Image via TONL

Here's How Young African Muslims Are Commemorating Ramadan

As Ramadan begins, our readers tell us how they observe the Holy Month.

Today marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Holy Month, in which the world's nearly 2 billion Muslims take part in month-long fasting, prayer, reflection and fellowship.

It's undoubtedly a significant and memorable time for those who practice the Muslim faith both on the continent and in the diaspora. Knowing this, we asked our Muslim readers to share how they observe the Holy Month. Many recalled precious memories about time spent with their families, friends and loved ones, others shared the unique foods and traditions they took part in during the time, and described their Eid celebrations.

Folks spoke enthusiastically about what Ramadan means to them, and how it's shaped their faith. "Ramadan really is a month where Muslims are on a spiritual high. It's a month full of reward," says one reader. Read on for more responses.

What traditions do you and your family partake in during Ramadan?

"We all wake up together to eat the morning meal( suhoor) then pray together and read the Quran. When it is time to break our fast (iftar) we also break our fast together and eat together then pray."—Kassoum, Mali.

"Alhamdulillah, my father usually gathered us and invited our neighbors to join us during Iftar (sunset) to eat and drink together after that he lead us in prayer."—Hamza Uba Muhammad, Nigeria

"At the end of each beautiful day my family makes a huge feast we cook puff puffs, chapati, stew, rice, pasta, my favourite mango shakes and more. We sit at the table as a family and share our day."—Aisha, Somalia

"We get together as a family every Iftar, we cook a huge meal which include traditional Eritrean food like injera and sauces and then we break fast together. Afterwards, we go to the local mosque to pray."—Fatuma, Eritrea

"On the day before Ramadan, there is so much excitement. It literally is a buzzing feeling. Ramadan really is a month where Muslims are on a spiritual high. It's a month full of reward; and although it might seem like a 'Starve fest', we are tasked to fast for the purpose of gaining more God consciousness. We learn that if we can leave permissible things like (drinking, eating, intimacy) for a few hours, it is possible for us to leave harmful actions towards ourselves and others too.

Once the sighting of the moon occurs, a pre-dawn meal is prepared beforehand for the following morning. The weeks before Ramadan is when our parents go into 'African parent' mode (as if they ever leave it lol). My mother speaks of stocking up plum tomato cans, rice, onions and juice. But I know she means well. It is always better to be prepared. When the moon is sighted anywhere across the world, the last day before the month of Ramadan, this signals beginning of Ramadan.This first meal we cook for Ramadan tends to be stew with goats meat and bread. After that we head off to the mosque for voluntary night prayers called Taraweeh, to welcome in the month. For 30 nights, during these prayers, the whole Qur'an tends to be reciting. Our observations during Ramadan is based on reciting and pondering over the Qur'an's verses , giving charity, visiting the sick, asking for forgiveness for your selves and others; and listening to religious programming via television, audio or online.

It's an opportunity for me to learn more about my faith. I tend to use it for quiet reflection, spending time in my thoughts. I always try and attend my local mosques where there is an an amazing feeling of community and brotherhood. Personally, I think it's the best bit about Ramadan, simply because I think generally, we are all so used to getting caught up, that we don't always make time for our loved ones.

"We learn that if we can leave permissible things like (drinking, eating, intimacy) for a few hours, it is possible for us to leave harmful actions towards ourselves and others too."

Eid is always a hectic affair. Make no mistake about it. It is not any different from getting ready for a wedding, prom night or any illustrious occasion. And when you live in a house full of women, it is always an interesting affair. We tend to wear our loose traditional and colourful African garments which is consistent with other West African clothing; particularly 'gara'. It is not part of my culture exclusively, but I can at times wear henna and draw henna on my sister's hands. We tend to eat a sweet rice porridge in the morning called 'Pap'. The morning of Eid is one morning I find most intriguing because after thirty days of fasting, when you are not used to eating at a certain time, your body adjusts , so you might not find yourself eating too much to begin with. Following that, I tend to go to my local mosque to perform the Eid prayers to thank God for going through the month. The day is known as Eid-Ul-Fitr, means 'Breaking of the Fast'. After an early lunch of jollof rice and chicken or Egusi soup with pounded yam, I tend to visit my friends or hang out in Eid festivities outside."—Adama Munu, Sierra Leone-Guinea

