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Eid-el-Fitri: It’s low-key in Lagos

By Regina Akpabio, Seye Olumide, Isaac Taiwo and David Ibemere
22 September 2009   |   7:39 pm
From Sunday, Lagos metropolis took on more colours. The bus stops and street corners came alive much more than in the previous couple of weeks.   Reason: Moslems were celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast.

Yet, the celebrations were low-key. In the days and weeks before Sunday, when Moslem faithful were deep into the fast, social life had particularly slowed down.


But from Sunday, life in the mega-city picked up but not as vibrantly as many past celebrations that adherents of the faith remembered.

Because marking the end of the Ramadan fast started on a Sunday morning when Christians also left their homes for worship, the roads were particularly busy as colourfully dressed Moslems and Christians mingled as each group made their way to their respective places of worship.

The major praying grounds in the city such as at Obalende, Agege, Mushin, Isolo, Ejigbo as well as the smaller ones in Ikotun, Akowonjo and Ajegunle played host to tens of thousands of the faithful.

One such faithful, Mohammed Salisu, who is a security guard at a block of flats on Gafaru Street in the Ikotun area of Lagos metropolis, said he was glad to leave his duty post and join others at the praying ground.

He told The Guardian on Sunday that his employers usually gave him the Sallah holidays as off-days and he had to make the best use of the three days.

“Last year, I travelled to Kano to see my relations. But, I did not go home this year. I do not have enough money to embark on a trip. I have a small kiosk where I sell biscuits and sweets among others. But, things have not been moving fine. People are not buying; they say there is no money.

“But after a month of fasting and God has sustained me, I see no reason why I should not join others to thank God for his mercies.”

Another adherent, Fatima Yusuf, recalled the tragic incident when some Moslems died as a result of eating poisoned food in Ajah.

She said that she and her family were able to complete the fast without problems and this was enough reason to thank God.

“Many of our brothers started the fasting with us but not all of them are alive to see this day. It is still fresh in our minds our Mosle1m brothers and sisters in Langbasa area of Ajah who lost their lives when they ate poisoned food.

So for Allah to have preserved my life and family to this time, I have every cause to say ‘Thank you’,” he added.

The two-day public holiday declared by government gave Lagosians many more days for the Sallah celebration.

This was also evident at the various relaxation spots such as the Bar Beach, Lekki Beach, Alpha and Eleko Beaches in Lagos Island and in Badagry, which played host to families as well as groups of young people.

Besides, fast-food outlets all over the city were sometimes stretched as families to come to entertain themselves.

As in the past, political and Christian leaders showed solidarity with Moslems, through goodwill messages.

The Prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde in a message, called on Moslems to hold on firmly to the lessons learnt during the Ramadan period.

He enjoined them to abide by the teachings of peace, generosity, genuine concern and care for one another, honesty and above all sacrifice, adding that they should endevour to shun all vices they avoided during the period.

“While I congratulate all our Moslem brothers and sisters on the completion of the 2009 Ramadan fast and the opportunity given by God for all to celebrate another Eid-el-Fitri , it is important to note that all lessons learnt during this period which include sacrifice, true love, peace, piety, sobriety, forgiveness, genuine repentance, self denial, tolerance and respect for one another must not be lost.

“Rather, we should do everything possible to apply it to our daily lives, especially how we relate with our neighbours and those of other faiths. I believe if we do this, we will, as a people, overcome the incessant religious crisis that has continued to engulf our polity and set us back.

“Those avoidable crises are just too many because the perpetrators are intolerant and selfish in their thoughts. It is, however, important for true Moslems to continue to condemn and preach against such acts of violence and destructive tendencies, which are inimical to our growth as a nation. No man has the licence or is commissioned to fight for God,” he added.

But the feeling that they have successfully completed the fast notwithstanding, happy mood of adherents notwithstanding, the high cost of living dampened the spirit of the celebration.

Mr. Lateef Akinola who lives in FESTAC Town bemoaned the high cost of food items and clothing materials, which according to him, has gone beyond the reach of most people.

“Most people are managing in these hard times. Everything is so expensive.”

Another resident, Segun Adedeji, said it is not easy to accommodate the expenditure of Sallah and the necessity of school fees a few days after.

“Many people do not know how to prepare for the festival in terms of savings.

When school expenses clash with the festival, it becomes a matter of choice and I think any wise parent would rather prefer the one that borders on future investment.”

To Nuru Adigun, a primary school teacher in Apapa, the high cost of clothing materials took the shine off the celebrations.

” Luckily, there is no compulsion that every Moslem must put on new clothes except those who can conveniently afford them”, he said.

Commercial transport fare was still normal yesterday and the traffic was light.

Many who might have travelled outside Lagos have not returned.

Alhaja Monisola Moyinwola explained that in the month of Ramadan, Moslems observe a strict fast and participate in pious activities such as charitable giving and peace making.

“It is a time of intense spiritual renewal for those who observe it. At the end of Ramadan, Moslems throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration.

“It is a time to give to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy.”

An Islamic teacher Mustafa Lawal further stated that on the day marking Eid-el-Fitri, Moslems gather in outdoor locations or mosques to pray. After the prayer, Moslems move around to visit their families and friends, give gifts, especially to children, and send each other goodwill messages.

“This Ramadan is a good time for the government and university teachers to reach a compromise over the on-going strike as the students are left to suffer. This could also lead to their indulgence in criminal activities”, he said.