During our morning prayers, my mother, on her knees like the rest of us, her hands clasped together and her eyes shut, prayed, “Now that we’re in the ber ber month, Lord protect us.” My eyes met my sister’s and we chuckled; she says this prayer every year.
It is not only my mother who does. In religious places, people pray against the evil lurking in the ember months. They say that these months are critical; people die and blood flows. “It is the time the devil tries the hardest.” Accidents here and there. May we not be a part of it. Amen.
People believe that the ember months are spiritually jinxed and naturally calamitous. But if there’s anything the year 2020 taught us, it is that tragedy can strike at any time, any month, and anywhere. Sometimes, it can be as drastic as a pandemic sweeping millions of bodies into their graves. Or as silently as the only breadwinner of a family sleeping forever. So what makes the ber ber months more tragic? It’s simple: heightened activities; an increase in vehicular activities and congested roads; an influx of IJGBs; policemen working extra hard to extort and brutalise citizens; festivities and concerts; travels. Should I go on?
It’s great to be spiritually alert and pray against cataclysms, but for the sake of this conversation, stay with me in the physical fess. For many companies, brands and people, these months are particularly eventful. Companies try to tie up loose ends and smash their goals before they close for the year. Brands are either hosting or sponsoring events. Artistes are holding concerts almost every weekend. And then we have employees running helter-skelter, ensuring that everything is perfect, the events turn out just right and they achieve their purpose. It’s a lot.
The clubs are filled with IJGBs, there’s an influx of people coming into the country to spend time with their families and loved ones. People – especially those who have been saving since January – are determined to have as much fun as they can before the end of the holidays. It’s a great period to unwind but with this also comes unruly people fighting and probably breaking bottles.
The roads are congested; people are travelling to their villages or coming to the city. The marketplaces are filled to the brim with people. Listen, prices of food will shoot up soon so let’s buy all we can now.
Everybody is looking for money for the holiday. Kidnappers are prowling the roads as usual in search of their prey. Robbers are knocking bus windows in Ojota, their knives glittering, because this holiday must bam. Policemen are dragging young boys off the okada, targeting shiny cars, perhaps planting something incriminating in them, or accusing their victims of doing yahoo because, why are you on dreadlocks, using iPhone and an expensive wristwatch? Ehn?
It’s very convenient to tie the back-to-back tragic occurrences of these months to spiritual problems, but look around you; is there anything that happens between September and December that doesn’t happen between January and August? People are beng kidnapped every day, policemen bully and extort citizens every day, there are accidents on bad (and even good) road, there are… okay okay, let’s not talk about this. That this period of the year is bound to sentimental tragic occurrences is the easy way out of not really looking into what the issues are: poor road infrastructure, poor security, policemen, and so on.
So here’s what we can all do in these ber ber months to protect ourselves, at least to an extent. Be mindful of our surroundings and the people around us. We can be conscious of time; if you must stay out late, ensure you’re in a safe environment or try to get extra security. Adhere to safe driving measures. If you can avoid it, don’t drive at night and avoid overspeeding. If you are travelling, leave early. At all times, let people know of your whereabouts. If possible, share your location, your car rides, etc.
I am not going to tell you that the ember months being filled with calamities and tragedies is a myth, all I’m going to say is that sometimes, when we are too focused on the spiritual, we do not take the physical measures we ought to take to protect ourselves. No one needs to tell you that security in Nigeria is no longer what it used to be. So shine ya eyes.