Monday, 22 December 2014

What If CHRISTMAS means a Little Bit More…?

                                            Who is The REASON for the SEASON?


Merry x-mas, happy holidays, Happy x-mas…etc. etc.

Out of all the above the one that grind my gears is the happy x-mas / merry Xmas which is just a perfect display of the combination of modern day laziness and utter disregard for Christmas. What is so happy and merry about X mas?

What happened to Merry Christmas. Or Happy Christmas?

We are trying so hard to take the Christ out of Christmas. We are trying so hard to kill the reason for the season. Let me remind you that you can’t kill someone twice.

Are we just a holiday-starved generation? Or are we simply consumed by commercialism that we allow society to dictate how we celebrate the birth of Christ? Are we drowning in the endless adverts that tells us that Christmas is about the gifts and all the bargains? Or maybe its just innocent ignorance?

Is Christ present in the midst of all the presents?!

We pour all our time and energy into bagging Christmas deals with credit cards we can’t possibly afford. Our Christmas tree is lush and our house is dressed up like salad looking all glittery and shiny and Christmassy but really what are you doing to spread the love which Christmas is all about?

Think about those who can’t afford even a meal on that day or those who don’t have the privilege of looking towards a gift under the Christmas tree, or those who just pray for the simple things of life like clothing and shelter.

I Dare You...

We have nations killing each other, people lying in hospitals, disease infested nations daily living in fear of their lives and all some of us care about is self. Don’t you think they’ll like to receive gifts too and run to a Christmas tree on Christmas morning to unwrap gifts? Don’t you think for a day they’ll like to feel the spirit of Christmas without worrying when the next bullet will fly past their heads or give a warm hug to a loved one without the fear of catching something?

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with you running up your credit card or chasing the bargains. What I have a problem is us taking the true and real meaning out of Christmas. I am certain that most kids these days don’t even know why we celebrate Christmas, all they look forward to is the gifts and what happens when you can no longer afford those gifts they so look forward to? What happens when they wake up one morning and mummy and daddy haven’t booked that holiday in the Bahamas?

You’re in trouble mummy and daddy!

We’ve made Christmas expensive. We’ve managed to pollute Christmas so much that it’s almost deemed unaffordable. We’ve made Christmas about money and materialistic gains. We’ve almost succeeded in taking Christ out of Christmas and reaping Him off His birthday. Wow…the power of societal thinking!

What If...

Some of us have managed to wrap the meaning of Christmas in our roast turkey and we think the spirit of Christmas can be found in a bottle of vodka.

Lo and behold Christmas is priceless. The love that is in you is affordable and in good amount to share to the less fortunate. The love that is in you can make a broken person whole. The love that is in you can satisfy your kids in abundance and way better than that gift from the store. You do not have to be rich to experience the spirit of Christmas. Without sounding preachy that spirit in the vodka bottle is not the spirit of Christmas!

Let’s take a step back and go to the drawing board.
       What is Christmas to you?
     How are you sharing the spirit of Christmas?
     Are you teaching your kids what Christmas is all about?
  When was the last time you showed a selfless act of genuine love?

In case we have forgotten…
         Jesus is the reason for the season… and so it shall remain.
       Jesus is Love and the season is about Love
       Christmas is about showing love
      Christmas is not about your exuberant gifts and Christmas tree

just be selfless...

If you’re not spreading love then you’re doing Christmas wrong. Jesus was born and sent into this world out of love and we needed a saviour because we all have sinned and fall short. Thinking of it there is no greater love.

Let’s have our fun and games and gifts and Christmas trees but let’s not make that the ultimate focus and forget what is important. The real and true meaning of Christmas is love.

John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."


Till then


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas in Sierra Leone is All I Know…

Ebola stole my Christmas and I want it back!

I want my Christmas back!

‘’Are you coming this year’’
‘’Of course’’
‘’When are you arriving?’’
‘’Oh the 15th of December, I can’t wait!’’
‘’Why did you leave it so late, make it a bit earlier, we have a party on the 11th and I would hate for you to miss it.’’
‘’Oh I wish I could but I can’t make earlier because of work. I’ll make up for lost time when I get there’’
‘’Okay just hurry up and get here’’

Jin jin!!

Oh the memories….

Look Ebola, i do not want any trouble. I just want to claim my Christmas back!

The above is normally the way conversation goes as soon as Christmas starts peeping. We plan long before we get there and without much ado we execute the moment my plane arrives at Lungi airport. The excitement starts building up and all my party bones that have been stiffened over the past months start to come alive.

I left Sierra Leone long ago but the truth is my heart never really left. It's like an unfinished love affair.

