Nigerian pilgrims in Israel miss Xmas with families, friends

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Some Nigerian pilgrims performing the Christian pilgrimage in Israel on Christmas day said that they missed celebrating Christmas with their families and friends in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who is covering the pilgrimage in Jerusalem, reports that the pilgrims, who spoke to NAN, conceded that they missed celebrating Christmas with their loved ones.

Mr Chudi Onwurah, 55, a pilgrim from Anambra, said that he missed his wife, children, friends and neighbours, with whom he usually celebrated Christmas.

He noted that Christmas was usually celebrated in Nigeria in a flamboyant way, adding that it also provided an opportunity for

families to come together, hold meetings and take important decisions on family matters.

Onwurah said that he also missed all those sweet moments of hobnobbing with his loved ones at home, adding that his kindred and  friends back home would miss his presence too.

He, however, bemoaned his inability to attend the Christmas Mass in Israel because of the tight schedule of the tour operators, which did not include the church service in the day’s itinerary.

“I am a Catholic and this is the first time that I will be celebrating Christmas in Jesus’ birthplace, and it is also the first time that I am celebrating it without my loved ones around me.

“Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to even attend a Christmas church service because of the tight schedule of our tour guides, as the church service was not part of the day’s itinerary.

“I urge the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission to make it mandatory for all the tour operators to include the Christmas Mass and Sunday services in their itineraries in the future,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Mr Daniel Kim, the Registrar of the Solomon Lar University in Bokkos, Plateau, told NAN that this year’s Christmas was the most boring Christmas celebration he had ever experienced.

Kim said that the only semblance of Christmas festivity in Israel was in Bethlehem and a few other places, adding, however, that he

could not be part of the celebration because the tour guides were constantly on the move with pilgrims.

“Honestly, I seriously miss my family, friends, neighbours and all my loved ones, including the needy to whom I would have rendered some assistance at this material time,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Mr James Baba, 59, said that he did not only miss his loved ones back home in Nigeria but he also missed his favourite dish, pounded yam with vegetable soup.

“I am not only missing just my loved ones in Nigeria, I also miss my meal which is pounded yam and vegetable soup; I usually tell my wife to prepare it for me on Christmas day.

“Nevertheless, I am happy that I am privileged to celebrate Jesus’ birthday where He was born,’’ he said.

Mrs Victoria Ishaku, a 55-year-old pilgrim from Adamawa, said that she missed her children, husband and the traditional dance displays that usually accompanied the feast during Christmas.

“If I were in my village in Nigeria, I would have led the church choir during the Christmas church service; I would have also coordinated the activities of the women dance group because of my position as a women’s leader,’’ she said

She, however, said that she was consoled by the fact that she was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of visiting the birthplace of Jesus Christ. (NAN)

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