Uganda: Inflation Takes a Toll on Ramadan

 

Mr Farouq Semaganda, a lawyer and staunch Muslim says, the season calls for making extreme sacrifices and extending donations to the needy. It also dictates that Muslims feed well at stipulated times and share food with as many people as possible. During Ramadan, Muslims are also called upon to pray and always appear smart. But with prices of domestic products constantly rising, the fasting period has proved to be hard for the Muslim community.

Isaac Sejjombwe says because of the high prices which are almost becoming a trend, he decided to buy only what he can afford. But because of the current constant power shortages, he has to spend Shs400 on candles to use when he wakes up to pray and eat Dhaku so he buys less food. For him, good feeding in Ramadan has been by far the least observed requirement this Ramadan because of the prices.

Sheikhat Mastula Nakanwagi, a female Muslim leader also says as leaders, they were forced to allow some families to discourage children from fasting since most could not afford to offer the youngsters descent meals to break the fast.

Less donations made

Sheikhat Mastula says she has in the past headed mobilisations that have seen fellow Muslim women collect lots of food stuff and donate to other women in slums and rural areas. “But things are way different this time; we used to collect between 150 to 250 kilogrammes of sugar and rice every week for donation but this time we were only able to collect 10 kilograms of sugar and rice for our visit to Kyankwazi.

Haruna Musisi, a journalist, has for nine years, broken his fast at Hotel Africana. “The hotel proprietor Hajji Bulayimu Kibirige always served free food to his friends, family and scribes that could be for futari. This time round, the hotel management restricted the meal to only a few. The number came down from about 300 people to less than 100 people,” Musisi said.

On the streets of Kampala are hordes of beggars and street children. Truth is, only a few of them are Muslims at on the start of the fasting season, the beggars lay a common strategy – they target Muslims. “During the fasting period, whenever my friends and I see anyone in a Muslim outfit, we know he/she has to give us something,” said James Otim, a beggar and street child at the Jinja road traffic lights.

However, according to Otim, this Ramadan has been the worst in his five-year street-life: “Lots of Muslims used to buy food stuff and clothing from Uchumi and donate to us but only one woman did that two weeks ago. Muslims are not as generous these days.”

 

Another beggar, Mzee, a non-Muslim who strategically wears Muslim attire on Fridays and during fasting says, “These days a few Muslims offer me money and it’s all in small denominations. The highest I’ve got this Ramadan is Shs10,000 compared to a Shs200,000 donation I got last year.” Mzee is also worried because with just days to Idd, he has only been promised an invite for Idd celebration by Hotel Africana yet in the past he would get about five invites.

Trade affected

Idd Kabugo, a trader dealing in Muslim clothing in Nakasero, is worried. He says, “I used to stock almost five times during Ramadan but I’m just about to complete my first stock since the season started.”

Kabugo says many people have resorted to cheaper tailor-made kanzus and customers that always bought clothes for their entire families now buy only for their wives. Mohammad Kitaka, a wholesale trader in Kikuubo, is a supplier of food stuff like rice and spices used to prepare pillao. Kitaka says he has been able to sell enough but the quantities different mosques take have changed drastically.

Although he is still hopeful that his stock will be finished by Idd, Kitaka says he will not donate a free bag of rice to each of the mosques he supplies like he has done in the past. “I will donate to only a few mosques that have consumed the most. I have not made a lot of profit from this season’s sale but as a believer, I’ve to honour the instruction to donate,” Kitaka adds. This has been one of the hardest Ramadan seasons for Muslims in Uganda. With Idd day a day away, many families may not enjoy it like they have in the past.

Source: The Monitor

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