"I live alone in the UK, so it's a bit harder to fast alone and to not be with my family. Nonetheless it's also a way to be with myself again, to listen to my body, and to be patient. It's a big challenge, but you also end up learning a lot about the power of self-discipline."—Nihal, Morocco

"We always prepare the meal together and eat together and we pray the 5 prayers all together too!"—Yasmina, Morocco

Are there any traditions unique to your culture?

"In my culture during Ramadan we cook different dishes everyday and bring it to the Masjid for the fasting people."—Kassoum

"Yes. Gathering in one house to eat and share in the Ramadan spirit."—Hamza Uba Muhammad

"Definitely the food. Also once we make the food my mom makes extras and we give it to our neighbours non-muslims and muslims. Later when we go to pray I see alot of African women wearing their cultural clothing to pray in and it warms my heart because it takes me right back to Africa."—Aisha

"We wake up around dawn for breakfast, we eat this particular food called Gaat which contains a lot of cardboydrates and there is a long held tradition that tells us if we eat, we won't be hungry until iftar time!"—Fatuma

"We have this tradition in Sierra Leone called 'Sunnahkati'. Lol I don't know what it means linguistically, but it refers to cooking a large meal or meals for your dearest and nearest and it tends to be anything from broths, to plantain, chicken or fried fish. Growing up, I always found that part of Ramadan exciting because it was an opportunity to go and visit friends and family members I had not seen in a long time. There is a saying in our religion that the 'upper hand is better than the lower hand'. That is to say that giving in charity and goodness than receiving it which is what I think 'Sunnakati' represents. Because feeding others and maintaining good relations with our families are seen as good actions, its an opportunity to seek multiple good works and find the value in those things that we take for granted today."—Adama Munu

"A lot of food when it's time for Iftar, the girls put henna on our hands the day before Eid and buy new clothes."—Yasmina

Image via TONL

How do you observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid in your family's home country?

"In Mali Ramadan is very special and unique. It is that time of the year when you get to see your distance relatives and share a meal and prayer with."—Kassoum

Wallahi, I feel more peaceful and secure during the holy month of Ramadan. On Eid day me and my family and friends would drive to an amusement park or film house to cheer up—Hamza Uba Muhammad

"We get our henna done and we makes deserts the night before eid and place it on the table the morning of eid and then we go to prayer wearing our new clothes and everybody is just happy. It's a beautiful moment ."—Aisha

"The only time that I have ever observed Eid in my family's home country was when I was abroad filming a documentary. It was quite surreal, but it was amazing seeing so many people partake in Eid. Eid is a national holiday in Sierra Leone as it is a Muslim majority country. It was amazing seeing so many people in the streets praying their Eid prayers which I had never seen before. I was fortunate enough to pray the eid prayer in our National Stadium, which was pretty cool. I met some cool people there too."—Adama Munu

"All families eat and pray together, which is a beautiful way to celebrate this holy month."—Nihal

"We all gather in one house and we give food to the poor."—Yasmina

What does Ramadan mean to you?

"Ramadan means to me to pray and ask for forgiveness. It is that time of the year when family get really tied together."—Kassoum

"A month that I feel I am closer to Allah and His mercies."—Hamza Uba Muhammad

"Ramadan is a very beautiful time and it means alot to me besides the food, it's a time were I get to take advantage of asking for forgiveness and cleansing my soul."—Aisha

"Ramadan means quality time with practicing our religion, quality time with family and friends, and truly getting to the business of becoming a better person in the time of the blessed month."—Fatuma

"Ramadan is the opportunity to know my truest potential on a spiritual plane. That a whole month is devoted to seeking greater awareness of God, show how it is a powerful aspect of Islam; as it adjusts how you look at life and how we should treat ourselves and others"—Adama Munu

"Patience, courage, and generosity."—Nihal

"A moment of peace, a moment where I concentrate on my relationship between God and me, a moment to think about the poor and the orphans"—Yasmina


Stop What You're Doing Right Now and Watch Falz's New Video 'This Is Nigeria'

The Nigerian rapper tackles his country's social ills in his very own answer to Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

Nigerian rapper, Falz has been known to use his sharp brand of humor to address social ills in his country. Today he's taken it a step further with the release of a new song and video entitled "This is Nigeria" and the outcome is an audacious, decidedly necessary critique of Nigerian society inspired by Childish Gambino's viral video "This is America."

