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A classic tale of greed and power versus kindness



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It is that time of the year again, when you meander through final essays reflecting on the important stuff. At least the music is getting better.

Shops in Dar es Salaam are moving towards a late-20th century approach to the celebrations of Christmas. Meaning they are still selling boxed sets of outrageously expensive chocolates with a nostalgic value, but they no longer have Jim Reeves playing on repeat.

Although Boney M still shows up (and should, forever), cheerful compilations of standard songs are making inroads. At this rate, we might even discover the coolness of subtle jazzy Christmas albums in another 30 years.

I am appreciating the music because it is the little things that matter when the big things are, well, sub-optimal. Having shops that are open at all is a luxury good, that they have expensive chocolates to offload is double-good, and the air-conditioning is the icing on the cake.

Oh, don’t worry: Still enough money going around to keep up appearances, at least for now. And there is also an odd kind of sweetness in the simplicity of life in our struggling economy.

Speaking of simplicity, and nostalgia: Do you know that A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has never been out of print since it was first published in 1843? If you haven’t read it, it is the story of an old dude who isn’t nice – not to those in need, not even children – who develops a bit of a ghost problem in his house sometime near Christmas.

He doesn’t know whom to call because it is the mid-1800s and Ghost Busters didn’t come along until 1984. So he has no choice but to listen to these benign inter-dimensional beings who tell him he could be nicer and then show him the past, the present and a possible future. Lo and behold, the old dude gets it!

Children enjoy it because back in the day people really knew how to tell a story with some good fright thrown in, unlike this Disneyfied pap we get fed these days. But, like all good stories, it’s all about layers of meaning, and lessons that can be learnt and relearnt at any point in the reader’s life.

In other words, a classic tale of good and evil, choices, greed and untoward power versus kindness and compassion, and ultimately the ability of love to make all things better.

Oh dear, this resentment of Disney is not at all in keeping with the holiday spirit is it? Haku… hamna shida. What were we talking about, greed? Power? Exploitation? Oh, right, kindness.

After a long year slogging through this Trumpified post-world truth let me do us all a favour. I once recommended Black Panther as a watching experience, but it isn’t exactly a family movie. Maybe something simpler and sweeter to temper an austere end to a year that defies description. Like any version of the filmified Christmas Carol that does not, I repeat, DOES NOT involve Jim Carrey.

It has stood the test of time, an old, worn, child-friendly tale that says exactly what it means and means exactly what it says. Pure in its intents, not convoluted with double-speak or riddled with advertisements and product placements. Something for everyone. Refreshing. Stay woke, peeps.

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]

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