Which foreign custom are we borrowing next?

Casual Musing with Chioma

Email: chyomamba@gmail.com Twitter: @cutechyoma

ChiomaA worrisome trend has started in this beautiful and culture-rich country of ours called Nigeria. This trend is that we now celebrate some events erstwhile alien to Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. We simply refuse to be associated with festivals or events that already exist in our culture but we would rather embrace the “imported” one simply because it is “international”, widely recognized and celebrated. We so want to “feel among”.

Nowadays we celebrate events like Halloween, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Black Friday Sales to mention but a few. Since we love holidays and enjoy celebrating other people’s events, I would like to suggest more that we can add to our growing list of imported events and perhaps ask our lawmakers to include them on our list of national holidays:

Mardi Gras – a French word which literarily means “Fat Tuesday” reflecting the practice of last meals and celebrations before the Lenten season. This carnival happens in late February or early March, a day before Ash Wednesday and is celebrated as the last day before giving up sinful pleasure. We can have the Christian and Muslim versions of Mardi Gras in Nigeria. Would be fun.

Another one is Yom Kippur, where Jews who do not observe any other Jewish customs fast, refrain from work and attend the Synagogue. This would be a great reason to have a work-free day in Nigeria.

The Chinese New Year which is celebrated from January 21 to February 20 would serve as a perfect reason to have a full month of work-free days annually so that we can join the Chinese in celebrating their New Year. The Chinese do not joke with these dates as it is their biggest holiday. We can borrow a leaf or two from them. Shebi we like holidays too?

Furthermore, the Japanese Obon Festival comes up annually in August where families release floating lanterns in water to represent their ancestors’ spirits being sent off. We can replicate it here in Nigeria especially in coastal states like Lagos, Rivers and Delta. In Lagos we can all troop down to the bar beach and release floating lanterns at night too after all we have the aquatic splendor.

One other interesting one I think we can also adopt here in Nigeria is the Spanish La Tomatina festival usually held on the last Wednesday of August, in which participants throw tomatoes at each other and get involved in this tomato fight purely for fun. Tomato parties can be held at various locations in Lagos after all we throw Halloween parties already.

Speaking of Halloween, on Friday the 31st of October, I was invited to a Halloween Masked Ball and I was wondering why and when we started celebrating Halloween in Nigeria when most of us do not know the origin or idea behind the day. Why would we proudly celebrate Halloween when we cannot hype our traditional masquerade festivals? What is the difference between a Halloween costume and that of a masquerade? I could wear a mask, raffia skirt, paint my body with white chalk just like a traditional masquerade and I would fit in perfectly in a Halloween costume party. So what exactly is the difference here? Packaging? Mask na Mask nah.

The one that cracks me up seriously is the celebration of Fourth of July by Nigerians. Our Independence Day here is the 1st of October and it is work-free for us all in Nigeria. Understandable. But come Fourth of July, typical Nigerians go ahead to throw parties celebrating the American Independence. Why exactly, I do not know. These class of citizens have no chill and, in Chris Brown’s voice, “These guys ain’t loyal”.

In November too, just like this month, the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and lots of Nigerians join in it. Why? It is good to give thanks but why wait till Thanksgiving Day? Are we not thankful on a daily basis? Most churches in Nigeria even set aside specific Sundays especially first Sundays in each month as thanksgiving days. The Moslems give thanks at Jumat services on Fridays too. When did we pin point a particular day in a year as Thanksgiving Day in Nigeria? All because our American counterparts are celebrating it right? Una well done o.

Finally, the one that takes the gin off my tonic is Black Friday sales! Black Friday comes a day after Thanksgiving in the United States of America. I could not believe my eyes when I saw two of Nigeria’s leading online stores advertising massive discounts ahead of Black Friday Sales with each trying to outdo the other.

What are we going to copy next? I wonder.