Sunday mornings in Benin are usually busy as Christians all pour out on the streets of the city to attend church and worship God. But yesterday, 25th of June, was exceptionally busy as Eid-el-Fitr, the Muslim celebration to bring the month of Ramadan to a close, also fell on the same day.
Alongside those of the Christian faith, Muslims across Benin City trooped out in their numbers to various praying grounds of their choice.
Bloomshire visited the praying ground on Ikpoba slope and we were fascinated by the overwhelming display of joy, love and fashion.
Making our way to the ground wasn’t exactly a stress-free ride given the high vehicular movement which resulted in a traffic jam and people had to abandon their cars and walk on both sides of the road so as not to miss the prayers.
Although the traffic wardens on ground did a good job trying to control both car and foot traffic, the number of vehicles parked around haphazardly made their task difficult and seemingly insurmountable.
The morning was unusually sunny, but despite the big smile of the sun and the accompanying heat, the large praying ground was filled to its capacity. Muslims; young, old, children, women, nursing mothers, pregnant women all elegantly dressed assembled on the open ground and waited patiently for the commencement of prayers.
At 9.45am when prayer was eventually led by the Imam, more people were still seen trooping in and trying to pick a spot amid the already mammoth crowd spread across the ground. Those who were unable to get a spot big enough to pray on the ground had to make do with the road side walk.
While the people prayed, the security officials present worked very hard to coordinate the crowd, direct people, create orderliness and secure the place. And they got no break or time to catch their breath as immediately after the prayers, people started trooping out of the ground.
So large was the crowd and rowdy the affair that a mother lost her two year old daughter in the process. Till Bloomshire left, the poor mother was still frantically searching all over the place for her.
While some left hurriedly, others waited behind to take pictures, greet one another, catch up with long-time friends and exchange gifts. It was a beautiful sight as drummers and singers also came to celebrate with the Muslims, beating their drums and singing melodiously as some Muslims danced to their beat.
In all, Eid was peaceful in Benin and full of merriment. After 30 days of fasting and praying to God, it is the least they deserve.
Report by Adamson Falilat