It is Monday, winds are so strong across the British Isles that we have been advised not to travel unless very unnecessary.
I am quickly rushing across shops ready for Christmas, two days away. As I speed around, violent gales are blowing umbrellas off people’s hands. I watch an elderly woman battling with the gadget- a classic argument with nature.
Umbrella says: “Let me protect her. I cost her money, you know. I am expensive.”
Wind replies: “You can’t. I am strong. I am the universe.”
Umbrella protests: “Have you nothing else to do? Why don’t you go to the distant valleys where you belong? What are you doing in our cities?”
Wind blasts harder; making noises, offering a cruel and distasteful expression.
The hand of the woman tries desperately to hold on to the plastic handle of the umbrella. The upper part of the rain shield cannot resist the power of the brutal teeth of air and tearing gusts.
Woman fails to walk with such challenging gusts. She lets go. Umbrella falls off her hands, wind dashes off victorious, looking for another victim.
Yes. Mother earth is in a big mess. Just as I turn ready to pop into another shop, three people smile brightly at me.
Smartly dressed, they leave me assured that they are not beggars – for that is a normal sight in London these days. Times are tough.
The lady has a blue dress; her immaculate Parka Jacket protects her from the storms. Her two male companions have standard gentlemen suits. All three are holding pamphlets in their hands. First thought is they could be from the tax department. But tax folks do not grin so cheerfully, they tend to be mean and serious and officious.
The late writer Shaaban Robert (pictured)wrote in his autobiographical collection of poems and prose Maisha Yangu Baada ya Miaka Hamsini (My Life After 50) - that “the ears of the government are quick to hear the sound of money.” He worked in the customs sector for two decades. This, however, is not colonial Tanganyika of 1940s. We are in London and strong winds rule, end of 2013.
“Good morning sir.”
Hearty smile, beautiful teeth.
“Enjoying your Christmas shopping?”
“Well, as you can see the winds...”
They edge closer. So friendly, I wish life was as friendly. It would be a much better existence.
“We are here to help you cope.”
It is the lady speaking. Her two companions, nod like the Simpsons cartoons; one smiles to the pale, stormy sky (which just thrashed another lady’s umbrella).
“God is giving us clues to what we have to do.”
What the hell are they talking about?
“Can you tell us your name, sir?”
“Sorry I am in a rush, I need to shop before the storms get worse; as you know Chris-”
“Christmas is here,” one of the nodding Simpsons finishes off my sentence. “And that is why we wanted to help.”
“Help me with money or carrying my shopping bags? I appreciate.”
“Our help is better than that. What is your name, Sir?”
“No names. Just let me know what you want, please.”
They hand me brochures. That is all they do. Honestly.
“As you can see I don’t have a third hand.”
Blue Parka Jacket lady stuffs a bunch of the colourful brochures into my shopping bags.
“What propaganda is this? Communism? Al Qaeda? End of the world prophesies?”
Behind me is a couple that has already caught the trio’s attention. New converts. Rain keeps flapping and winds continue flattening umbrellas.
Later at home I look at the material. Well written, with pictures of a world of happy men, women and children. It espouses the truth and insists the end of the world is near, that we are all sinners.
Which makes me recall an article I read the week Nelson Mandela died: “Moral Poverty is the Biggest Challenge in the 21st Century” by Regina Kessy Blog- a UK based Tanzanian. Miss Kessy pleads for us to give more love and copy Mandela’s example. Castigating religious propaganda and human selfishness she says:
“I still find it peculiar that in 21st century when we can all browse in the religious menu to choose what we want, there are religions that market themselves by sending people to knock on our doors and talk about their limited version of God, because they think they got it right! They think it will be a shame if we don’t see it their way and ascend to heaven with them. That is marketing God par excellence! ...Forgotten is the idea that we are actually one...”
A great quote. Find this blog and have a read please.
As Christmas passes and New Year peeps around the corner, we should try forgetting religious differences and re –educate ourselves on the way the world and nature works.
Also published in Citizen Tanzania...