Ramadan Meal: Survival of the Fittest for Almajiris in Gombe

For Jamilu and Amir, Gombe-based Almajiri students; fasting is one of the toughest times as they double their hustle to get pre-dawn (sahur) and evening meals (iftar). 

The two boys have no idea about their ages. One of them left home three years ago and the other, a year ago to join the traditional Islamic boarding school in Gombe. The schooling system is known as ‘Almajiranci’.

Amir, the seemingly younger of the two, who was brought three years ago from Bura, Bauchi State [by an uncle] from Bura, Bauchi state, told WikkiTimes that he lacked food to eat for sahur on the first day of Ramadan.

Almajiris, predominant in the Northern part of Nigeria, are known for going door-to-door, begging for food on a daily basis. Despite being students, neither their teachers nor parents are saddled with the responsibility of feeding them. They fend for themselves.

“My colleagues and I woke up around 2am,” Amir told WikkiTines. “It is normal for us during Ramadan. On the first day of Ramadan, I went round many houses begging for food but couldn’t get a morsel until prayers were called. I had to fast on an empty stomach. The same thing happened the following day.”

When they could not get food for sahur, their teachers advised them to stop fasting. And when luck works for them, they get garri from their teachers. As loyal students, they also give the meals they got to their teachers in return.

“Whenever we beg for food and we are given delicious meals, we preserve some or all for our Mallams. That is how you become their favorites and anything you need Garri, they don’t hesitate to give you some,” said Jamilu. 

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“We are normally flogged when our Mallams realize we ate something and leave them out of it,”  he revealed.

Almajiranci refers to a system of Islamic education practiced in northern Nigeria. A male gender seeking Islam knowledge is called Almajiri, his female counterpart is Almajira, and the plural is Almajirai. The system encourages parents to leave parental responsibilities to the society.


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