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EID MUBARAK TARABANS: LET’S KEEP HOPE ALIVE!


Yesterday,  Tuesday July 20, 2021, Muslims in Taraba state joined millions of their compatriots across Nigeria and the world to mark the greater beiram or Eid el Kabir.

In the Islamic faith, the origin of the occasion is traced back to the times of the arch prophet Ibrahim who having no animal to use as sacrificial for Allah the almighty decided to offer his own son instead. But the merciful God intervened at the last minute and presented Ibrahim with a ram to do the needful.

In the holy Bible, I believe a similar situation was replicated which goes to show that both Islam and Christianity apart from coming from the same root also enjoin us Muslims and Christians alike to believe in the omnipotence of God who is our benefactor.

The significance of the Eid el Kabir which is a test to our faith and belief in God through sacrifices and in his unquestionable ability to intervene positively in our lives holds true to us in Taraba.

We all know that we live in perilous times. Poverty, insecurity and hopelessness stalk the land. Our people are groaning under obnoxious policies. Many will be marking the occasion without ram. At the moment, the youths of the state are being made to cough out N3000 naira as fees for recruitment forms for employment into the state civil service.

We have never really had it so bad in Taraba state.

In the days of yore, occasions such as this are always something to look forward to. In my younger days although we lived in Jos Plateau state, we always want to spend the two Sallahs and Christmas in Wukari. The festivities during the occasion were something to behold. A few days to the occasion the town will be agog with preparations. The markets will be full with people making purchases of food and other items. Tailors will be fully engaged in trying to sew dresses for the numerous customers who would want to wear the latest fashions and designs. There will be a lot of rams tethered to be used for sacrifice on Sallah day. The general atmosphere in the town will be one of positive expectations of a good celebration.

On the day proper, well dressed children accompanying their parents and elders will make their way to the eid praying ground amidst the din of good natured banter. And in the evenings all kinds of activities like visits to relations and exchange of food and meat will take place.

The centre of activities will be the palace of the Aku Uka where all manner of cultural dance troupes will be on display showcasing their dexterity. Young men will display their skills in handling motorcycles in awe inspiring rides.

The highlight of the day will be the masquerades that will come out in their colourful costumes dancing to the drumbeats. Some of the masquerades are known to chase and flog mercilessly some who take delight in taunting them. But it was all to add to the fun of the occasion. 

In those days the celebration was not restricted to Muslims alone; Christians joined in too and it was quite a spectacle of unity and brotherliness.

Regrettably that spirit seems to have departed from our present circumstances. Today the relationship between Muslims and Christians in the state is characterized by mutual suspicion and acrimony. This is the unfortunate situation that exists even among siblings who happen to belong to the two faiths.

But in the spirit of the occasion of the Sallah, Tarabans should reflect deep on our present circumstances and like prophet Ibrahim, repose our faith in God. We should look on our present situation as a test of our faith from God and resolve to place our hope in him for salvation. The Allah that intervened to save prophet Ibrahim from sacrificing his son will surely intervene in our circumstances.

Our celebrations today may be muted, tempered as it is by the prevailing dire circumstances. But just as the darkest night will eventually give way to daylight, Taraba will be delivered. As happened in other parts of Nigeria, ours will also come.

So while we despair, we should also not lose hope. Let us keep hope alive and believe that we are not being afflicted to be saddled with insensitive and uncaring leaders. For the leaders themselves who are doing this to us, it is also a test from God. They may think that through the power they now exercise, they may have escaped from the worst of the situation they have now foisted on the poor helpless and powerless Tarabans. But as our living experience has shown this is will be a serious misreading of the ways of the ways of God. Power as with all things human, is ephemeral and God grants it to the few of us amongst the many in order to test our faith in him and also for us to deliver his abundant blessings to humanity. Leadership is all about this covenant with God. And leaders who fail to carry out this expectation thinking that they have the armour of temporary power all too often fall from God's grace and face his judgement at last. It is a truism that repeats itself over and over in our living experience.

As we celebrate this day under the trying circumstances we have found ourselves, we pray to God to touch the souls of our leaders so that they will do the things God enjoined them to do for Taraba and Tarabans in giving them the power and responsibility they currently enjoy. We pray that they will have the grace and humility to consider the plight of the suffering Tarabans and give them a relief in the burdens they have to carry as citizens of this great state.

To Tarabans, let us keep hope alive despite our circumstances and believe that Allah will deliver us eventually.  

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