The Feast of Sacrifice

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Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the forthcoming Eid el Kabir, which is the Muslim ‘Feast of Sacrifice’, will truly require sacrifice from the participants given the state of the economy, especially with the high cost of foodstuffs

Come September 12, 2016, Muslim faithfuls in Nigeria will mark the Eid el Kabir, which is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Muslims around the world also observe this event.
While September 12 is the Eid el Kabir day, the holiday will however be marked on September 13, 2016 which is the Eid el Fitri holiday. Known as the Feast of Sacrifice, it’s often marked with sharing things between loved ones and giving to the less-privileged.

Although this has been the norm for years, the term sacrifice will truly get another meaning given the dwindling economy of Nigeria. Now, for every largesse gifted out by willing Muslims, especially those in the middle and lower class of the society, it will truly be a sacrifice given that they are giving out from their scarce resources.

Muslim Faithfuls and the Economy
In the face of the global slump in the price of crude oil in the international market, many economies are battling depression, which in turn translates to limited access to funds but increase in the cost of living. Although some may argue that Nigeria is not depressed, but things are definitely not the same anymore given the high cost of living.

In Lagos, preparations for the celebration are often characterised by shopping, shopping and more shopping. Often on the list of to-buy-things are foodstuffs, clothing, Rams and drinks. But that was then. Although preparations are ongoing, but it’s on a low key for most Muslim faithfuls, unlike what was obtainable in the past.
A bag of rice that usually sells for N8,000 has soared up to N18,000 and same goes for other staples and foodstuffs, thus forcing ordinary Nigerians to shun ostentatious lifestyle and live within their means.

Sampling opinions of some Muslim faithfuls, THISDAY gathered that despite the biting economy, some of them plan to have fun, even if it’s in a small way.
Mallam Mohammed Dasuki, of FESTAC Town said, “On my to-do list is to go to Lagos Island to watch the popular ram fight, after which I and my wife will move to a Lebanese restaurant in Lekki that gives buffet for N8,000. Of course, we would have loved to celebrate it in a bigger way, but we have decided to cut our cloth according to our size.”
While the Dasukis have opened for ram fighting before lunch for two, Mr. Femi Martin, has decided to toe the path of piety for that day. According to him, it should be a period of sober reflection and not winning and dinning.

Others opted to go to a beach and generally have fun, since it doesn’t cost much. Others intend to visit Shoprite malls, go see a movie at film houses, or sit at home and enjoy in the company of friends and family.

Traders Lament
At the different markets visited on the Mainland, it was the same tale of woes. From Oja Market in Jakande Estate to the Isolo Market then the Anjorin Market to the Odo Market at Cele and Aswani Market, it was same tales of slow sales due to the high cost of foodstuffs.
Popularly known as Mama Ejima, the trader who operates several stalls at the Oja market with her husband, said they were forced to relinquish one of the stalls when they couldn’t pay the rent for the year. According to her, “We were really counting on making sales this year during the festive periods but we have continually been disappointed.
“Already, we had to let go of one of our shops because we couldn’t afford to keep paying rent without recouping it back through sales. In my shop, where I sell mostly grains and grounded cassava (garri), I hardly sell up to 12 bags a week. It wasn’t like this before. But I understand why people no longer buy bags of rice. The least bag of rice in my shop goes for N15,000.

“What people do now is that they buy the rice in cups and not bags and it’s affecting us. In the past, weeks before Sallah we record an increase in sales but for this year, we are still waiting for them.”
Another trader at the Odo Market, known as Dee Biggy, also a foodstuff dealer, told THISDAY that the only solution to the high cost of foodstuff is for the government to encourage more Nigerians to dabble into agriculture.

Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed, a ram seller at the Oke-Afa bridge, also lamented low patronage. He said, “There are virtually no customers. In the past, some Muslim faithfuls would have come to pick the rams they want and pay. It’s now our job to groom them well within the remaining few weeks before the festival.”
While traders who sell clothes were not really affected by the economy in terms of the forthcoming celebration, the local tailors are worse for it, as they lament that there is no influx of customers to sow clothes for. According to Bukola, a popular female tailor along Agric Bus stop, Ikorodu, most people prefer to buy readymade gowns to wear for the celebration since it’s considerably cheaper.
She said, “Let’s look at it this way, if someone wants to sew cloth for the celebration, the least material they can buy in the market is N1,500 and I will charge N2,000 or more to sew it. But with less than that amount, they can buy a readymade gown for N2,000.”

About Eid el Kabir
According to public holidays.ng, an online site, Eid el Kabir occurs on the 10th day of the Muslim lunar month of Dhul Hijja, and festivities often continue for four days. Another name for this festival is “Eid al Adha,” but either way, the general meaning is “Feast of the Sacrifice,” referring to the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice Ishmael on Mount Moriah, according to Islamic tradition.

The website went on to state that, “Since about 40 per cent of Nigerians are Muslim, Id el Kabir is a public holiday in Nigeria. It is especially observed in the northern regions of the country where most Muslims live. While Muslims who can afford it will travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage. There, they can reenact the sacrifice of Ibrahim, accomplishing one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

“Muslims gather on this day for prayers and sermons at local mosques and in outdoor areas. They dress up in new clothes or, at least, in the finest clothes they have before going to the services. There, they greet each other with the words “Eid Mubarrak!” (Blessed Eid!).

