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January 2008 Archives

January 2nd, 2008

Isideghe isua akanna agwo ade nsek (none maintains childhood perpetually with the passing of the years)

The coming of the Europeans destroyed not only the Anaang political system but the social one as well. The calendar and the passing of the year had to be recalculated. Ndok, which was the festival that prepared the people for the celebration of the passing year, was abolished and in its place the Europeans introduced Christmas. While the old name Ukaba Isua was maintained, the practice itself changed. Pouring out old and unwanted things on the street that symbolized the throwing away of the old self was outlawed even though the practice continued illegally during the ringing in of the New Year. Utim Udi, where family members returned to the gravesite and step on it as a symbol of permanently burying the dead and the past was no longer a part of bringing in the New Year. What has survived, has been the saying which forms today’s subject of our reflection: that none maintains his or her youth with the passing of the year. Though this has a literal meaning, it also has a deeper meaning: namely that wisdom comes with age.
We are gaining more opportunities and wisdom as the years roll by. What were considered extremely important in the past are gradually loosing their importance as the days go by. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius, is credited with saying that there are three important ways of gaining wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest
As we gain an additional year, we have also grown in our ability to see the world differently than we did in previous years. We have learnt the difference between the loss of youth and the gains of reflection and experience, and we have learnt that wealth comes in a variety of forms.
Lots of people will resolve in the New Year to do things differently. As you make your New Year resolutions, be guided by the words of our forebears and put away childish things, yet remember in the words of Betty Friedan that aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. The new year is a new day and a new opportunity for growth, for reflection and for strength. Claim it as yours and work towards all that you want it to be.


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