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Fear of leprosy prevents Sokoto indigenes from eating goat meat

Sokoto is peculiar for being the home of red goats in Nigeria and even Africa, thus you hardly see a house, especially in rural areas, where the red goat is not reared.

Daily Trust gathered that the state has the largest depot for red goats which is the Kara Market as, according to findings, no less than 5000 goats are supplied to markets across the 23 local government areas of the state, especially on Mondays and Fridays, and the market is patronized from across Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

The red goat is comparatively the cheapest in the bovidae family because with N4000, one can get a fairly matured red goat at Kara Market.

However, Daily Trust learnt that there are some indigenes of the state who do not eat goat meat for some traditional beliefs.

A professor of History at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Professor Mukhtar Umar Bunza, said this is an age-old tradition which is fast changing due to the advent of Izala sect and reorientation.

According to him, some do not eat goat meat because they believe it would make them behave like goats.

“You know goat is always noisy and stubborn, so they believe one can behave like that by eating its meat,” he said.

Another reason, he said, was their belief that the great Islamic Scholar and founder of Sokoto Caliphate, Sheikh Usman bin Fordiyo, did not eat goat meat and as such they too must follow his example. This category was mostly Fulanis of the Turankawa stock.

“But the advent of the Izala sect who have been promoting strict compliance with the practices of the Holy Prophet and with the upsurge of books personally written by Danfodiyo in the markets is changing the narrative on what to consume or not as Shehu had never written against eating goat meat,” he said.

Bello Abdullahi Tangaza, who is Fulani by tribe, said the fear of contacting leprosy is one of the reasons why some of their people do not eat goat meat and even cat fish.

Tangaza, who said he eats the meat, though it was not his favourite, said some people are allergic to goat meat, and therefore develop rashes on their bodies when they eat it.

“Once they eat it, rashes will appear all over their bodies which can lead to leprosy. It is true that some people believe that Danfodiyo did not eat goat meat during his lifetime but there was no evidence to support this claim because he was guided by the teachings of the Holy Prophet and goat meat was the favourite of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as such I don’t think Shehu would do something to the contrary,” he said.

Another resident of Sokoto, Abdullahi Hausawa, said that this belief “no longer exist” because greater percentage of our people now eat goat meat.

Corroborating this, a butcher at Yar Ujili, a suburb known for goat meat business, Alhaji Abubakar Mainama, said before the current economic hardship in the state, they were slaughtering about 100 goats for sale and their customers include Hausas, Yorubas and the Fulfulde tribe, among others.

“So, if they were not eating it before, they are doing so now and nothing is happening to them. People come all the way from the town to buy goat meat here. Before, we used to slaughter at least 100 goats daily but now we hardly slaughter five because people don’t have money,” he said.

Having been in business for decades, he could easily identify those allergic to goat meat, saying there are some who could develop rashes by merely touching the goat skin.

“I know one man who has been in hides and skin business, once he touches goat skin, rashes would appear on his body,” he said.

Malam Abdulmumin, who deals in leather works in the state, asked if the people were not eating goat meat, where would they get goat skins for leather works.

“This is mere speculation because goat meat was the most used during maulud festivals in the state because of their low cost and delicious taste,” he said.

However, Malama Zainab Abubakar, a housewife, said she doesn’t eat goat meat because of rashes.

According to her, eating goat meat gives her allergic reactions of rashes and so she stopped.

She added that she could identify goat meat no matter how well it was cooked because of its aroma.

A goat dealer at Kara Market, Muhammmad Sani Mai Akuya, recalled a mad rush for goat during the last eid festival, which he said was an indication of reorientation among the people.

According to him, he could sell over 20 goats in a day during peak period and their customers cut across tribes.

“You know our goat specie is rated among the best in the world and there was even an attempt by the state government to export goat meat to Europe but I don’t know what is delaying the programme,” he said.

He called for the intervention of government in goat business which he said is being threatened by lack of fund.

According to him, many people have left the business since their relocation to new Kara market, because they lost their capitals.

Muhammad Ali Hamza, a chief nutritional officer at the Sokoto State ministry of health, said not eating goat meat for fear of contacting leprosy is just a superstitious belief by some individuals, noting that the meat has no harmful effect to the human body.

According to him, goat meat is one of the best in terms of nutritional quality, which is why some people prefer it to other meats.

A hematologist, Dr Bello Hali, said some people are allergic to goat meat. “These people react to goat meat even when they eat it unknowingly. So, it is not a belief or speculation,” he said.

Fear of leprosy prevents Sokoto indigenes from eating goat meat