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Opinions of Saturday, 25 December 2010

Columnist: Annobil, Ato

Bronya – It Is Christmas!!!

Today was the twenty-fifth of December. Yesterday was very long but it looked like today was going to be even longer. The frenzied hurry with which the adults kept the day running along, made yesterday seem like the last one.
For once the market looked full of equal numbers of men and women; buying and selling. The street around the market circle was still overflowing with Christmas toys, sweets, firecrackers and balloons.
At the gates were the northern men trying to outdo each other in offering their fowls, turkey and guinea fowls whilst the women shouted the prices of their yams and rice. Getting inside was no easier, everywhere was jammed with people and goods.
Even though everything was apparently at their most abundant, there were still most expensive.
Do not buy today and you need to wait another three hundred and sixty-five days to prove all you want people to believe you are: the good parent, the good uncle, the best in-law, the obedient servant of your boss, the best friend, or is it the showmaster ? Your one and only chance this year.

For us the excitement was just about to explode. Everyone was giving snippets they had gathered of the great day.
“My father bought a new television set. Now we will no more have to go to our neighbours’ to watch Osofo Dadzie”, bragged one.
“ The cock my mother bought is so big it crows in bass” chipped in another.
“ Do you know something? My new pair of trousers has five pockets”, said the one who likes hiding things on his body.

Yesterday evening saw large movements of people on the street in front of our house. It was Christmas eve. There were simply so many people going in all directions. All drinking bars were full and loud music was blaring from every corner. There was a long queue in front of Princess cinema. They were showing “Life of Christ”. All children were out, even those who normally did not venture out after 6pm, and we were playing all games. The sky was frequently lighted by some fireworks. Every once there would be the explosion of some firecrackers, to be greeted by cheers from us. The loud bangs from the big ones will first send us scurrying , only to return a short while later to imply we could not be scared.

The long night had apparently made the morning come too quickly. TODAY IS CHRISTMAS, WOOW!

With sleep in my eyes, I wobble to the bathroom, wash my face and take some chewing sponge. In the kitchen, I find the water is almost boiling on the coal pot whilst my big brother sharpens the knife on the stone. He instructs me and I go to the hencoop where the cock is tied. I throw down a few grains of corn for his “last supper”. Then I catch it, lock his wings behind him and carry him to the backyard. Big bro had already dug the hole. I hand cock to him. He deftly lays the scared bird on the ground, secures its legs with his right foot , the wings with his left and stretches the neck over the hole. He the pries open the beak and keeps it open with his left hand whilst he fetches some water with his cupped right palm.
He points the bird’s head upwards and lets the water trickle down its throat. The cock involuntarily gurgles the water as big bro pauses for it to go down. He does this thrice. Next he plucks the feathers from the cock’s throat. Now he picks the knife, points it to the sky and brings it down to the bird’s now bare throat, pauses for a brief second and slits through. Blood gushes out of the cut throat and big bro quickly twists his writs to direct the flow into the hole. As the cock suddenly realises the seriousness of what is happening to him, he tries to wriggle himself free from the feet holding him down. This action sends spurts of blood and some drops stain our clothes. As the shock goes through, the bird twitches wildly for a short while, then slows down to short small spasms. The bloodflow drops to a trickle and the body finally becomes limp. Big bro lifts his feet, wipes the bloodied knife on the feathers and tucks the now dangling head under the wings. After covering the hole wherein flowed the blood, with some sand , he hands the bird to me to take to the kitchen . There mother dips it into the hot water a few times to soften the feathers and then I help to rid it of its plumage.
The meat is then cut up and steamed with spices.

We come indoors to find the oldman has just returned from greeting the neighbours and wishing them a merry Christmas. Others too have started arriving to also greet him.

After a hurried breakfast of “Paanooeku” tea bread, spread with “Blue Band” margarine along with “Golden Tree” cocoa, sweetened with “Ideal” milk and “St. Louis” sugar, we dress up in our new Christmas clothes and head for the church .

Today’s church service is intentionally special and acceptably long. There is also more calls to the offertory than usual. When it comes to the “Kofi na Ama” day-name offertory, the excitement peaks as every group does their best to win the year’s title. In the end, with the help of seaman Kwaku Marshall, the Wednesday born group win and despite sacrificing half of my Christmas pocket money, Saturday is last.

On the way home we meet the first group of “masqueraders”, “The Mighty Anchors” . All about two hundred of them are dressed in bright and colourful fancy clothes and wearing masks, some funny , others scary. The accompanying brass band music moves us to join in the freestyle street dance. People rush out of their houses to catch a glimpse, join in the dancing, cheer the group on and drop coins in the collecting boxes the younger ones among them carry.

Back home, we don our multi-coloured paper hats and go round our neighbours to claim our Christmas gifts. We come back with pocketfuls of toffees, biscuits, small toys ,pens ,pencils and caps.

All this while the street comedians are also doing their rounds. Some are single whilst others are in pairs or small groups. Each has something special. Some are dressed in old funny clothes, with walking sticks to imitate the gait of old people.
Some perform small stunts, tricks and acrobatics. The most funny are the twosome; one dressed in women’s “Kaba and Slit with wig , make-up and ladies handbag. “She” provided backing vocals as the other gave vernacular renditions of the latest Jimmy Cliff tunes like “Born to Win”, Music Maker” , “ House of Exile” and “ Synthetic World”.

Late afternoon we troop to the big park where “ The Mighty Anchors” are meeting the “The Sea Stars” in a masquerade and dancing competition. The men on stilts also try to outdo each other with lots of frightening antics including dancing on one foot and catching items thrown up to them by the spectators. Today, the one from the “Mighty Anchors” standing on stilts over five metres tall, wins the most applause.

We come back home and the real party begins. A lot of our friends and relatives are there.
There are lots of Fanta , Mirinda, Muscatella, Club Cola and Coca-Cola for us kids whilst the adults drink Club Beer and Gulder as well as the Gordons Dry Gin the oldman had donated for the occasion. The Christmas meal is served; rice and chicken stew which we all devour noisily, cracking and chewing the chicken bones with joyful glee. Once in a while when asked to bring away the empty beer bottles, we secretely drink the remaining drops in them, only to spit them out when the bitter taste touches our tongues.

The party goes on for a long time as more people come and go.

THIS WAS CHRISTMAS DAY THEN!
AFRIHYIA PA OOOOOO!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


Ato Annobil