NewsReel 15/8/14: Another August

[ Masterweb Reports: Valentine Obienyem reports ] - 
Myths and legends, no matter our views about them, play important role in the explanation of phenomena, especially the inexplicable ones. The origin of some words in human vocabulary could be traced to myths and legends. Think of worlds such as “Pyrrhic Victory,” “Achilles’ heel,” “pandora box,” “Hobson’s choice,” “swords of Damocles,” etc. But are we not digressing? What, some will ask, is the relationship between August and the recall of ageless myths.
It should be noted that months of the year have their own peculiar myths that seek to explain their etymology. It is with greatest reluctant that one is venturing into this explanation, convinced that some shallow Christians will be tempted to reject these months as having pagan connotations. January, for example, is said to be named for Janus , god of doorways and beginnings. March, research says, represents the god of war, mars.
August! August! August! This is the eight of the Gregorian Calender now in general use. It has thirty-one days. It corresponds, historians say, to the sixth month of the early Roman Republic calender, called sixtilis until 8BC, when it was renamed in honour of Augustus Caesar, the then Emperor of Rome. Augustus, in turn, is a Latin adjective derived from the verb augere  (to make greater), and the word carries the connotations of majesty and grandeur, still associated with the month.
August is an important month as testify by diverse events that had taken -still take –place in that month. Important Catholic holy day of Obligation, the feast of the Assumption, is celebrated on August 15. August 14 was the month in which the great powers declared war on one another in World War 1. The United State of America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 9Little boy and fat man). In our local scene, many important events in Nigeria occur in August. Some parts of the country have already started experiencing a brake in rainfall, otherwise called “August brake.” Have you pondered on why August is used to describe important and cherished visitors/events? Hence we talk about August event, August visitor, August this and that.
August is particularly dear to the Igbos because it symbolizes fertility. The beginning of the harvesting season, when farmers reap the rewards of their hardwork, made manifest by the fertility of the earth. This explains why New Yam Festival, among most Igbo towns, take place in that month-August. Plans are on top gear, I am told, to have a single date for the new yam celebration among the Igbos. August, again, is seriously being considered.
August, in another sense, signifies unity and community development. Just like the farmer gathers the produce of his farm together, Igbos, including their womenfolk, try to gather themselves together for the purposes of renewing the bonds of unity. Disputes are settled among women. Serious breach of discipline and familial duties are sanctioned with the aim of discouraging such in future. Fines are imposed on recalcitrant ones even as well-behaved ones are encourage. These, in a nutshell, explain the reasons behind August meeting, which Igbo women highly cherish and look forward to every year.
But like most human ideas that were primarily borne out of the need to enhance civilization, the concept of “August meeting” is fast fallen into disrepute that one is tempted to re-baptise it “August crisis.” Truly, the crisis that “August meeting” engenders rages on to a degree painfully “unmendable”.
We may find it hard to believe, but it is true, that women do the unthinkable in the name of preparing for “August meeting.” Outrageous things, only metaphysically explicable, are often associated with that day due, proximately, to power tussle. Very soon, as happens every year, stories will be told of husbands who get into trouble with their wives for being unable to provide them with the necessary equipage – new cars, expensive cloths, designers handbags and shoes, headgears, etc - needed for August show off. Some women, are even foolish enough to travel home for “August meeting” in defiance of their husbands. Stories abound of such women whose husbands asked to stay back as punishment for their disobedience. The Irony of the entire thing is that these women travel longingly for August meeting not because of their “utility value” but to display the latest fashion in town and to make the frightened to talk about them.
Here a woman who had participated in many of these meetings takes us behind the scenes and into the daily characteristics of these meetings. “Honestly, we do not achieve much as we are supposed to. To women, it is principally a time to show off. Watching what some women wear to the meeting, you cannot but believe that they are showcases of their husbands prosperity. This urge to outclass one another in gorgeous accoutrements was the reason why women now attend in uniform. Even at that, shoes, rings, hair do , bangles, other jewels are still seen as opportunities to ‘outclass” one another.”
Noticeable is the fact that the more gorgeously dressed women are often the ones that contribute least to the meeting . Only to be feared at long range, any close interaction with them, the woman that took us behind the scene continues, “shows that what they lack in intellectual power is what they actively seek to conceal by external posturings.”
Originally, August represented majesty and grandeur. It is about those acts that are truly ennobling. One of the greatest exemplifications of the month is encapsulated in the Igbo women annual “August meeting.” Conceived as a forum to enhance the greatness of Igbo nation, the concept is gradually being corrupted due to what can easily be referred to as worldliness and the misplacement of value. Let us all join hands in advising our women go back to the ideals of “August meeting “ for the greater glory of Igbo nation and humanity.
Valentine Obienyem reports.
*Photo Caption - Valentine Obienyem (Author of article).
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