On new year’s eve last year, I spent the last few minutes to midnight at a random pentecostal church (watch night service I believe its called), ceremoniously holding up a broken candle with a flickering flame. The wax, hot and gooey, ran down the sides of the candle and burned my fingers. But I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind because the moment was too important, too significant, that I felt inexplicably joined to the rest of the congregation, cocooned by the warm, amber glow of our collective candles, the night as a serene backdrop. All these made the pain bearable, at least for a while.
As the minutes elapsed into seconds, nearing the 1st of January, I felt increasingly unsettled about the possibility of the world coming to an end in 2012, despite the fact I was in a place of solace. Yes, there have been prophesies of worldly doom associated with the appearance of comets, the eruptions of volcanoes and the alignment of celestial bodies. Also, I have read many predictions of the world being doomed according to gurus and know-it-alls, many seeking fame or recognition. Even ridiculous but ominous was the 2009 released movie titled “2012”. I soon became infected with the mild restlessness that overtook the church when the clock struck midnight.
A woman screamed gibberishly. Someone collapsed. Then the Pastor shouted, his voice unaided by the microphone because it had stopped working, urged everyone to raise their candles higher. “You will be the light of the world in 2012!” He said. Those were the exact words I told myself after the Federal government slammed the country with the news of the removal of fuel subsidy.
I wasn’t fully aware of the ramifications of this until when I had to return to Enugu to sign my monthly clearance for NYSC. The price of transportation tripled, outrageously so, as did the price of food and other commodities. Yet, it was a subtle reminder that every Nigerian, whether rich or poor, was faced with a common distress, and hence, drunken with a frothy rage at our dysfunctional democracy. I made new year resolutions like everyone else; I articulated my goals down on paper. In truth, the first quarter of 2012 was memorable for me. I rediscovered my abilities in many areas, especially sports. Having not practiced sprinting since secondary school, I was the winner in the Corpers’ race that was held at my place of primary assignment: a nostalgic victory.
In the following months, I learnt the act of patience, which is something I hardly possess. And the sheer selflessness of putting people first, regardless of their background or status. Furthermore, I came to the knowledge that I don’t have the capacity to hate my fellow human being, even though I was hated with a meaningless, venomous passion at some point. The lessons of the last quarter opened my eyes to the value of my self worth, my personal currency, and to know that I had the luxurious power of how it should be spent. Now that 2012 is grinding to a halt, I would like you all to formulate a positive tragectory for your life in the new year. You may not be where you want to be at the moment, but if you know you who are and where you are going to, then you are getting closer every day. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t neglect the simple things that make you better at your craft. Choose the right company.
Believe in yourself. For some obscure reason, I would like to spend this new year’s eve in that same church I went to last year. Not holding a broken candle this time but an unbroken one, with its flame steadily luminous and perfect, licking away the darkness to birth a new dream.
Bernard Ogedengbe is a freelance writer and the Associate TV producer for Live Beats, Nigeria’s longest running music programme. He is currently writing his first book, a novel titled ‘Precarious’. He tweets from @Bernard_Oged