According to Chinese Astrology, the year 2012 is the year of the Dragon; specifically, the Black Water Dragon. If we go by the myth, it’s supposed to be an auspicious year since the dragon is a creature symbolic of various good phenomena. Those under its influence are expected to manifest certain characteristics which range from unpredictability, excitement, luck, resourcefulness, fearlessness, cool-headedness to varying levels of energy.
I apologise to any Chinese who might be reading this but I honestly think the culture of labelling a year skirts superstition more than any kind of potential it predicts. You only needed to read through the range of attributes the Year of the Dragon promises to wonder what other virtue has not been included; and these are things that are mundane.
But it’s not a tradition limited to only Chinese. In Nigeria, those of the Pentecostal faith are fond of labelling year after year towards what they desire; if it is not “Year of Unlimited Blessing”, it is “Year of Unmerited Favour” or “Year of Conquered Territory” and so on. Some even paste multiple stickers geared towards divergent promises on their cars as an exhibition of their ‘mustard-seed’ faith.
While such expressions of faith are not in themselves a bad thing, they become a fetish, especially when people abandon goal-setting and hard work for promises such as “My Year of 7-Fold Blessings”. How does one even measure if one’s life blessings have multiplied according to promise? Unless, like the Chinese, one takes virtually every single sign into account.
However, no one is likely to debate that for Nigeria, this has been a year of the swarming locusts. Although it is purportedly the Year of Nigeria’s Transformation, the gnawing locusts probably gathered more strength and confidence in Nigeria this year than at any other time in her history.
Plunder was the (dis)order of the day.
Right from January 1, when the fuel subsidy debacle began, Nigeria’s best enemies plunged their deep knives into every side, carving her up into pieces; every political animal dipped his snout in the feeding trough and ate as much as his/her insatiable greed demanded.
The Year 2012 in Nigeria witnessed the grand scale fuel subsidy heist by a coterie of bandits who seem untouchable by the long arm of the law. Before the uncovering of the swoop, Nigeria haemorrhaged via a strike action. If starting the year that way was not wasteful enough, corruption — glorified by the present government — kept an abiding vigil. Contract awards, bazaars, one jamboree after the other, daily intelligence of jaw-dropping governmental ineptitude and so on ruled the better part of the year. While one is still contemplating how many billions were siphoned via fuel subsidy, one is confronted by the news of a Presidential fleet that is unrivalled by even richer nations; one is further assaulted with the impunity of leaders who have long ceased to care, whose idea of accountability has shrunk to only those within their own constricted world.
The sad thing is that the national prodigality did not merely fritter scarce money. If it were a problem of the billions spent, it would be easier to deal with because money is not the most important thing in the overall scheme of things. Rather, we lost opportunities. As a country, we lost chances to set ourselves right on track; we missed chances to build a better nation; we missed chances to show the rest of the world we are a serious people; we lost chances at self-refashioning and building a national character; we lost many chances and more than ever, confirmed the worst stereotypes of ourselves through our (mis)deeds. I have said before on this page that Nigeria is an embarrassment to Black people everywhere. As the largest congregation of Blacks all over the world – some 168 million of us enclosed within certain national and geographic borders — we should be a beacon of hope for struggling Black nations. We should not forever grapple with basic aspects of self-governance; we should not continually astound the world with stories of blatant and unintelligent corruption. Nigeria is one of those wretched of the earth nations where billions of money would disappear, for instance, at the Security Printing and Minting Company and heads would not have immediately rolled through the guillotine.
The horde of swarming locusts also took lives. Yes, Nigeria of 2012 wasted too many lives, and likely waste more before it expires on the night of next Monday, December 31; poor innocent souls lost to accidents on air, land and water; many of these lives were neither documented nor recompensed. This year alone, there have been bombings; tanker explosions; mass killings perpetrated by youths, inter-tribal killings and reprisals, and even many more avoidable deaths in various spaces – hospitals, marketplace, public and at home. How many of Adepele’s multiple-growth and interlocked teeth can be counted? Then, how many of those in charge took responsibility for the occurrences? How many were jailed and who says these things will not occur again sometime soon?
This year has witnessed too many deaths, people swept by floods in their homes and on Lagos beaches. Life in Nigeria is a naira a dozen. We live in a country that kills her children and, in 2012, we did not even count the bodies before dumping them in mass graves. They were victims of the locusts just like the rest of us who have survived.
If that is not enough, Nigeria also suffered multiple disgrace internationally. Who can forget our shameful appearance at the Olympics?
Without necessarily cataloguing Nigeria’s woes, one can conclude, other things considered, that 2012 has not been a good year for Nigeria. Not by any means; except for the locusts who relentlessly had a field day.
But it is not enough to look back, we should look forward as well. Is 2013 going to be a better year, as President Goodluck Jonathan promised us to look forward to, or will it be a case of the Biblical curse in the book of Joel 1:4 that says, “That which the palmerworm hath left, hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left, hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left, hath the caterpillar eaten.” In other words, will 2013 be Nigeria’s year of the cankerworm and/or the caterpillar? Before you say, “God forbid!”, as many Nigerians, religious as ever are wont to, what are the indices that show we are finally ready to stop the reign of the locusts in 2013? Can President Jonathan be counted on to prevent the imminent year of the cankerworm? And, can he muster the political will to do just that?
Meanwhile, Season’s Greetings, dear readers!