We travel to Kiagata Parish in Musoma Diocese in
northwestern Tanzania. Three days before Christmas an African Christmas Hut (the
traditional Christmas Crib in the form of a small African hut) is prepared in
the sanctuary of the church. The Christmas Liturgy begins at nine p.m. The
priest reads the Gospel of Luke in Swahili … "She gave birth to her firstborn
son… " The priest stops. In a small procession with candles an altar boy
reverently carries the carved figure of the infant Jesus and places him in the
manger. With no electricity in the church the flickering candles dramatically
highlight the manger scene.
A wave of singing, clapping and drumming reverberates
through the church. From the back of the church a group of men and women of the
Kuria Ethnic Group rhythmically dance forward to the beat of shakers and drums.
They sing the traditional Kuria song We Come to the Home of the Child just as
they do when a baby is born in the village. As they dance in front of the
African Christmas hut the women and girls trill with joy. A sea of clapping,
trilling, and joyful excitement sweeps through the whole church. After the
singing and dancing the priest finishes reading the gospel. All the people sing
with joy a popular Swahili Christmas song: The Lord Jesus Christ Has Been Born.
It Is Certain.