Falz opens the song with a voice over of his father the lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, discussing the consequences of rampant corruption and exploitation, before adding his own cutting criticism: "This is Nigeria, look how I'm living now, look how I'm living now. Everybody be criminal," he rhymes as chaos ensues all around him.

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Photo courtesy of Nike

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The story behind the bold new uniforms the Super Eagles will be wearing at this year's World Cup.

Partner content from Nike

The new Nigeria football kits are not even out yet, but they're already causing pandemonium with Nigerian press reporting that there have been already 3 million worldwide orders. And it's easy to see why—the designs are daring with a bold nod to Nigerian culture that is very in vogue right now. In addition, UK Grime MCs with Nigerian roots, Skepta and Tinie Tempah have already been photographed in the new jerseys causing a surge of social media chatter about the new look.

But while rock star endorsements and an edgy new design will certainly bring attention, there's no doubt that the real bulk of the demand is due to what is ramping up to be a significant moment in the history of Nigerian football—the 2018 World Cup.

If you don't already know, Nigeria is entering this year's World Cup in Russia with some of the most exciting young players we've seen in years. With youthful talent like Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho—all 21—and veteran Olympic captain Jon Obi Mikel ready to take the field in Moscow all eyes are on Nigeria to advance out of Group D and challenge the world for a chance at the cup.

The plan here is to outdo the teams previous international achievement, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in men's football which is commemorated on the home kit with a badge recolored in the colors of the '96 gold medal-winning "Dream Team."

The home kit also pays subtle homage to Nigeria's '94 shirt— the first Nigerian team to qualify for the tournament—with its eagle wing-inspired black-and-white sleeve and green torso. But if the allusion to the pasty is subtle, the new supercharged patterns are anything but.

The look of the kit feels particularly in touch with what's going on in youth fashion both in Nigeria and the world and that's no accident. Much of the collection comes in bold print, both floral and Ankara-inspired chevrons, ideas that we've seen entering street wear collections and on the runway in recent years. That's because African and Nigerian style has become a big deal internationally of late. And not just in style, the country's huge cultural industries from Nollywood to Afrobeats have announced themselves on the world stage. This cultural ascendance is reflected in the design.

Courtesy of Nike

"With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation," notes Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director. "We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities." Along with other members of the Nike Football design group, Farron dug into learning more about Nigeria's players, "We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture."

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Nigerian culture has gone global partly through its infectious energy but also because of its vibrant diaspora populations that bring it with them wherever they land. Lagos-born Alex Iwobi whose goal in the 73rd minute to qualified Nigeria for this summer's tournament spent most of his life in London but still reps Naija to the fullest.

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This similar energy can be felt in Nigerian communities from Brooklyn to Peckham and even in China. Naija culture is truly global and no doubt the fans will embody the Naija spirit wherever they will be watching the games this summer.

If you're wondering, Nike isn't simply hopping on the Nigeria bandwagon. The apparel company has been sponsoring the Nigerian football since 2015, supplying kits to all nine of the Nigeria Football Federation teams at every level, including the men's and women's senior teams, men's and women's under-20 teams, men's and women's under-17 teams, men's and women's Olympic teams, and the men's beach football team.

So while the kit is available for purchase worldwide June 1, just know that you'll be competing with millions to get your own official shirts for the World Cup. If you are in New York, find the kit for sale exclusively at Nike's 21 Mercer store.

And please join OkayAfrica and Nike on June 2nd for Naija Worldwide as we celebrate Team Nigeria's journey to Russia in style.


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