When posada becomes a platform for national peace, unity
Again, people from all walks of life recently gathered at Adesewa Gardens, Akure, Ondo State to celebrate Posada, the Nigerian-Mexican Christmas party in a unique way.The Guardian had thought the skyrocketing price and scarcity of petrol during Christmas would negatively affect this year’s celebration. But the reverse was the case, as the venue was splendidly decorated, with probably the highest turnout since its inception 10 years ago.
Yearly, people, irrespective of age, tribe, creed, religion, colour and race, gather every Christmas at Adesewa Garden in Akure, with the invitation of Dr. Goke Adegoroye, a retired federal permanent secretary and his Mexican wife, Maria Gudelia Salinas de Adegoroye, who not only open the doors of their hearts to guests, but also their house.The Adegoroyes have been hosting friends and families from the Ajipowo Ogundipe community, its environs, Lagos, Abuja, USA and Mexico every year since 2008.
Explaining the concept, Mrs. Adegoroye said Posada is a re-enactment of the arduous journey made by heavily pregnant Mary on a donkey and Joseph guiding them from Nazareth to Bethlehem, in search of a warm inn to sleep before the Lord Jesus was born.Posada, a Spanish word for ‘inn’ or ‘shelter,’ celebrated with remarkable activities and fanfare, holds in Mexico from December 16 and ends on Christmas eve, with each of the nine days symbolising the nine months Jesus spent in Mary’s womb.
These memorable activities and unforgettable experiences had made Maria nostalgic, as she felt that the Christmas celebrations she had witnessed in Nigeria lacked the liveliness and lustre that characterised Posada in her native land, Mexico.Her husband, who had noticed this, said: “By the mid-90s, the warmth that characterised family and community interactions at Christmas in Nigeria had virtually disappeared.” He had thought the folk-styled celebration had succumbed to civilization globally, until he spent Christmas in Mexico.
“The place, where I was born and grew up, all the towns and communities celebrate Christmas together. All the families celebrate it, giving, sharing and felicitating with one another,” Mrs. Adegoroye said.The annual event in Akure, which had expanded over the years, started with 100 people. But the attendance increased to about 1,000 in 2009, when some families from the diplomatic corps participated. Diplomats from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico living in Nigeria, came from Abuja to mark the 2009 Posada.
During the celebration, children actively engage in several games and such competitions as balloon ride race, egg transfer race, bouncy castles funfairs, musical chairs, Pa-tito-pa-tito, Kwa-kwa dance, doughnut eating, trampoline jump, zorb ball ride, dance and quiz competitions of different categories to the delight of the audience.
The giant zorb balls and the release of over 200 helium-filled balloons were first introduced during the 2013 edition. The balloons carry the good wishes of participating children for themselves, their families and countries.Mrs. Adegoroye explained that “the release of the good wishes balloons is an adaptation of the Mexican celebration of the ‘El Dia de los Reyes (The day of the three kings). Mexican children believe that following the birth of Jesus, the three kings or magi would also leave presents for them, in the same way they had presented Jesus with gifts.”
Some of the most outstanding aspects of 2017 Posada were the Christmas tree, which standing at 49 feet, was decorated with 220 yards of cloth to make 1.8km length and sartorial weave round it; the grotto for Santa Claus, beautiful huge photo frames and a live band. Although there had been Christmas trees in previous years, but the grotto, which had the physical presence of the magi, the photo frames where guests took pictures and the live music band, led by popular juju maestro, Jimi Solanke, were some of the innovations that distinguished the 10th anniversary.
Simultaneously, professional caterers, who served the numerous guests, especially the children that formed 75 per cent of the participants, served local and foreign delicacies.The chief aim, as disclosed by Mrs. Adegoroye, was to focus on children within the age range of two to 15, “with the hope of nurturing the young minds with the festivity, warmth and culture of giving, sharing and reconciliation that are the lessons of the humble birth of the Lord Jesus.”
The helium-filled balloons were released to the air around 6:00 p.m., after the children had written all their wishes on it, taking their petitions to God in commemoration of the ‘El Dia de los Reyes.Interestingly, the two Posada balloons filled with 600 good wishes tagged: “Peace to the World” and the other, “Nigeria: Let Peace Reign” released in 2014 soared skyward, but the latter was obstructed, hanging on a tree about six metres above the ground, though the former sailed successfully.
This caused a great uproar, inducing apprehension and a strong negative omen among the people, as the nation was preparing for the ‘make or mar’ 2015 general elections. Dr. Adegoroye recollected: “It had to be brought down and reinforced with extra helium-filled balloons and participants then went into a session of prayers to rebuke all evil forces that seemed to be holding Nigeria down, asking God to free her from bondage and usher in a New Year that would reset the country on its path of greatness.
“For those that attended the event, therefore, what played out between February and May 2015 in the nation’s politics was not a surprise. It was an event foretold and a confirmation of the manifestation of the powers of prayers in ordering the path of Nigeria.” The children also prayed for the quick recovery of Maria’s mother, Catalina Pulido de Salinas, who could not attend the 2014 episode from Mexico for the first time due to cancer ailment, though alongside her husband, Gabino Salinas Ponce, she still watched and felicitated with their Nigerian friends through live streaming on Skype.
The following year, four different helium balloons flew unhindered: “Peace to the World,” “Peace and Prosperity to Nigeria,” “God Bless Nigeria” and “God Bless Mexico” with prayers by the Bishop of Akure Diocese, Anglican Communion, Dr. Simeon Borokini.The Adegoroyes agreed that the 2014 dramatic twist during the flight of the balloons portrayed the current situation in Nigeria, though they were optimistic that, if efforts were made to salvage the decadence in the nation, and with prayers, the nation would overcome its challenges.
His in-laws came from Mexico to attend the 2016 Posada, which recorded 2,500 participants. There was a great improvement in Catalina’s health. Her husband, Gabino, who claims the title of the Nigerian ambassador in Mexico, played the role of Santa Claus to fete the children.
The family could not attend the 2017 Posada that had over 4, 000 guests, because the father-in-law suddenly suffered from thrombosis ailment. Though there were 3,147 people on the registration list, it was discovered that some people did not register alongside some volunteers who were busy organising the event.
Notwithstanding, the Salinas still watched the event on Skype and got intercessions, especially quick recovery for Maria’s father among other wishes from the children: “God supply Nigeria with petrol,” “God heal President Buhari,” “I want recession to end,” “Jesus give my daddy and mummy plenty money,” “God don’t let Governor Aketi stop free education,” “Jesus let Grandpa Gabro Salinas in Mexico be healed,” to mention a few.Dr. Adegoroye said Posada is also a platform for raising responsible generation and future leaders, who would not only be useful to themselves, but also to the society.
The event for children formally rounded off with nativity of Jesus in a lavishly decorated manger. The items were all imported from Mexico. This year’s celebration had the best manger, though it has developed over the years from the bamboo shed in 2008 to a permanent structure in 2012.
Linking the Posada event, which is traditionally characterised with the search of an inn for Baby-Jesus, the Adegoroyes implored everyone, regardless of creed, tradition, tribe and status to use the season to make the world a better place.They believe that Christmas is all about Jesus Christ and all He teaches, represents and stands for. They implored Nigerians to change their perspective on how they treat Christmas and all that Jesus Christ represents to the entire world.
According to the couple in their message to the world, the best place for Jesus is in the hearts. The manger is only a symbolic Posada; the real Posada is the heart of man, which must be opened to Jesus, as He knocks at the door to come in and dine with the world.