Sallah: Why We Cannot Celebrate, by Muslims

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Eid-El-Kabir, also known as Sallah, is one of the most significant festivals in the Islamic calendar, celebrated with grandeur and joy by Muslims worldwide. In Nigeria, it is a time of family gatherings, communal prayers, and the ritual slaughtering of rams, symbol- ising Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah.

However, this year’s celebrations have been markedly subdued across the country, as the soaring costs of rams and essential food items, particularly pepper, have cast a shadow over the festivities. Eid-El-Kabir, or the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s readiness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah.

In honour of this profound act of faith, Muslims slaughter livestock, usually rams, and share the meat with family, friends, and the less fortunate. This practice embodies the values of sacrifice, charity, and community, which are central to the Islamic faith. This year, the economic challenges facing Nigeria have made it difficult for many families to participate fully in the traditional Sallah celebrations.

The cost of living has been rising steadily, driven by inflation, currency devaluation, and various supply chain disruptions. As a result, the prices of rams and other essential commodities have soared to unprecedented levels.

According to market reports, the price of a single ram has increased by nearly 50% compared to the previous year. This steep hike has placed a significant strain on household budgets, forcing many families to forgo or scale down their Sallah celebrations.

In cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, where the demand for rams is traditionally high, many markets have reported lower sales as consumers struggle to afford the high prices. For many Nigerian Muslims, the inability to afford a ram has profoundly impacted the essence of Eid-El-Kabir. The sight of fami- lies gathering for the slaughter and sharing of meat is a cherished part of the celebration, fostering a sense of unity and communal support. However, this year, the absence of these rituals in many households has led to a muted and somber at- mosphere. Additionally, the cost of essential ingredients like pepper has also surged, compounding the challenges faced by families trying to prepare festive meals.

Pepper, a staple in Nigerian cuisine, is crucial for the preparation of various Sallah dishes. The sharp increase in its price has made it difficult for many to enjoy the traditional feasts that are synonymous with the holiday. Community leaders and religious organisations have also encouraged the spirit of sharing and solidarity, urging those who can afford to help their neighbors. In many neighbourhoods, collective purchases and shared sacrifices have become a practical way to ensure that the traditions of Eid-ElKabir are upheld, even in challenging times.

Muslims lament high cost of ram, rice, pepper

There is passionate expression of grief across the country over the high cost of rice and pepper as Muslims are longing to celebrate this year Sallah in hunger sparked by poverty. It was learnt that the price of rice has gone up to between N78, 000 and N84,000 per 50kg bag. Also, the price of pepper is currently beyond the reach of the poor as one kilogramme, which cost between N500 and N600 last month, now cost between N800 and N1,000, According to Mrs Halimat Salau, a 50-kilogramme bag of ‘tatase’ (big pepper) was N35,000 in the early morning market at Oke Odo, Lagos on Thursday, saying that 50 kilogrammes red pepper has gone up to N27,500. She said that her intention was to divide the pepper among three other buyers, adding that she had no option than to back up from the negotiation as the seller was rigid with the price.

Also, a retailer at Abesan Estate, Ipaja, Malam Suleiman Wakili, who sells three pieces of red pepper for N250, blamed high cost of transportation and the activities of middlemen in the market. He explained that there has been low patronage since Monday, adding that 50 per cent of his pepper and tomato have rotten as people declined to buy at specified price. At the popular Ile-Epo market of Abule Egba, a crate of tomatoes that used to sell for 45,000 naira per crate, now sells for 70,000 naira per crate, while a small bag of red pepper of 32,000 naira now sells for 62,500.

While sellers are complaining of low patronage, potential buyers did not go close to the sellers as a result of outrageous prices. Sellers however, attributed the increase in prices of food items to poor and low supply from the north as farmers are forced to increase their prices. Speaking about the high cost of food items and rams, a housewife, Mrs Iyabo Adekunle, said that life has become difficult for an average family, saying that celebrating Sallah has become a mirage for her family. Adekunle stated that unlike what happened last year, when her family slaughtered two rams, there was no way the family could buy even one ram this year. “Last year, we were able to buy two rams for Sallah and we bought a lot of pepper and other food ingredients in large quantities. Then, the cost of rice and other food items were relatively cheaper.

“Now, all these have gone beyond the reach of many Nigerians. How can we buy a ram for N300,000 or even more? This means that if we want to celebrate the way we did last year, we should have a minimum of N2,000,000 (Two Million Naira) or more. Where are we going to get that, these are the worst of times for us in the country,” she said. Another resident of Lagos, Alhaji Iyanda Owonikoko, lamented that this is perhaps the worst Sallah he would be celebrating. Owonikoko, who hails from Ilorin in Kwara State, said that this is the first year he would fail to slaughter a reasonable ram, adding that the little ram he bought cost N250,000.

Comparing this year’s Sallah to last year, he said that he bought two big rams for the celebration last year unlike what is happening this year. “Apart from ram, pepper, rice, gari, yam flour, palm oil and vegetable oil, everything has gone out of the reach of many Nigerians. “This was not what we bargained for; we only pray that it will not get worse as we look forward to better years. While we might not blame the government for everything, I believe that they have many roles to play to ensure that things go back to normal so that we can go back to the good old days in the country. “How much pepper will a family buy to cook reasonable food for the celebration? We don’t even know what is happening in the country anymore. Someone should let us know what is wrong or probably we need to pray so that the Almighty Allah would show us mercy,” he said.

Looking ahead

The bleak Sallah celebrations this year have highlighted the broader economic issues facing Nigeria. While the immediate focus is on addressing the high costs of living and ensuring that families can celebrate religious traditions, there is also a need for long-term solutions to stabilise the economy and improve living standards. As the country looks forward, there is hope that collective efforts by the government, private sector, and community organisations will help mitigate the economic challenges and restore the vibrancy of future Sallah celebrations.

Man bags 3 months for stealing ram

An Abeokuta Chief Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 35-year-old man, Kabiru Lawal, to three months imprisonment for stealing goats and ram. Lawal, who resides at Olomore area of Abeokuta, had pleaded guilty to the two-count charge of stealing and conversion.

The Magistrate, Mrs V.B. William, convicted Lawal, following his guilty plea to the charges preferred against him. William, thereafter, sentenced him to three months each for the first and second counts, saying that the sentence must run concurrently. She, however, gave him an option of restituting the amount of the goat and ram to the complainant.

Earlier, the Prosecutor, Insp Lawrence Olu-Balogun, told the court that Lawal committed the offences sometime in June 2023 at No. 47, Kuforiji Olubi drive, Abeokuta. Olu-Balogun said that the defendant fraudulently obtained eight goats and one ram, all valued at N300,000, property of one Mr Ibrahim Akanbi, under the pretence of helping the complainant sell the goats and ram. “The complainant gave the defendant eight goats and a ram to help him sell them, but the defendant sold all of them and converted the money to his per- sonal use

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