When we were moving from America, back to South Africa, a child asked us this question: “When do you celebrate Christmas in South Africa?” As it was asked by a child, I didn’t unleash the sarcastic side of me (always very close to the surface), but explained about the difference in seasons and that our Christmas was on the same date, just in summer. This obviously disturbed the child as in her mind, Christmas is synonymous with all the northern hemisphere iconography and symbols. Robins, snowmen, north pole, reindeer, snow, snow, snow and a Santa in furs. And she is right. Our Christmas is a celebration of cognitive dissonance. We are walking around in sandals and shorts through malls decked with reindeer, fake snow and twinkly lights which look so much better when not competing with bright African sunshine. Real Christmas trees are hard to come by and shed their needles so fast you risk having a bald decorated tree standing on your living room.
In South Africa, we also have the delight of a dogdy parastatal electricity company and thunder storms that play havoc with the supply at times. We have rechargeable lanterns on hand, but they have a limited life span and are particularly useless should you forget to plug them in.
With that in mind, I was thrilled to find these solar powered lanterns from Naturally Solar, a small company based in Knysna. The company is amazingly efficient. I called, placed my order, got invoiced, paid and received my lanterns by courier the next day. I tested mine out, just placing it on a west facing window sill for the day, and it charged perfectly. Naturally Solar contributes R5 from every purchase to community outreach. They are committed to getting solar lights to underprivileged children in South Africa, so that they can give up candles as light for doing their homework. The fourfold benefit: a) ability to do better work b) avoid accidentally setting the shack on fire, c) no eyestrain from poor light d) no need to spend food money on candles. Read about this initiative here.
Sandals? I am a particular fan of beaded flip flops, in particular, Beadle sandals. Beadle is a company based on a farm in the Waterberg which combines skills development with sustainable employment, as well as linking in (via their founder) to the Waterberg welfare society and Faces of Hope. Their sandals are incredibly well made and gorgeous. As I have a cousin to visit up there occasionally I make a point of popping in at Beadle and seeing what’s new, and inevitably end up with another pair (four and counting so far, but I wear them a lot!). They have other leather and bead items in store – all can be purchased on-line.
Well if you have not finished shopping by now you’re probably running around the local winter-decorated mall randomly grabbing future landfill contributions off shelves.
Birthdays, special occasions or power cuts – definitely bookmark these two companies for new year exploration. Links above.
The Painting: Impazzito di luce by my sister, Vandy Massey, the bright spark behind this advent challenge and one of the rays of sunshine in my life (the painting is for sale, by the way and the title means crazy for light).