- City People’s Shocking Revelations
It is that time of the year when every sphere of life experiences increased tempo. End of the year and its festivities and everything becomes frenetic. Call it Christmas rush! Prices of commodities go up, children remind their parents that they need new clothes for the season. This is the time you see most families decide how many cartons of chicken or turkey they need to consume.
Besides, it is the season for tinsel and decorative lights not to talk about Christmas trees of various shapes and sizes. The melodious carols aired on Television and Radio stations are also signals that you’re headed for the Christmas celebration.
If you’re a Nigerian and you live in Nigeria, especially Lagos State or in other big cities where Igbos live in large number, you will observe increased tempo of activities at various Termini where buses are boarded to the Eastern part of Nigeria. Air travel is not unaffected either. It would have dramatically increased at this time and this goes for the local airports also. If you visit any of the bus parks at Jibowu, Mazamaza, Ojota, Ajah, Festac, Yaba among others, you would see a large number of travellers.
Different transport companies such as Young shall grow, Anids Motors, GUO, Ekenedilichukwu Motors, God is good Motors compete for a larger chunk of the motley travellers by canvassing patronage of passengers, wooing them with various inducements. If you ask a transporter, who plies the Eastern routes when he loves his business most, he’ll say towards the end of the year.
With a deluge of passengers, the transporters can’t complain because this is what they usually pray for anyways and they bring out new luxury buses, and possibly cars to ensure they serve travellers better this season.
The Igbos must travel for Christmas and why they do this still leaves people, especially of other ethnic groups wondering. What is most surprising is that Igbos who reside in developed nations always ensure they travel to their villages at festive periods; The villages do not boast of basic infrastructure or amenities as the developed countries where they reside. The Igbos, it has been said, love to show off their wealth and flaunt what they have and this they do more than any other ethnic group in Nigeria. It is believed that they travel to their villages to show off the wealth they have been able to accumulate over the year.
Perhaps to change their dollar to Naira, boost their ego if only to, at least, derive, first, the joy of giving, and second, to prove that indeed, the grass is greener on the other side. This is the general belief or misconception. However, why the Igbos travel home every Christmas is still a question to be answered.
One reason the Igbos travel home for Christmas is to ensure family reunion. It is common knowledge that the Igbos are very enterprising. They are migrant-entrepreneurs, who are noticeably out-going and immensely competitive. They prefer to leave their families and homes in search of greener pastures, live in the cities and foreign countries to seek ways to better their lot. They can live in the cities from the beginning of the year to the end without visiting home, but one thing most of them would not do is celebrate the Christmas season without their families or mark it, outside their hometown. Celebrating Christmas at home is considered typically cultural and it is curiously expected of anyone living in town or abroad to re-connect with the home people during Christmas.
This is why the Igbos work hard to ensure that they gather enough money with which they can go home with for the Christmas celebration. They do this because the communal life they live as ‘umunna’ would require them to give gifts to their kin when they get back home.
Christmas brings a moment in a year when all Igbos or majority of them living outside Igboland return to their villages to reunite with their kin who they have not seen, probably in the last 12 months. To an average Igbo man, the village is the main thing. Far and near, sons and daughters return home, besiege their respective villages not only to celebrate Christmas with their Kin but also to provide an opportunity for many families to boast about their illustrious sons and daughters, whom they are proud of.
It is during Christmas that family members come back to their villages and it is a time to catch up with other family members on what has happened over the year. Christmas is not merely a season to show off, but a season to show your people that you have returned home alive after being away in the city for one year and you have to share your success story with your people.
Every child is raised to adore Christmas and to see it as a wonderful moment to share the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Igbos showcase a popular cultural networking whereby people visit one another to share meals, gifts, money, drinks, clothes, Jewellery and stories.
So basically, during the Christmas, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins and guests come and appreciate one another. This is why an average, Igbo man would not want to miss out on travelling back home every Christmas. It is a period that children get to know more about their roots and understand their tradition better, so they, in turn, can better instill the importance of the Igbo culture in their children when they have grown and got children.
