High cost of living clouds Idd ul-Adha celebrations

Livestock traders at Kikowani area in Mombasa on July 8, 2022. Traders traders complained of poor sales as muslims start two days of Idd ul-Adha celebrations amid a sharp rise in the cost of living.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi I Nation Media Group

Kenyan Muslims will Saturday start two days of Idd ul-Adha celebrations amid a sharp rise in the cost of living.

The celebrations normally take place on Dhul Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar.

In the first 10 days of the holy month, Muslims are to hold rituals called Hajj in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia while those at home are supposed to fast and pray.

This is also the festival where Muslims are supposed to sacrifice either a goat or a sheep and share it among families, neighbours and the less fortunate.

On normal celebration days, there could be a lot of activities in markets across the country as shoppers jostle to buy new clothes, foodstuff and livestock ahead of Idd celebrations.

A majority of Muslim faithful shop during the last days for the annual festival.

This year, however, hard economic times have pushed many to cut costs on shopping.

The Eastleigh market in Nairobi not only serves residents but has for years operated as the main shopping centre for retailers and customers from across the country.

Ms Hafsa Noor, a businesswoman, said traders are likely to incur losses this year.

"Last year, at a time like now, I restocked my shop three times due to the high number of customers I was getting. This time, people are not buying in bulk as usual as they are complaining and blaming it on the harsh economy. I am not sure whether I will celebrate Idd," Ms Noor said.

She added that in previous years she made daily sales of Sh30,000 due to the high number of customers.

“The last two years, we also did not thrive well as businesses because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have not fully recovered yet,” she added.

In the Dagahley livestock market in Wajir County, which serves a large number of pastoralist traders in northeastern Kenya and parts of Somalia, traders are also complaining about poor sales.

Dekow Ibrahim, who has been in the livestock business for decades, said he did not have the means and resources to provide for his families.

"Selling livestock in our culture is considered hereditary. When we lack even fees, we would just go and sell the livestock to get enough money. But now we are stranded at home, with most of us wondering what we should do especially as Idd approaches," he said.

He said by now he would have five to 10 orders of goats and sheep for the celebrations.

"My customers come from Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera and even Somalia. It is a huge loss for me as a trader," he said.

Traders said a goat would normally sell for Sh9,000.

"But during high seasons like Idd festivities, we sell a goat at Sh13,000 and people buy them," says Adan Hassan, a livestock trader in Garissa County.

The case is no different at the Kikoweni market in Mombasa.

Mr Abdi Sheikh, a goat seller, said their incomes had dropped.

"A client who bought five goats is now buying at least two goats," he explained.

Mr Said Faraj said prices are low due to high inflation.

Some Muslims who live in Mombasa will conduct the prayers on Saturday at the Tononoka grounds.

Idd ul-Adha is a time for Muslims to be joyous and celebrate their dedication throughout the 10 days of fasting during the holy month of Dhul Hijja.

On this day, Muslims are forbidden from fasting and should sacrifice either a goat or a sheep.

Idd is an Arabic word that means feast or festival.