Thursday, May 23, 2024

During Ramadan, Local Bar Owners Grapple with Low Sales

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Photograph by Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi

The time is about a couple of minutes to 10 p.m. Because the multi-coloured gentle on the entrance of the bar beams above Mama Jay, she angrily fumbles the padlock of her bar. She struggles to suit the important thing into the keyhole. It’s not that the important thing doesn’t match or she couldn’t see clearly; she’s livid about her dwindling gross sales and the early closing time. This has been the norm because the tenth of March when Muslims started the annual Ramadan, a follow of abstaining from consuming and consuming from morning until daybreak. Previous to Ramadan, Mama Jay’s bar and restaurant buzzed with loud music and the clinking of quite a few alcohol bottles as clients streamed in. The day on the bar begins at 10 p.m. when clients trickle in twos and ones, ordering bottles of alcohol and consuming late into midnight or past.

Nevertheless it’s not simply the early closing time that angers Mama Jay, it’s how the holy month of Ramadan has led to a major discount in her clients and gross sales. “They’ve stopped coming since Ramadan began. Though Christians have additionally simply completed their fasting, it wasn’t as dangerous as this. It looks as if the vast majority of our clients, the ‘onifaaji’, at the moment are Muslims,” she says. Earlier than Ramadan, Mama Jay made about N30,000 every day, however her every day earnings now fluctuate between N10,000 and N15,000.

In Nigeria, Muslims account for greater than 50% of the entire inhabitants and observe Ramadan because the fourth pillar of Islam with nice devotion. When Ramadan attracts to an in depth, many bar homeowners discover themselves caught on the crossroads of religion and enterprise. The holy month has introduced vital modifications to their companies, with dwindling gross sales and a noticeable absence of normal clients. Yearly, in native and concrete areas, Nigerians spend billions of Naira on alcohol, however consumption of alcohol is prohibited for Muslims throughout and out of doors Ramadan. Nonetheless, some Muslims successfully solely abstain throughout Ramadan, like Alhaji Sikiru Adeyemi.

Alhaji Sikiru used to spend about N2,000 on alcohol earlier than Ramadan, consuming two to a few bottles of alcohol an evening and even shopping for some bottles for his pals. Nonetheless, since he began fasting, he’s been making a acutely aware effort to keep away from his common bar to withstand temptation.

“As a Muslim, anybody who goes close to a bar now’s akin to inviting the satan. It’s higher to remain away. When you strategy the bar, you’ve wasted all of your efforts,” Sikiru says. After I talked about that I used to be looking for a bar within the space, he gestured in the direction of a green-painted home with a white curtain overlaying the doorway, adorned with alcohol labels. As I used to be about to depart, he requested, “You’re not fasting?” That was once I realised he was a Muslim.

For Sikiru, Ramadan is a time for introspection and making a acutely aware effort to withstand temptation, though the sights and sounds from the bar typically tempt him. “No less than for one month, you need to be capable to management your self. If you happen to can’t try this, then what’s the purpose? You need to be capable to dedicate this month to God. I’m praying to God to take away consuming from my life,” he explains. Nonetheless, he plans to return on the evening of the Eid al-Fitr pageant.

Empty chairs inside Noble’s bar. Photograph by Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi

Like Mama Jay, Noble‘s bar additionally suffers from the influence on gross sales. Being a Muslim himself and a shopper of alcohol, he has been making a acutely aware effort to abstain, however his enterprise takes the brunt of it. Whereas bars usually open by 12 midday and shut late into the evening, Noble used to maintain his bar open from midday until midnight, serving clients and filling his fridge with a wide range of alcohol. Ramadan has now compelled him to shut by 8 or 9 p.m., along with his fridge stocked with bottles of water, and solely serving about three clients a day.

Whereas explaining the decline in his patronage, Noble says, “It’s not that almost all of consumers are Muslims, however beer parlours are like household homes. As a Christian, when your Muslim buddy isn’t there, or when your Muslim buddy isn’t sharing a drink with you, it simply doesn’t really feel proper.” He used to make about N30,000 to N40,000 every day, however because the starting of Ramadan, he hardly makes N4,000 in a day.

“Ramadan empties the bar, and making gross sales turns into extremely troublesome. There have been days, across the fifteenth day of Ramadan, once I didn’t see a single particular person stroll into my bar,” he says. Mama Jay mentions that a few of her Muslim clients nonetheless come at evening after breaking their quick to “catch a whiff of alcohol or have a drag of a cigar. I can’t anticipate Ramadan to finish.”

As Ramadan approaches its ultimate days, each Mama Jay and Noble are optimistic a couple of return to regular enterprise.

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