Sunday, 28 December 2008

Christmas in Uganda

Could an African Christmas be that different to a British Christmas?

This is what ran through my mind when I met a 23-year-old graduate from Kampala this weekend.

Becky is volunteering in Guildford for a year with Careforce, a charity that places Christian volunteers from across the world in parts of the UK.

My grandparents are involved with the church where she is based and so she came for a Christmas dinner and to meet the family.

Having only visited one African country in my lifetime and that being Uganda, it was exciting for me to have the opportunity to meet another lovely Ugandan.

I'm not sure why it is, but Ugandans are such relaxed and humorous people.

Eventually she was asked how she was finding Christmas here in comparison to back at home. It was interesting how in some ways it is so similar, yet in others so different.

As I had imagined, not all families in Uganda have a Christmas tree; the majority in fact don't have one.

Becky's' father is a professor at Makerere University and her family live on the campus, therefore they have a tree every year.

The shops in Kampala apparently are not half as manic as here during the Christmas period, with advertising for the festivity only starting a week or two in advance.

As this was her first Christmas away from home, she couldn't believe the amount of build up that could be seen in shopping centres across England.

Interestingly, Becky knew all the same carols that we sing each year in Britain. As Uganda has so many different languages, people in Kampala tend to sing carols in English so that everyone there can understand.

I hadn't imagined carol singing to be such a tradition in Uganda, although she said that children will walk across Kampala to sing carols for people at their homes.

British culture has become ridiculous in regards to giving presents at Christmas. It is no longer the thought that counts, it is the amount of money spent that counts.

Although in Uganda gifts are given, these are very small as many people cannot afford to spend this amount of money on unwanted gifts.

The one thing that does really have similarity between a Ugandan Christmas and a Welsh one is the importance of food.

Some families in Uganda can only afford to eat meat once a week, once a month or some not as often as that.

Becky stressed that Christmas in the one time of the year when families will save up and prepare to buy meat for the big day.

Like my own family, they have all the meat and vegetables that many people across the world eat on Christmas day as part of this tradition.

It's funny how two peoples lives can be so different yet in other ways, so similar.

My little sister asked Becky what movies they watch in Uganda. She said that she liked Love Actually, The Holiday and that she loved Crocodile Dundee.

To our surprise, it was on TV in five minutes and so we spent the rest of the evening laughing hysterically at Crocodile Dundee 3!

We might live on different continents, eat completely different foods and speak different languages, but our love for such a silly film like Crocodile Dundee proved that we might not be that different at all.

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