This year’s Christmas will be subdued because of Covid-19, but the key players during this festive season, the hustlers, are hard to subdue. They always fight back. Like this young man selling Christmas tree by the roadside in one of Nairobi’s affluent suburbs. Never mind his camouflage. At another spot, along Thigiri road, a roadside Christmas tree had a price tag of Sh7,000.
Christmas is usually a time for many to celebrate the end of the year, put its misery behind us and dream of a new year with better prospects. We also celebrate the birth of Jesus.
However, the religious significance of Christmas is often drowned out by the economics with lots of buying and selling, especially of luxury items. That said, this year’s season may be different with people more likely to focus on necessities.
It’s not just individuals that are cutting down on their expenses, even corporations can feel the ravages of Covid-19. The shortage of decorations at major shopping malls and centres is one sign that this Christmas is like no other. Add the specter of most people staying in their homes without the traditional trip to the countryside or abroad.
Usually, Nairobi is a ghost city around this time of the year, but from the look of things, it may still be bustling with life. Even many of my friends intend to stay in the city. The threat of a lockdown and fear of spreading Covid-19 to rural folks will keep Nairobians in the city. That might the hustlers’ lifeline, they will have a market for their goods and services. The Covid-19 recession also means that most Nairobians will be looking for cheap bargains.
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But take heart my countrymen, with the possibility of a vaccine, Christmas next year could be brighter. We could be back to a semblance of normalcy. But the memories of a Christmas sans celebrations and family get-togethers will live with us for a long time, courtesy of a small virus whose origin is still discussed in hushed voices.