christmas deco

Christmas no longer Xmas!

Lenin Ndebele
CHRISTMAS is no longer “Xmas”. Well, it stopped being that where I come from probably because one day at my primary school in the mid 90s they brought a black Santa who gave us sub-standard toys.

I had never seen a Santa in flesh, the only one I knew was that white guy who would sing a song with those “cute” seemingly well-to-do kids who appeared on that Bata sponsored Christmas song on ZTV.

The other was a pale white ghost looking guy I would see through the window at Haddon and Sly but with my mom holding my hand firmly I had no chance to even smile at him.

Come to think of it — from our side of town we called him “father Christmas” but giving me a water toy gun to love better than my 1994 Super Nintendo game was a joke.

Anyway, someone at that high density school wanted to make us look suburban and it didn’t fly.

A standard Christmas Day in the mid 90s would go like this:

8-10AM: One’s father and his extended family — that includes sisters, brothers, uncles etc from as far as the United Kingdom and the bulk from South Africa — would nurse a hangover over heavy breakfast, hardly what we do on weekends or even month ends.

10AM: If unlucky as a kid one would be conscripted (forced) to join the crew skinning a goat. But if lucky, one would delay bathing because anxiety would be on seeing what other kids in the neighborhood would be wearing for the big day.

There was always a clash or tie for children whose parents were mostly civil servants because they would buy clothes from the traditional credit account shops such as Edgars, its sister shop Sales House.

For some reason in my mind I imagined families that bought from Sales House as Dynamos supporters but because my mom bought from Edgars and we all supported Bosso at home, I felt we were the good guys.

Whatever the case, there was a clash of clothes for families that bought from the big stores. I always loved being outstanding, as such, to avoid a clash, I would wear clothes that would have been brought for me by Leon Ndebele and Gibson Ndebele (RIP) my Jozi suppliers. If lucky, and judging from my school report — I would get clothes for the New Year.

12PM: Boys and girls would rock up to the street in their regalia — you would think it was the Oscars. The scruffy ones would have already soiled their clothes with sweets, juice and other niceties.

I can tell you, if there was a girl you had a thing for — a hug or kiss was guaranteed later in darkness.

1PM: At this hour you would go home to eat rice and chicken — the proper Christmas meal not the turkey we only saw on TV.

In 1994 my mom dispatched me to buy sour milk for her. “Moooom” I said to myself — parents just don’t understand!

2PM: Now the fun takes off, as bands of friends we would invade any home in the hood we thought had a cool party.

Sadly most would play Soul Brothers and other mbaqanga outfits.

We were kids that music was not cool for us — unless if it meant seeing so and so’s father or mother drunk and getting down with the boogie. Shebeens were not out of bounds on Christmas, remember some of our friends were children of Shebeen Queens and Kings. Those were the first to pay school fees in January because their parents took everyone’s money!

Kids, don’t do this: Yes we would steal some alcohol and upon taking sips wonder what the fuss was because the taste was horrible.

By the time the clock hits 5PM most kids would be at the most vibrant house dancing to  Di Gong music — Di Gong took over from pansula and briefly rocked before kwaito blossomed.

If you hear someone refer to kwaito as Di Gong know that he is from the old school.

Artistes such as Sea Bee of the Thiba fame (that was the year baggy jeans and dungarees were in fashion), Brenda Fassie, Peta Teanet the king of Shangaan disco, Sharon Dee, Bob Mabena to mention a few were the reason for breaking the curfew on Christmas Day.