By Andile Mngxitama
When I was a child growing up on the white owned farms, Xmas was a magical time. It started with a colorful morning where all the children in our brand new clothes went to the master’s house to get our goodies. The farm patriach at Haagners Poultry Farm, which sits about 10km outside of Potchefstroom was one “Mapena”, who played Santa Clause on Xmas day. We called him Father Christmas. This was the day that the brutality of farm life was suspended; when synthetic beauty and togetherness was created. We lived for Christmas. It was the fuel that helped the slaves endure the next 12 months on the plantation.
The most peculiar thing about Christmas day was the legend of the dancing sun at dawn. I swear the sun did dance on Christmas day. I saw it with my two little tigerish child’s eyes.
Xmas was a time of frantic activity and yes everyone bought brand new furniture and a big music system from Ellerines. All of these would be repossessed again by March. We children experimented with alcohol. If it rained, all the bright new clothes will be full of mud. So what?
My big brother once got involved in a kind of MMA situation with a rather big fellow. The big bully tried to make our Christmas sour. But my brother, the diminutive Fakaza, put the bully to sleep with one right hook. I have never seen such a neat shot live. I still believe my big bro uthwele, because after he hit the giant he threw such a huge spittle next the fallen man.
Anyway, Christmas time for for me is still associated with the aroma of ginger and baking; chicken being unplucked; a hanging torso of a pig or sheep. The fights at night as fiends and lovers rearrange each other for whatever reason. But I mostly remember how the cruel white slave masters turned into kind bearers of gifts. Some of my ideological suspicions come from these truths.
When I was older I appreciated the non believers who lived next door. We went to church, they got drunk. One Christmas day, Tally the goalkeeper and his friends broke into one of the houses of the boss’s sons. They did a good job and recovered tons of cash. The son was on holiday in Durban. So for the whole week there was a heathen party next door and we ate some of the heathen goodies from the money repossessed by Tally and his drunken gang.
I find the passage from Aime Césaire’s epic “Return to my Native Land”, where he recalls Christmas time in the Caribbean, so similar to my recollection. Did I tell you about the story of Ntolle’s uncle who with with overalls lowered to the waist, at midday roasted potatoes with grof sout on open fire? He ate his rough sounding meal with relish the whole year whilst telling the story of December and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh, did I tell you of that trick of throwing a little stone inside the coke and how it jumps out of the bottle?
I will one day write more about Christmas. But now I just checked the sun. It no longer dances. So politicians must not try and play the game of Father Christmas. We know Mapena was a cruel criminal who deserved lead between the eyes.
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.