December Is Due For A Name Change


At the beginning of each year in January, the last month of the year, inappropriately named December seems so far away – like Pluto or Neptune – the farthest planets from the Sun. Its distance to the end of the year from earlier months in the Gregorian calendar spells gloom and has done much damage to relationships where those involved would not just wait. Whenever promises are scheduled for delivery in December by parents to their children, husbands to wives, boyfriends to girlfriends , bosses at work to subordinates and others, they are usually perceived as being made to wait “like forever” which may never come and many people usually become exasperated.

A lot of folks have quit relationships simply because the magical month is “so distant”.

Yes, several people lose faith, give up and walk away while others hang in there, hoping against hope that ultimately their expectations would not be cut off.

December, as the twelfth month of the year, is a wrong name, a wrong description; a lie which generations have come to accept for real! This is so because December means TEN and not TWELVE!

It is high time this anomaly was addressed so the world doesn’t continue to live a lie.

It is possible to change the name of the last month of the year to TWELVE in English since it has become the most dominant world language – spoken by the most in business, government and the professions. It could be called “Zwolf” in German or “Douze” in French. The world could even come to Nigeria and rename the last month of the year in Igbo where it could be christened “Iri na abuo” or in my native Efik/Ibibio as “Duopeba”! This sounds more like it.

It is possible to adopt the Yoruba word “Mejila” for the month or “Goma sha biyu” in Hausa, another widely spoken language. The parlance of the present ruling caste in Nigeria, Fulfulde offers ” sappo e zidi (didi) as another option.

Several years ago , Black Africa’s pioneer nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka proposed the adoption of Swahili as a common language in Africa and the twelfth month in the estimation of Swahili speakers is “idadi ya kumi na mbili” – a rather mouthful and tongue twisting sentence . In any case, since the names of other months are couched in Latin, to make it conform to others in the calendar, then the correct word for the twelfth month is – “DUODECIMUS”! In all these, nothing beats “DUOPEBA” – the Efik/Ibibio word for it.

Shouldn’t the world order be run on appropriate names and truthful descriptions? The word is now out to the Holy Pontiff, the Pope or whichever international organisation could change this oddity to swing into action. Let’s not continue to sustain this lie; December which means ten is long overdue for name change because brand depiction must agree with its inherent values. In this instance, twelve cannot be ten just as ten cannot be twelve.

Nevertheless, the last month of the year is a wonderful season. It is a much sought after period in time, a period of holidays where young people need a break from the rigour of school activities and look forward to re-unite with family, relatives, peers, friends, acquaintances they missed. It is an interval when corporate organisations, particularly service companies, close for the year.

It is a much anticipated happy season but also one of the busiest periods for those in the transportation and hospitality sectors hence the high cost of travelling and accommodation during the month.

December is also a very robust month for traders as those engaged in that sector explore more creative ways to clear out their stocks in preparation for yet another business year.

The weather adds a different hue to the last month; it could be very cold in the wee hours but searing hot in the afternoon and early nightfall. Many a poor couple in Barracks-style accommodation has picked quarrels because December weather is not usually friendly with advances to consummate conjugal privileges especially in sub-saharan Africa.

The last month of the year is a universal timeline to accomplish set targets, a period to look back, take stock, review dreams, activities and examine if they met aspirations. It is a season where people reflect on opportunities and rue missed chances. In most countries in Africa, particularly in South-South and South Eastern Nigeria, it is a period for closures – finality and new beginnings occasioned by burial of dead relatives and contracting of marriages. The last month of each year provides an interval for rest vital for physical refreshing to gain traction for another year, another era or yet another decade.

December is just special; the streets, major roundabouts, monuments and houses are decorated with flowers and glittering lights. Long dried – up water fountains spout water and special trading points spring up in cities. It is duration where savings are emptied for new clothes and on the refurbishment of residences.

In the last month of the year towards Christmas, people eagerly look forward to special meals , the spiritual ones start out at weeklong church programmes/conventions where the theme of thanksgiving dominate while Christmas tunes rent the air. Besides the spiritual food, there is often a stampede for various meals of rice; fried, jollof, with pepper- soup or peppered chicken, coconut, or with different sauce or stew and a variety of protein from cows, goats, ram, fishes and what have you.

At Christmas time in December, a special ambience descends like a pall on earth, the music in the air, the red and white colours adorned by all and sundry and the outings with family and friends add up to make the month a more unique bargain for all.

December brings carnivals and boosts tourism. It is a boon to the hospitality sector but often, the last month of the year starts with complaints about how fast the year has run its course for those who left several things undone.

The last month of the year is here but this Columnist is pitching for its name change; DUOPEBA, take the slot.

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