A dirt road connects the rural villages in Drakensbergen. We are on our way to a B&B to stay overnight, this Christmas. It’s the end of the afternoon and the temperature is still getting to a mid summers 30 degrees. A group of young kids, with new colourful clothes gather in the middle of the road, when we pass they wave and yell, excited.
“It’s Christmas!”, my wife say’s sitting next to me, she opens the car window when in a next curve of the road a group of boys and girls are dancing in front of the car, some of them are drunk. She is cursing loud when a tall boy is pretending to attack the car in a funny way. I hear she is excited and knows celebrations like this. “This is Christmas for us black people” she laughs, “Showing off on the street, new clothes, friends, trying to get a ride in a passing car. You see those girls, how beautiful they are dressed up, they will find a boyfriend tonight! And those small kids, I remember I once got a new dress when I was seven, I’ll never forget that Christmas. We were so young and just slept outside when we got tired.“ The road is the meeting point for the night to come. Men dressed up nicely discussing life and preparing with a bottle of beer, the drinks to come. In frond of the small mountain houses women are busy preparing food. “They are baking already for day’s. Muffins, fatcackes, biscuits and scones, my grandmother would wake up early and bake and cook for day’s.” We leave the village with its vibrant excitement behind us when the road brings us to our B&B and nice Christmas dinner. Just the two of us, talking, laughing and memorising Christmases of our youth long before we met. Mine with a Christmas tree, gifts under it and my father reading Christmas stories. How different from her Christmases in Thembisa, a township east from Johannesburg. Her father preaching that Christmas is about Christ and people gathering in a Mass, a Christ Mass.
The next morning we take the same road back. We see a young girl with a baby on her back, looking to some houses on the hill. “Probably her boyfriend did not come home yesterday, and she heard rumours…!!!!” my wife say’s as if she knows everything what happened last night. “ You see those mothers, they wonder where their girls are and discuss what they will do with them when they find them”. There are no boy’s and man on the road. “ They sleep, Bhabhalazi. Today is boxing day, in the afternoon of 26 th. of December boxing fights will be organised, men will gamble and drink for the winner.” A group of children carry empty beer crates, they are collecting beer bottles. The small kids are as vibrant as yesterday, for them every day should be Christmas day, shouting and running making fun and already enjoying their wealth to come when they will hand in the empty bottles at the shop. “See that girl?” My wife whispers.”She is sitting on a rock, she lost her virginity last night, but did not remember to who and if she used a condom or not, now she thinks she might be pregnant and HIV positive, poor thing.” It was quite a Christ Mass.