By Osa Amadi
For the New Year, the President chose January 1 to make a national broadcast. Before that, he had signed the 2021 budget into law in adherence to the January 1 to December 31 fiscal year.
In that national broadcast, Mr. President even had said, “I would like to thank and praise the Almighty who saw us through the year 2020 and has given us the opportunity to witness the start of another new year.”
Furthermore, journalists, following tradition, had gone in search of, and found the first babies of year 2021 in different states. Yet, some people squabble over the appropriateness of signposting January 1 as the beginning the new year.
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The main grouse of those who pick holes in the January 1 date as the first day of the year is that “It is no other people than Jews and Christians” that fixed the date (see Vanguard of January 1, 2021, page 28).
The Gregorian calendar refuters argue that it is “a comprehensive imitation of Western culture”, quoting the relevant section of their holy book that say to their adherents: “Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians”.
The rebutters argue that the funfairs of January 1 “is a celebration that promotes Western culture, and not to seek the face of God”. But they fail to understand that signposting of January 1 as the beginning of a new year, and the celebrations that go with it have long left the sacred domain and come to exist in the secular.
It is noteworthy that those who repudiate January 1 as the beginning of another instalment of time in human calculations have no intention of obliterating the concept of time. Even the decision to adopt another date different from January 1 as their own beginning of the new year is also the practice of benchmarking or signposting time, which, in ordinary parlance, amounts to starting from somewhere.
No doubt, it will serve the interest of humanity best if people are taught to leave behind such divisive squabbles over mundane issues that have no substance or power to change peoples’ lives in any significant way.
The world has, through amazing communication technologies, irreversibly become a ‘global village’ as predicted in 1964 by the media and communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan. The best humanity can do is to make the best out of the ‘marriage’.
One must recognise, however, that it is within the rights of any individual or group to peacefully reject any existing signpost which humanity or a significant section of it has designed to guide its activities or measure durational values, and adopt a different one.
If love, peace, justice, and compassion are allowed to be our watchwords, the signposts we put on abstract concepts like time should not divide us.