Last year the build up to Christmas was the dullest I’d ever seen in Lagos. There were all the usual antics of course: Some shop owners hiring breakdancing clowns (complete with the colourful make-up and the ridiculous jumpsuits) and strategically placing them right outside their shops in order to lure in/annoy customers (I don’t know); Street hawkers in the scorching sun wearing red & white santa hats and selling the same to drivers stuck in traffic (as if seeing ‘red’ would help in that heat); A few live rams and goats seen stuffed into (but still hanging out of) half-opened car boots on their way to being slaughtered (Animal Cruelty laws don’t apply in Nigeria); Battle of the Banks as each compete to put up the most blinding Christmas light display on their respective bank branches (more glare for night drivers means possibly more accidents); Christmas hampers including such items as Non-alcoholic wine, Digestives, St.Louis Sugar and a bottle of groundnuts all packaged for N20,000/$133/80GBP (rip off!!!) etc. Like I said, just the usual antics you’d expect to see in Lagos around this time.
Well if you’re not in Lagos you’d probably be curious to know how things are faring so far this year. For starters, the public’s attention has been diverted to the upcoming National Elections in March 2011. Campaigns are being aired on TV 24/7, usually featuring some Nigerian artists or actors singing some cheesy jingle e.g. “No vote for Bad Luck, vote for GoodLuck!” (N.B- that’s the last name of our current president). As a matter of fact, I can’t recall hearing any Christmas song on the local TV stations till now.
And in the race to extinction I don’t know who will make it first – Koala bears or Christmas cards. I’m not talking about cards online (more commonly referred to as ‘E-cards’) but the old-fashioned, cardboard/paper-based ones. I remember when I still lived with my parents we’d get up to 200 Christmas cards, 3 gigantic hampers and a live turkey. A few years later the turkey dropped off. A few years after that the hampers stopped coming and then the Christmas cards being issued dropped gradually – as at last year my parents got about 20 cards between them. It seems the new trend is the use of impersonal text messages to send Christmas greetings/prayers. I say ‘impersonal’ because the message is usually a forwarded message from another contact (and your name is usually not included in the message so that proves my point). Last year I got more Christmas text messages than I got cards and phone calls combined. Besides that, most homes didn’t bother to put up Christmas decorations or trees. What is this city coming to???
Don’t even get me started on Christmas presents! I once heard a wise man say, ‘You have to give in order to receive’. My take however is that the wise man is probably not respected in Lagos because I didn’t see a lot of giving last year. Truth is, I saw a bit of rationing. One of my past employers, as a Christmas bonus, would give employees bags of rice. In my first year of employment I got a full bag of rice. In the second year I got half a bag. Last year nobody was given rice. What was to blame? The recession? That excuse is getting pretty lame.
Thank God I’m an optimist. It’s been a great year for me – more good news than there has been bad news (knocks wood). I think I’ve been a good boy too this year so Santa might just send me a few prezzies this season (crosses fingers). But unless I don’t see a drastic change in the Christmas spirit in Lagos which appears to be fast fading into oblivion, then I’m afraid I’d have to go to Ghana or something (at least there will be constant power supply, Woo-hoo!)
Before I proceed to clog up this space with my usual banter, I feel inclined to put things right with The Crazy Nigerian first. Er..erm:
‘Forgive me O blog, for I have sinned. Its been a month and 2days since my last posting. I can’t wait for this (World) cup to pass over me…aaahhh…Bafana bafana Vuvuzela bafana bafana…MessiOzilAsamoahVillaVillaKakakakakaSchneider! ‘
Ok, I’ve got WC fever and I still haven’t managed to pick up my dropped-jaw since watching the recent knock-out stages. Who would’ve thought that Brazil would be out in the quarter-finals??? Who would have thought they would have been beaten by the Netherlands??? Who could have predicted that Argentina wouldn’t make it to the semis??? I love a ’Winning’ mentality but did the Germans really have to annihilate the Argentines with a 4-0 score line? Did Suarez (Paraguay) suddenly forget what sport he was playing and decide to pull-off what appeared to be a Volleyball lay-up in obstructing Ghana’s goal??? Have the poor decisions of the referees and linesmen in this tournament been as a result of the distracting chats on their Blackberries??? Is England ever going to make it to the Finals???
There are so many questions left unanswered but its obvious that nothing in life is certain (except Death and Taxes of course). In Tennis, Roger Federer got the shock of his life when he was ousted by Tomas Berdych (a great underachiever) in the QF at Wimbledon, bearing in mind that Roger has previously made it to the Finals 8years in a row. But back to the WC, I would love to know what kind of Energy drink the German squad is drinking – It sure as hell makes my Red Bull seem like 100% decaffeinated coffee. At the very least I wonder if they would fail a drug test…or has that been overlooked in this tournament like England’s disallowed goal? I must say that the Germans have shown that Youth is very key in your game plan. Experience goes a long way too but that can be inserted in little bursts (in the guise of the older professionals) during play. All the critics who said the German Coach was insane to bring a bunch of ‘inexperienced’ players to the WC are still recovering from indigestion as a result of eating their own words. You can never write-off the Germans in any WC. They are clinical in their execution of set-pieces, passes, and free kicks. Scoring 4 goals, each in 3 matches, is no feat that Brazil, Argentina, Spain or Italy could achieve. Germany is the hot favourite to win the WC this time around I pray I’ll have some fingernails left after their match with Spain.
I’ve seen a lot of grown men cry over the last few weeks…both on and off the football pitch, and in severe cases some have died from heart attacks. It has been emotional indeed. On the other hand, what baffles me in Nigeria is that an estimated N900m (close to $6m) was spent in preparing our team for the WC. I didn’t see where that money went though (kinda like the Blair Witch Project (1999) which took in $140m at the box office but only costed $25,000 to make!). Like Nigeria (and the no.1 Fifa-rated Brazil) the English team needs a complete overhaul. Young blood and raw talent moulded by a focused and experienced Manager (of any nationality but whom is ready to learn English if necessary) could probably help England end their 4-decade WC drought.
Well, it won’t be long till the WC final and then the world’s nerves can be steadied (only for another 4years by the way). May the best team win!