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Xmas in Lindi


Remembering Xmas in Lindi

In the 1960s, three or four months before the holiday season, our shop would get, through the post office, glossy catalogues of chocolates, candy and biscuits. I do remember some types of chocolates that we stocked in the shop so they must have been ordered. However my dad did not bother to order most of the items in the catalogue.  The items looked extremely attractive with their glossy pages and decorated with flowers and all sorts of Xmas decorations. As a kid, I liked this job of collecting beautiful catalogues. I would cut some of the beautiful flowers and pictures of gift boxes so that I could paste them in my friends’ autographs. Everyone had an autograph book and friends were expected to write something and post beautiful pictures.

The most I remember about seeing a big Xmas tree was during the Independence celebrations in 1961. Our neighbour, Rashid Versi, had placed a large Xmas tree with lots of bright lights outside their balcony. They won the second prize for decorating during Uhuru celebrations. They had used Xmas tree to decorate. Anyway it was also Xmas period.

The trees that lined our street, Gold Coast Street (later Ghana Avenue), were called Teta or Xmas trees. They did not look like the traditional Xmas trees but had huge trunks. They blossomed in December hence the nickname. The whole street would look beautiful with heavy canopy of red flowers on the trees. They were in fact Flame Trees (Flamboyant or Poinciana). As kids we could climb them to get the buds, which we called ‘teta’. On opening the buds, we got the stamens and use them to play a game using stamens to fight with each other. The  ones whose pollen fell off, lost the game. I remember the Teta tree opposite the musafarkhana very well. I once fell off from that tree directly on the back of Mohamed Kamu who was underneath the tree bending to buy something from a vendor. Thank God, no one was hurt.

I remember once, during Christmas night, I went out with kids as far as the church near the Kitunda Jetty. I understand it is one of the oldest churches in Lindi. We entered the church and there was an interesting Nativity Play going on. Once the play was over, we left for home.

In 1960s, our shop was not a busy place during Xmas. The most people could buy were chocolates and biscuits as we were selling mostly grocery. However in 90s, when I used to sit in the shop, we used to sell Xmas decorations, banners and lights. Once in 1990s, my father in law, Jafferali Rashid Versi, asked me to drive him to Bishop’s house in Mtanda near the new Catholic Church to deliver Xmas gift. I was surprised - as he asked me to carry   home-made Biryani and a plate of samosa. He told me the Bishop liked it. We met the Bishop and conveyed our Xmas greetings. He surely liked the gift.

In 1990s, we used to keep the shop open on Xmas and as soon as the church services were over, we would have lots of lady customers buying home stuff like plates, glasses and gift items. These were last minute buyers as we had some customers who would have bought them much earlier.  


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