Metropole Magazine

Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

20 Dec Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

Towards the End of the Year

It is December; the season has changed, from rainy to harmattan. The weather forecasts on most days predict partly cloudy skies with no chance of rain. Visibility is poor. Temperatures fluctuate between hot and cold; sunny in the day, chilly at night. Christmas is nigh.

At night, shops, banks, eateries, and other businesses are lit up with neon Christmas decorations. The city which was never in darkness is made brighter. Everything is illuminated.  Silverbird Galleria, Ceddi Plaza, Dunes, Shoprite, Alibert all sparkle with the lights of the season. An enterprise without these external decor appears inferior to its neighbours, and unserious about business. Competition has momentarily shifted from the basic to the outward. They are in the race to daze one another with the brightness of their lights and hopefully lure customers in.

The dominant colour, expectedly, is red. Dunes has tailed stars adorning its facade. Transcorp Hilton has horses jumping on a Christmas tree at a roundabout within its premises. Stuffed Santas with other teddies and doll houses are at the foyer of Silverbird Galleria and Zenith Bank with red draping. Shoprite has large Christmas trees. These decor may not be visible in the day but at night they light up amazingly for the festival that is yet to come.

It is Christmas-time. The city is abuzz in preparation for the festivity. More people than was thought to be resident in the city are on the streets buying or selling. Businesses are the better thereby. Malls are busier than ever. Hampers lay before every shelf at Spar, waiting to be picked up. Queues at the cashiers are longer than usual. Marketing becomes more aggressive. Wares are taken out of the shops into the streets. At every turn on the street there is a trade fair, with or without discounts on items sold. They suggest it is that time of the year to turn out your pockets to shop owners.

From December 1st, adverts made especially for the season are released. Radio jingles begin with a carol, whether or not the product advertised is relevant to the celebration in view. The picture of Santa Claus is inserted in newspaper adverts. Companies are not the only ones who hijack the festival. Politicians further their agendas, buying pages of newspapers to send season’s greetings to their bosses.

When dates become double digits and the countdown to Christmas begins, the frenzy of last minute preparations fully kicks in. Traffic within and outside the city surges.  People are travelling across states-- goats, too will make the interstate journeys. It is the final ritual leading to Christmas. The roads are busy. Vehicles are in tow on the Abuja-Lokoja Road, going east, south, and west.  Everyone is going home. Cities are emptying into the villages. Before long, you are the only one you know in Abuja.

You had no plan to travel. You did not want to be part of the bustle. You were determined to keep calm and ignore the celebration, leave it to the kids. But you heard Abuja is boring at Christmas, that the streets are empty, that the shows are poorly attended, and that on Christmas day the left behind congregate at Millennium Park for private picnics.

You come under the spell of the force that sets everyone abuzz for the festival. Your resolve to stay put wanes. You pack and leave.

The day hardly ever lives up to the hype. You go to church hoping to hear the story of the birth in the manger and the three wise men, all you get is promise of the eleventh hour miracle―December for the Pentecostal is rife with prophecies of eleventh hour miracle, Miracle Jobs, Miracle Husbands, Miracle Children, all as proper nouns.

You return home and binge on meat and drinks till the end of the day. You lie in bed at night musing over your achievements of the year. Discontent inspires a mental copy of a New Year’s resolution.