A pin nu ‘ya: Happy New Year’s Homophone?

It is common place, in my area of Nigeria, to hear or read locals Yorubanize some English words or phrases. Such pronunciations may sometimes be due to contempt or sheer mockery; while at times, illiteracy or ignorance may be the cause. Such was the case of “Penkelemes” – a convenient rehash of the description of the Nigerian Western region politics given by the late Adegoke Adelabu in the late 1950s; he actually used the phrase “peculiar mess”. And such was the case when a cafeteria owner, remodeled the word “illiterate” to “Inastraite“, out of ignorance. And such were many cases.

A pin nu ‘ya – an homophone of the oft-used celebratory chant “Happy New Year”, if the English will allow Yoruba words/phrases for such anyway, rents the air every midnight ushering in the new year. Year in, year out, you hear the locals extending such greetings to one another sometimes in mockery, self-abasement and often, out of ignorance. A pin nu ‘ya – translates to “We have resolved to suffer” – became widely used during the military misrule of Nigeria, and you hear the chants every year in readiness for whoever is the Head of State’s traditional January 1st address to the nation. It was always expected that there would be one draconian decree or one policy that would be life and liberty threatening in the course of the year.

After a long period of time, the chants returned louder last year when a democratic president came out with the petroleum subsidy removal scheme in his new year’s address. The consequent labor strikes, breakdown of law and order and near anarchy is still fresh in our minds. But importantly, and of major concern, is the erosion in my (and of course, all middle class guys’) disposable income due to an unattended inflation and high cost of fuel (to run both vehicle and generator). Maybe the chant – the curse in most people’s understanding – got some nods from Fate; the national budget throughout the year could only be about 50% implemented. This necessarily meant that lots of roads project and rehabilitation were neglected, no wonder we had such serious number of road accidents in the course of the year; more disturbing were those that occurred during the last quarter of the year. It also meant that many hospitals and schools were not adequately equipped or funded; no wonder ‘they’ all run out for medicals knowing that what ‘they’ have provided was very measly and grossly inadequate. In retrospect, as far as many are concerned, the “A pin nu ‘ya” chants would have been very apt if raised around May 29th, 2011 when this government was officially sworn in, going by utter disappointment in polity handling, including corruption management and fiscal responsibility we are “enjoying”. Just ask them the whereabouts of ‘that’ N5trn.

It was the expectation of many to hear fuel price hike pronouncement during this year’s address since rumors were pointing in that direction, coupled with the attendant fuel scarcity believed to be occurring in readiness for the eventual hike. it didn’t come, and so, much of the “A pin nu ‘ya” chants were those made in self mockery, or sheer ignorance by celebrants, or by those who could not pronounce the phrase any other way.

Whoever, and for whatever cause the chant was extended to you however, do always quickly reject it. The rejection is not because you are ready to stage or participate in another “OccupyNigeria” protest should policies go against your expectations, but believing that whatever the government, or any force for that matter, throws at you this year will not debar you from inching forward. With the ouster of the apocalyptic 2012, you have another respite to re-tune your professional, social, personal and spiritual goals. Hopefully, we shall all dance some azonto and gangnam style in celebration of the accomplishment of a large chunk of our goals by the end of the year, God willing!

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