Beware of relatives who behave badly during Christmas

Friday December 22 2017

The make-shift pool would be free for all pool to show off their newly-acquired swimming skills

The make-shift pool would be free for all pool to show off their newly-acquired swimming skills ILLUSTRATION | IGAH

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Dear Jijee,

Let your uncles and other relatives not cheat you that they used to be good people during Christmas when they were young.

I know they will soon be giving you loads and loads of stories on how to be a good boy during the festive season.

Well, listen to their counsel, but take their so-called personal stories with a pinch of salt.


One of your uncles used to be whipped using an old, red sandal every other Christmas Day. As sure as “boxing” follows December 25, he would always find himself on the wrong side of mum’s law, either by staying out with his peers for too long or neglecting his house chores.

Mum was not a respecter of holidays so when it came to 'exorcising' any of her children, she would always be there to deliver 42 of the best lashes using her red Bata sandal that had usually done 30,000-plus kilometres but was still cleaner than our new ones.

She would administer the punishment in the best way the University of Hard Knocks taught her, uttering judgement after every lash.

Because of the dreaded red sandal, which was sure to fall on anyone who veered off the right path, Christmas was always about waiting with bated breath to see if the day would end without any of us getting beaten.

Jijee, there was also a relative who used to take so much booze and sing incoherently deep into the night. In his youthful days before he got married, he would gulp litres of alcohol which would lead to staggering, falling into ditches and fights.

That was his way of merry-making. But one day, out of the blue, he sat us down and told us that he was a changed man. And that was that.


Another parents' pet peeve was swimming in rivers in the countryside. Kids would find a good spot then place barriers so that water-flow was restricted.

The make-shift pool would be free for all to show off their newly-acquired swimming skills. As would be expected, swimming in such spots was banned by every parent but rural kids found it irresistible.

You should have seen how your uncles and I would return home with bloodshot eyes, dry skin and hair in tufts like a goat’s droppings. That haggard look guaranteed you a tongue-lash or a beating from the parents.

And finally, I do confess that sometimes we would hide the Sh5 coin given for church offering. There was so much you could do with that coin back then....

But son, be a good boy and do not follow in our footsteps. You need God’s blessings all the way.


This series brings you writings by Peter Mogambi, a Nairobi resident who became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that he will get to follow his father’s thoughts.