Yuletide, which is widely celebrated as a period of joy and holidays for mankind is especially remarkable in the Christian world as December 25 is marked as the date of birth of Jesus Christ, the son of the most high God who we Christians believe is the savior of the world.
It has been argued in some quarters, like in the book, “Myth And Mystery: An Introduction To The Pagan Religions Of The Biblical World” by Jack Finnegan, that Christmas was started by a pagan Roman king named Nimrod – the infamous builder of the Tower of Babel to challenge God’s authority but his tongue and that of his co travelers got twisted.
With no official records of 25th December being the birth day of Jesus Christ, there is a belief in some quarters that early Christians had adopted and institutionalized the pagan festival celebrating the Roman Sun god-Deus Sol Invectus as the festival of the birth of the son of God-Jesus Christ. And it has remained sacrosanct.
Over the years, the former view has prevailed over the latter and thus has become more mainstream despite the argument in recent times by the likes of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, that the celebration of December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ has no historical or empirical evidence to support the belief entrenched by the orthodox churches which by omission or commission had blended the birth of Christ with a pagan ceremony.
Realistically, how can the birthday of Jesus Christ – the son of the most high God who is holy be the occasion when people drink more alcohol and engage in devil inspired revelry and debauchery more than any other day?
The fiery American social critic and human rights activist even parodies the foolishness of Christians whom he believes are being exploited annually as they spend their hard earned money buying Christmas tress and lights to decorate their homes and in the process enriching the merchants who sell those trees, lights which sometime cause fire incidents in homes with disastrous consequences.
Incidentally, both Christians and people of other faiths enjoy the Christmas holidays and engage in fantastic rituals such as Santa Claus passing gifts through the chimney to kids which mimic ancient Roman and Norse pagan rites according to the World Book encyclopedia.
Ironically, the biggest exporters of Christmas merchandise are the Chinese and the Indians who are mainly Buddhists and Hindus that mass produce the items cheaply in the two fastest growing economies of the world.
According Farrakhan’s analogy, it is these Chinese and Indian merchants who are non Christians that benefit more than adherents of the faith from Christmas festivities because while Christians squander their hard earned money at Christmas , the merchants earn income in the course of producing and selling the memorabilia that commemorate watch night, Christmas Day and Boxing Day ceremonies.
In Nigeria ,some leaders of new generation Pentecostal churches like Daniel Olukoya, the general overseer of mountain of fire and miracles ministries , MFM discourages the flock that he leads from engaging in the celebration of Christmas in order not to inadvertently endorse paganism which he believes those who celebrate Christmas may passively be engaging in.
To help members bridle their mouths and restrain themselves from joining in Christmas festivities , as it were, MFM encourages converts to embark on a more Godly and spirit edifying exercise which is a mandatory fasting and abstinence period. Adherents are advised to break their fast on January 1, after praying into the new year.
In life, two dates are critically important and uncontrollable by man: the day we are born and the day that we die because birth and death are inevitable.
Unlike Christmas which is not mentioned anywhere in the bible, the holy book recorded with empirical evidence that Jesus Christ died in the month of April which is why Easter is celebrated in that month . And co-incidentally, my 18 years old daughter, Kikaose Ebiye-Onyibe ,who was on track to graduate in law from the university of Birmingham next year , suddenly passed away on April 12, the holiest month in Christendom as a result of a failed surgery procedure to remove her ruptured appendix in Gold Cross hospital on Bourdilon road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Remarkably, the bible tells us that Jesus Christ who left indelible footprints on earth in a relatively short period, went back to heaven at a comparatively young age of about 35.
Given that the holy bible recorded that man was ordained by God to live up to the age of three scores and ten (70 years) and Jesus the son of God died at an unripe age, we are consoled that although Kikaose passed away at 18, she was a disciple of Christ. And her friends and colleagues at school have in their tributes attested to that fact during the service of songs for her and thereafter. They noted that during her life time, Kikaose “recruited an army for God” through her active evangelism and leadership role in campus church fellowship as well as the house fellowship that she organized and led whenever she was home on holidays.
Kikaose’s passage has remained an irony and puzzle because she seemed to have returned from England (where president Buhari went to seek healing for a debilitating ailment) to Nigeria to pass away after bidding her siblings , mother and I, goodbye.
It’s baffling because it remains medically unexplainable how she was able to withstand the pain from an appendix that ruptured for about two weeks in England before she came home to Nigeria for the treatment of Urinary Tract Infection, UTI which was a misdiagnosed ailment by British medical authorities that was discovered only after she had embarked on her trip to Nigeria.
Can you imagine how bizarre it was for us when a scan recommended by our family doctor revealed that Kikaose’s appendix had been ruptured and she needed immediate surgery to remove it?
Like a lamb led to the slaughter, Kikaose who despite the excruciating pains in her lower abdomen had been preaching to her younger sister since arriving home about heaven and rapture, dutifully surrendered her self to the doctors for the surgery after she assured her mum and sister that should she not make it out of the theatre alive, she was assured she would be with Jesus Christ, whom she had served diligently.
Unbeknown to us, the Gold Cross hospital, smack in the heart of ikoyi with all the glitter and glitz whose doctors we entrusted with the duty of saving Kikaose’s precious little life, would fail us woefully because they had no life saving equipment such as a ventilator that could have sustained her life. It should boggle the mind that before GoldCross admitted Kikaose for the surgery procedure, they insisted that l make a deposit of half a million Naira. A payment which l promptly made at that mid night hour through the swiping of my debit card.
But disappointingly, GoldCross hospital had no equipment commensurate to its high charges which is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the medical sector in Nigeria.
The dearth of equipment and personnel is equally dire in the so called centers of medical excellence in Nigeria like Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH and even worse still, the presidential clinic in Aso Rock villa, which has become the shame of nation as the first family exposed the abysmally state of lack of requisite medical facilities and supplies.
By the time the ambulance that the hospital called to convey Kikaose to the better equipped and staffed Lagoon hospital, Apapa that has a ventilating machine arrived about 10 hours after surgery which commenced at about mid night and ended at 2am, she had passed away.
At Christmas, Kikaose usually led the effort to decorate our home with Christmas tree and lights, but now that she is no more, in her honor and in solidarity with the new revelation that Christmas may be a pagan festival, this year and going forward, there will no longer be Christmas trees or lights in our home. So for me, there is no Christmas without kikaose and without positive change and succor for long suffering Nigerians.
I recognize that l’m not the only one that lost a child this year. So my decision to shun Christmas is also in solidarity with the families of many Nigerians killed or displaced by Boko Haram terrorists in north east Nigeria and a horde of victims of Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes across the country.
Although they may remain unsung, like my family and l, they are grieving and loathing Christmas without their loved ones.
Apart from us, the former BOT chairman of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih recently lost his second son, Eugene to the cold hands of death. So also did APC leader, Bola Tinubu, suffer tragedy as his first son, Jide passed away a couple of months ago, just as Dapo Aboodun, Heyden Petrol owner’s first son, DJ Olu also passed away prematurely.
Expectedly, the pain of separation from Kikaose still pierces the hearts of my family and l like a sharp sword, but we have resolved that although we miss Kikaose sorely, we will not mourn like pagans.
Instead, we will magnify God that Kikaose led a holy life as we believe she has taken her place in the bosom of Jesus Christ as she faithfully affirmed and looked forward to before she passed.
Most importantly , my family believes that even though we lost her, heaven gained as we now have Kikaose interceding for us in heaven until we meet at rapture.
Onyibe, a development strategist, an alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university, Massachusetts, USA, and a former Commissioner in Delta state government, who is Kikaose’s father, sent this piece from Abuja.