Sounds crazy right? Yea I know but I don’t expect everyone to understand. For you to understand you must be in my shoe, laced up like how I tie my laces and step just like I do.

However fret not, you’ll be in the know soon, maybe just maybe I’ll managed to capture an insight for you of what I mean when I say Christmas in sierra Leone is all I know.

With my people, when the Christmas season starts approaching we all get tuned into the same wavelength and frequency. Even though Sometimes we don’t talk all year through, other times, we send the odd text messages here and there but when December slams, we all know what time is it. It’s like the unspoken rule, December is just that time and you do not need to be reminded. We live for Christmas in Sierra Leone.

One our side of the pond, Some may have deposited or bought their ticket long in advance but for me the search for ticket begins because last is engraved in my DNA, even though this has done me no favours in the past (need to break that habit). Not forgetting the flimsy excuses we carefully and so craftily weave for our employers. Hey don’t judge me.  My aunt once said ‘’You got to do what you got to do’’ and I tell ya, she haven’t lied.


Ooh the things I’ll do and the things I’ll give for my Christmas in Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone however is where the real planning gets down. The list of parties, chilling, and beach outings all set up so by the time I get there…everything is sorted and I am spoilt for choice. At home I am spoilt for choice with all sorts of African food and snacks which I have so been deprived of over the past months and the pampering, I dare not go into it. Waking up to the ever smiling and happy faces of my cousins alone is enough reason for me to claim my Christmas back.

Ebola I want my Christmas back!

Freetown city is home. Freetown is where I come alive. Wind sweeping across my face and the smell of street food that is oh so familiar glazed with the whistling and screeching sound of car horns and the odd vulgar blasts from drivers and okadas, the city always welcomes me with open arms. What’s more welcoming than that.

The tantalizing smell of street food - Fry fry

The ever joyful Okada Drivers with that glorious potty mouth!

With series of sleepless nights and nonstop raving, when I say I’ll make up for lost time, believe me, I’m not kidding.  My Christmas holiday starts the day, the hour and the minute I arrive. No time to waste, I waited all year for this moment. All I need to do is drop my baggage home, ferociously squander my aunt’s freshly prepared cassava leaves with ample fresh fish on a bed of rice and I’m ready for the night.

Christmas in Sierra Leone is all i know!

Happy as a lark. Free as a bird. Without a care in this world. The motto for the holidays is fun. No matter how the night pan out, no matter what happens, we just make sure we’re having fun.

We party like its 99’

My friends all come from different countries and occupational backgrounds, we all come from different tribes and clans but When we meet it’s like we never left, it’s like we sprung from the same stem and frankly speaking we do. We have a full year’s catch up, reminisce, relish every passing minute and make some more sweet memories that will take us through the next 12 months.

When we meet we party like its 99’. We raise hell and roofs and paint the city red. We forget what sleep is and throw all rules through the window. We just party like there’s no tomorrow and we are damn good at it. We make sure we are in the know of every party and get together, every beach chilling and every street carnival. Sometimes we manage to double book ourselves just like the fable spider.

Other evenings or days are spent by the seaside, just in case you haven’t heard, Sierra Leone is home of some of the finest and most beautiful beaches you will need to put on your bucket list. Blue sea and golden sand, other places, you’ll see white sand and most beautiful view. Yea our beaches got swag like that. Imagine spending time there with friends, music, food, games, good conversation and all the essentials in the red cup. Your day is made!

....friends, music, food, games, good conversation
& all the essentials in the cup.

There are places waiting for me to explore and experience.

....I want my Christmas back!

It’s not always about the big night outs. Some nights you will catch us in one of our friends’ houses, eating in the kitchen from their mum’s pot some solid cassava leaves with our five fingers and when that is done we move to the ‘’krawo’’. Now that is where all goodness is at and that’s a whole new party right there washed down with several bottles of the great cousin Heineken.

And you truly and really haven’t experienced true friendship till you’ve scraped the bottom of a pot together with people who you party and have a good time with. I am grateful for people like these.

True and real Friendship…. We do not need a lot, just the right people at the right spot.
For all the simple pleasures and all those treasured nights….

I am claiming my Christmas back.

Other times we will start off the night at a nice chilled out spot and slowly and surely with the ever trusted help of Uncle Jackie and his nephew Mr Henny and the rest of the family we arrive! Soul, body and spirit. When I say we arrive, we arrive in full force and fully ready for whatever the night throws at us and where we end up sometimes I can’t even say because we do not have a set plan but when we are together, things happen, elements fall into place and life is just uber beautiful.

