How IDP Camps in Abuja celebrated Sallah in style
by DAILY TRUST
Most Muslims marked this year’s Eid el Fitr with pomp and glamour. Our reporter visited the Durumi and Kuchigoro IDP camps in Abuja to have a feel of how the event went for some of the people displaced by the insurgency in the North-East.
There was nothing to show that it was Sallah at the internally displaced people’s (IDPs) camp in the Durumi area of Abuja aside Fatimata’s hand which carried newly designed flowery henna tattoos. The tattoos are synonymous with such celebrations in northern Nigeria.
Children with malnourished-coloured hair gathered around her waiting to be served their portion of protein-less rice and stew from a food warmer which she had just brought to the middle of the compound where they were all seated on floor mats. Upon receiving their share of the Sallah ‘bounty,’ the children happily scurried off to begin their ‘feast.’
“This is not the kind of Sallah we are used to, but for the past three years, it is the only kind of Sallah we have celebrated,” Fatimata told our reporter, as she managed a smile. “Sallah where we are dependent on charity and have no say in what we receive or how our day will begin or end.”
Grateful to be alive to witness the day in good health the IDPs were able to shelve their frequent talk and desire of wanting to return home for a few hours that day as they jubilated over the gifts presented to them by the South African High Commission in Nigeria, as well as the Nelson Mandela Institute (NMI) and their partners.
The group decided to celebrate the day with IDPs penultimate Friday as part of its lineup of events marking the Nelson Mandela International Day which held on July 18, coinciding with the Sallah celebrations.
They first went to Durumi before going on to New Kuchigoro camp presenting generators, medicines, clothing as well as other non-food and food items and a support booth where they can receive medical care as well as store their valuable items, in both camps.
In recognition of the importance of their being able to possess some form of identity, the South African High Commissioner, Ambassador Mnguni Lulu, presented 200 ID cards to each of the IDPs camps, as a first phase.
The gesture followed a request by the leadership of the IDPs that it would be good for them to have identification because sometimes, some people infiltrate the camps to perpetrate criminal activities.
Lulu added that the identification was also necessary as part of the security measure to help their stay in the nation’s capital city.
who also presented IDP Support Booths to the two camps, said the embassy and NMI would replicate the gesture in other camps in Abuja so that the displaced people do not feel marginalised.
“We have given the IDP Support Booth which they will use as an administration centre so that whoever wants to communicate with them knows where to find them. We also helped provide generators for them to have electricity; we also brought in some food stuff with the truck here,” Lulu stated.
Ngozi John-Uyah, a board of trustees’ member of the Foundation for Moral and Ethical Development (FOMED), said the foundation was collaborating with the High Commission in encouraging Nigerian youths to borrow from the ideals of Mandela.
“The raison d’être of FOMED is building a crop of new Nigerians with right moral and ethical standards and values. These are what Mandela stood for. We want the children and youths to see him as an example and borrow from his ideals,” she said.
The visit was also a means by which the high commission profiled the plight of the IDPs so that those who have the means can provide them support. The ambassador noted that though Mandela is dead, he must live through our actions, adding that the gesture in a way complemented the efforts of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who visited some IDPs camps recently.
“It was very exciting that Nigerians remember us and not just remember us, they provide the precise things that we need. It is really nice that when they bring this relief, they also go the extra mile to think about storage for them and most especially our health,” said a joyous Liatu Ayuba, an IDP from Gwoza.
Football is quite a regular affair at the New Kuchigoro camp but on this occasion it had some extra tonic as the IDPs’ team slugged it out with NMI members’ team.
“This was a better Sallah for us than the previous years since we began occupying this camp,” Philemon Emmanuel, chairman of the New Kuchigoro IDP camp told Daily Trust on Saturday. “In our local government, we had at least 25 football teams before the insurgency. The game is not something new to us.”
Bragging about their win over their opponents, Emmanuel said: “It is even a junior team we gave them and we still beat them. Nevertheless, we are very happy that they came to play the match with us today. Although they came to celebrate Mandela Day with us, they have also made our Sallah celebration a very lively one compared to past years we have celebrated as IDPs.”