LET TENTS BE PITCHED FOR HAPPINESS, NOT SADNESS

THE past weekend in Soweto will, for me at least, be remembered for the many white tents that I lost count of with each attempt that I tried. Of these many tents, I may just as well add, I had the experience of being in two, one in Meadowlands and the other in Phiri. It was my nephew's wedding party, Siboniso Ntshalinsthali to Tshidi Molakeng.

THE past weekend in Soweto will, for me at least, be remembered for the many white tents that I lost count of with each attempt that I tried. Of these many tents, I may just as well add, I had the experience of being in two, one in Meadowlands and the other in Phiri. It was my nephew's wedding party, Siboniso Ntshalinsthali to Tshidi Molakeng.

Party because the actual "I Do's" were exchanged in April 2007. For black folks, as is tradition, the vows taken in church buildings irrepressibly find their way to outdoor merriment that sees the entire neighbourhood and guests joining in to turn the streets into a spontaneous mass theatre of entertainment with the marrying couple being the point of focus. For Ntshalintshali, the party came two years later, to claim the weekend before Christmas Day of December 2009.

South of the equator, December spells summer. The schools are closed. The whispering hours of industry have also taken a measured break. School-leavers seize every moment to break into dance, while anxious parents cannot wait to hear about their matriculation results. There is a general sense of something ending and another one waiting to be born with the dawn of New Year's Day.

For hard-working couples, it is most opportune to break away for some restful quality time. For those in courtship, the festive mood seems ripe to tease the tinkle of wedding bells to eliminate single-hood by substitution with couplehood. And it is not without reason that December beats the charts as the marrying month.

From a seeing distance, most of the tents seen in this past weekend appeared to be populated by a mass of happy faces. But it can also not be discounted that other tents might have been pitched for reasons of burying dearly departed ones.

This being a season of giving and good wishes, may the happy ones that have found someone, like my nephew, have their joy multiplied, and those with wounded hearts, be healed with the fond memories of those that had touched and shared their lives.

Talking of a heart, mine is strange and a stubborn one. It is never moved by the regime of organised happiness that sometimes borders on madness or artificiality by some festive revellers.

My heart actually grieves that two days in a year can drive people to reach a breakpoint of their sanity simply because it is Christmas or New Year's Day.

Why should anyone drive at break-neck speed into crowds, spin a car on a public road, empty trash bins onto the streets and burn tyres or find delight in placing firecrackers in the backside of cats and dogs to mark one's happiness of Christmas or New Year's Day? In the face of such maddening spectacle, masquerading as happiness, a heart sinks.

The lunatic gestures can only find defence from sick minds. If these days are so special, then why would such callousness be the crowning badge that marks their significance?

If this is your kind of festive, then the blessing of December will always be haunted by a curse of those wishing to close the year on a maddening note.

If this madness makes your happiness, then all pleasures shall end in regret like wrongs committed in drunkenness.

So end your year and begin a new one with the cheer of newly weds seeking to find pleasing companionship that marriage promises to offer. In so doing, the tents that mushroom each December will most likely be pitched more for the happiness of their occupants rather than their sadness.

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