As Christmas approaches and people are diligently getting ready for this festive occasion with all the mad rush to get everything ready, there is this one thing I associate with the Christmas season from my childhood more than any thing else.
It is not the Christmas presents which almost always included toy machine guns for the boys. Oh my God, it now sounds quite appalling to imagine that toys should be suitable toys for kids! It is neither the special shiny Christmas clothes that had to be worn for the first time on Christmas Day followed by a photo opportunity usually in a studio.
It is not even the Christmas carols that filled up everyone’s audio space and sung and danced to in a very African way with dodgy and energetic movements of body. Never mind the decorations and cards that were received from everyone you knew and proudly displayed on a line in the sitting room.
The biggest natural reminder that the festive season is here is Harmattan. Anyone who has lived in West Africa knows it very well. The dictionary describes it as “a dry and dust West African trade wind that blows…” How boring and negative! For me as a child this was something that ushered in the season even without me knowing the months of the
Suddenly you see all the trees become leafless, and then the leaves start flying all over the place. My most important task as a kid was to chase the leaves and try to catch as many as I could. Obviously this often resulted in dusty nostrils, eyes and hair. As for the dry skin, the almighty Vaseline was always there in very large jars. There were other treatments for the dry lips but that was quite fun.
That was exactly Christmas season for me. It is probably a West African version of winter!