December means different things in different places, here’s what it means in Kampala.
In many different places around the world, December means something different, but almost always, it means something festive. Whether it’s the peak of Summer in the Southern Hemisphere, or getting into the “spirit” of Christmas with some heavy drinking in the Northern Hemisphere, December is a time to celebrate. Somewhere in the middle, Uganda, to be specific, December is known by other names.
Christmas: Christmas day itself is a single day of the month but when you hear a Ugandan say “We have gone for Christmas”, it usually isn’t for the duration of the 25th of December, after which they will be back. Because Christmas Eve is Christmas too. And so is the day after that, and the day after that, up until New Year’s. And where would they have gone, those who “go for Christmas”?
The Villagefest: Village to City is the way most migration flows, until, of course, December. Most African cities are filled with people who live and work within them but consider another, more rural home, their real home. The Village. The story is usually that their family originated there and still largely lives there. When they come home-home, from The Land Of Opportunity, it is expected that they will share the spoils of their labour, whether they are doing well or not. This is why December is also a…
Prelude To Bankruptcy: If you are a salaried employee, you work this month to receive the money with which to deal with next month’s expenses, right? Enter: The December Advance. Many people opt to receive their December salary in the middle of December to pay for December. Sure the Villagefest alone is costly, but so is the sudden uptake of plans, because, of course, it’s Summa Time.
Summa Time: Not Summer Time. Summas are Ugandans who live and work in “outside countries”, coming home either because it’s Summer where they are, or because they are looking for Summer at home. Summa Time is holiday time. Monday to Sunday is really just one big Saturday, and if you happen to be a Summa’s Trip Advisor (cousin, sibling, friend), the same rules tend to apply; whether or not you have a job. You will go places you only drive past on the way to work and go on adventures you mostly see white people in travel brochures indulge in. It will not be cheap, but it will be fun. People will tell you that all your festive plans must be put in check, “… especially these days.”
These Days: Because December has a reputation for being festive and making people spendthrifts, it also brings out the opportunists amongst us. Everybody from petty criminals to traffic policemen will be looking to “make Christmas” any way they can, so there is a constant warning to moderate how much fun is being had “especially these days.” “You shouldn’t come back so late… especially these days”, “Put on your seatbelt, you know how traffic police are these days”, “Don’t spend too much, especially these days…”, “Text us when you get home, you know how things are… these days”.
If anything can be agreed on about these days, it’s that they are a kind of festivity you will not find any other month of the year. The last month is always a great time to spend with family and reflect, in between long nights shaking off and drinking away the frustrations and victories of the year that was. What are December’s other names for you?
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