“Families also gather together and partake of a festive meal. An animal of some kind will be sacrificed, if the family can afford to pay for it, and the meat partly eaten by guests and partly distributed to the poor. Muslims also frequently invite non-Muslims to attend Id el Kabir celebrations, hoping to introduce them to Islam and Islamic culture. Finally, gifts are given out to children during Eid, giving them a reason to enjoy the day besides the religious aspect.”

Picnic Spots for Eid El Kabir

For those with limited finances, there are so many fun picnic spots that dot the Lagos metropolis that people can actually step away from the stress of work and relax. In Lagos alone, the picnic spots which keep cropping in their hundreds, are a must-visit for the teeming fun lovers.

We have the National Theatre and Museum, the Silverbird Galleria, Casa Illashe, Terra Kulture, Freedom Park, Kamp Ikare, Elegushi Beach, La Campagne Tropicana amongst several others, where fun seekers can go and enjoy themselves this Eid el Kabir period.

Tucked at the Victoria Island area of Lagos, the privately owned Terra Kulture, boasts of a library and is fully equipped with Internet facilities with an art shop that displays traditional crafts including batik materials, pottery, tie and dye and mat weaving. This fun spot is tilted towards arts buff. It has over the years since inception filled a niche for art lovers who want to appreciate art particularly African art.

At La Campagne Tropicana, is one of the attractive spots with white sands, long coconut trees and the pleasure of nature itself. Hidden in the belly of Ibeju-Lekki, the unique selling point of this centre is its traditional feel. With cabins made from bamboo to monkeys swinging from one tree to the other, the name Tropicana really best suits the recreational centre.

The forest inhabits over 7000 monkeys, with a mangrove forest. The cabins each have a talking drum which serves as a doorbell and are all en-suite with a clear view of the ocean.

But one of the most attractive spots is a mini restaurant serving locally made dishes such as yam fries and akara amongst others. Also is the ‘Bole Kaja’, a funky spot which promotes relaxed eating spot. Right in front is the Yoru’ Bar. In this a la carte meals are made to the delight of the visitors and freshly made palm wine is served as drinks.

Also not to be knocked out is the Halemson Beach Resort, which offers an environment away from the bustle of Nigeria. Located 30 minutes away from Victoria Island, the beach overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and offers pure air for its teeming visitors.

Another popular resort is the Whispering Palms occupying about eight acres of land located in Iworo, Badagry. Lying on the shoreline of the lagoons, the palms offer the beach experience with uninterrupted sounds of the breeze and the gentle waves on the beach.

For the Hermitage Garden Resort, it’s gleaming beach front is one of the selling point. the Hermitage Garden Resort is a luxurious mini-villas which offers a beautiful view of the ocean. Located at Lekki/Ajah Penninsular area of Lagos, it has become a top site for vacation. It also boasts of a nature trail for nature lovers who want to commune with nature.

Another popular fun spot is the National Museum, which is touted as one of the oldest tourists centre in Nigeria and Lagos in particular. Located at Onikan, Lagos, which was established as far back as 1957, it’s one great fun spot that never ceases to appeal with its great collections in archaeology, ethnography and traditional art.

The Eko Tourist Beach Resort is a privately-managed beach located along the Lagos-Epe Expressway. Otherwise called the Akodo Beach, the beach has chalets, amusement parks, swimming beach, as well as good furnished rooms and suites.

Also, the Kamp Ikare is another awesome fun spot, which offers a home away from home services. Located at Ikare Village in Lagos, the attraction is the rustic environment and it’s only accessible by boat.
Surrounded by miles and miles of sea, although the resort has a main communal beach house, it also has a six-duplex cabin for visitors and a fully stocked bar.

More popular however is the Silverbird Galleria in Lagos, which even though it does not boast of an ancient pedigree like the National Museum and other older fun spots, the Silverbird Galleria, however is a must spot for fun lovers. Equipped with a modern cinema, shops, boutiques and recreational centres, the galleria, has all the packages of all round entertainment where you can see the latest movies, live concert and shows.

Other places like the Casa Ilashe,12-bedroom private beach, located at Ilashe, a village along Badagry Creek, is one of the fun spots that visitors throng regularly, as well as La Manga Luxury Beach located at Ilashe, boasts of beach villas designed with Spanish architectural in mind.

Another historical fun spot is the National Arts Theatre, which was constructed in 1976 to host the popular Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977. The multi-purpose national monument, which has continued to serve as a preservation and promotion of Nigerian arts and culture, is located in Iganmu and is the primary centre for the performing arts in Nigeria.

For the deep thinkers and lovers of everything good music, poetry and Afropolitan art, the Freedom Park awaits you. Located on the site of the colonial prison where prominent Nigerians were jailed then during the colonial era, this site has now been turned to a public space where people throng to relax.

Not to be shoved aside is Takwa Bay. Located at Atlas cove, the island lives up to the ideals of fun and pleasure with its white sands, whispering pines, and crystals clear water. This is just as the Jhalobia Recreation Park and Gardens located along the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road, Lagos and is tucked between Hajj Camp and Ajao Estate, can be used as relaxation spots for Muslim faithfuls without breaking the bank.