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Street Diaries: How undocumented migrants celebrated Eid-al Adha

Homelessness follows a whole subculture in which people who find themselves in impoverished situations do not forget their faith.

The early morning hours of Friday July 31 were filled with sounds from utensils, dishes, and mooing of cows. Our curiosity led us into the deepest side of a community. Tied to posts littered in the community were indeed giant cows to be used for the great sacrifice in Islam.

The celebrative mood encountered by ZAMI Reports team though festive, provoked concern and we wondered if the Covid-19 pandemic had been recognized by dwellers of the Abossey Okai Zongo communit. There were evidences of thriving economic activities in the community which did not exhibit signs of social distancing protocols.

Under this charged atmosphere,  it was almost difficult to distinguish between natives and street squatters. Mothers bathed their children and got them ready for the big day.

Some children were seen busy parading up and down, it was obvious they knew what the day signifies in Islam. Ramose, 32, was getting her twin daughters and their elder sister ready.

The Nigerian is among the over one hundred undocumented migrants who spend each night on the streets of Abossey Okai. For Ramose, nothing could replace a celebration back home.

The Eid celebration was a perfect opportunity to take a “vacation” home with her children after staying in Ghana for nine months but perhaps for the next months, she just has to dream of a return.

Her twins, 6, and their elder sister, 8, have been her baits for survival. They engage in begging for alms on the streets of the capital city since their arrival in Ghana but for once, they were spared the push and shouts from passersby who did that to escape their “eagle eyes”.

Baba Seidu, also a Nigerian is in Ghana with his sick son, he celebrated the feast after the month of Ramadan in Ghana and wanted to observe this festival with his wife and seven children back at home after over a year of staying apart.

The celebration for him could be different if he had visited home because he had the hope of a complete celebration.

“Almost 5 month now, I wanted to go back to Niger, but they said the boarder is closed, my children are home waiting for me” he narrated.

Nevertheless, Saidu was proud to mention that he was able to uphold his paternal duty by sending GHS 150 to his family at home to shop for the festival.

Before any assistance from philanthropists, the squatters diligently  save towards this day according to Baba, the care taker of the squatters.

“The women had contributed for themselves to prepare their children a special meal”.

“As you can see for yourself, they are dressed special for today, they bought some of their clothes by themselves and some are gifts”, the caretaker of the squatters, Baba told ZAMI Reports.

We starred as mothers and their children boarded vehicles and headed for the prayer grounds. For once, they did not seem to be bothered about their place of abode and nothing could take off the joy of such a great day from them.

Some of the families went as far as Ghana’s Independence Square for the Eid prayers while others observed the prayers at the Abossey Okai Central Mosque.

It was clear the migrants will not spare any opportunity to return to their home countries but all they can wish for is for the government of Ghana to relax the border closures.

According to the Holy Qur’an, Eid-al Adha festival is based on the sacrifice of Ibrahim of a ram in place of his son Ishmael in testimony of his faith to Allah. The festival is marked with the giving of alms and gifts to neighbours.

Solidarity in the Islamic faith brings the community together. Community dwellers send both cooked and uncooked food to the squatters on such festive days and Eid-al Adha was no different.

One thing was certain, after the celebrations, the women and children will draw back to the front of the various stores on the streets of Abossey Okai to find shelter.

By: Nsiah Kwabena Collins and Fokwa Nkanwi Ambe|www.zamireports.com|Accra

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