With few days to go before the annual Eid-ul-Adha, locally known as Tobaski, the Muslim-dominated Gambian society is already astir with the excitement of preparations. True to tradition, the preparations are multi-faceted as parents and heads of households are preoccupied with what outfit to provide their sometimes petulant children and wives, new household fittings to gratify the aesthetic tastes of wives and even grown-up children. But of even greater importance to especially the more puritanical folk is the acquisition of the all-important sacrificial livestock, the most notable of which is the ram. Perhaps owing to its overriding importance as a rite, the latter has over the years been the source of agony and much heartache for many a low-income earner.
While the cause of this is believed to be complex - ranging from The Gambia’s deficiency in the supply of such livestock, the domination of the livestock trade by aliens, the relative value of the Dalasi vis-a-vis the CFA francs – it is time a much more holistic and sober approach is adopted by the authorities to the issue of animal husbandry. Yes we believe the authorities should pave the way by encouraging interested and serious-minded farmers to raise and manage livestock on a larger scale. Better still, considering its importance, some national initiative of large scale animal husbandry through the Department of Livestock Services would be an effective antidote to the perennial problem of the dearth of sheep in the local markets to the extent that people have to cross the border into neighbouring Senegal. As it is considered a big feast for all Muslims, the Government should step in so that people can have affordable rams.
Also companies, institutions and the government should help their workers by giving them 1 by 6 in order that both Muslims and non-Muslims can enjoy the Tobaski, Christmas and New Year.
People should also be vigilant of thieves around certain areas. At night the youth should be vigilant in their communities so that the designs of such thieves to steal people’s rams could be thwarted.
From the humanitarian front, the haves should make it a point of duty to help the needy. People should also extend helping hand to our Imams who, by virtue of the demands of their status, cannot engage in gainful employment. Finally we would like to use this opportunity to urge the Supreme Islamic Council to make enough consultation with other Muslims around the country before announcing a date for any Muslim feast. In the light of the feast we should forgive and forget our past differences. We pray that the sick and infirm may have speedy recovery.
Happy Tobaski and Merry Christmas!!!