It is the Holiday Season!
A time to be thankful and celebrate!
On the other hand it seems this is the time to break all the so called rules that we had put up for ourselves during the rest of the year. In Africa, holiday season is a time of sharing and a time of travel to our rural homes or to tourist resorts in our own countries. We purchase a lot of food and we make the long trips back home to be with our extended families. There’s a lot of slaughter of tamed animal during this time – the goats, sheep, dopers, chickens cattle or even pigs see their way to the butcher’s knife.
Traditionally a special brew was made as a thank you to ancestors for their protection through the year. This tradition has been skewed by the beer brewing industry that see it as an opportunity to milk as much cash as they can from hard working people during the festivities. If one travels through East Africa now, there are all types of billboards depicting men and women celebrating their holidays with alcoholic products. Wherever one goes, it seems people are bombarded with these images of alcohol.
As if this season would not be meaningful or fun free from alcohol! At the airports and in supermarkets, there are liquor stores giving specials on alcohol products, booklets are given away for free and inside are numerous discounts to entice travelers and shoppers to purchase alcohol products as gifts.
During the holiday season, we eat too much of everything and the same goes for the use of alcohol. The sales for the alcohol industry go through the roof during this season due to marketing. In the tourist resorts, parents start using alcohol in the mornings – something that they wouldn’t normally do (hopefully). Where are the children left while they imbibe and ‘enjoy’ themselves? Either in ill-equipped play areas, pools which have bars all around them or with bored nannies and child minders who couldn’t care less.
It seems to me, holiday season is when children are ignored and abandoned the most whilst parents use alcohol the days and nights away all in the name of ……. what exactly??
At the end of it all, the consumers don’t even remember what exactly happened as it all was a haze of eating, getting intoxicated, throwing up, nursing hangovers etc…is this quality of life? Those who do not travel to the resorts or to the rural homes have the exact same “alcohol-filled” celebrations in their own homes with the children watching and barely being cared for. Is this the kind of holiday memories that should be created for children to remember when they are all grown up? Is this the kind of behavior they should emulate?
If for any reason one decides to visit their rural home, the same alcohol using sprees are repeated. It is as if the whole idea is to show to everyone how generous and successful they are using alcohol. A sign of success, affluence or generosity should not be how many brown bottles of beer one can load on a table and how many people we can afford to make intoxicated. However, the alcohol industry would like all to believe this so.
Accidents in African countries are increased a hundredfold during the festive season. People die and are maimed needlessly brought on by the effects of driving under the influence. In this case, it literally is drinking and driving because drivers keep bottles of alcohol between their legs and drive cars and continue using alcohol till they get to their next intended place of drinking. Children are orphaned or hurt in these accidents and lame campaigns funded by alcohol producers are too watered down to have any actual impact. The hospitalization and recovery costs are so high that in my opinion, alcohol makers should be helping victims of such accidents if they care so much about the people and not their bottom line.
My wish this Christmas and New Year holiday is for all of us to take a minute and think about the effects of our actions.
Also let us try to picture in our minds a festive season where there’s no alcohol use but there’s bonding with our families and friends. Let us save the shillings we spend on obscene amounts of alcohol (that literally end up down the toilet bowl anyway). Use the savings for school fees, uniforms; give back to the poor or orphans. For a change can we make this a holiday of being there, spending quality time and benevolence instead of using alcohol? I am sure we can and every year after that.
Merry Christmas to all and I wish you a healthy, safe, alcohol free and Life Set Free 2013 and beyond!