Ah, it is that supposed date of champions – the eleventh day of November, the year of our Lord 2011. According to the Chinese calendar (even though I prefer their cuisine to their calendars), 2011 is the year of the rabbit. It is the year of the anu nchi, the okete rat, the oke, the otapiapia. And this is the penultimate month before the year draws to an end.
Why is November very significant? It is seen as the month of stock-taking and inventory. Igbo people especially start preparing for Xmas earnestly around this time. Village homes are retouched, and invitations are sent and received concerning upcoming Xmas events like the iwa akwa (wearing cloth ceremony), or ibankwus (traditional weddings or ‘black account’ wedding as it is so damn expensive), or other traditional carnivals. Where I am from, we have a ceremony called Mbomuzo. This should attract a global media showcase – it features traditional fireworks, people running amok, masquerades and whips. People gather in the village square and set off fireworks and dance like a crazed banshee. Food is cooked, and everyone goes from house to house stuffing their faces with all manners of delicacies. Long story, depending on whom you talk to, November can be a pre-cursor month to the good or a stark reminder to some of how bad the year has been.
Crimes notoriously go up around this period. Yahoo yahoo guys get more desperate, and as my spam box can testify, you get inundated with scam emails, sometimes from the same person twice a day. I am getting 419 emails from the supposed Central Bank Governor of Burkina Faso. Only me?
Even our ‘wazzup” brethren, home and abroad are gearing up for Xmas, and November is a particularly busy month. There are concerts and parties coming up, so everyone is trying to make sure they are on point. Plane tickets have to be booked, free cash is needed for tripping in Lagos, and for ‘landing’ Rhythm Unplugged or Caliente or wherever is the freshest place now. People for Jand done dey do 8 a.m to 12 midnight over-time shifts, in their “per hour” jobs. People would buy tickets with stop-overs in Qatar just to get a cheap deal to be able to land Naija for Xmas.
Kidnappers also up the ante around now, snatching people and demanding kings ransoms for stolen relatives. There was a case where one kidnapped an oil worker’s daughter, and asked for 600million naira before she would be released. The oil worker abused the kidnapper: “You can get lost. No be only 600 million. Did they tell you that I am impotent and cannot have another daughter. Ewu!” and slammed the phone down on the kidnapper’s ears.
The kidnapper called him back bewildered: “Oga why you dey talk like this na. E be like say you no love this your pikin”
The oil worker was not swayed “So because na my pikin make I go kill myself? How much her husband go give me when them dey pay dowry for her head? Abeg, abeg, I dey busy”
With that he terminated the call pronto.
The kidnapper called him a few days later, but the oil guy cut the phone without picking it up.
When the kidnapper saw that he was not ready to play ball, his price dropped by more than 3000 per cent: “Oga oya, abeg pay N50,000. We don spend money on credit dey call you. And this your butta pikin dey only chop Indomie noodles for here. We go even charter taxi wey go drop her for your front gate when we dey release am.Abeg, do, make we too chop. Country hard.”
After much deliberation and haggling, the rogue settled for 10 grand, and the guy’s daughter was released to him unscathed. She had even gained small weight, sef. Ogboju pass power.
So how has your year been so far? Have you taken stock? Are there any things you would have done differently? Did you achieve your goals or anything significant? Maybe you got to travel out of Nigeria for the first time and now your Facebook followers have been regaled to tears with photos of you on the desert dunes and gold shops of Dubai. You even brought them some grains of sand from the UAE as a sample. Or you made your first trip to Ghana, and now you insist that everyone call you Kwaku Frimpong. Perhaps this year, you officially became a land-owner in the dire straits of Lekki, albeit in a shanty ridden outpost on the outskirts of Ajah, surrounded by swampy jungles, with your plot land-locked by 2 flooded square meters of land. Or it could be that maybe this year you broke bank and limb to go for your Masters degree in the U.K, even though Mama Charlie and Davido Cameron are desperately trying to get rid of your likes. Or did you marry your aristo boyfriend finally this year? Or you started a business, or revamped your faith, or moved jobs (from banking to wherever – it seems an upgrade nowadays) or your wife gave birth to junior, and he has your big conk and elephant ears. Whatever it is, are you glad with here you are, this November? Whether you own millions or a Yipee tank, at least you are alive.
How has it been for me? Well I am my worst critic. I get sad on my birthdays (except my 18th one where I celebrated my independence) or my 26th one (more about that one in a later post, promise). I am not really a fan of the whole birthday wishes, singing ‘Many Happy Returns’, posts on Facebook and celebratory wishes kind of thing. Girls I have dated used to be amazed at how moody and reflective I got on my birthday. One gave me a gadget I had really always wanted, but all I really desired that day was for my father to remember and give me a call. When he did, it brightened my mood. Sad I know.
So I am not a fan of birthdays. This year has been so and so for me. I brushed up on a new language and how to write it – pidgin English. Let me give you an example. I will translate this into pidgin: Oh happy days, I am mighty glad that I am quite proficient at Pidgin English. Shonkongbelete o, nothing do me for pidgin English,
I do wish my career had gone differently – these days engineers and accountants seem to have more job flexibility. A pharmacist I know, chooses jobs on a whim, and a physical therapist friend of mine works on her own schedule, sometimes on 20 hour weeks, earning up to 150k (dollars) per annum. My godmother passed away this year; it was at her house I had that sliding door/Superman crash that I mentioned in an earlier article. She was a darling. She bought me my first house-coat as a kid, with my name engraved on it, ala Hugh Hefner. She was a very elegant lady, the likes of which are getting extinct in this country. A very dainty lady with a smile for everyone. She never lost her cool, not even when she was very upset. Someone once confronted her with evidence that her son has stolen another kid’s lunch box (bread and Geisha) at school. She simply replied “That is preposterous! As if my son would ever eat fish from a tin – he knows better than that.”
Elbows off the table, she would instruct at the dinner table. She taught me the cursive form of handwriting and how to pronounce words properly, when I was just a little bairn. The day I heard she died, I wrote 2 of my most popular articles then cried bucket loads for days afterwards.
Rest in peace Aunty C.
How has your year been so far? Me, I have had a life you could write a blog on.