So What Else is New: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
4th January 2016
New Year is celebrated differently by people around the world. In Britain and America, people kiss each other under mistletoe at the stroke of midnight. In Spain, they eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each chime of the clock. In Scotland, they have a celebration called Hogmanay, where they basically swing fireballs in the street. In Brazil, they run into the sea and jump over seven waves at the stroke of midnight. In Italy, they throw furniture out of their windows onto the street (I’m not even kidding!). Here in Ghana, where majority of us are Christians, we simply go to church and pray our hearts out.
We go to Crossovers and Passovers and join millions of other heaven-bound Ghanaians to spend hours speaking in tongues and declaring all manner of amazing things into our lives in the coming year. Ten seconds to midnight, we catch our breath long enough to count down with Pastor’s watch to midnight, at which point we launch into another tirade of tongue speaking, prosperity declaring and enemy-binding. Some churches keep it going until morning. A few others close earlier – around 2 or 3am. That’s how we roll here in Mahama-land.
In every part of the world, no matter their peculiar rituals, the New Year means the same thing to all of us: New Beginnings. It’s an opportunity to cast out the old (furniture) and take in the new (grapes). A chance to hurl away bad luck and embrace good fortune – to bring an end to the negative experiences of the past year and look forward to a fresh set of twelve months filled with all the positive blessings we wish for ourselves. Everywhere in the world, New Year celebrations are about ending the old and starting the new.
But let me ask you this: at the stroke of midnight each New Year, what actually happens? Is there some magical flash of light that sweeps across the surface of the earth renewing all things as it goes? Do you hear a loud crack of thunder and see a flash of lightening, after which you look around you and all the troubles of the past year have evaporated, leaving you free to enter the New Year with a clean slate? When the clock strikes midnight, does your bank balance change? Does your broken marriage fix itself? Do your failed exams turn into passes? Does your landlord forgive you your rent arrears?
When you open your eyes from speaking all those tongues and breaking all those chains, does your passport suddenly contain that visa you were praying about? Does your hypertension, diabetes, jaundice and gout suddenly evaporate from your body after the countdown to midnight? Does anything in your life physically change as the old year ends and the New Year begins? How old are you? How long have you been alive? How many New Years have you experienced? Has any of them brought with it a reset button that has transformed your life at the stroke of midnight?
How was last year for you after Crossover/Passover/Popover/Move-over/Give-over/Rollover/Hangover 2014? Was 2015 a tough year? Was it challenging? Did your business struggle? Did you lose a loved one? Were you ill, broke, sad, lonely… all of the above? Did you have this challenging year in spite of the amazing watch night service you attended on 31st December 2014? Did the pastor point to you and declare your year of breakthrough, after which you couldn’t even manage a year of break-even? Do you wonder why? Permit me to help.
You see, the harsh but simple truth is that nothing around you will ever change as one year flows into another. Who you are will not change, and your circumstances will not change either. The only thing that can change is WHAT YOU DO. HOW YOU ACT. HOW YOU THINK.
My friends, you can’t keep being the old you in a new year and expect better results. A New Year means New Beginnings. Out with the old and in with the new. All of that refreshing newness refers only to you and your actions. If 2025 was tough and you’ve been to church to pray about it, then for the love of God, do not keep doing the things you did in 2015 this year.
If you came to work last and left first, then this year, come to work first and leave last. If last year, you only read when you were on Facebook, then this year, invest in a book or two. If last year, you ate tons of meat and drank alcohol at every excuse, this year, throw in a salad or two. If last year, your only exercise was lifting the remote to watch telenovelas, this year, enrol in a gym. Look at your life, identify what you don’t like about it, and do something DIFFERENT to change it. Simple.
Bottom line: you’re not going to have a better year because Pastor says so. You’re going to have a better year because you’re going to do better things. That is all.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I CANNOT be the Old Me in a New Year.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!