By Isaac Shobayo
Since the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, imported Ebola Virus Disease (AVD) into the country, Nigerians have been living in fear and taking various precautionary measures to stave off the pandemic whose mention sends jitter down the spine of many. The phobia it is creating is gradually taking toll on the lifestyle and businesses of quite a number of people.
From all indications, these are not the best of times for bush meat sellers and those whose delicacies are bush meat and whose consumption is considered one of the ways through which the deadly virus could be contacted. In Jos, the Plateau State capital, Arewa investigation revealed that those who eke out a livelihood by selling bush meat raw and as pepper soup at various eatery and relaxation spots are recording low patronage while many of those selling the delicacies raw have been forced out of the market.
When Arewa visited the Katako market considered a depot of bush meat in Jos and its environs, it was a lull, not business as usual. The number of people especially those who thronged the market to buy in small quantity had reduced drastically, while the few who were still in the business wore long faces due to low patronage.
Mrs Ngozi Madabuchi, who volunteered to speak with Arewa, said many of her customers had stopped coming due to the assertion that they could contact EVD through bush beat, adding that apart from not wanting to eat the meat, many didn’t want see the meat on the premise that it was scaring.
According to her, part of the method being adopted to encourage the customers is through intense smoking of the meat to kill any likely germ, but she, however, added that there was a limit to which the meat could be roasted, otherwise, it would lose its taste and flavour.
Another seller, who is also grappling with low patronage, Aminu Maiwada, blamed government for not giving adequate explanation and for its over generalisation on the Ebola issue, saying that no matter the disease or germ in any meat, if it was well cooked to a certain degree, the foreign body would be eliminated.
“Though many have withdrawn from eating bush meat out of the fear of contracting Ebola Virus Disease, but few others still come around. But they often insis that the meat be roasted very well. With our efforts and further cooking at home, no disease can survive such pressure” he asserted
Chairman of Bush Meat Seller Association, Tanimu Musa, said the outbreak of the disease had paralysed the business, adding that much of the meat they bought before the disease was imported into the country was still there without buyers and called on the government to intensify efforts to fight against the pandemic.
Findings by Arewa further revealed that most of the cafeteria and relaxation spots within Jos metropolis have stopped serving bush meat. A prominent woman who did not want his name in print and who operates a drink joint at the popular West of Mines area of the city where people congregate every evening to socialise, said she had stopped cooking bush meat as pepper soup.
According to her, “customers no longer ask for bush meat in this area; they preferred fresh fish pepper soup, the Ebola outbreak has worsen business for us. But despite the belief that if well cooked it would be Ebola free, people are still skeptical of eating the meat.”
A civil servant with the state government, Tonny Musa, has a different opinion, Tonny said he would continue to eat his favorite delicacie, despite the campaign against the bush meat consumption, saying if well cooked, it posed no danger to man.
Arewa findings further revealed that while people are running away from bush meat, those who sell and eat dog meat are having a good time and seems not thinking of the possibility of contacting the dreaded disease . At the popular dog market in Bukuru, people were seen devouring dog meat.
Though hostile when confronted for comment, one of them, who identified himself as Anthony Pam, said dog meat was medicinal and capable of curing any ailment, saying those who ate dog meat hardly fell sick. With his mouth ful of dog meat, he managed to declare: “ We are afraid of Ebola, you cannot contract Ebola by eating dog meat. This meat is anti Ebola, I challenge you to try it and see as a trial will convince you,” he said.