Food aid for families marks end of Ramadan in Africa

On Tuesday, volunteers in Cape Town continued a practice that began nearly 40 years ago in South Africa during the height of apartheid, offering a plate of food to less fortunate families to mark the conclusion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

This time, their humanitarian act takes on new urgency, since spiraling inflation fueled by the Ukraine crisis has pushed up essential food costs, making life more difficult for cash-strapped people in Africa’s most sophisticated economy.

The hot pots of delicious akhni – a rice, potato, and meat dish – will be delivered to feed more than 90,000 people of all faiths in Cape Town, the spiritual birthplace of Islam in South Africa, following late evening prayers on Monday.

“There is an enhanced need for generosity of spirit in Islam, particularly during Ramadan,” said Sheikh Sadullah Khan, one of the co-founders of Nakhlistan, a non-profit organization founded in 1984.

“You can’t even enjoy Eid until you help someone who is in need someplace.”

Millions of Muslims worldwide celebrated the Islamic festival, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the conclusion of a month-long dawn to sunset fasting season of Ramadan.

Rows of giant 130-litre pots stood on an empty rugby field, stirred for hours with a wooden oar-like board to prepare tonnes of food for delivery to some of Cape Town’s poorest neighborhoods, including prisoners.

“I honestly feel glad because you know there’s a lot of people who don’t have (food) and poverty is real on this side (where we reside),” Tamia Galant, one of the Bishop Lavis beneficiaries, said.

According to South Africa’s Household Affordability Index, the cost of the average household food basket grew by 8.2 percent , or 344 Rand ($21.34) year-on-year in April, to reach 4,543 Rand compared to last year’s rates.

The high cost of basic foods has resulted in the omission of a range of nutritious foods from family meals, affecting household health and slowing child development, according to a research issued last month.

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