What Is Merry About This Christmas In Nigeria?

LAGOS DECEMBER 24TH (NEWSRANGERS)-It is December 24 -the eve of Christmas, but the usual merry of the season is lacking. Usually by this time, the festive feeling is in the air with preparations for Christian faithful’s symbolic celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

There have always been arguments about whether this time of the year truly represents the period Christ was born, but neither that nor questions as to if his death isn’t more important to his redemptive mission never detracts from the excitement the Christmas season brings. For Christians, the logic is that without a birth, there would be no death.  The choice to bear the burden of death on the cross as revealed by a couple of ecclesiastical discussions recorded in the Bible, validates the importance of celebrating the Lord’s birth, even if just symbolically.

Perhaps, for the foregoing, Christmas has become a festival that impacts not just the faithful but also those who do not directly worship God through Jesus Christ.

Growing up, parents lighted the fire up months before the D-Day. They bought or made Christmas outfits for their children and went extra miles to ensure that every single year left memories that lingered until the next one.

More recently even, private companies, especially banks, government agencies (regardless of the faith practised by their superintendents), communities and even states spent hundreds of millions accentuating the Christmas sensation with all forms of decorations. It is also the peak of tourist visitations and the accruing of humongous monetary possibilities for certain societies able to harness their endowments. Even Nigeria has one of those in the Calabar Carnival, which has held annually since 2004 when Governor Donald Duke governed the state. This carnival draws tourists from all over the world but not this year for obvious reasons.

Even if stakeholders wanted to hold the Calabar Carnival, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the world is currently battling, would have made that impossible. COVID-19 has made 2020, one of the most difficult years in recent history. As of Wednesday, the world had recorded about 78 million infections and 1.7 million mortalities! Admittedly though and for reasons, which scientists are still trying to understand, the first surge of infections didn’t hit Nigeria and other countries on the continent with the virulence witnessed in Asia, Europe and America.

The second wave, however, seems to have approached with some vengeance. That is given the daily figures as declared by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in recent times. The federal and state governments are raising the alarm and imposing restrictions that may further diminish the jolly nature of the season. Of course, to the chagrin of many Nigerians whose failure or refusal to observe the global protocols for the prevention of the spread of the virus coupled with government’s own half-hearted disposition and confused cum ineffective communication, has brought this second wave.

What is worse is that COVID-19 did not just come as a physiological ailment. It equally brought a paralysis on the economy of nations!  And when that happens, Nigeria would sure be one of the most hit.  An import-based economy like ours does not have definite control of its affairs, it would be blown by every wind of economic affliction that hit the world. Worse still, the market for crude oil, Nigeria’s biggest foreign exchange earner, has, for the most part, been hit by trouble, which is enflamed by the increasing less dependence on fossil fuels to power automobiles.

As a result, things are really hard for the people of this country. Rice, which is a staple menu for the season, has become so unaffordable that many citizens will go with empty plates this year. That is not to speak of chicken and other items that have become part of the standard menu of this season which is also one step into the New Year. Without any doubt, the spirit of this year’s Christmas celebration is dampened by the reality of pervasive financial incapacity that has limited the country, the states, private entities and the ordinary citizen.

Yet, that is not all.  As uncomplimentary as it is to say and difficult as it is to accept, hunger and lack have in fact become a way of life for most Nigerians. Extreme poverty, detectable by the inability of people to eat a decent meal even once in a day, has become a national feature for over a decade, but the people are getting by!

However, such pervasive lack in a country where a few live large and flaunt it before the majority gives birth to a sense of depravation, which breeds hatred, anger, rebellion, violence and overwhelming insecurity. This is the greatest dampener of the Christmas mood.

Just on Tuesday, the Department of State Services put fuel on the fire of uncertainty and insecurity in the land when it claimed that some “enemies of state” planned to unleash terror on vulnerable places, including critical infrastructure, places of worship and recreational centres during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. On the same day, chair of Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, lamented the frustration of governors.

I do not know of many countries where a secret service foists as much fear on an already traumatised citizenry as the DSS and its sister organisations do in Nigeria. In this December, there has been no day that Nigeria has not recorded a loss of at least 10 lives in the hands of kidnappers, bandits or the Boko Haram insurgents. But an agency, which says it is on top of the situation releases a statement that would ultimately instil fear and dampen the spirit of the people while it should ideally just take steps to forestall the danger it foretells!

All of these would suggest that Nigerians are not in an exactly good place to celebrate this year. From COVID-19, to the handicap in their pockets and the fear of insecurity, 2020 and the Christmas it brings is something that everyone would wish just go on fast and usher in a brighter new year.

However, everyone who is alive at this moment has something to be grateful for this Christmas. Not just that, you also have something you can bless someone with, in the spirit of the season. Anyone who has a doubt about that should take a trip (if COVID-19 would allow) to a hospice, (where people who are terminally ill are kept receiving palliative care), the hospital, the prisons, the morgue or the burial ground. If you are sitting there today brooding over your situation, over the things that you do not have, over how life has been unfair to you, remember, dear friend, that your life could be much worse than it is.

Rather than lament the trouble that Nigeria has brought upon you this Yuletide, pause for a moment and think about millions of people who do not have it as good as you. Think about people who have all the money but do not have the good health that you take for granted. Then, reach out to a soul, be a blessing to someone, put a smile on the face of someone, put food on someone’s table, cover up someone’s nakedness with that cloth you have not worn for months, say something to brighten up the life of someone.

As American politician, Christine Todd Whitman, once said: “Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” There is so much that you can do with the little in your hand. Put a smile on someone’s face this season and you will be forever glad that you did. That, more than any other thing, is the essence of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous and safer New Year ahead.

Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun.

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Posted by on Dec 24 2020. Filed under Features, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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