Opinion

My Christmas Experience in Lagos and Anambra

By Adejumoke Alebiosu

Christmas, a day set aside by Christians worldwide to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, is synonymously known as a season of love and celebration. Most followers of Christ believe that it is a season where love is shown to the less privileged. This period, people go about visiting places, friends, travelling, sharing gifts and some even preach the gospel.

Just concluding my youth service in Awka, Anambra State, I decided to stay back to enjoy more of the East. It’s Christmas season and I can’t perceive Christmas in the air as much as I would perceive it if I were to be in Lagos.

Few days to Christmas in Lagos, organizations, ministries, tourist centres, restaurants and other places would have decorated their buildings in anticipation of Christmas. Most of these places would already be flooded with guests. But it’s a different story here.

There are just a few places that are decorated in preparation for Christmas, with some of those places being Kenneth Dike Memorial Library and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku, both in Awka. Also recently, I passed through the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Awka District, and I saw a few decorations as well.

The Lagos State Government, by the end of the month of November, would have decorated different parts of the state with Christmas colours (green, white and red), and Christmas lights, almost everywhere in the state, would speak loudly of Christmas.

I have seen the Anambra State Government replace the Christmas lights on the bridges in specific places like Aroma, Kwata Express and other places, but it looks as if the light would only be switched on on Christmas Day.

In Lagos, some organizations would have started running discounts or promos to draw the attention of people to them; some would go as far as giving complimentary gifts to customers. I am yet to see any discounts or promo programmes in celebration of Christmas in Anambra.

In Anambra, I have heard and seen a large number of people talk about travelling back to their villages, which, for me, is a very good one as this will help to meet with people one has not seen in a long time, thereby connecting them together.

It will also help in reducing the amount of money one would have spent if one was in town or in the city; unlike Lagos where indigenes of other neigbouring states would travel down to Lagos, as Lagos is perceived by them as the happening state, while the inhabitants of Lagos may not want to travel down to their villages because of the fun in Lagos.

When they do, it is mostly after Christmas to celebrate the New Year with their families.

The I-Just-Got-Backs, (IJGBs) would have already flooded the city of Lagos, hopping from one spot to the other and bombarding the Instagram comment section with fire emojis.

In Anambra, they are referred to as Ndi Malay. I heard they are in town already, but it seems their only target is the female gender; they cruise around in exotic cars, looking for ways to use and dump ladies. Very soon, they will be leaving for their various villages as they don’t spend the Christmas holiday outside their villages.

At this time, praise concerts would also be held in different places in Lagos State to appreciate God for the gift of Christmas and for the year well spent. I have seen less numbers of praise concerts in Anambra.

It seems people are so much in a hurry to go back to their villages and are not really bothered about other happenings in the state. However, churches have been holding thanksgiving masses and services (as the case may be)

Also in Lagos, artistes around the country would have started concerts, comedians would have organized comedy shows and people would have started getting their tickets for the shows in preparation for the festive season, but there are less concerts or comedy shows here in Anambra.

Traders in Lagos would have hiked the prices of goods, especially clothes, chicken, ram, cow, foodstuffs and other necessities, this alone would make it obvious Christmas is very close. In Awka, the Anambra capital, prices of commodities have also increased.

Still talking about the markets, by now, Idumota Market, Oshodi Market, Isale Eko Market and other major markets, would be very busy now as people prepare Christmas. People from different states would also be frequenting the state to get necessary things, but the markets here are not even filled up, are people not preparing for Christmas? Traders are beginning to complain that customers are not coming, while customers are complaining that they can’t afford the prices of the necessary commodities.

Traffic? That’s another pointer to Christmas, I agree that Lagos is a state known for traffic, but during the Christmas Season, traffic becomes worse and more disturbing, it always seems like the whole country is in Lagos this period, thus causing gridlock all over, but Anambra is calm and has less traffic issues. The only places there are gridlocks are the roads that lead out of the states.

In Lagos, salons be very busy. Both young and old ladies will be found in different salons making their hair in preparation for Christmas, the hair is to complement their dress, shoes and bags that they would have gotten already in preparation for the Christmas celebration. Even the guys are not left out in this. Few days to Christmas, guys would be seen going to barber shops to get their hair cut and have their beards trimmed or shaved. Guess why? Everybody wants to look good for Christmas.

I see less of this in Anambra. I’ve not seen the hairdressing shops filled up, some are even bothered about their clients not showing up, some have even reached out to their clients over the phone to remind them to come make their hair or fix their nails.

Christmas Carols are also held in different places to celebrate the birth of Christ, schools, churches, organizations, ministries and even the state, organize carols where people meet to sing and rejoice in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas season is always a very wonderful and festive season in Lagos coupled with the fact that New Year celebration is seven days after Christmas. Love is seen and shared everywhere and you can even smell the season. I started asking around if this is how Christmas is in Anambra and from my research, I learnt Christmas in Anambra is not always as lively as in other places.

Last line

Oh, before I’m crucified, let me quickly remind you that I just finished my service year in Anambra and yet to witness Christmas celebration there. I’m told that it is actually heavily celebrated and as a consequence, I’m making plans, as at the time of this write up, to spend the Christmas in an Igbo village. I’ll certainly relate my experience afterwards.

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