friends as they danced the day away. For others, the nativity plays at church and general cheer made their festive season joyful and helped paint colourful Christmas memories in their childhood.
This week, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been wondering what memories this generation will have of the festive season, for it seems to me that this year, the seasonal joy has eluded a lot of Malawians in both rural and urban areas.
For starters, the shops seem a little bit darker this year. Most of them are not decked out in Christmas dÃƒÂ©cor. Dust might even be gathering on the conspicuously empty shelves and even the most cheerful of smiles canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t completely hide the gloominess in the eyes of some shop attendants. Who would blame them? With the ongoing forex shortage, business has not been going as planned. Add that to the increase in fuel prices, which has led to an increase in the price of basic commodities, it means Malawians will have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy even the smallest of things. Which inevitably means shopping lists will be shorter and fewer purchases will be made.
This year, instead of making plans, we are all stressing over having enough fuel in our cars, spending hours, days and nights on non-moving queues at gas stations and lamenting over the fact that we have to spend almost twice the amount of money to get a few litres of the liquid gold since prices were hiked.
People in some parts of the country are still awaiting delivery of subsidised fertiliser, which has been affected by the fuel shortage. Others are praying for just a bit of rain each week, so that the maize they planted will not be scorched in the harsh sun as the effects of climate change are now becoming evident in Malawi and our rainy season seems to have disappeared.
The average Malawian cannot afford to fall sick right now, because chances are there will be no drugs at the government hospital or clinic they will go to and the most they will get for whatever is ailing them will be some form of painkiller if they are lucky.
Oh and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t raise your hopes on dancing your woes away on Christmas day because unless you own a generator or inverter , you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be assured of having the electricity you need to plug in your sound system!
Someone somewhere must be doing something terribly wrong to rob an entire nation of its Christmas spirit! It kind of reminds me of the Dr Seuss book Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow the Ginch Stole ChristmasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, which is unfortunate.
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