Christmas in Sierra Leone is all i know!

The sight of familiar places and faces, warm hugs and smiles, cheers and laughter are all the elements of Christmas for me. The nights that ends in jaw-aching laughter, the loud mornings from music blaring from the sitting room or from the CD sellers and okada (commercial motorcycles) drivers opposite my house, the afternoons spent buying all sorts of street food from smoke fish to jelly to oontoo…from the comfort of my veranda. The nights that end on the kankankan stand (Roasted meat) and the nights that are sealed with plates of fried rice and chicken…

The nights that are sealed with plates of fried rice and chicken…

The Sunday church service that is ever so blessed with carols and sermons, giving me a blast from my childhood. All dressed in the night’s gear, we do our little marathon to our local church on new year’s eve just before the clock strikes 12, thinking our little sins will be washed away for the new year…yea right!!

The Sunday Church Service...

Then the church bells and whistles and horns and chanting of ‘’Happy New Year’’ begins, sweeping little rays of happiness in the air. These are all the things that oozes Christmas for me. These are the times I live for and that is the Christmas I know.

 Give me back my Christmas! 

Christmas this year is going to be spent somewhere that is not home, somewhere that I can’t call my own, somewhere I’ll forever be a foreigner. This was not the dream. Christmas is going to be bitterly cold, possibly white and definitely not my Christmas that I am used to.

The turkey, the chicken, the holly, the lights, the white Christmas, the scarves and the gloves and the knee length boots was never my idea of Christmas. Neither was the dark, cold and gloomy weather a part of my description of Christmas.

The lights, the white Christmas, the scarves and the gloves...
not my idea of Christmas!

Ebola crippled my Christmas. I want my Christmas back!

For the longest of time, I have a description of Christmas in my head and in my mind but Ebola took that away from me.

 Ebola ripped me off my Christmas.

 Ebola stole my Christmas one-handedly.

 Ebola left me with no choice.

Sierra Leone - Sussex Beach!

When I say Christmas in Sierra Leone is all I know, please understand.

This is all i know...Lumley Beach!  -Sierra Leone

Because of the times we chose to make memories with the fun times we’ve had, the beautiful moments filled with laughter and endless joy I am able to write this article and walk down memory lane. Imagine if I didn’t have any memories to look back on, or moments of laughter to put a smile on my face or that pang of excitement to fuel my zeal for this walk….imagine.

I think I would have found it very difficult and then I would have realised something bitter and painful.

 I would have realised that Ebola have won.

While you’re here, soak up every ounce of beautiful, joy and laughter while you can. Bask in every ray of sunshine and happiness. Dance in the rain and enjoy the small moment. No matter how little and simple things and situation may seem, find time to be grateful because one day, what we took for granted, What was looked upon as nothing will become a daily prayer request.

Without memories like this...Ebola would have won! 

Soak up every ounce of beautiful!

Refuse to leave this world unhappy and unfulfilled. Refuse to drown in fear, pain and illness OR any financial constraints. Refuse to be labelled and defined by your scars. Live so well that death will know you have no interest in dying!

2015 we’re coming!

Ebola you have to find a new home. We’ve had it with you. We are claiming our Christmas back.

We are claiming our lives back, our families and our country back. We will fight you with every ounce of strength left in us. Some of us, Sierra Leone was all we had but you ruthlessly took it away from us….and left us crying.

Ebola you ripped us off our festive season, birthdays and anniversaries, businesses and livelihood. Why? You snatched our whole lives right in front of our eyes.

I want my Christmas back. 

Ebola I am claiming my Christmas back. Sierra Leoneans and all our neighbouring countries that have been deprived of the festive season and so many other things, lets hang on to the good times. Let’s remember what it once used to be. Let’s allow those memory to propel us into a better 2015.

Let’s allow these memories to propel us into a better 2015.

 ~Sierra Leone, Lumley Beach

Let’s pray hard and never lose hope. Let’s change our attitude and act like Ebola is real and out to kill. Let’s not be foolish but conscious, conscious enough to know that with God all things are possible but God helps those who helps themselves.

Africa shall rise again. West Africa shall thrive again. Our lives and losses shall be restored in thousand folds because Our God is not dead.

Let’s just use this time to thank God for our lives and praise Him for what he is yet to do. In all situation be grateful.

Christmas in Sierra Leone is all I know and now I am claiming my Christmas back!

We are done feeling sorry for ourselves, 

we are done crying.
It's time to wipe our tears 
and take action!

Plausible action to claim and restore our Christmas back!

Merry christmas & 
a Prosperous New Year

Till then