Zenith Bankâ€™s Christmas decorations and lights at the Sanusi Fafunwa roundabout, stretching through Ajeso Adeogun Street, Victoria Island,Â Lagos, continues to draw gasps fromÂ Lagosians, writesÂ Peter Uzoho
Today is Christmas! It is a unique season spiced up with diverse exciting happenings â€“ love sharing, giving, merriment, outings, exhibition of latest fashion and scintillating decorations. There are pre-Christmas meetings among churches for carol songs, concerts and silent nights.
But for Lagos residents, Christmas is announced, formally or informally, and their senses of beauty stimulated when the popularSanusi Fafunwa roundabout, stretching through Ajeso Adeogun Street, Victoria Island,Â Lagos, comes live with dazzling Christmas decorations and lightings.
Courtesy of Zenith Bank, one of Nigeriaâ€™s big brands in the banking and financial services industry, the yearly Christmas decoration is part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
At night, that axis of the city is lit up with special Christmas lights and artistic creations. The roundabout which serves as a confluence for four major streets around the area – Ajose Adeogun Street, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Sanusi Fafunwa Street and the Eko Hotel Road, is decorated with assorted motorised flowers and objects, symbolic of the essence of the season â€“ the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The gallery (roundabout) has in it, four Angelic statuses blowing trumpets; two positioned behind each of the two Christmas bells. Each of the bells houses a collection of stars, doves and balls with varying colours ranging from red, white, blue, green and purple. There is the train (horse) kept for kidsâ€™ enjoyment which they begin to enjoy from December 24 every year.
The lights are made up of about 100, 000 bulbs of Christmas trees,Â LED cherry blossom trees, beautifully-lighted whipping willow trees and what the bank called a forest of yellow and white LED Christmas trees glowing against the beautiful skyline of Victoria Island and Ajose Adeogun as well as the bankâ€™s imposing headquarters edifice
â€œWeâ€™re doing it just to make our customers, Lagosians and Nigerians happy,â€ the Electrical Engineer in charge of the light, Mr. Kelly Igana, told THISDAY.
â€œItâ€™s for everybody to be happy and feel at home. Christmas has to do with light and happiness, so we believe we should do this at this important period.
â€œYou can see the Angels blowing trumpets. Over there is the Christmas bell housing the stars, doves and balls with different colours. We have the train (horses) here being controlled by a remote when the light comes on. Itâ€™s for the kids and can move around with the aid of a remote control. From December 24, the kids can enter and mount the train.
â€œHere you can see our advert screen which is only meant for Zenith Bank and it also adds to the beauty of the place. You can also see the butterfly which is another design that is relished by people,â€ Igana said.
According to him, the decorations are of different usefulness to its beholders. â€œThere are those who come here to take pictures to update their profiles. Couples do come around just to see the beautiful creations and be happy. Kids are brought here by their parents to catch fun. Guys also visit this place with their fiancÃ©s to take picture with the lovely background,â€ Igana explained.
Also in this category, according to Igana, are those who come to purge negative emotions. â€œThey come here to pour away their sorrows and pains because when they come here and look at these lights and the designs, especially the Angels, they will be happy. You know Christmas is a time to be happy, so those who understand it will want to embrace anything that will make them to be happy. Guys come here with their fiancÃ©s to take pictures with the beautiful background.â€
The Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, said the Christmas decoration was part of the bankâ€™s corporate social responsibility projects. â€œSo itâ€™s a way of giving back to the society in which we operate and the bankâ€™s initiative to elicit social interaction amongst the people of Lagos State,â€ Ovia said.
â€œOur Head Office is located on Ajose Adeogun. The road was reconstructed by the bank under a public-private partnership of the Lagos State Government and even more the stretch of road is a functional nexus for people who access the Lagos Island,â€ he explained.
â€œNow inÂ its sixth year, the Christmas decoration has continued to get better every year and this year will go down in history as the biggest, covering the entire stretch of Ajose Adeogun â€“ from the Eko Hotels to Ligali Ayorinde and the lay-by around the Eko Hotels roundabout.
â€œA lot of people trooped to the placeÂ to witness theÂ inauguration. They were particularly thrilled by the beautiful, outdoor motorised Christmas displays and decorations. The horses cruising on powered rail tracks provide jolly rides to spectators and admirers of the ecstatic decorations and lightings. Apart from helping to create the mood for the season, the annual Christmas package is a rattling sight at night, when the decoration lights are on, road users and pedestrians cannot help but admire the sheer brilliance.â€
Meanwhile, onlookers who spoke to THISDAY about the decorations saw it as worth beholding and each commended the bank for doing a good job on the axis.
One of them was Miss Amanda Elliot, who was standing on the lay-by facing the roundabout, waiting for a taxi to pick her up.Â She was practically looking at the good things her eyes could see in the gallery.
â€œItâ€™s so lovely,â€ Elliot would intone. â€œI like what the bank is doing here. It really reminds everyone of the special season we are into. The decoration is good. I think they hire experienced guys to do this every Christmas period,â€ she said.Â Although, Elliot is not a photo freak or a selfie kind, she appreciates the importance of the beautification.
For Mrs. Abimbola Adeyemi, who said she had lived in Lagos all her life and enjoys taking pictures in beautiful backgrounds like the Zenith bankâ€™s Christmas decoration, the lights were great.
â€œI love the lights, theyâ€™re so great,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™ve taken several pictures of this place, I donâ€™t miss it all. It makes us feel like those in America and London. At times, when I snap here and I post it to someone who is not in Lagos they think Iâ€™ve travelled abroad,â€ Adeyemi said smiling.
She commended the bank for being consistent with the project.
For Mr. Felix Opara, who was taking pictures of the place when this reporter stumbled on him, he said he wanted to use it as his wallpaper and also post to his fiancÃ©. â€œI canâ€™t wait to take advantage of what this fine background has got to offer me,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™ve been looking for this kind of background to use as my wallpaper. Iâ€™m happy I have it here. I know my girl will like it too, so Iâ€™m going to send it to her as well,â€ Opara noted.
However, giving biblical interpretation to the objects used in the decoration, the Presiding Pastor of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Grace House, Idimu, Rev. Akah Egere, explained that all the features including the Angels, the stars and the horse were symbolic of Jesus Christ, saying Christmas revolves around Him.
â€œWe celebrate Christmas in remembrance of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and those things you see there are symbolic of Him. Each has one message or the other. You talk about the Angel who came and brought the good news to Virgin Mary,â€ Egere explained.
â€œAgain, the stars directed the three wise men to Bethlehem where Christ was born. Of course, when you see Christ, you see a Grand Star. The horse reminds us of the white men on donkey and also, His entry into Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey â€“ kings ride on donkeys as a mark of honour.
â€œSo all these point to the fact that Christmas celebration revolves around Him and I commend the bank for recreating this,â€ he said.
Also, Egere enjoined people to be sober as they celebrate the Christmas, stressing that, the essence of the season would be lost if people indulge in worldly forms of enjoyment rather than being cautious in their spiritual lives.