I am 7 years old and live in a little village here on the Dark Continent, which become even darker after gold and diamonds and other valuable minerals were discovered in the last and the previous centuries. Prior to all these discoveries, pious looking men came in their flowing black robes with a Holy Book describing the Great Father in Heaven who would look after us. They said if we accept this Great White Father, whose Son died on a cross, we would be lifted out of our misery.
However, many of our Elders and other ancestor-worshippers say there was no misery or hunger or war or sickness. There was no AIDs or syphilis or other dreaded diseases before the white fathers in black robes came. They say our people lived by a strong moral code for tens of millenia. Peace and harmony existed between the tribes.
But many of us chose to believe the white men in black robes who called themselves 'Father'. We learned to read the Book and believed in the Father and the Son. And we also believed in the Holy Ghost, Who we had known for millenia. Soon the carriers of the Book invited other white people to come and help us. They said they would help us retrieve all the treasures beneath the Earth which the Great Father in Heaven had given us. Our ancestors told us to leave them alone, but many of us trusted the white men because of the Book and we agreed. Soon even more came in their wake. The new ones brought iron wheels and iron horses and lots of guns. They said the guns were there to keep evil spirits away. We believed them.
It has been more than a hundred years since the white fathers in black robes came, but we have seen no peace or happiness. There is only mayhem all over the Continent. They said it was the evil spirits which lived in the gold and diamonds which was causing the problem. They told us that they would help us by banishing the gold and diamonds to their own countries, where they would lock up these evil spirits disguised as gold and diamonds in special vaults from which they could not escape.
The fathers who came here told us we should not believe in Allah, but in the great Heavenly Father, who sent his only begotten Son to redeem the world. I don't understand why since we have left our Allah, this White Heavenly Father has disinherited us. After all, we didn't put his Son on the cross to die. That happened in your part of the World. Why is He angry with us? Why did He put evil spirits into the gold and diamonds, which were the gifts He sent to make us rich and happy? It's more than a 7-year old can understand.
Our fathers trusted the new people, while we lived in more and more poverty. They brought more guns and they brought new toys that blew off your hand or foot. They called them land-mines. They said these land-mines were there to pacify the Gods after they removed the evil gold and diamonds from other mines in the land.
Then again, in the last century, oil was discovered on our continent. We thought that the Great Heavenly Father was happy with us again. The fathers who brought the Book had told us, more good people would come when new treasures were found. And it was so. New good people came. They are called investors and corporate entrepreneurs. They told us that this oil was another curse on us but they could deliver us from this black ooze that came out from the ground. They said they will send engineers who know how to get rid of evil spirits who live in the bowels of the earth. But in the process of removal, they left much of it in our rivers and on our farm land. Now there is more misery. We don't have water to drink and we don't have unpolluted land to grow our food on. They said they will send specialists to help us, like the World Bank and the IMF, who are great wizards that the Heavenly Father only gives to those who worship Him.
The reason I'm writing to you, Dear Santa, is there are stories going on around here that you are now the New Messiah and deliverer of glad tidings. That every person in the countries in the West where you live believe in you for their special gifts. The children sing your praises and wait for you.
Dear Santa, I'm only 7 years old and I don't know things about politics or corporate embezzlement or stock markets. I've only known the dump where the local expatriate community dumps their garbage. We find scraps of old bread and other dirty food that their homes, hotels and restaurants throw away.
I know its far for you to come here on your sled with Reindeers. I don't know whether Reindeer can even fly where there is no snow. But maybe your corporate sponsors who consider you their greatest mascot can lend you one of their flying machines which we see overhead sometimes going to our big cities, where thousands of us live in the slums and toil in the factories for a pittance. (Sometimes those flying machines drop leaflets saying we should be wary of enemies who call themselves communists. They say these lost souls don't believe in the Great Heavenly Father. So we have kept ourselves away from them.)
While we are waiting for the World Bank and IMF wizards to do their magic, all I'm asking for Christmas, is a fresh whole loaf of bread that has no dead flies and rat droppings like the pieces of bread from the garbage dump. Please, Santa, let me feel your compassion until I can get the courage to believe in the Great Heavenly Father above again.
Anticipating your kind gift, your new admirer on the Dark Continent,
"John" (The name given to me by the local Book-carrying Father)
P.S. I believe lots of people in your land have also given up on the Great Heavenly Father. According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, 25% of Canadian people don't believe in God anymore. At least they still believe in you.
P.P.S. If it is not too much trouble and not too heavy for your sled, could you also bring two bottles of clean water. The inexpensive supermarket kind will be fine. My brother has diarrhea and needs good clean water. We don't have a chimney for you to come down, because we don't have a house. My family sleeps under a tree. I imagine its a Christmas tree. Could you kindly place the gifts on the other side of the tree from where we are sleeping, because if any of those bottles fall, they might hurt us. There is already too much hurt and pain. God bless you. Ooops I'm sorry, may you bless you.
Essay #388. Written Dec-15-2008.
© 2008 Mahomed Ally Keshavjee. All Rights Reserved.