We Nigerians name our years, but not like the Chinese who name their years after animals. God forbid bad thing. The God we Nigerians serve is grander than that of goat, dragon, horse, sheep, monkey, snake and the rest of the animal kingdom. Matter of fact, we have pastors whose specialties are to cast out every spirit of these animals that the Chinese name their years after.
This might be strange to those who are not Christians or Nigerians — please, if you are reading this and you fall under those two categories, learn, because you are about to fall under special anointing and be blessed with this nugget of information.
The new year, to us Nigerians, is a like a new born baby that must be named. And as you may or may not know, names in Africa are not just names, they carry the internal and external history of the bearer and his entire lineage.
Even our colonial masters, with names like Stone and Lugard, could not wipe this naming culture out. That is why an Esan boy-child could have a colonial name like Roland yet also be named Ikhide, a name that means that no matter the weapon fashioned against me by my enemies I will not fall. Some names are prayers, some are quarrels, some are blessings, some are declaration of wealth and some are a celebration of humility or acknowledgement of poverty. But a name is never just a name in Africa; names are history laden.
We modern day Nigerians, both everyday Pentecostal Christians and non-Christians, have borrowed a leaf from the efficacy of names in our African tradition as well as from the Biblical prayer of Jabez whose change of name brought him a better destiny. Like naming children, we also name our years.
Every New Year, Nigerians both at home and abroad go for what we call the Cross Over Service. By the way, some churches’ branding and ads for their Cross Over service in Lagos surpasses that of American NFL Superbowl. Someday, I should look into the economic side of this tradition, because the amount expended on advertisement, designs and printing of billboards, stickers, pamphlets, banners, T-shirts, caps, pens etc. is mind boggling. But that’s for another day. We are naming our year for now, time to count our blessings is coming folks.
While white people are dropping the ball in New York ( And they wonder why the New York Stock Exchange Market crashes sometimes) and fireworks are going off in London city, we Nigerians seek the Lord’s face to guide us in the New Year. As soon as it is midnight, you are expected to name or declare what you want your year to be, usually during a church service. Every church has its style, but they all pretty much carry the same DNA. The name of one’s year is kind of similar to a New Year resolution, except that what I am talking about is one silver bullet that takes care of the entire year. For instance, one year was THE YEAR OF GREEN CARD for me — that was while I was in America being chased from pillar to post with a work permit that was beginning to look like an expired CVS coupon.
People name their years according to their immediate needs, so it reads something close to a prayer request. Some might be modest in their name because a firebrand preacher would have admonished against always making requests from God instead of praising Him for his previous blessings. Hence, you could see My Year Of Praise or My Year of Songs. But we are humans, we are always in need so it still ends up being a coined supplication.
A vibrant and well heeled man of God can come to the rescue during a Cross Over Service if he feels the congregation don’t know how to name their year. “This is your year of laughter! This is your year of sowing and reaping! This is your year of winning! This is your year of multiple quadruple blessings! This is your year of unmerited favour! This is your year of a new car! This is your year of a wife! This is your year of a husband! This is your year of American citizenship! Amen!”
Naming one’s year used to be a very private conversation between supplicant and his/her God. But lately I have seen some contacts on my BlackBerry Messenger, boldly declaring their years in status updates. Let me share just two with you – cousin Big Joe’s own is MY YEAR OF GREATNESS and a former coworker’s is MY YEAR OF GOODNESS AND MERCY. Those are just a few examples.
Now I am wondering, what if some of our political leaders were on my contact list, what would they name their new year? And don’t you tell me they don’t name their year in Abuja. Let’s be honest with ourselves, Nigeria is currently operating a Pentecostal System of Government, a beautiful presidential phenomenon I will be discussing sometime soon.
Now let’s take a wild guess at some of the politician’s years:
President Jonathan = My Year of Fearlessness
Senate President David Mark = My Year of Decisive Move
Stella Oduah = My Year of Spiritual Strength and Conquest
First Lady, Patience Jonathan = My Year of Finishing Off My Home Enemy
Governor Amaechi of Rivers = My Year of Defeating The Goliath
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala = My Year of Bountiful Harvest
Bamanga Tukur = My Year of Survival
Olusegun Obasanjo = My Year of Divine Messages
Muhammadu Buhari = My Year of Breakthrough
James Ibori = My Year of Freedom
Abubakar Atiku = My Year Of New Hope
Bola Tinubu = My Year of Good Health
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi = My Year of Glory
Peradventure, our president has not named this year for our country, I hereby implore him to contact a fellow president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejefo, to help name the year. As for you, what did you name your year? If you haven’t, name your year now, it works.
Mr. Ehikhamenor, an expressionistic painter and art photographer, is author of the brusque satire, Excuse Me! He writes, every Thursday, a weekly column for Premium Times. Interact with him via his twitter handle @victorsozaboy or his website www.victorehi.com