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Nigeria: Discussing the Christmas spirit

With the Christmas holidays coming to an end, it is time to collect a few thoughts by Nigerian bloggers on this special season of the year. While some describe the important aspects of the holidays in Nigeria, others are critical of the excessive consumerism and partying, wondering if the real Christmas spirit hasn't been lost or corrupted, and others simply blame it on the bleak economy and send their wishes for better times.

Ojeladun Taiwo Abayomi describes the Christmas season's celebrations:

To many Nigerians, the Christmas period is a season of celebrations when loved ones reunite, communities engage in cultural activities and festivities, families remember their dead by means of memorial services, and many intending couples fix their marriage solemnisations in order to attract high turn-out. This is also a period when people catch a physical glimpse of old friends who they have not seen for quite a while and exchange of gifts, cook-outs, barbeques, etc mark such gatherings and reunions. In the spirit of the seasons, people go out of their way to do some home makeover, do shopping for new clothes, adorn their houses and surroundings with Christmas trees and lights, and literally burn out every savings they have made since the year began.

This is also a period of high social events like coronation ceremonies and chieftaincy conferment while money hunts in form of launchings/fund raising for different projects take the centre stage.

For Che Oyimnatumba of Which way Nigeria, traveling back home is an important part of the holidays:

At this period of the year, there is a massive movement of people to their homelands to celebrate Xmas and be with their ancestral spirits to welcome the New Year.

Nigerians are not left out in this exodus. A visit to any city in Nigeria will evidence this mass evacuation. The air ports, motor parks and donkey tracks, all full to the brim with people wanting to go home. The Nigerians in Diaspora are not left out. Many dish washers and mortuary attendants in Europe and America, are also home bound, to escape the high cost of living through the harsh winter.

Mike Blyth, a missionary doctor in the town of Jos, lists a few observations about Christmas in Nigeria and this is what he considers the main activity of the day:

Visiting is the main activity of the day after church. People go from house to house greeting each other, sitting for a while, and eating Christmas food: rice, beef stew, rice and beans, bean cakes, Coke, just about anything that is a little special. Families also take homemade food to each other’s homes in a gesture of friendship.

However, Ojeladun Taiwo Abayomi also finds a very negative side to the Christmas season:

In the midst of these celebrations, people find time as well to indulge in orgies and moral recklessness thereby leaving in the wake of the New Year, a high incidence of unwanted pregnancies and contraction of deadly diseases like the dreaded HIV/AIDS. In the name of this season, people engage in many nefarious activities just to be like others in terms of materialism hence, increased cases of armed robbery, abduction, burglary, fraud and all forms of petty thieving simply because, everybody wants to celebrate the season as a ‘big boy’ or a ‘big chick’.

And he wonders:

… are all these done in the spirit of Christmas? If so, what then is the meaning of Christmas? It is heart-rending to see that Christmas has been so bastardised that it has almost lost its original essence.

But in a different post, he points out at the economic hardship that people are facing in Nigeria:

Times like these try men's souls. Against our wills, we, the people, have been forced to a situation we are compelled to celebrate this season of goodwill in darkness because some faceless people have mismanaged the huge resources once allocated to boost electricity throughout the country.


(Photo by ”Smiling-designs’ by Lateef ‘deji Oyedokun)

Che Oyimnatumba of Which way Nigeria also wonders about the essence of Christmas:

Why this craze for Christmas? The cost of everything has doubled. Even the transport fare to the east will reach the Iroko top. Why can’t these bus owners help their brothers who want to go home? Is this commercialization the essence of Christmas? Why can’t the Pope for once, postpone Christmas?

Akin Akintayo, a British-Nigerian, complains about the consumerism of the Christmas season in his adoptive country:

One is almost driven to distraction about the way Christmas is so yoked to retailing to the complete exclusion of the Christmas story in the United Kingdom.

[…] Materialism has pervaded the atmosphere…

Meanwhile, laspapi posted three pictures of Christmas day in Lagos that show a different perspective of the holiday, and Ojeladun Taiwo Abayomi has a thought for the needy:

Christmas presents a great opportunity to explore God’s unfailing love. We should also think about those who our national policies hurt the most. Jesus Christ, who we are celebrating, cared for the poor all the days of his life.

[…] Please spare a thought for the ordinary Nigerian beyond the season. Life is getting tougher by the day. Ordinary Nigerians watch as the opportunities elude them due to the selfishness of those who want everything for themselves.

And Adeola Aderounmu of Thy Glory O Nigeria…! posted a Christmas message of hope for his fellow Nigerians:

Merry Christmas Nigeria and Nigerians!

It’s another Christmas and my heart warm greetings to Nigerians all over the world. We have endured another long and tiring year so far. We have seen some breakthroughs this year for a few of our brothers, sisters and neighbours. We have also seen the failures that continue to impede the progress of many of us and thereby depriving us of that happiness that we sought.

[…]

As we approach 2009 many of us are keeping the dreams and hopes alive. That is the best way to go about it. Keeping it alive!

(Photo of a street Christmas tree in Ahaba by the United Nations Online Volunteers in Nigeria)

3 comments

  • Ngozi

    Unforuantely woman like myself have to put aside my pride and diginity during thr Cristmas season to earn a little money to last me thru the rest of the year. We have our favorites or usually even within teh Catholice Church. Every year for the past eigth years I go to Owerri to see my friend Father Conleth Eleanya. He helps with a little Niara and we pray that my struggle ends soon. Shame has come over me becuase like most woman I have to give or myself, make love to him or earn it the hard way. We all pray that Aids or any other sexually transmitted disease does not over take us.

  • Ngozi Mgbahurike

    I just saw this writing after someone pointed it to me. I hereby affirm and attest that this was not written by me. This was posted by Mr. Celestine Iwu, who tried to do 419 on the Rev and when he refused to fall to his tricks, decided to smear him.
    Elsewhere the same Celestine Iwu (alias Tough) even included my surname and phone number. These are all terrible lies and lies. Anyone can call me to find out. 08033889981. Celestine please stop. This is not good.

  • The Internet remains a wonderful innovation of our time. Unfortunately there are people who want to exploit the anonymity and pseudonymity inherent in this platform to perpetuate their diabolic plans and smear and discredit others, including even those they do not know and have never met, using language that is extremely vulgar and vicious allegations that are intended to destroy. God remains our witness and we all will some day give accounts of our actions. I do not know this person and I am not involved in these allegations. You may use a thousand names and pretend to be different people. I certainly leave that to your conscience. If you are a real person and have any issues against me please make a formal or informal report to my diocesan bishop. Thanks.

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