This is an exciting time of the year for most Africans as many celebrate various holidays and traditions that involve travel, buying presents and cooking special meals. But, the economic crisis is being felt around the globe and like much of the rest of the world, the rising cost of living is affecting the way many on the continent are spending their money this holiday season.
Okwudili Ojukwu-Enendu, former editor of Lagos-based BusinessDay, has been watching this trend in Nigeria. English to Africa reporter Kim Lewis asked him how they’re being affected by the economic crisis. Ojukwu-Enendu said, “The Yuletide is a prime holiday in Nigeria and this year both the Muslim festival of Eid Mubarak and the Christian festival of Christmas fall into the same month. This is the prime holiday season in Nigeria, but you don’t feel it outside of the fact that there are Christmas carols you barely get a sense of Christmas. The only thing you see is just the Christmas decorations, buildings are scantily decorated. Besides that, the volume of shopping is very depressed."
"It’s not all of the time," he said, "but this time around Nigeria is really hit. Nigeria’s stock market crashed just before the global meltdown and the first signs of this were when foreign investors in the Nigeria capital market pulled their funds. So the market is really depressed in Nigeria.”
As far as families spending during this holiday season, Ojukwu-Enendu said “right now families are spending their money usually at this time. People buy a lot of rice. Rice is a staple food in Nigeria, bought and sold during this season and given out as gifts. But I don’t see a lot of that happening presently.”
This is also the time of the year when many Nigerians travel to see family and friends. Kim asked Ojukwu-Enendu if the economic crisis has affected the way families are traveling. He explained, “Nigerians generally save for this particular season. They skimp on everything else and put some money aside for this particular season. Fortunately, for us here, the price of gasoline hasn’t risen. It has been constant for the past year, but there are other factors. The trouble in the [Niger] Delta, which has led to kidnaps for ransom and so on, has gotten into the Ibo heartland and a lot of Ibo middle class and upper class won’t travel this season.”
Ojukwu-Enendu also said the quantity of meat consumed for traditional holiday chicken and beef stews will be considerably less this season.