By Alhaji Rasheed Olanrewaju
Eid-el-Fitr marks the end of the sacred month of Ramadan. Also known as “feast of breaking the fast”, it is an important religious day celebrated by Muslims worldwide. The Eid is performed on the first day of Shawwal, the month that follows Ramadan when Muslims start the day with an obligatory contribution called zakat al-fitr in which prosperous families give away, for each member of the house, food items such as rice, Corn wheat, Garri etc.to the needy before going to Eid ground for prayers.
Calabar the Capital of Cross River State is known for lots of festivals. Globally famous among these festivals is the annual thirty-two days Christmas Festival where fun seekers gather in the ancient city to do businesses while catching their fun. The period is December and it is registered in the global tourism calendar. This festive period coincides with the Christmas period when Jesus Christ (prophet Issa) was born and everyone, including the Muslim community in the city join the predominantly Christian state to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Like Christmas festival and the Calabar Carnival, Cross River State is known for many firsts in the history of Africa most populous Country, Nigeria. Calabar is the home of the First Inspector General of Police in Nigeria, the First Nigeria Capital City. She has the First social Club, African Club, Home of the First Football, Cricket and field hockey games. The city of the oldest Secondary School in Eastern Nigeria, Hope Waddell Training Institution, the home of an international museum not forgetting Hogan Bassey among others.
The 2019 Eid celebrations birthed the first Calabar Eid-El-Fitr Picnic. The festival-like picnic, an initiative of the Chief Imam of Calabar Central Mosque, Imam Abdulkabir Olowolayemo with the support of other organizing committee members recorded a boost to the Muslim Community who find it difficult to go out a day after Eid prayers.
The Eid el-Fitr picnic was part of the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month where Muslims gathered together. It was a meeting point for families, friends and well-wishers (Muslims and Non-Muslims alike) to congratulate one another as they end the Thirty- or Twenty-Nine-Days Ramadan Fast. Held a day after the Eid prayers, it afforded participants the platform to meet, greet and mix freely with friends, relatives, neighbours with exchange of gifts. There was also games, movies, dance and Islamic quiz competitions involving mostly the children, who obviously enjoyed themselves to no end.
Trade and commerce was another opportunity provided by the Eid el-Fitr picnic. It was an avenue where buyers and sellers met to engage in business transactions. Vendors made brisk business with sales of Suya, smoothies and various other drinks, shawarma, pizza and cake as well as gift items and branded clothes all located at different stands in a trade fair-like environment with adequate security provisions.
For a debut event, the Eid-el-Fitr Picnic in Calabar during the 2019 Sallah celebrations was a welcome development and a huge success. It is a development that Government will need to be involved as there is a potential revenue generation opportunity as well as the diversification of the Government’s event cum tourism offerings in Cross River State.
May Allah enable us to witness more in life and allow the next Eid-El Fitri Sallah Picnic in Calabar to be more successful than the maiden edition. Ameenah.
Alhaji Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair is a Muslim Community Watch Team Leader and Public affairs Commentator.