Ramadhan in Kenya*
Filmmaker: Yasser Ashour
Muslims have lived in Kenya for centuries and today make up about 11% of the country’s population. These communities live on the coast in cities like Mombasa – where nearly half of the city’s inhabitants are Muslim – and in the country’s northeast.
Ramadan in Kenya meets Muslims living in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi and captures their lives and culture in their homes, at work and in their places of worship.
They talk about what aspects of Ramadhan mean the most to them.
Aseef Akram is a 25-year-old halal butcher living in Mombasa. He talks about the “spirit of Ramadhan ” in the city, the culture of openness towards those who are fasting, and about breaking that fast with the coconut dishes of the region.
“For me [during Ramadhan], I tend to be most spiritually connected to my God, my creator,” says Akram.
In the western city of Kisumu, Fauza Asya Kombo picks and sells bananas for a living and is raising five children on her own after her husband died.
Although earning a livelihood can be a struggle, she says,
Arafat bin Taleb is, a sixth grader at a shelter for orphans, talks about the peace he gains from his Qur’anic studies and the importance of his faith in his life.
“When we’ve finished [iftar], we give any leftover bread to our neighbours. Food doesn’t go to waste … Wasting leads to non-belief.”
“To me, the month of Ramadhan acts like a guide. If I’ve made mistakes before Ramadhan, I’ll avoid making them once Ramadhan starts,” he says.
From the Qur’an memorisation competitions which attract children studying in madrassas in Tanzania and Uganda – to Akram’s family using the opportunity to eat together to break their fast, Ramadan in Kenya experiences the spirituality, traditions and significance of the holy month through the eyes of individuals who observe it.