Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Ramadan and Breaking Fast

Breaking Fast

Breaking fast at the end of each Ramadan day is for many Muslims a wonderful ritual. Nigeria’s President Buhari is using the Iftar, or breaking fast, as a time to entertain.

Blogger says breaking fast at state expense is wrong

President Buhari at end of his first year

Pulse, a Ghanaian online news source, has a blogger Leo Igwe who says Buhari should not do this. He calls it a misuse of state funds.

On July 3 he said, “Nobody is against the president breaking his fast during this month of Ramadan.

He has the right to do so as a Muslim. However, breaking Ramadan fast should be the president’s private, not official business. . . Breaking Ramadan fast is not a state function and should not be organized at state expense.”

I don’t agree. I believe it’s an appropriate use of Naira budgeted for entertaining.

Inviting diplomats, politicians, government employees, and religious leaders, as Buhari has done, to share the ritual of breaking fast seems reasonable for a Muslim head of state. He or she can’t hold a cocktail party. He or she can’t invite people to a state dinner during Ramadan.

If Obama were Muslim as a few people tried to claim early on, he would have to use the time of breaking fast for entertaining during the month of Ramadan, and I think that would be fine!

What do you think?

Blowing the candles

Kenechi blowing out his candles.

Kenechi’s Birthday

Our grandson Kenechi turned 21 on July 4! We decided against lunch out in favor of barbecued ribs prepared by his dad.

My sister Beth and I had ordered the cake on Saturday. My husband Clem suggested we add Nwoke to the birthday greeting. Nwoke is the Igbo word for man. Calling him Nwoke indicates that he has reached adulthood.

Once we decided to eat in, Kelvin shopped. Then while he prepared the ribs, I chilled the champagne and wine, prepared the corn on the cob and green beans, and set the table.

Daughter Beth took others to Compo Beach. Her almost 17-year old daughter Nkiru had brought her boyfriend Connor along for the weekend. They took three-year-old Ikem and my sister Beth who loves the beach.

The ribs were fabulous – Kelvin is an expert! Green beans and corn delicious. Cake fabulous. Clem made a brief speech to explain Nwoke and welcome Kenechi to manhood.

Cake icing was soft, candles tilted.

Nwoke Kenechi. Just realized the 1 is backwards!

The champagne toast for Kenechi was a fitting conclusion.

The End of the Ogbanje Story

In the middle of June I wrote about a major difficulty Clem’s parents faced. I promised to tell you how the story ended.

Here’s a quick reminder if you don’t want to go back to read it! Their first two sons were born before they left the logging company where Clem’s father worked.

They went to Onitsha where Mama, as we all called Clem’s mother, had two more children, both girls. She spaced them at the usual Igbo interval of two years.

Then she lost three babies, all boys, who died within a year or two of their birth. Clem remembers this period that was so frightening.

After this, Papa decided to consult an oracle or shaman, known in Igbo as a dibia.

To seek the help of a dibia was not an affront to their Christian beliefs. Their Christianity was sincere, but traditional practices did not disappear with the adoption of a new religion.

Nor did they see any contradiction. They were simply taking advantage of all possible resources to solve the problem of the child deaths.

They went to Nanka to see the dibia. The dibia told them the babies were ogbanje and their older children could be also be at risk.

In Igbo culture an ogbanje is a child who keeps being born, dying, and returning. Parents are grief-stricken when this happens.

at the beach

Beth and Ikem at Compo Beach

The belief was that the ogbanje would hide something, “the Iyi-uwa. The Iyi-uwa was the Obanje’s way of coming back to the world and also a way of finding its targeted family.” If the object was found and destroyed, it “would ensure the Ogbanje would never plague the family with misfortune again. ”

Sometimes the child who died would be mutilated to prevent the return. Even then, some ogbanje were said to come back with the marks of the mutilation.

According to Wikipedia’s article where this information is found, “Sickle cell anaemia might have contributed to this belief, as the inheritance of the disease within families may have led people to conclude that the children involved were all from the same malevolent spirit.

Ikem at beach

Ikem at Compo Beach

In the case of Clem’s family, the dibia recommended a special ogbanje oracle, another traditional healer, who could ensure that future babies would not have the curse. He would also test the older children.

The oracle came to their home in Nanka. He had each child hold out his or her hands, palms up, and he inspected them closely. “I was shaking with fear!” Clem said.

The oracle found that two of the children, Godwin and Edna, were ogbanje, while Clement and Monica were not.

He had the parents dig in the compound until they found objects that the oracle declared were what the ogbanje children had hidden. When those objects were destroyed, he declared the children healed and Mama free of having any more ogbanje babies.

Mama cried with relief at being free from the fear of more ogbanje. There were no more child deaths and she had three more children, a boy and two girls. “We did not really feel safe until Geoffrey, the next child, was three years old,” Clem says.

Jupiter Space Probe

I’m very excited about the Juno space probe reaching Jupiter. Do you follow Nasa’s news?

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.