THE number of people turning to dog meat (flesh and other palatable parts derived from dogs) for its undocumented health and spiritual benefits is snowballing, compelling sellers to open road side joints where they butcher and sell the meat, fresh or cooked. From Ibusa to Agbor, Ubuluku and Umunede in Delta State, you see men mostly in hidden or open kiosks demolishing plates of dog meat pepper soup, which they claim stands out from any other meats.
As a group of people gathered round a giant size cooking pot in front of a kiosk built with bamboo sticks at Abuedo Quarters, Ubulu-Uku, along the Umunede Ogwashi-Uku Road, Aniocha South Local Government Area, it did not strike one that they were negotiating the parts of a newly slaughtered dog meat.Some of the customers wanted to buy the parts and personally prepare them for their family members and friends.
“When you buy dog meat that is prepared by the road side, you really enjoy the meat, but it is a different experience when you use it to prepare soup,” said Tony, a slim built bus driver, who parked his Toyota Hiace bus, which he uses to ferry passengers from Agbor to Asaba to join the ‘dog meat’ queue.
Immunization against malaria
On why he eats the meat, he said it serves as an immunization for his family against malaria attack. “We use mosquitoes net in my house, but somehow mosquitoes still find their way into the house, and I know that dog meat fights malaria parasite,” he added.
Foils witches’ attack
For some, dog meat prevents them from being attacked by witches and wizards and even makes evil spiritual forces to flee from them. “I do not fear witches because like dogs that have penetrating eyes, witches too see and they feel I have powers that neutralizes their power,” said Ike Azuka, a teacher who said, “ I visit dog meat joint at least three times a week.”
Traditional doctors’ favourite
At Umunede, Ika North Local Government Area, Ansalem, who sells both dog and goat meats, depending on the animal he gets for the day, told Niger Delta Voice that he sells the bitter part of dog meat to traditional medicine practitioners, who pay upfront for it.
He also said that the increasing demand of the meat has led to the increase in price. “In the past, we used to buy a big dog for N3, 000 or N3, 500, but now people want to sell for N5,000 or more. That makes it very hard to make more than N2000 after sale.”
A dog met seller in Ibusa, Onyeka, who sometimes kills two dogs a day, and serves it with cooked yam, prepared with heavily- spiced pepper soup, said that he has heard some customers saying that dog meat eaters have fortified immune system that wards off any form of infection.
Onyeka, whose kiosk is proximate the Ibusa General Hospital, said that in the past, some customers used to send people to pick the meat for them, but they now walk in confidently to devour the meat. He said more people were eating the meat because of the good it does to the body.
“Whenever I kill dog meat, people hardly wait for me to finish its preparation before they start making demand,” he said.
Another seller, Success, who also runs a kiosk near Ibusa General Hospital, said that he hardly meets the demand of his customers, who according to him, range from the high to the low in the society.
In Orogun, dog is a deity
UGHELLI- DOG meat popularly referred to as ‘404’ by some people, and which they take immense pleasure in consuming, is a taboo at Orogun Kingdom, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State. In fact, dog is revered as a deity in the Urhobo countryside.
It was learned that ancestors of the land founded by a warrior called Orogun, practically worshiped the animal because it helped them in the time of war. Other animals worshiped by Orogun people are the iguana and tiger.
Dog assisted our forefathers in battle
A knowledgeable native, Mr. Innocent Efetobor, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice, said: “We forbid it because it is ‘erosofe,” and erosefe is our god. When the Orogun people fought wars in the olden days, dog assisted our forefathers in the battle field, hence we forbid it.”
“As a matter of fact, any woman who is not an indigene but married to Orogun man, is also forbidden from eating dog meat and any man who is not an indigene, but married to Orogun woman is also forbidden from eating it,” he asserted.
Deadly offence to eat dog
A prominent legal practitioner, who hails from Orogun, Mr Richard Omokor, also told Niger Delta Voice: “We do not eat dog meat at all; it is a taboo for any Orogun indigene, man or woman to eat dog meat.”
“As an Orogun man, I do not even use the plate used in eating dog meat to eat. If I go to anywhere they eat it, I do not eat. If I must use the plate, I will have to purify the plate with native chalk. We can rear it as a domestic animal and sell to people,” he added.
On why they forbid it, he said, “Frankly speaking, I do not know, I may have to reach out and get back to you. I grew up as child to meet it this way.
He, however, said, “Those who dare it and fail to appeal the gods are in their graves, it is as serious as that. So we do not gamble with it. Once you eat, your skin will begin to change, you will see colours.”
Iguana, dog, tiger are sacred animals
A community elder, who threw more light, told Niger Delta Voice, “Orogun is made up of five quarters, namely; Umusu, Unukpo, Imodje, Ogwa and Emonu. We have sacred animals in Orogun kingdom, namely iguana, dog and tiger. They are sacred animals.”