Under Ojuelegba Bridge, a band of christians prayed fervently for the country on the morning of January 1st. Nearby, young men in new clothes sipped cans of beer under a canopy.
Starting a new year is bound to be special, and trust Nigerians to bid themselves welcome to 2018 in an equally special way.
While fireworks were enough for some people, Nigerians introduced themselves to 2018 with cans of chilled booze, prayers for favour and brand new clothes, as per new beginnings.
The culture of celebrating the new year is not new in any way. (I mean, there’s a reason why people buy Christmas clothes).
2018, though, has a special implication for most people. The last year was brutal to most and making merry would have been a way to start a new chapter on a high, well-dressed and slightly-intoxicated note.
But first, all the glory must be to the lord. Amen?
On the cusp of January 1, millions of Christians screamed happy new year in chorus after hours spent praying for God’s mercy and favour in the new year.
For some though, it was not enough.
At Ojuelegba, for instance, a small band of Pentecostals gathered under the bridge, caressing the cool January 1st morning with fervent worship and prayers for Nigeria and then themselves.
When asked why she chose to have a prayer session on the first day of the year, the leader of the group, Sister Nwokocha said, "This year is going to be a big year for all of us. We have to show God that we want his mercy and we know that he will answer our prayers".
What’s New Year’s day without a party?
And what’s a Nigerian party without booze?
The long queues at malls like Surulere's Shoprite on the 31st could have been a good-enough sign.
But if you somehow missed them, there was no missing the throngs of people at Elegushi (it seemed like the whole of Lagos heard there was free money at the beach) and the bottles of champagne, brandy, vodka and cans of beer that they cancelled like angry class teachers.
After a long swig of his bottle of brandy, one of the revellers, referred to as Kazeem, broke into Jaywon's "This Year" before shouting, "I no go die this year. Baba God, I hope say I get plenty money this year".
Don't we all, Kazeem? Don't we all?
Obviously, most of this alcohol washed down elaborate meals featuring the only type of fuel that we could get access to over the holidays, Jollof Rice and its other cohorts.
Fresh, fly people
While most of these happened in familiar places, at home, in church, at the beach, Christmas cloth behaviour flourished in full force.
There’s an emerging sneaker culture among the country’s young people, and even though Aba and China are responsible for most of them, they were out in masse as their owners celebrated the new year.
Looking good is a very Nigerian thing so naturally, the older generation stepped up to the plate with Voile lace, Ankara and too much sauce.
Together, all of this created a celebratory mood put together by some of the most resilient people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.
On every other day, it’s always a race for survival in the most populous black nation on earth, but on January 1st as they have learned to do for years, Nigerians let their worries into God’s hands, put on their finest clothes and celebrated as best they could.
Plot Twist: Work resumed the day after.
Hangover or not, many Nigerians are already back to daily routines and the memory of the new year celebration will become more faint with each tranche of work.
Now, we wait and watch as 2018 shows us what it has to offer.
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