Posts Tagged ‘New Years Eve’

It was a casual affair. More men and women in beige Euro-American attire than resplendent African fabrics. We arrived a bit late at 10:15 p.m. but managed to find a seat in the front most pew. Excellent, I thought as I made my way past hundreds of black faces in the pews, more people to see me in my native Yoruba outfit (iro, buba and gele). I was the only white person out of around 400 in chapel that last night of 2010 and for one of the first times since I’ve been here, I was not a center of attention. Not even the Yoruba-speaking Oyinbo could distract the ardent New Years Eve churchgoers from their prayer marathon.

For me, the church service that spanned from the last hours of 2010 to the early morning of 2011 was exhausting. It is remarkable how long and with how much vigor Nigerians can pray. It is a full body prayer, not just a bow of the head with closed eyes. Hundreds of hands are flying, lips moving, torsos gyrating. At the seven or so different times the Pastor invited the congregation to pray, a humming noise emanated from the pews and mixed with the whistle of the oscillating fans positioned every few feet. Mildly taking part in the prayer (I have a brand new baby niece at home to pray for) but mostly observing it tired me out. Without a Power Horse or Red Bull I don’t know how everyone was then able to dance for an hour straight for the thanksgiving. During this time, the entire congregation dances down the aisle pew by pew to give a money offering to the church foundation. The church band belts out songs about thanking God, Oluwa wa while the band pounds away on their instruments creating an offensively loud noise magnified from the blown-out speakers. Young men are the most amusing to watch because they come up with the most outrageous moves and even come around twice to extend their 5 minutes of fame. For one full hour I danced next to my Mom and little sister in my pew, alternating between laughing at the dancers and leaning against the pew for a dance break.

I’d say the whole experience beat popping bottles of Champagne while watching the ball drop. I reflected heavily on 2010–all my achievements, areas of growth in my life, good and sad memories. I also came up with what I think is a perfect goal for 2011, a year where I am expecting great transition as I come home from Nigeria and finish college. My goal–or resolution if you will–is to write something down in a journal every day of the year. So again, happy fourth day of the new year. If any of you, dear readers, made any resolutions, I hope they are still in tact. Mine sure is.

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A hodgepodge

E ma binu. Please don’t be mad. I apologize for the small hiatus from posting. Not posting for a week after Christmas was not intentional, I have not had Internet, water, or light for that matter for the past week. My brother said this is the longest they have gone without water in the pipes since living in UI.We are all much more conscious about how we use water these days. So I have focused my attention on chores like fetching water, sweeping, hand-washing dishes and general tidying rather than writing posts. I have some experiences to catch up on in this post then.

Christmas morning passed just like any other morning. The weather was hazy that morning, a serene fog descended on UI so the vivid green of my surroundings had a grayish tint. Not exactly a white Christmas. I entered the parlor to find my younger brother, sister and their three little boy cousins in the same place I said goodnight the night before: transfixed in front of the T.V. playing Grand Theft Auto 4.

Mom and I on Christmas day

The artificial Christmas tree against the wall looked forlorn, no presents neatly wrapped underneath to complete the picturesque Christmas scene I had in my mind. Some Nigerian families do presents under the tree but it is not the norm. I followed my nose to the smell of thyme emanating from the kitchen to find my mom and aunty cooking the largest kitchen pot of jollof rice I have ever seen and a cauldron full of turkey. Christmas dinner. Between the three little boys up to no good, the constant stream of visitors and all the photographs, excitement and a certain laid back feeling that permeates Nigerian culture marked the holiday. We were all very thankful that NEPA supplied light for most of the day.

Water is another story. Something happened and someone somewhere is not pumping water so everyone in UI is experiencing a drought. Our big water tank in the back of the house is totally dry. I use sachet water to wash my hands and teeth. I am learning to wash a full sink of dishes with one bucket of water, a worthy skill.

I have taken up a new hobby in the past week: beading. My mom runs an organization that teaches women and youth vocational skills such as beading, tie and dye, cooking, baking etc. She wants to put a catalog together of jewelry and has commissioned me to help her bead.

One of my favorites that I made. I photographed all the necklaces on this terra cotta pot. They look so beautiful

So I am now a beading machine, stringing necklace after necklace. It’s a lot of fun, it brings me back to the days when all I did was arts and crafts. I will hopefully make a few nice things for myself and my friends/family at home too.

So today is New Years Eve, usually an extremely anticipated event for people in the U.S. Without all the party planning, outfit arranging and new year’s decorations, I don’t feel as much pressure to celebrate the new year. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to 2011, but the way I enter 12:01 a.m. on January 1 doesn’t concern me as much this time. This year, I have decided to spend the cross over into the new decade like everyone else in Nigeria, praying. Nigerians go to church or mosque on New Year’s Eve and pray their way into the new year. I had the option of partying with our students and a few new Canadian friends we met but I figure I can get drunk with friends or strangers any day of the year at home. It is not every year I have the chance to see what New Years Eve church is like in Nigeria. Last year I welcomed 2010 at a raging Benny Benassi concert. The year before that I was walking the streets of Jerusalem. So tonight, the last day of year 2010, I am going to church. See you on the other side. May all of you have joyful beginnings to 2011.

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