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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Columnist: Daniel Owusu Koranteng

The changing Christmas greetings

Everything about the Christmas Season is unique. The weather, Christmas Carols, Christmas related business etc. Christmas comes with its own unique greetings.

In Ghana, a common greeting of “Afehyiapa”, which could be literally translated as “the year has gone round to meet us well” meets everyone, both Ghanaians and foreigners in all corners of our nation. Every place is filled with the spirit of wellbeing of having gone through a full cycle with the seasons during Christmas.

Since I reached the age of comprehension, the “Afehyiapa” greeting had been received with the response, "Afe nko meto yen” meaning the “the year should go round and meet us.”

The Christmas greetings are not simple greetings but a reflection of our conception of time and seasons. Each culture has its own understanding and perception of time. The Western culture observes Linear Time whilst we observe Cyclical Time.

Our Christmas greeting is based on our cultural understanding of time as Cyclical with celestial connection. In recent times the response to the Christmas Greeting “Afehyiapa” is changing from “Afe nko meto yen” to “Afe nko mesan yen ho” meaning, “ the year should go and pass by us”.

This response is based on the Linear Time concept and constitute a major transformation from our Cyclical Time perception and celestial connection. In our Cyclical Time Concept, time and the seasons do not pass by us and leave us behind –we move with them in cycles. The growing response to “Afehyiapa” which is reinforced by Radio Stations does not fit our traditional cyclical concept of time. If the response that “the year should go and pass us by” is assessed against our Cyclical Time concept then it connotes a bad omen.

It may be part of our willingness to throw away our deep seated highly philosophical traditional concepts of time and seasons for that of other cultures we mistakenly regard as superior.

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