The Many Firsts of My 2024 Sallah Celebration in Ilorin by Muhammad Abdullahi

By Muhammad Funsho Abdullahi

The 2024 Ileya festival (Eid-el-Kabir) would go down in my diary as one of the best I ever had, for the many reasons you would later read in this piece.

The celebration was awesome, with many firsts. As young Ilorin boys, it has always been one of our dreams to observe the Eid prayers under the same canopy with the highly referred Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari, CFR). This year, that childhood dream became a reality as I prayed alongside important dignitaries, many of whom are obviously outside my circumference of life.

Now, a bit of details.
On Sunday, the 16th of June 2024, we set out for Eid prayers as early as 8:00am. Ilorin, being a dedicated city of Islam, it is expected that the population at the Eid would be much, so it was important that we move out early. By the way, I was wearing the turban for the first time ever, so I had to be mindful of being caught up in the human traffic on the way to the prayer ground.

Muhammad Funsho Abdullahi

Moreover, I have witnessed in the past how difficult it could get for one to find his way to Eid due to huge crowd and traffic logjam. But despite the fact that we moved out early, there was still much crowd to contend with, even though it was well controlled with security officials at every junction, helping with traffic control and checkmating the overzealousness of some of the excited worshippers. I give Kudos to the Kwara State Government and the Eid committee for their responsiveness.

We had the Eid prayers, and it was a hugely successful one. In fact, being present at this year’s Eid gives me so much joy as an Ilorin boy. I had the privilege of observing the 2-rakkah-salat in close proximity to the Emir and other important personalities in Ilorin. After the prayers, I was able to receive royal blessings from the Emir and some of his Chiefs, including the Khalifah Adabiyah of Ilorin. May Allah continue His blessings and grant all of them long lives. Ameen.

On Monday, 17th of June, being the 2nd day of Ileya ( Eid-el-Kabir), I visited the home of one of the foremost grassroot politicians in Kwara State, Alhaji Wahab Oladimeji Issa on the invitation of his eldest son and my friend, Alhaji Bashir Issa. With me on the visit were the Special Assistant on Special Duties to Honourable Minister of State for Youth Development, Yakub Tunde Prudent; the Managing Editor of InsiderNg online Newspapers, Comrade Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadri (NTA) and some other friends and associates. We were well received with so much to eat and drink. Of course, we did not leave without some political tutorials delivered by the richly experienced Alhaji Wahab Issa. I pray he lives long in good health. Indeed, in Alhaji Issa, the emerging politicians of my generation are blessed with guiding compass.

Later, on the same day, our train moved to the venue of the 4th edition of Gbajumo Ilorin Hangout, an annual event put together by my very good friend, Bolaji Gobir, to celebrate our rich cultural heritage and serve as a networking platform for young people of Ilorin decent. The event presented a unique opportunity to reminisce about the culture and traditions of Ilorin, especially as experienced while growing up.

The 2024 edition of GIH, which was also the 4th, was tagged “Back to Madrasah,” and it took us down memory lane, reconnecting us to our childhood experiences as _Omo Ilekewu_. The event also witnessed performance from Alhaja Seida Fatimah Aljafariyah, a veteran ‘Islamic Singer’ we grew up listening to.

Tuesday, 18th of June 2024, was the grand finale of the annual Ilorin Emirate Durbar celebration. Durbar is a cultural and traditional celebration that brings together the people of the Emirate and the traditional/religious leaders.

The festival is used annually to honour the unique culture of Ilorin people and celebrate its rich prestige. It is also an occasion that honored the bond between our traditional rulers and our people, promoting unity in diversity and bringing everyone, old and young, together to rejoice for witnessing yet another beautiful Ileya festival. Even though yours sincerely was too scared to mount and ride a horse; I nonetheless adorned in my traditional attire and enjoyed every moment of the celebration.

Dountless, Ilorin Durbar remains the best in the whole of the North. It was a colourful cultural gathering that was well attended by people from far and near. I can’t wait for the next edition when I would have received proper training in horse riding. Until then, I invite friends who are non-indigenes to start getting prepared to come behold the solemn beauty of our culture this time next year.

Muhammad is the Chief of Staff to Minister of State for Youth Development. He writes from Abuja.

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