As Christmas approached, the telltale signs began to emerge. The air itself bore the essence of the season, tingling throats and itching noses—it was the arrival of Harmattan, long anticipated since the early weeks of December.
Mothers would bathe their children in warm water baths, applying methylated balms and petroleum jelly to their chests and faces, especially their nostrils. They would also clothe them in mimicked winter outfits, to keep them from catching a cold. Even the corrugated roofing sheets transformed in hue, with dust blending seamlessly into the reddish-brown rust.
Marketplaces transformed too, adorned with an array of vibrant offerings—flashy dresses, shoes, toys, and ornaments—all heralding the imminent Christmas. Amongst this hustle and bustle, one cannot overlook the clusters of well-fed chickens and turkeys of various breeds, pecking away obliviously in their cages and crates, unaware of whose pots they would end up in.
Artificial Christmas trees stood proudly in shops, adorned with lights and colorful tinsels, which added to the festive atmosphere. Nightfall brought a heightened energy to the streets as well, encouraging people to linger longer despite the occasional unfortunate incidents. Once, a man was robbed of his money, a newly purchased Nokia Lumia 630, and even his dinner—a humble wrap of akara balls and a small loaf of bread in a nylon bag.
Amidst the fervor, unavoidable bursts of low-level explosives filled the air, delighting children with their pops, bangs, and crackles as they held firecrackers and sparklers.
Additionally, electronics vendors stationed television sets outside their stores and played Christmas music videos by the beloved vocal group, “Boney M.” And children would stand leisurely, watching and dancing; some, swept away by the melody that echoed loudly from the screens, forgetting that they either had an errand to run or shouldn’t be there at that moment.
These vibrant scenes of Christmas aren’t just about the decorations or the festivities, it is about the shared moments and the warmth that enveloped communities. Because despite the occasional hustle and bustle, the season brought a unique unity among neighbors and strangers alike.