Covid-19 restrictions which limit the movement and gathering of people spoiled this year’s Christmas celebrations for Mangwe villagers down in Matabeleland South.
The holiday, usually characterised by pomp and fanfare, with locals working in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana trooping back home to be with their loved one, was this year one of the dullest in recent history owing to Covid-19 restrictions.
Under Covid-19 protocols, travellers intending to cross borders must first test negative for the virus at their own cost before being allowed passage at the ports of entry and exit.
The testing fees of about US$60 this year deterred many Zimbabweans working and residing in the neighbouring countries from coming home for the festive season.
As part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, public gatherings remain restricted, which also made it difficult for villagers to gather and celebrate Christmas together as per the norm.
A recent visit by CITE to areas such as Khalanyoni, Maninji and Hobodo under Chief Hobodo in Mangwe revealed that things were different this year regarding celebrating Christmas.
Khalanyoni business centre, which is usually a hive of activity from December 23 through 26, was almost deserted with only a few villagers doing their shopping.
“There is no Christmas whatsoever to talk about this year with the majority of our sons and daughters stuck in Botswana and South Africa because of this coronavirus,” said Themba Ncube of Khalanyoni.
“Things are not looking good this year and the Christmas holiday seems to be just dull and boring. I have never seen a festive season like this in our area even during years of drought. We have never failed to celebrate Christmas as BaKalanga. I will never forget this year.”
Some villagers told CITE groceries and clothes bought for children to celebrate Christmas with, were still stuck at the borders and expected in the country in January.
“You can’t tell me this is Christmas when goods for the kids are still nowhere to be seen,” complained one woman at Brunapeg business centre.
“Today is 28 December but our goodies are still stuck by the border and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Other villagers said they hoped for a better Christmas next year with the Covid-19 scourge having been addressed.