Like it or not, japa has become part and parcel of the Nigerian reality. In most families, at least one person has left the country to start afresh (in saner climes).

But starting afresh for the japa-ee also often means loneliness, a feeling that’s emphasised during festive periods. I asked 6 Nigerian Muslims living abroad what celebrating Eid-Al-Fitr was like in a strange land without family.

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Rofiat*, 26, Canada

I’ve only been here for about four months, and getting into Ramadan this year was difficult. I always missed Sahur, and Iftar required serious calculation to be sure I was breaking my fast at the right time because the sun here has a mind of its own. I never had to worry about this back home because it was a family thing; we all looked out for each other. I couldn’t really celebrate Eid because I didn’t think I did my best during Ramadan, and I felt guilty. Plus, there’s no public holiday here, so I just had a cup of ramen noodles after classes and cried myself to sleep.

Banji*, 30, UK

For the first time this year, I spent Eid with my mum’s former student’s family. It was great; there was food, and I got to play with her kids.

When I first arrived in the UK in 2022, I spent Eid alone, and it was so depressing. My mum suggested I connect with her ex-student, and I thought it’d be weird. Like, how do I just appear at your door to eat rice? But when loneliness wanted to finish me again in 2023, no one told me before I found myself at her house. 

Hamid, 29, Canada

Eid always reminds me that I’m all alone in a no-mans-land. Back home, every Eid was a big deal. We’d kill rams — even for Eid-al-Fitr when it’s not compulsory — and everyone would gather at our olori-ebi’s house.

I’ve been in Canada for about a year, and there’s a stark difference. I spent this year’s Eid at work and returned home alone to my cold apartment. In all, we thank Allah. 

Jola, 24, US

I spent Eid cooking up several pots of rice and soups. I had to store most of it in the freezer to eat for the rest of the month, but cooking that much helps me feel connected to my family. We always cook up a storm for holidays in Nigeria, so, in a way, I’m still holding on to family traditions.

Bolajoko, 29, UAE

Maybe it’s because I live in a Muslim country, but I hardly feel alone in Dubai even though I have no family here. I spent this year’s celebration with friends (some of whom relocated from Nigeria, too), and we ate together in someone’s house after Eid prayers.

Ranti, 23, Ireland

I celebrated Eid by dressing up just to sit down in my apartment. I took pictures, so I guess that’s better than nothing. It’s my first Eid alone, away from home. I hope to have connected with more Muslims around my area before Sallah later in the year, so it’s not so lonely.

*Some names have been changed for anonymity. 

NEXT READ: Strictly Halal Activities That’ll Take Your Eid-Al-Fitr Celebration from Zero to 100



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