Posts Tagged ‘An African Christmas’

The Legend of the Showoff Who Prepares For the Visit of Jesus on Christmas Day

December 11, 2011

Once upon a time when Jesus was still in this world, there was an African woman named Kwiyolecha which means “The Showoff” or “a person who wants to make a big impression” in Sukuma, an important language in Tanzania. After hearing him speak as no person has ever spoken, Kwiyolecha met Jesus in Shinyanga town three days before Christmas and asked him, “Lord, when will you come to visit us? I see you visiting other people, but you haven’t come to our home yet.” Jesus replied, “Dear woman, just wait three days and I promise to pay you a visit on Christmas Day.”

When Kwiyolecha heard this she was delighted and immediately went home to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus on Christmas Day. The Tanzanian woman cleaned her house very well and decorated inside and outside with many ornaments of the Christmas season. She hung colorful African cloths everywhere. She and her servants prepared special food and drink especially the local beer. They slaughtered the bull that they had been fattening. Having prepared everything to the best of her ability, Kwiyolecha dressed in her finest African dress. Then she sat down and waited for the Lord’s arrival with joyful expectation.

Early on Christmas morning a bent old man with sores on his legs appeared at Kwiyolecha’s house. Upset at this intrusion, she told the man sharply: “What have you come here for? I’m waiting for an important visitor and I don’t want you messing up my house. Go away immediately.” Without saying a word the bent old man left.

Some time later a very old lady appeared dressed in rags and supporting herself with a stick. Exasperated and angry, Kwiyolecha said to herself, “Why are all these things happening to me?” She rebuffed the old woman and told her, “Get out of here.” The very old lady did as she was told.

Finally at midday a badly crippled Tanzanian boy appeared. He raised a cloud of dust as he dragged along his twisted legs. Kwiyolecha was very annoyed when she saw him and said, “What is this wretch doing here?” She told the boy, “Get away from here as soon as possible and don’t come back again.” The boy immediately went away.

Then for the rest of Christmas Day Kwiyolecha waited patiently for the Lord Jesus, but he never came.

The next day, which happened to be the 26th of December, Kwiyolecha met Jesus in Shinyanga town and said: “Lord, why didn’t you come to our home yesterday? I waited and waited for you. Why didn’t you keep your promise?” The Lord replied, “Kwiyolecha, I came to visit you three times, but you did not receive me. When you refused to welcome the bent old man, the very old lady dressed in rags and the badly crippled boy who came to your home, you refused to welcome me.”

At first Kwiyolecha was dumbfounded. Then she remembered Jesus” words in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” She began to realize for the very first time what it means to be a follower of Christ and the real meaning of Christian hospitality. So Kwiyolecha looked for another opportunity to celebrate Christmas by welcoming Jesus in a bent old man, a very old lady dressed in rags and a badly crippled boy who might come to her home.

Posted on African Proverbs, Stories and Sayings, this African Christmas story is based on a Sukuma (Tanzania) adaptation of a traditional universal legend. The adaptation is written by Father Don Sybertz, M.M. and Father Joseph Healey, M.M. and is found on page 172 of the book Towards an African Narrative Theology (Pauline Publications Africa, 3rd Reprint 2000 and Orbis Books, Second Printing 1999). There are many wonderful versions of this lovely centuries-old legend such as “Where Love Is, God Is” by Leo Tolstoy, “The Christmas Guest” as told by Helen Steiner Rice and the children’s story “The Woman Who Met Jesus” by Elizabeth Chebet.

The first of three African stories read by Virginia McKenna at An African Christmas with the Occam Singers at St Nicolas Church.

I am indebted to Virginia McKenna for introducing me to this wonderful Christmas story and for telling me where it and and many other wonderful African stories are to be found on the net.

I am reminded of the End of Days, when Jesus sits in Judgement, the sheep to be separated from the goats: Why did you not give me a drink when I thirst, feed me when I was hungry, clothe me when I was in rags? But we did not see you Lord. I was the beggar who approached you.

I am reminded of Desmond Tutu who makes the point everyone is welcome, inclusive, not exclusive.

I am reminded of Canon Andrew White and St George’s in Baghdad where everyone is welcome, Jews, Muslims, Christians.

In the Koran we are told that only those who believe in the One True God and who do Good will achieve Salvation.

I am reminded of the stories Paulo Coelho tells in his books and on his blog.

An African Christmas
Love Wins
Like a Flowing River

An African Christmas

December 10, 2011
An African Christmas

An African Christmas

An African Christmas, Christmas Carols with Occam Singers at St Nicolas Church, with an interlude of African Sanctus by Fanshawe, and readings by Virginia McKenna OBE.

The concert started with the lights dimmed and the Occam Singers at the back of the church singing, they then walked in a candlelit procession to the front. Excellent percusionist.

For me the highlight was the reading of three African Christmas stories by actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, wonderful delivery of equally wonderful stories.

The Legend of the Showoff Who Prepares For the Visit of Jesus on Christmas Day
Parable of What Language Does God Speak?
The Parable of the Person Who Couldn’t Find God

Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers had starring roles in Born Free, a film about lions in Kenya. I saw it as a child and can still remember seeing it. This association with lions led to the setting up of a charity 27 years ago to fight for animals in captivity, in zoos and circuses, this led to the protection of animals in the wild, then their habitat, and finally a holistic approach that also includes the people, with the focus on children and their education.

The Born Free Foundation operates mainly in Africa, but also now in India and Sri Lanka.

The concert was a fund raising event for the Born Free Foundation.

Talking to Virginia McKenna at a reception later, where she was manning a table for the Born Free Foundation, I said how much her African stories reminded me of the stories often told by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. My regret was that I did not have one of his books on me as I would have happily have given her a copy. I did though give her a Christmas card with a talk by Canon Andrew White that he gave a few weeks ago and noted the address of this blog for more information.

Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

The Occam Singers is a 40 strong chamber choir based in the Surrey village of Ockham. It was from the same village the medieval philosopher William of Occam, he of the sharp razor.


Synchronicity: Earlier in the day on my way to the concert I stumbled upon Tutu: The Authorised Portrait, one of those books that is an absolute must have.

St Nicolas Church really must get their act together re their notice board. No poster for this concert, but there was an outdated poster for something that took place on the 6 December (St Nicolas Day). Earlier in the afternoon I had been inside the church during rehearsals and seen posters for two carol concerts at St Nicolas. It goes without saying neither were on the notice board outside.

Guildford Boiler Room Carol Service evening Sunday 11 December 2011 at Stoke Pub, Guildford.

Keystone Spirit evening Tuesday 13 December 2011 at Keystone Pub (behind St Nicolas Church), Guildford.

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