RAMADAN IS NO JAMBOREE. Don’t say “e ku odun wa” (congratulations on this festival of ours) to me.
Written by Adebayo Rasheed Mabayoje
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim calendar, and a sacred period wherein Muslims are commanded to abstain from certain legitimate lifestyles. Most common and pronounced, according to jurisprudence, are abstainments from food and sexual interactions from dawn to dusk. Faithfulls must deprive themselves of other lifestyles, such as reducing rest hours at nights- keeping vigil, observing prayers and supplications to God.
So, coming from above snippet of what Ramadan relates, it worries the mind how a Muslim or anybody would great me, saying: “e ku odun wa yi”, which translates as meaning ‘congratulations on this festival of ours’. What are we celebrating, thirst and famishing?
If celebrations relates a social, enjoyable activity held to mark something, then, how could Ramadan, which basically teaches abstainment, deprivation and restriction, in order to gain piety, mean jamboree to a Muslim?
How did the idea of “e ku odun wa yi” or ‘happy celebration of this festival of ours’ come?
Typically, a festival is an organized series of concerts, plays, or performances, held annually in a community. Within the Yoruba tradition is the celebration of the Egungun festival, or festival of the masquerade.
Egungun festival is usually an annual celebration performed within the months of November to April when there is no rain, with the belief that their ancestor -ara-orun- should not have to surfer in the rain.
During these periods, adherents, particularly family houses who are natural co-ordinators of a particular egungun live in jollity of the efungun festivals when various special gatherings are organised, and public performances are witnessed. They prepare and serve variety of edibles, especially akara or bean-cake.
Between November and April, the common way of greeting each other, particularly amongst adherents of egungun tradition is “a ku odun egungun wa yi” or ‘congratulations on this egungun festival of ours’. This linguistic tradition never seemed to have seized, even after Islam was embraced by many within the Yoruba climes.
Yorubas came in contact with Islam around the 14th century during the reign of Mansa Kankan Musa of the Mali Empire.
Islam in Ancient Yoruba is referred to as “Esin Imale” (religion of the malians) as the earliest introduction of the religion to that region was through Malian itinerant traders (WangaraTraders). Large-scale conversion to Islam happened in the 17th century. However, the conversion, after several centuries, could not take out some residual linguistic traditions, as practiced, especially amongst Yorubas around the climes of Osun, Oyo and Ofa. This has caused negative impact on Islamic religious practice among some Yorubas.
Language as construction instrument, and representation of our society determines everything character of an individual. The effect of the egungun celebrations discourse- “e ku odun wa yi”, now brought forward into Ramadan period amongst some Yorubas, signals the levity by which such people would have taken injunctions regarding Ramadan.
This conclusion is arrived at, from the fact that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition. Language determines thought, hence linguistic categories in “e ku odun wa yi” limit and determines cognitive tendencies of levity, jollity and looseness in the users of such linguistic tradition, as far as Ramadan is concerned, and general Islamic practices by respect.
Ramadan, the period of which abstainment for 29 or 30 days from food and drink and legitimate sexual relationship is key, is no festive moment.
A large celebration or party, typically a lavish and boisterous one. It is a period of very serious religious business of thirst and famishing within specified hours of each of the 29 or 30 days of the Ramadan month. Muslim, at this period could not be said to be celebrating such abstainment. Celebration and abstainment do not go together. Celebration comes after 29 or 30 days of Ramadan. Until then, please don’t say “e ku odun wa” (happy celebrations) to me. Please keep the such greetings until after 29 or 30 days fast. Greet me: ‘e ku ise lada’.