Christmas in Madina Zongo

When GTV broadcasted back to back Home Alone movies, then you knew it was Christmas. This was the truth back when I struggled with bed wetting and tying my shoe lace. My childhood memories of the month of December always had a cute little Macaulay Culkin gracing my hunched back TV set after being left behind in a large family home somewhere in suburban USA and scheming to trap intruders trying to rob his home.

Two things have happened ever since . Macaulay now looks like a dementor from Azkaban after spending the money he made from the Home Alone franchise on heroin, cocaine, meth and God knows what else. GTV on the other hand got awful. The station is drab all year long, Cartoon Networks is no longer on, the German science show, Knoff Knoff or whatever the name was, is off and so is Home Alone. Forget about the Grinch, GTV stole Ghana Christmas from those who celebrate it. Sallah is still the same as it was years ago as GTV has not taken off Home Alone with the Camels because one, an Arab kid being left alone with the camels is not particularly an exciting story line. And two, there is no such thing as Home Alone with the Camels or any movie popular with Muslims during Eid. Well there is The Message but that is not a widely popular movie with Muslims. I digress!!! Point is, the December 25th I knew growing up is gradually fading away.

Across the Atlantic, the case seems to be the same. Well at least not on TV for ABC does still show back to back Harry Potter movies. But the weather is not as it used to be. Hollywood taught us thousands of miles away that it was not Christmas if you did not wake up to heavy snow falling outside and a glass of milk by your window pane. Climate change has taken that away from American with no snow reported in most parts of the East coast and even colder states like New York and Massachusetts.

But if there is one place where December 25th still feels the same, then it is on the streets of Madina Zongo. Despite being a largely Muslim community, Madina Zongo does have a sizeable Christian population and quite a number of churches. People from the religious divide get along very well however. Christians rent from Muslim landlords, Muslims go to Christian owned schools, Christians line up to buy Muslim cooked Waakye, Muslims play soccer with Christians and it could go on and on. Tolerance is a staple in Madina Zongo and so is the celebration of Christmas.

Of course the streets are not lighted up by fern trees and neither does a black Santa Clause with a fake beard run around town screaming Ho-Ho-Ho. But the bleating goats, pumped up church choirs and ecstatic kids dressed in made in China denim wear will make you aware of the season. So the moment you hear “y3 ma mo afehyia pa oo, y3 ma mo afehyia pa oo…” you know “Tis that time of the year” and that means a time to honor a quid pro quo.

You see when it is Eid, you get random “Barka da Sallah” salutations and messages from snobbish neighbors, friends you last heard from when you were writing your B.E.C.E, acquaintances who do not even know your name and crushes who suddenly find a voice to speak to you. That greeting is a double layered one. It comes with a hope of getting “Sallah meat” so once you reply the greetings, the next sentence is “where is my meat?” and you cannot run away from giving a good answer. It is all in the spirit of the Eid festivities.

But when December 25th comes around, most of these fair weather friends get carried away by the Harmattan wind. So this year, I am personally going after every single person who sent me an unsolicited Barka da Sallah with an extra sized basket with the single goal of stocking it up with food from every person who came knocking when they heard the bull moo in my backyard. This Mohammed is going to the mountain and not waiting for it to come him. The funny thing however is, some baskets have already made their way over and they were all from people who never send unsolicited “Barka da Sallah”.

So to every Kwame, Linda and Efo who magically found out my name a couple of months ago and conveniently forgot it after they made pepper soup with my meat, Brace yourselves for a visit from me!

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