By Gbenga Salau and Abraham Oladipupo
Christmas is almost here and the frenzies of the season are being felt all around. At every turn of the corner on the streets, loud speakers blare out Christmas tunes, ear-piercing firecrackers constantly rattle the eardrums, banners dot major streets announcing dates of carnivals, corporations and public buildings are adorned in the Christmas colours of red, white and green, and major markets are abuzz with end-of-year shopping bazaar.
Christmas comes with high expectation. For companies, apart from it being a time to celebrate and appreciate staff and customers, it is a period to take stock of the firm’s financial position in the fiscal year. Individuals take time off to reflect on the passing year and visit loved ones.
Arguably the most celebrated event in the world, Christmas comes with a lot of festivities. Everybody celebrates it, which explains why both the young and old proudly wear and decorate their surroundings with emblems of the season.
Decorations As Signpost Of The Season
IN Lagos, shops, malls and corporate buildings are adored in Christmas motifs. Zenith Bank has beautifully decorated the stretch of Ajose Adeogun Street in Victoria Island with various Christmas ornaments and lighting. Apart from helping to create the mood for the season, it is a beautiful sight at night, when the decoration lights are on.
Oshodi, the heart of Lagos, has been transformed from what it once was – a symphony of chaos – into an aesthetics garden park. The state government at the weekend unveiled a giant Christmas tree, beautifully decorating the relaxation garden at Oshodi.
The festive decoration, however, is not restricted to commercial business districts. Most residential areas and streets are lined with Christmas lights in the countdown to the carnival nite, where residents, neighbours and well-wishers gather to dine and wine in a convivial atmosphere to enjoy either a live band or deejay dishing out music till the early hours of the morning.
Across Lagos, children are kept happy and busy with trips to visit Father Christmas where Santa Claus presents them with gifts. They are also dressed in some of the paraphernalia of their Father Christmas. Some schools even have a dummy Santa Claus erected within its compound.
Shopping For The Festivities Ahead
THE season is also a time to go shopping and it is a period when markets make peak sales. This is evident in the high traffic of movement seen in most markets during this time.
At Ikeja, many streets are already wearing new look and the euphoria is hot in the air, with many event centres advertising special offers for the season. One of those on parade is the Wow Christmas 2012 Shopping, which is in its third edition.
The event, laden with loads of fun, has on display artistes performances, karaoke, gaming, variety of Christmas gifts to buy and a Santa’s grotto for kids. There are also lots of prizes to be won at the raffle draw with an all expenses paid trip to Ghana, an iPad, Samsung S3, Samsung LCD TV, amongst other offers.
At Ikeja Shopping Mall, apart from offering customers a conducive platform to shop, allowance is made to excite and make them feel the mood of season. Within the complex, a Christmas tree is erected alongside a dummy Santa Claus, and each shop within the mall take turns to give out gifts to visitors. There is also a raffle draw for customers buying goods worth N5,000 and above with an opportunity to win several mouth-watering prizes.
According to the Centre Manager of Broll Nigeria Ltd, managers of the shopping mall, Mrs. Debola Majekodunmi, Ikeja mall is a one-stop shop, where all shopping for Christmas can be made with convenience. “The mall has in stock what any human would need to celebrate Christmas successfully. All the shops within the mall just replenished their stocks with new arrivals to ensure that shoppers have the best. From shoes to bags, drinks, clothes and home consumables and appliances, the stores are fully loaded with new arrivals.
She reminded that the car park is big enough to accommodate a huge number of cars. “Apart from shopping, the mall is also equipped with cinema and eateries where people can bring their loved ones and friends to hang out and catch some fun.”
A Feast Of Carnivals
Absolutely, street carnivals are the biggest socio-cultural events on the calendar of Lagos metropolis every Christmas. This is marked by the voyage of music, dance, and fun-loving youths from all parts of the cities to catch fun. From the popular Lagos carnival, Surulere carnival, Ajegunle carnival, Badagry carnival, the list is endless.
Others are Alaba International carnival, Oyingbo carnival, Alaba Suru rally, Somolu Central Carnival, Zion Carnival (Ebute Ikorodu), Ikosi Carnival (Ikosi Agbowa-Epe), Rail Line Carnival (Mushin), and Alagomeji Carnival (Yaba).
Some boys were seen putting up Christmas light in Ikeja in preparation for the year-end gig. “We don’t take money from anyone as they do in other areas. Here, we try to make our environment look neat without disturbing anyone. Christmas is for all of us and we have to celebrate it in grand style,” Jimoh Saka said.
In Ajegunle, schools are daily staging nativity plays depicting the birth of Christ, while the youths are engaged in a football competition, where teams put on jerseys of foreign clubs. “We do this to show support for our teams. This is the fourth year. Arsenal won the last edition and Real Madrid won the year before. That is the way we mark our Christmas here,” said Wasiu Iginla.
Roadblocks, usual avenue where street boys raise funds for carnivals, have not yet been erected in most of the areas visited. “We are not extorting money from people; we are celebrating with them and the money will be used to make the community look beautiful. It is part of the celebration. Jesus was born and he died for all of us, hence we must all give for the development and beautification of the area,” said a youth identified as Bambam.
Prostitutes Give Out December Bonanza
While the streets are warming up for this year’s celebration, some sex workers in a chat with The Guardian said they have also lined up several activities to mark the end-of-year. Prostitutes based in Ajegunle have promised to dish out gifts to their loyal customers, who had patronised them throughout the year.
And they are not discreet about this, as the offer is boldly advertised on banners hanging in some of the hotels. “It is proper we show appreciation to our customers too. Some of them come here everyday and some weekly to patronize us and we thought it nice to appreciate them with this bonanza,” said a call girl at one of the hotels.
When asked if the dreaded HIV/AIDS would not be spread indiscriminately during the period of this special offer, she said: “We don’t allow sex without the use of condom. You must use it and if you don’t want to use it, we send you away. For instance, since December 1, I allow my customers to have one day free if they patronize me for five days a week. During the Christmas week, our customers will have a token to take home.”
National Theatre Hosts Christmas Party For Children
THE National Arts Theatre, Iganmu Lagos, Rosella Park, Igando, and Ikorodu Amusement Park all came alive last week as pupils from various schools kicked off the Christmas party. Organised by Dufil Prima Foods Plc, makers of Indomie Instant Noodles, through the Indomie Fan Club (IFC), the kids were fed to satisfaction while having unlimited fun.
The event, which kicked off on Monday at Igando moved to Ikorodu on Wednesday before arriving Iganmu for the grand party on Thursday and Friday. The roads were busy as school buses moved in quick succession in and out of the venues.
According to Mr. Tope Ashiwaju, Public Relations Officer of Dufil Prima, the event was staged to celebrate Christmas with kids. “It was our way of appreciating the kids, who remain loyal to our brand.”
Co-ordinator of the Indomie Fan Club, Mrs. Faith Joshua, said over 100,000 children participated in the party. “This same event is going on at Abuja, Akure and Ibadan and we are hosting over 40,000 schools. We believe in the future of the kids, hence it is our way of giving back to them.
An enthused Tope Owolabi said: “I feel like staying here. I enjoyed the meal, music, excitements, gifts and fun. I want Christmas to come quickly because I love Christmas.”