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DRC: A “Gloomy” Christmas in Kinshasa

Cedric Kalonji writes about his “gloomy” Christmas in Kinshasa:

Pour la première fois, j’ai vécu un Noël tranquille à Kinshasa. Pas de guirlandes dans les rues, aucune décoration, pas de musique, bref rien. Les habitants de ma ville natale semblent fatigués et rompent avec l’habitude de se dépasser pour célébrer avec faste la nativité. Dans mon quartier, la SNEL a eu la magnifique idée de nous priver d’électricité. Décidés à faire la fête malgré tout chez moi, nous avons donc renoué avec notre bonne vielle méthode de cuisson des aliments au feu de bois. Pour la musique, mon voisin a utilisé la radio de sa voiture.

For the first time, I had a quiet Christmas in Kinshasa  No garlands decorating the streets, no decoration at all, no music: in short, nothing.  The residents of my hometown seemed tired and broke with their custom of going all out to celebrate the splendor of the nativity.  In my neighborhood, the SNEL [electric company] had the fabulous idea of cutting off the electricity.  In my home, we decided to celebrate in spite of everything, and so we cooked the good old way, with a wood fire.  For music, my neighbor used his car radio.

Je me souviens des années de mon enfance où les parents étaient obligés d’acheter des vêtements neufs à leurs enfants et de leur offrir des cadeaux pour Noël. En ce qui concerne la bouffe, le 25 décembre, c’était l’occasion de changer les habitudes culinaires et d’offrir des plats spéciaux à la famille. Les choses se passent différemment aujourd’hui. La pauvreté qui touche la majorité des foyers congolais change les habitudes. Ce qui me surprend c’est que les congolais, ne se plaignent toujours pas.

I remember when I was young, my parents had to buy new clothes for their children and give them gifts for Christmas.  As far as food was concerned, the 25th of December was a time to break from our usual eating habits and the family serve special dishes.  Things are different today.  The poverty affecting the majority of Congolese households has changed our ways.  What surprises me is that we Congolese still aren't complaining.

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