At 11:30 pm on December 31, I decided to find a club to celebrate as the foreigners do. Apparently, all the clubs in East Legon were empty and quiet.
Church is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Cars crowded near both small churches and large. One taxi driver told me that cars filled the parking lot at Action Chapel and spilled 0.5 km along the Spintex road. People began filling up the churches as early as 8 pm and some stayed as late as 5 am.
Many of the evangelical churches heavily promoted their houses of worship for the “crossover” from 2013 to 2014. For the large churches, the pastors are like celebrities and the media outlets broadcast their messages. People attend services to pray for blessings in the new year and to give offerings to God. Below is a sample of what some pastors had to say:
- “Don’t let us be stealing the resources of the nation as we are doing. Public officers, politicians, even pastors who are taking advantage of people, let’s live for Christ, let’s serve humanity because Christ came to serve humanity; let’s serve one another and we’ll be better off than individuals amassing wealth and getting armed robbers to attack us,” said Rev. Robert Asante, Head Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Kumasi.
- Bishop Dag Heward-Mills of Lighthouse Chapel International told Joy FM, “Ghana is not being ruled by what is good for the country. A lot of things are done in Ghana not because it is good for Ghana but because of somebody’s love for money.” He continued, “People tend to vote for one party or the other based on tribal sentiments, money or other selfish interests but for those who are objective they can tell that no political party has made any real different – all of them are the same in terms of failing to provide roads, water, electricity and other things.” For him, 2014 is the “Year of Prayer”
- “Don’t grow biologically but strategically for a better life,” pronounced Pastor Mensah Otabil, General overseer of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC). He called all Ghanaians to develop a 20 year plan for their life. As Joy FM reported, “the ICGC theme for 2014 is ‘order’ and entreated all and sundry to live a disciplined and orderly life to achieve fruitfulness in all spheres of life.”
After midnight, I heard fireworks exploding from neighboring houses until 4am. I do not think there was a meeting point for a Accra-wide fireworks extravaganza.
On New Year’s Day, most of the shops were closed but the restaurants welcomed all those who sought a place to go. I headed to the Accra Mall to watch “The Hobbit 2” for the second time. Despite all the shops being shut, the mall was packed with couples, families, and groups of friends. Many people were dressed in their new clothes and posed beside the Christmas decorations for photos.
At the movie theater, shouts could be heard from the throngs of people pushing to enter different screens. I kept thinking there was a stampede tragedy waiting to happen. Fortunately, everyone managed to get to where they wanted.
Happy New Year to everyone!