Preparing for Sallah in Birnin Kebbi
The days of the months in Islam are neither fixed nor constant. The crescents are usually and deliberately looked out for and where they are sighted, the count begins. In Islam, a month lasts 29 days or 30 days, no more, no less.
As readers may be aware, every year, Muslims all over the world fast 29 or 30 days of the holy month of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is quite unique because of its decreed brotherhood, generosity, piety, humility and sacrifice for the sake of Allah by the adherents of Islam. It’s said in several places in the holy Qur’an that fasting has been decreed for Muslims as it was decreed for those people before them and that if they are wise enough, they should fast the month of Ramadan in order to benefit from Allah’s mercy. Thus, all through this month, Muslims seek closeness to their creator by praying harder, sharing generously and widening positive contacts. More importantly, they abstain from eating, drinking, sex and vain talks from dawn to sunset.
The people of Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi State have not been left behind in these important rituals dictated by Ramadan. They have fasted for 29 days now and from all indications, they prefer that Id-el Fitr takes place tomorrow. The whole town had been in a frenzy of festival in anticipation that the new moon would be sighted on Monday and the Sallah commemorating the end of Ramadan will be today.
Almost everything is in high demand but short; people wished that they had money to buy food items, fruits and vegetables. The markets are full to the brim with many items on sale but people lack the purchasing power. However, there is abundant meat. As they have done every year, people in every community have pooled money together to buy cows which they slaughter and share the meat. By yesterday afternoon, many people had taken their share of the meat home, and by evening of the same day, an unavoidable cocktail of aroma from the different pots of soup had enveloped Birnin Kebbi. For those who craved oily, meaty Iftar, Monday evening was particularly rich.
Some places I particularly took notice of were tailoring stations. Tailors are terrible this season. I saw anxious and frowning parents, their crying children in tow, haranguing tailors. The tailors had collected more materials than they could sew and Monday, the eve of sallah was the moment of truth for them and their customers. From all indications, they would not be able to deliver and there were exchanges of swearwords and cursing between them and their customers. Many of these parents had taken seats beside the tailors preferring to spend the night there and collect the finished clothing of their children than to go home and risk their inconsolable cries. Unfortunately for the parents and their kids, many of these tailors had received up front the entire sums agreed after assurances that they would deliver the clothes.
Elsewhere, people were placing caps on their heads and slipping their feet in and out of shoes and slippers in order to ascertain those that sized them. Clearly, these were the lucky ones who had had a smooth business with their tailors, shoes and caps being the only outstanding things ahead of a resplendent outing this Sallah.
The Islamic scholars had spent the entire month conducting Tafsir (readings from the Holy Qur’an) and explaining the verses over and over. They had exhorted people to obey God and his apostles, to do good and avoid evil, to treat one another with love and to fulfil the covenants they made. One particular scholar even warned tailors to avoid collecting clothes from customers if they knew they would not be able to sew by the deadline so as not to antagonise one another but no matter.
In the different neighbourhoods, hairdressers and henna makers were also making a kill. Girls went up and down in a long queue trying to make their hair. Some of them had waited a long time; they slept and woke up only to find that it was not their turn.
There could be a durbar, even if mini, at the Emir of Gwandu’s Palace this Sallah. I heard from a friend that his entire extended family made up of dozens of horsemen will gallop to the Palace on Sallah day to greet the Emir.
Somewhere else in Government House, the Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu had been entertaining different guests at breakfast. Apart from members of his inner circle who had always eaten with him every evening, the governor had invited other groups to share the Government House menu with him. On Sunday, it was the turn of bankers to eat with him and the Banquet Hall was full with guests and they had a variety to choose from. There was salad, kunu da kosai, jollof rice, boiled and fried yam, fruits, etc.
On the eve of this Sallah, this Monday, I also saw a large number of youth corps members at the NYSC secretariat; from the jostling, one could guess that something important was taking place there. Were they collecting their allowances in cash? Or were they only submitting their clearances for the allowances? Either way, they were all keen on whatever was it that was going on there.
On the eve of this Sallah, Birnin Kebbi is full with people and vehicles. Obviously, its sons and daughters in the diaspora have come home to celebrate the end of Ramadan. From the masses to the royalty and those in government, everyone is gearing up for a peaceful, memorable and glorious Sallah. Barka da shan ruwa!
The people of Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi State have not been left behind in these important rituals dictated by Ramadan. They have fasted for 29 days now and from all indications, they prefer that Id-el Fitr takes place tomorrow In the different neighbourhoods, hairdressers and henna makers were also making a kill. Girls went up and down in a long queue trying to make their hair. Some of them had waited a long time; they slept and woke up only to find that it was not their turn