Christmas with the Shapota family in Zambia!December 1, 2015
Ever wondered how families in different parts of the world celebrate Christmas? We decided to find out how Zambian households mark the season, so we recently caught up with the Shapota family who shared with us how they celebrate on the 25th December! The family of three includes Mrs. Shapota (a trainee teacher), her businessman husband Alfred and their nine-year-old daughter Martha who attends Bwacha Basic School, an African Revival-supported school.
Mrs. Shapota offered us some insight into how Christmas is celebrated in the town of Kalomo: “people all celebrate in different ways- some go to church at that time and worship, and some just like to celebrate by drinking lots of beer with their friends. Others, like us, like to celebrate at home, by having a nice big party.”
For her family, Christmas means “deciding to remember the birth of Lord Jesus on that day- that’s how I see it.” To celebrate this occasion, the family either host a party in their home, or go out of town to spend the day with relatives. So, what do these gatherings look like? “If we celebrate at home, we make a cake, we cook nice food, we buy drinks, we’ll invite friends and family members over and we’ll eat the whole day and celebrate together”. Just like in the UK, preparing a special Christmas meal is an important part of the festivities in the Shapota household: “nowadays, people are always busy, so once you get home, you just want to cook something fast, but on Christmas, you take your time, making traditional dishes. We make a special traditional drink called Chiwangto- you make a porridge using mill rice, then you soak some roots in water. When the porridge is ready, you add the liquid from the roots, and mix together and leave overnight, and then the next day it is ready to drink!” This drink is a favourite of Martha’s and in fact, her favourite aspect of Christmas is all the yummy foods she is able to enjoy during the festivities!
However, the family love sharing these special dishes and the excitement of the festive season with those less fortunate than themselves, and so “we invite our families to come to our house because there are people in the family who are poor and cannot afford to make a party for themselves, so we invite them so they don’t feel that Christmas is not for them; you invite them all who cannot provide for themselves- and friends and neighbours as well.” It sounds as though the Shapota home is a great place to spend Christmas, but Martha’s Christmas wish is to spend the day in Choma- a bigger town 62km away, because she finds Choma more exciting than the small town of Kalomo! We wonder, if she coaxes her parents enough, whether her wish will come true?!
Unsurprisingly, the family is already looking forward to the big day and have high hopes for the New Year ahead: “2016 is a year of voting, and we are hoping for a good change in Zambia because now we are suffering a lot, because the Kwacha (the Zambian currency) is losing value and things are getting more expensive everyday, but we have great hope that next year will be different, and the way of life will be different”. As for Martha, her greatest hope is to pass her exams! We hope that the Shapota family enjoy their fabulous Christmas plans, and that 2016 is a prosperous and successful year-full of good things!