It’s the time of the year when Boney M makes a killing with their Christmas hits. It’s also the time of the year when many people spend money that they don’t have, on things that people don’t need.
I guess the ‘festive’ season is epitomized for me when I read about Black Friday. Black Friday is an American tradition that happens the day after Thanksgiving (where 48 million turkeys are consumed!). People go on a spending frenzy, with retailers offering products at prices that people just can’t refuse!
The name originated in the 1960’s. The Philadelphia police coined it because of the devastation that occurred when people would cause havoc, just to get a good deal. Hoping that the name would slow people down, the opposite happened. This year, according to www.csmonitor.com , people are expected to spend $ 602,1 billion. Can you imagine the impact if, let’s say, half of this money were utilized for meaningful causes?
In the area where I stay in South Africa, thanks to a pyramid scheme gone wrong, many people (especially elderly people) have lost most of their life savings. A new shopping mall that was developed by this corporation, have been deserted for a couple of years.
This mall is now called the ‘China Mall of Tshwane’. Many people are going to stream to these new shops to do their Christmas shopping this year. Offering prices that most local retailers can’t compete with, my prediction is that this mall is going to make a killing. Consumers might walk out with a sense of satisfaction, but in the long run, the country and local community will become poorer.
In his book Architects of Poverty, Moeletsi Mbeki mentions that Africa (and South Africa) faces two major issues: de-industrialization and a desperate need for entrepreneurship. In Africa, the gap between the superrich and the very poor is ever widening.
Mbeki alludes to the trade relationship between China and South Africa, and the fact that South Africa mainly supplies raw material to China, with which China manufactures products, which they supply back to us. In my own, oversimplified language, the more we import and buy foreign products, the more we enrich others, to the expense of ourselves. One of our main challenges, is to ensure that our production rate increases, by creating new ventures, which will give food on more people’s plates.
Our convictions are displayed by our actions. The way we approach the festive season says quite a lot about who we are and what we believe. If we marvel at the fact that God became flesh, so that our lives can be filled with life and meaning, that will have a serious effect on the way we think about Christmas.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, my advice for you is:
- Don’t spend what you don’t have (Christmas and credit don’t go well together!)
- Support local industries and products
- Support community projects that sell gifts made by local (struggling) communities
May you spend wisely and intentionally this Christmas!