As we all know, Sallah was on Sunday. And Muslims in the bid to celebrate the successful completion of the 29/30 days go out with their loved ones to fun places, parks, restaurants and so on. In Ilorin, all roads lead to Palms Mall or Shoprite according to the average Ilorin person, it serves the sole purpose of amusement for majority of Ilorin people.
The tradition of “celebrating” Sallah at the mall sadly began around 2013 or thereabout when the mall was newly opened, however the crowd there wasn’t usually many. Often times majority go for the bread, if you don’t know Shoprite bread is loved by most Ilorin people now you know. People stand on queue for hours waiting for the bread.
I thought since it is 2017, the annoying crowd that gathers around the mall, precisely Shoprite would have reduced since there is recession, but I was in for a shocker! From the entrance to the parking lot to Hatlab that I was banking on, down to SHOPRITE!
Everywhere was filled with a sea of people. There was hardly an unoccupied space, everywhere was choked up with people. Where people are not posing in front of furniture stores and smudging their windows in the process, they are dragging crying babies who are yelling for the toy car they saw inside Shoprite. An unpleasant smell hit me as I strolled towards KFC, a combination of rotten beans water/spoilt egg/fufu I couldn’t breathe, everywhere was cramped up, I thought I was going to die of suffocation as I stumbled around in a daze infused by the foul smell, I nearly stepped on a mound of poop that was in front of KFC. I learnt one of kids left to wander by themselves did it. Luckily it was cleaned up before I could take a picture. But I still did anyways.
Shoprite itself which was the bone of contention was filled with a throng of people, say, 2000 are already inside, about 5000 people were outside standing and waiting for their turn to go inside shoprite. People pushed against each other, trip, fall, giggle and clap in excitement as the queue to enter Shoprite reduced. Some purposely hung around just to hang around! The whips and belts the security men wield and used in hitting them didn’t deter them and I wondered why humans would be content to be treated as animals and still go back.
“Nah wa Ilorin people o, they won’t buy anything inside. They just want to snap pictures” a woman in one of the stores around Shoprite grumbled, both of us took temporary refuge from the people in the store.
“I even heard they said all the Shoprite stores make more money than other Shoprite stores in the whole of Nigeria” she added. I couldn’t even bring myself to reply or contribute, I was dumbfounded as I watch soldiers storming into Shoprite and trying to maintain law and order.
“This looks like a zombie apocalypse” Ahmed added with a mocking smile on his face.
“What if all the people outside turn into vampires? Where are we all going to hide?” I asked totally lost in thought as another security man roughly pushed some guys away,one of the guys, tripped and fell and went to join the queue again.
When we finally decided it was safe to pass through the crowd, some boys and security men were involved in an altercation that resulted into one of the boys getting whipped mercilessly.
As I left Shoprite. I wondered what happened, what went wrong? What ever happened to Kwara State amusement park? And whatever happened to succoth? Why did the mall, a place to get stuff turn into an amusement centre all of a sudden? What is wrong with us? Why is everything and everyone going mad? And Ameen, who I met at the scene told me Shoprite and the stores around it are the best hangout spots in Ilorin, so what are they to do?.
Then I better keep quiet.