Woza De­cem­ber

The fi­nan­cial costs of the De­cem­ber hol­i­days are high, but the time is pre­cious

The Witness - - OPINION - Stha Yeni

“JUST cal­cu­lated the cost of De­cem­ber; I won’t make it.’’ Lol, that is my favourite meme on Face­book this week.

It is funny be­cause, my good­ness, the two-week break will eas­ily leave your wal­let empty, and this is not be­cause you are bad at man­ag­ing your fi­nances but be­cause for most of us mi­grant labour­ers, the ex­pec­ta­tions back home in the vil­lage are huge.

Mind you, I am not at all com­plain­ing; it is what it is.

Now let me break down the costs to you so you have an idea, start­ing with the ob­vi­ous one, which is trav­el­ling home. Ev­ery­thing is ex­pen­sive dur­ing this sea­son, whether you are driv­ing your own car or tak­ing a bus or taxi. I don’t even want to talk about the costs of flights: ev­ery­thing sim­ply dou­bles.

In case you were be­gin­ning to won­der why we do not save and bud­get dur­ing the year be­cause we know De­cem­ber is com­ing — hang on, ev­ery month of the year has its own costs, and not all of us have the lux­ury of be­ing able to put aside money ev­ery month; it’s rough but we try.

We look for­ward to De­cem­ber even if we have not saved for it; we de­serve the hype and the ex­cite­ment in the air and of course we get to go home siyago­duka bak­wethu!

Any­way, back to the break­down of costs. So af­ter you have sorted out your travel plans and have an­nounced when they should ex­pect you at home, you start get­ting texts about what to bring.

I mean, as we speak, my mother has al­ready hinted that it would be nice to have her house painted. Now tell me how much does a bucket of paint cost, plus the labour?

Then it is food and lots of it, which is re­ally what makes De­cem­ber what it is. This ex­plains the food stokvels which some of my sib­lings are part of, which of­ten get you non-per­ish­able food items but you still need to fill up the fridge with the per­ish­ables.

Re­mem­ber, ev­ery­body is home, and it’s not only the sib­lings but their chil­dren too, and some­times cousins, aunts and un­cles.

It would not be a real De­cem­ber hol­i­day in the vil­lage with­out the lo­cal drunk­ards. Some of them are a nui­sance and will make all kinds of sex­ist re­marks that put you off for a cou­ple of min­utes un­til you hear your favourite song on the ra­dio and are re­minded that zi big days! Oth­ers are sweet and funny; they crack jokes and you laugh un­til your tummy is sore. Some of them were in pri­mary school with you and they call you by your English or Chris­tian name, which of course you now hate as a woke adult. Their jokes don’t come for free, and they are in­cluded in the costs of De­cem­ber. You will be asked for R5 or R10, and if brave enough they can go up to R30.

On a day you are most likely to be asked for money by at least three of them, and this con­tin­ues un­til you re­turn to the city in Jan­uary.

And then there are the day-to-day costs, such as buy­ing many loaves of bread and fizzy drinks at the shop by the bus stop.

While you are tak­ing an af­ter­noon nap, your lit­tle nephew wakes you up to say Gogo is ask­ing if you have any money in your bag as she wants to pay the boy who helped cut the grass and chop wood for her last week.

Yep, some­times De­cem­ber comes with pay­ing wage bills you knew noth­ing about.

Oops, I al­most for­got about the money you give to the nieces and neph­ews be­cause they did well at school and were pro­moted to the next grade. They tell you about their grades with such ex­cite­ment that your heart melts so much that you want to buy them data bun­dles. Yes, that’s what they for­ever ask for, and the younger ones with no cellphones want chips and more chips.

I’m prob­a­bly for­get­ting other costs, but damn, I can­not wait to go home. I look for­ward to eat­ing all day, loud mu­sic, danc­ing, laugh­ter and all that jazz! Kusazoba mnandi woza De­cem­ber!

‘The two-week break will eas­ily leave your wal­let empty, and this is not be­cause you are bad at man­ag­ing your fi­nances but be­cause for most of us mi­grant labour­ers, the ex­pec­ta­tions back home in the vil­lage are huge.’

• Stha Yeni is a land, wa­ter and food ac­tivist and an At­lantic fel­low for racial eq­uity (AFRE).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.