By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
There was a woman who gave birth to a bouncing baby boy (BBB) on the Christmas day of 2019. She and her husband were extremely happy. For them, the child is a special gift to their family, being the first issue. On the naming day, there was no controversy over the choice of his name. Hence they named him Christmas. His native name is Chukwuebuka (God is great) while the surname is Chukwuma (God knows). The full name of the newly born baby boy is therefore Christmas Chukwuebuka Chukwuma (CCC). In other words, the great God knows why the baby boy was born on Christmas day. Being another Christ is out of question, because that would be heretical.
Something struck my mind here. If someone born on Christmas day is called Christmas, what do we call a person born on April-Fool day? Is he or she a fool? If that is correct, then it means that I am a fool since I myself was born on 1st April. But thank God that I escaped being a complete fool because I was born exactly at 12.05 p.m. on that foolish day. The April-Fool concept as we know ends at 12noon. Therefore it is not an overstatement that I was also born as a special baby. After all, God knows why I was born on that day and at the particular time.
That's by the way. Now let me hit the hammer at the nail. The euphoria of 2019 Christmas started in Advent season, which is a time for the preparation of the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour on Christmas day as well as his second coming. Christmas since the ages is celebrated on 25 December. As last year's Advent entered the second week, the Christmas songs rented the air. The atmosphere began to change. The dry season beautified the environment. The harmattan wind set in and cold breeze cooled the hot atmosphere.
Schools closed for Christmas in the second week of December, 2019. The school children joyfully returned home for Christmas holidays. New clothes were sewn for them. Those who couldn't afford new ones washed their old clothes. But there was a funny boy who worried his poor parents over sewing Christmas clothes for him no matter the quality. After the indigent parents tried to persuade the boy to understand the poor state of the family, he threatened to commit suicide if the parents fail to sew for him a new Christmas clothe, no matter the quality and make. Since the parents live in abject poverty and rarely have three square meals daily, they asked a tailor to sew a shirt and trouser for their son with cement bags, since he was willing to accept any quality. After sewing, they wrapped it in an attractive nylon bag and presented it to him. The boy made history as he wore the cement shirt and trouser to church on Christmas day. Everybody was admiring him and laughing at him. The boy did not mind. Instead he boasted and said, “If Jesus Christ who is God was born on a manger, what does it make, if I wear cement bag clothe on Christmas day? Christmas has to do with the heart and not with the clothing.” I hereby call for the beatification of the funny boy while alive.
As soon as December 2019 entered the 20s, people who live abroad started coming home in droves for Christmas celebration despite the economic bite and insecurity in Nigeria. Thank God many, if not all, came home safe and sound. Indeed the Lord is good all the time. But a tormented lady said that the Lord is good not all the time but some of the time. What do you say? All said and done, Christmas is a time of home-coming. If there is no Christmas, most people would have forgotten their native homes. It happened that a particular young man left home at the age of 12 and came home for the first time during 2019 Christmas when he was already 30 years old. Unfortunately, he couldn't locate his father's house any more. He wandered all over his town for three consecutive days. At night he slept in the market place.
Luckily on the third day, he met a good Samaritan who knew him as a child. The man took him to his father's house which was a mud house before, but is now a modern bungalow. The longtime returnee offered a special thanksgiving on Christmas day for being lost but found. No matter the economic difficulty in the country, people go home for Christmas. Joseph and Mary went home to their town Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born. Likewise all should endeavour to go home for Christmas celebration. In fact there is nothing like home.
During the 2019 Yuletide in Anambra State, traffic holdup shifted from urban areas to the rural areas. This showed that Anambrarians came home en masse to celebrate last year's Christmas and this New Year. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that most of the vehicles plying the road in the urban areas of Nigeria are owned by Igbo people, especially Anambrarians. The Igbo are globally known for their industriousness. There is no part of the world that you will not find an Igbo man or woman. It is not an overstatement that if an Igbo man becomes the President of Nigeria, our economic condition will improve drastically. If the Igbo people are successful in the backyard, what happens if they come in the forefront?
The eve of Christmas gives special joy. People troupe into the church for the Midnight Mass or service. The star led the Magi to Bethlehem to worship Christ lying on the manger. In the night and on the day of Christmas, the grace of God leads Christians into the Church to adore our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ standing at the Altar of Sacrifice. The Angels of God surround Him. The Angels and the congregants join to sing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of Goodwill.” Have you goodwill or bad towards others?
In Anambra State, the 2019 Christmas was hitch-free. There was no threat to lives and property as much as I know. Anambra State is ranked as the safest state in Nigeria, thanks to our able Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano. Anambrarians and non Anambrarians in the state enjoyed peaceful Christmas. All slept with two eyes closed. Some slept not only with two eyes closed, but with their noses and ears also closed. I doff my cap for Governor Obiano for his water-tight security. Security of lives and property is the highest asset. Even the masquerades who came from the land of the spirit during 2019 Christmas expressed their gratitude to the governor for the security they enjoyed among human beings during the Yuletide.
The euphoria of 2019 Yuletide culminated into the dawn of the New Year 2020. This is a special year. In the early 1970s, when bongo trouser and high heel shoes were reigning, a member of my extended family took as his nickname 2020. In those days, short men and women automatically grew artificially tall by wearing the highest heel shoes. The high heels shoes were covered by bongo trousers in men. In women they were covered by long dresses popularly known as Maxi. Probably the name Maximus was derived from Maxi, which has to do with wearing of long dress or trouser.
2020 connotes wellbeing, happiness and success. I envisage that this year 2020 will bring good tidings to many of us. The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, prophesied that the year 2020 will cause a great turnaround in the fortunes of Nigerians. In his New Year message titled: 2020, Good to the Ears, the Bishop stated that “this year 2020 sounded so sweet, lively, unique, appealing and favourable” (Fides Newspaper front cover, January 5 – 11, 2020 Edition). On the 1st day of January this year, a certain couple, who have been praying for fruit of the womb, was blessed with a bouncing baby boy. They happily named him 2020. It is a perfect number. It is a year of great favour. We pray for God's intervention in our country Nigeria in political, economic and human distress.
We thank God for the dawn of 2020. It is by God's grace that we are alive today. The future is shrouded in uncertainties. Those politicians clamouring for power in 2023 should know that life and power belong solely to the Almighty God. It is only God who knows those that will still be alive by 2023, which is three years away. Our present leaders and politicians at the national and state levels should concentrate on what good we make in the present year 2020. The insecurity and economic hardship in the country should be addressed. If a first child does not walk, how can the second child run? The wellbeing of Nigerians in 2020 should be the concern of all. God will determine what happens in 2023.