An African Christmas

As a child I lived in Africa but the images that surrounded me at Christmas were of a traditional British Christmas. All our relatives lived in England and they sent us cards which featured robins, holly, stage coaches, carol singers, ice skating, open fires, and lots and lots of snow. We did have an open fire during winter but that was in June and July. Poinsettias were familiar because they grew in our garden.

With my experiences in mind I was interested to see two books in the Curriculum Resources Collection which show how traditional Christmas rhymes can be adapted to reflect the reality of an African Christmas.

The Night before Christmas in Africa’ by Jesse, Hannah and Carroll Foster, illustrated by Jean Christodoulou is a retelling of ‘The Night before Christmas’ by Clement Moore. In this version of the poem the Father Christmas figure arrives in an ox-cart drawn by six kudu and a rhinoceros. Amongst the gifts he gives out is the longed for rain.

In ‘A Stork in a Baobab Tree’ (An African Twelve Days of Christmas)’ by Catherine House with illustrations by Polly Alakija the gifts include huts, baskets, khangas, carvings, goats and storytellers. The gifts are from different African countries which include Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mali and Ghana. There is also a brief explanation about each gift and its significance in African life.

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