Another reason an Igbo person travels home for Christmas is marriage. The fact that many members of the community come back home during the Christmas period, means more families tend to fix the traditional weddings of their children at this period not just because there’ll be a larger attendance, but because the more prominent members of the village will be around too and they may grace the wedding and in turn give monetary gifts or something in kind.
Most young Igbo men who have travelled to far away Europe or America for their different entrepreneurial ventures make it a point to come back home during the period in search of wives or husbands for marriage. This is usually when they’re chanced to visit their hometown in a year probably because of their busy schedules, many young ladies are out seeking eligible suitors, the ‘abroadians’ as it may improve their social placement in the community over time.
It is beyond a moot point that most couples who are from the same village probably met at Christmas period. There’s this joy felt when a son or daughter of a community is getting married, this informs the need for members of the family of the couples, both nuclear and extended to come back home and witness the marriage and share in the joy of the couples.
Most cultural and traditional activities in Igboland are mostly fixed for the Christmas period. Every community in the world has a unique way of celebrating festivals Christmas and the Igbos are no different. Even as the Igbos travel back home mostly to socialise and get more acquainted with members of their extended family, they also get insights into the Igbo culture and tradition as they attend different cultural functions this festive period.
Chieftaincy titles more often than not are conferred during Christmas periods so that more of the sons and daughters of the community, far and near could converge and witness another son or daughter of the community being honoured, which of course, could be a result of one act of philanthropy or the other.The conferment could be because of certain achievements that an individual had made, which the elders and the ruling class of the community have found worthy of recognition as the person is said to have made the community proud.
Other traditional functions or festivals that are sure to make an Igboman travel back home every Christmas are the annual kingship festival that is ‘the Ofala festival’, which is mostly celebrated during the Christmas in different villages in Igboland, ‘Iwa Akwa’, the ‘Okonko’ festival, ‘Iza aha’, ‘Ede aro’ festival (in celebration of the aro deity), Age grade meetings. These cultural and traditional activities would almost always make an average Igboman embark on a journey back home to participate in the festivities.
The Igbo culture believes in ‘Akuluouno’ that is wealth should go home. This belief is so strong among Igbos that no matter where an Igbo man plies his trade, he always goes back home to build a befitting house that must match his present status. The frenzy with which people buy, sell and present gifts to others at Christmas speaks volume as the period is being commercialised. Some see Christmas as a period for house re-painting and renovation and exchange of gifts among loved ones and family members, which is followed up with the endless flow of assorted drinks and luxury dishes.
Christmas is the moment when the wealthy Igbos cook excessively and largely share the food among people close by and even those far away, kinsmen, friends and in-laws, members of their community and neighbours. Requests and promises earlier made are usually fulfilled during Christmas as part of the celebration of solidarity, hope, connection and the sharing of wealth.
Christmas celebration affords a wealthy Igbo man, who has garnered wealth an opportunity to embark on one self-help project in his community. Private and public events for developments are also scheduled for the period. The Igbos’ entrepreneurial attribute partly accounts for their agility and tireless attitude towards their work in many big cities.
They don’t want to be found wanting during Christmas and the New Year festivities. They take pride in upholding their status in any group they find themselves. It has become a trend that as Christmas celebration approaches, both day and night business or criminal activities tend to peak.
This is not peculiar to the Igbos, it cuts across all other ethnic groups in the society. This happens because of the manner wealthy people are literally worshipped not minding the source of their wealth. It is a national phenomenon to search for wealth, amass it and live as a big man or guy to belong as those who own the land and make things happen.
It is the Christmas period that yearly meetings, town hall discussions and deliberations among different clans are held. One of the most important events in Igboland is Christmas and it signifies homecoming for those who have left their villages for some time and this is why meetings are held because almost every member of the family is present.
Families discuss some pressing issues; sink grudges or resolve disputes and grievances. Town hall discussions are held and everyone makes suggestions on how they can work hard to bring development to their families and villages. At family meetings, ways to help one another are discussed extensively and where help is needed, a member of the clan who is capable of rendering such assistance, promises to do so. As the annual august meeting, the Igbos make it a practice to hold yearly family meetings and this is believed to strengthen the unity of members as different issues are raised and addressed.