By Spy Uganda
Easter is a period that people often look forward to with so much joy and planning. For the almost 70 million Christians that live in Africa, Easter symbolizes the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. The oldest Christian-claimed holiday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance, followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. What do Africans make of the season, and how do they celebrate the moment?
Africans usually attend church service every day for four days, starting on Thursday before Good Friday (when Jesus died) and ending on Easter Sunday (when he was resurrected). These services or Easter vigils as described by some African traditions are often filled with prayer, singing of hymns, Bible verse readings, and so on. In Uganda, most people look stunning in their best clothes whereas in Ethiopia they usually dazzle white traditional dress during the season. Similarly, in many other African countries like Ghana, many Christians reserve their special white clothing for the Easter Sunday church service or throughout the season, while others choose black clothing for the Good Friday service to symbolize mourning.
Since the religious days of Easter always fall on a long weekend, family and loved ones are able to get together to enjoy some quality time. On Easter Sunday, families in countries like Uganda, Congo, Nigeria, and Kenya enjoy a special family meal in the afternoon or evening amidst dances. This meal often consists of rice, chicken, meat and a selection of veggies. In Congo, people usually eat fufu, a staple food made from cassava or maize flour. For Ethiopians, they break their 55-day fast after church by eating injera (a type of bread) or teff pancakes, made from grass flour.
During these family reunions and get-togethers, gifts are exchanged. In Ethiopia, special gifts are made for children. In some cultures in South Africa, boxes of Easter eggs, which symbolize new life are collected and distributed to children in underprivileged schools. The aim is to give a treat to every child in the selected schools. In other parts of Africa, donations are made to widows and single mothers. Children admitted to hospitals often receive some of these donations.
To create a relaxed feast every member of the family can enjoy, some cultures opt for a picnic lunch during Easter. For others, Easter is a time to sit back, relax and celebrate the moment, so they while away time at the beach, listening to the ocean waves and breeze. Others prefer to swim, sail or dive. For most Ghanaian societies, Easter is synonymous with paragliding, which takes place on the Kwahu mountains in the Eastern region. Dozens of Ghanaians and tourists throng the region to enjoy the moment and or to participate in the paragliding festival. Other activities like hiking, carnivals and street jams do take place.