No gatherings as Muslims mark Eid

Monday, May 25th, 2020 00:00 |
Philanthropist and businessman Bipin Shah and associates (left) give one of the small-scale traders at Temple Road Secondary School in Nyeri town affected by Covid-19 pandemic. The traders will receive a package of assorted foodstuff every Friday for one month from the Nyeri-based Asian community. Photo/PD/JOSEPH KING’ORI

Harrison Kivisu and Alvin Mwangi

As the coronavirus pandemic keeps major celebrations on hold, Muslim faithful across the country celebrated the Eid-ul-Fitr with less funfair.

Public beaches and other recreational sites in Mombasa where people gather for merry making were deserted, as faithful broke away from norm and stayed home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Mosques, shopping malls, eateries and open grounds where faithful gather for prayers also remained empty.

The situation was worsened by the cessation of movement across three coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.

“The economic situation is bad. Normally, we used to have savings that we would use to celebrate Eid, but this time, we were caught off guard because we had spent all savings stocking foodstuffs during this lockdown period,” said Luqman Mahmoud, a Mombasa resident.

For Mahmoud—who works in Nairobi— this year’s Eid celebrations were so different from the others as for the first time in his life, he celebrated alone, far away from his family due to the cessation of movement imposed on Nairobi and Mombasa.

“Normally, I travel to join my family in Mombasa, but this time I am locked in Nairobi. It’s very unusual for me to stay away from my family at a time like this, but because of the ban on movement, I had no option but to stay put,” Luqman said.

Ali Mwalimu, another resident, said: “It’s different as many people don’t have money.

Many shops at Old Town where we normally shop for Eid clothes and other household items are shut because of the lockdown imposed by government. I have opted to shop online.”

During Eid, Mombasa’s main streets are usually full of vendors and buyers of foods and clothing in the evenings and late night hours. However, this  wasn’t the case this year due to the countrywide dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Livestock traders at the Kikowani area told People Daily that goat prices had dropped to between Sh6,000 and Sh7,000 compared to between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000 last year.

“I buy my goats from the Mariakani market and during the same time last year, I would have sold between 10 and 20 goats, but now, I am selling two to five goats per day,” said Mohamed Aden, a goats trader.

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) organsing secretary, Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa (pictured), termed this year’s Eid celebrations as one of their kind.

He said in his lifetime, he had not witnessed celebrations “where people have to stay indoors.”

“This is a historic moment for Muslims and Christians; they cannot have the usual communal prayers.

We Muslims have observed family Eid prayers. It is necessary to strictly adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines to fight the coronavirus,” he said.

He asked Muslims to pray for peace and God’s help in the wake the Covid-19 pandemic, floods and economic challenges.

“It was a family Ramadhan and Eid because we always prayed together and it was fantastic, although I missed the communal prayers in the mosques and other places.

We hope the mosque prayers will resume soon,” said Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Coast chairman Muhdhar Khitamy.

Curtailed spending

A spot check by People Daily in various places in Nairobi revealed Idd celeberations were also devoid of the fun and pomp of previous years.

In Eastleigh, where movement of people has been restricted, open markets, restaurants, eateries and malls remained closed, as police blocked and patrolled the streets.

“A day like this last year, I had made close to Sh100,000 by noon, but today I’ve even closed my shop.

I have enough stock, but I can’t open my shop,” said Musa Mohammed, a clothes seller in Eastleigh.

Similar situation was witnessed at Uhuru Park where many photographers decried low business.

“This Corona has affected us a lot. Coming to town is turning up to be just a waste of time. Sometimes we end our day without having taken one photo,” lamented Anthony Mungai, who has been taking photos at Uhuru Park for more than 10 years now.

At the Kiamaiko abattoir, a popular meat point,  traders complained of low sales.

“To avoid making more losses, we are only slaughtering the few goats that we know will be consumed by the few people.

Most of our loyal customers are actually complaining that there is no money to spend,” said Ali Barre, a meat trader.

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