“Meeh Meeh Meeh Meeh”, my neighbour’s fawn ram leers proudly at me as I walk past it. An evil smile slowly curls my lips as I remember that famous Yoruba song that talks about how you’d be beaten mercilessly if you attempt to fight someone who is stronger than you.
“Aje kun iya ni’oje, aje kun iya ni’oje,
Eni ti o t’eni no, t’on de na de ni,
Aje kun iya ni oje.”
He he he! Don’t mind me. I play too much.
First of all, let me wish everyone especially my Muslim folks all over the world Barka da Sallah. This festival known as Eid-al-Adha or Eid-el-Kabir meaning “feast of sacrifice” is celebrated every year to mark the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael). Just as he was about to carry out the instruction, he was stopped by an angel and a ram was provided to be sacrificed in place of Ismail. Muslims around the world observe this event.
In Nigeria, it’s one of the best seasons for ram sellers because rams are usually slaughtered to celebrate the event. On the day of the festival, it is common sight to see Muslims wearing new clothes and visiting one another. Many throw the gates open to the poorer members of their community who cannot afford to buy a ram. I always look forward to this particular celebration with so much enthusiasm solely because of one thing; yes you guessed right- Ileya meat as it is popularly called.
For the past four years, I have been privileged to partake in this feast thanks to our Muslim neighbour who never disappoints. Prior to this, I used to spend the festival with my Muslim cousins till they relocated abroad.
I remember how there was always a large gathering of friends, family and well-wishers. As I’m greeting one uncle and hugging my mother’s nephew’s sister-in-law, I’m stylishly strategizing how to worm my way to the cooks. Yes, experience taught me to always stand with the cooks to have extra pieces of meat for keeps because after the celebration, meat would suddenly grow wings and vanish into thin air!
There was one particular year that someone was caught trying to escape with a mighty chunk of raw meat. How she dared to slip it in her fine hand bag was beyond my comprehension. We all laughed our hearts out and tagged her “Aunty meeh”.
Nothing could spoil the spirit of celebration not even a petty theft. There was always plenty to eat, drink and enough munchies to go round the large gathering. You will eat to stupor till your belly starts to ache. I consider it a double blessing to eat the smoky jollof rice and the equally smoky meat. I would then top it up with chilled exotic wine. Trust my uncle who is always ready to spoil us. The celebrations would linger far into the night- eating, drinking, dancing and making merry.
The struggle to burn those wicked calories after the holiday ends was always pure torture for me. Still, I really miss those days because it was not only a time to feast but also to bond and unite regardless of our religious differences. At this point I’d like us in Nigeria and all over the world to give peace a chance, respect and tolerate one another’s religion. It’s senseless to keep fighting, terrorizing and killing people over their religious orientation. We all need to grow up and channel our energy to creating a peaceful coexistence in our nations. Huh?
Eid Mubarrak! Happy Sallah once again..