Welcome, 2016 By Abdul Mahmud @AbdulMahmud1

by on January 1, 2016

At last, 2016 is here!
Having journeyed through time, through the wilderness of solitude, through places of memory, through habitations, crossed places of exile and places we call home, journeyed through grief and loss, saw through places into love, hope and anxiety, the new year finally arrived where we prayed, kept vigil, sounded cymbals, rang bells, clapped, sang, screamed, hugged our wives, our husbands, our children, our lovers, our friends, our acquaintances, hailed our neighbors and welcomed guests into our towns, villages, hamlets, into our homes.
While we waited for the new year, we kept vigil on the brows of hills and kept watch on city towers. We prayed. We sang praises to God. We counted down the hours, minutes and seconds as we gathered to bid goodbye to the old year smoldering in ashes, to welcome the new year emerging from the dying embers of the old.
Another new year is here. The phones scream their weak batteries to death. Happy New Year.
Onye ije nno. Traveller, Welcome!
The year wasn’t a lone journeyman. It was always with the old year, it was always present in our individual journeys, liking our companionship, sharing our joys: joys that we found our better halves, joys that were expressed during those questioning moments of “will-you-marry-me?” and the joys of the birth of our first, middle or last child.

Another new year, another new beginning.
The sunset of one year is the sunrise of another year. As the new year begins for many, so the new year ends for others.
Yes, the new year brings with it new beginnings, many endings. While we sound cymbals, ring bells and sway violins down by the cathedrals of our cities, of our towns and our hearts, our memories of endings, our memories of days that began for us and days that ended abruptly for others, our memories of sunrise and sunset, dusk and dawn remind us of our new beginnings, of shoots in their new seasons, births of those who carry lineages far into time, of endings: of those who have gone ahead, of those fateful memories in time, filled with grief, tears, sorrows, anguish and pain. So, let this new year, another new beginning, which emerged from the old year, be the constant reminder of that eternal truth: out of the dying womb comes new life, out of the old comes the new, out of rotted seeds shoots spring forth, out of the past a new future emerges.
Life is an oxymoron. As we celebrate, share love, pat backs, exchange presents and pleasantries, let the new year remind us of the sadness life gifts in our moments of joy, this January and beyond.

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This January, the month we begin another count down to another year, the new year begins its own countdown as the earth makes its movement around the sun.
Named after Janus, the two faced god of the Romans, the god of doors, doorways and openings, January presents us with its own possibilities, opportunities and beginnings. This January we will begin in earnest to make the new year look good in our eyes, to seek those opportunities the old year didn’t offer us and to seize the moment that will surely present itself. Opportunity knocks but once, they say.
This January we will come to the benefices of our hearts, of hands cupped in prayers. The cathedrals where we sway our violins become the altars of amen. This is the way we do it: we call on the Holy Ghost for ceaseless miracles, we command fire to destroy enemies, the altars of the fathers and mothers’ houses, who trespass against us.
This new year we will gaze upon things in the present and beings in the future, praying that God answers our prayers. Amen.

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Yet January is the month we look back at our own follies, we remember our madness, our consumption craze, we judge ourselves in the-had-I-known way, we ponder over cash splashed during the Christmas rush, without putting anything aside for a rainy day. Someone will ponder over his children’s tuition fees due at the start of the school term. Someone will remember the due date of his tenancy. Someone will struggle to pay his way to and fro work. Someone will curse his pastor for requesting offering and tithe in January.
Anxiety builds like the Lego Castle.
Someone will devise ways of evading payment of his house rent. He will avoid his landlord. He will refuse to take the calls of his estate agent or caretaker. Someone will become a fugitive from civilization, he will find shelter in the underground. Someone will arrange nights of honeymoon with oblivion.
He will become anonymous, even to himself.
If he lives in the same face-me-I-face-you house with his landlord, he will learn to differentiate fury from hell, fear from terror.
January is as unforgiving as a landlord, is as punishing as hunger.
Folk, you didn’t save for a rainy day, hunger will whip sense back into you!

That will be late. It will be too late to have the senses whipped back, too late to remember that the salary a worker earns as a slave wage is a privilege and not a right. The worker can’t hold back his labour. That will be suicidal! He knows that to work is neither a privilege nor a right, it is the duty he owes himself. The foolish worker will be goaded by those comrades of the Labour House who feed fat on dues check-off to stay at home. Folk, please, don’t listen to them. They are like the clever tortoise whose storehouse is filled with stolen grains. They won’t stand with you, united by hunger. If you choose to stay at home, you will know when Governor Okorocha means business. Trust me, he will bark “No Work No Pay” at you. He will raise his famous walking stick the way Moses raised his staff over the Red Sea to break your picket line. You won’t walk on dry ground. You won’t walk on water. You will walk in the trail of your tears home.
The government is broke.
I have not made this up. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. President Buhari broke the news, hear him: “Where is the money? You must have known that the Federal Government has to help 27 states out of 36 to pay salaries. Nigeria cannot pay salaries”. Hear this: our economy has stagnated and the prospect of early recovery is dim. Fortune only finds those who brave the odds to face up to their sufferings and banish the economic demons that hold them down.

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WELCOME, 2016! This new year is new beginning to many who who will make hard choices, choices that align with the struggle to keep their heads above the parapet, align with their energies, desires, and the strength to walk through the doorways of the impoverished NOW.
Folks, please, hang in there, hang in there, there is hope.
Those who pull the levers of power of our country today must do all within their power to slay the elephant in the room: the declining value of the naira, runaway inflation and the poor purchasing power of citizens.
Nothing is impossible.
Stagnation can be turned into growth. Poverty can be turned into wealth. Hopelessness can be turned into Hope. Sunset can be turned into sunrise. Bed of thorns can be turned into bed of roses. Yes, we can!
Happy New Year.

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