Monday 26 November 2018

The Abattoir Experience

It was Eid…the long-awaited Eid, where we ate meat till our teeth ached and our stomach churned. Yes, it was finally Eid and I was really excited. I wasn’t just excited about the sumptuous meals and abundant meat, I was excited that I had two days (24hours x 2) to celebrate, sleep, watch movies, eat and spend time with my family members. I had sewn a new outfit and even decorated my hands with henna.

The day finally arrived and whoa! I decided to accompany my dad to the abattoir. We set forth after Eid prayers and I changed from my wedged shoe into a flat slippers. I also kept my handbag and reached for a large bowl filled with sacks.

The abattoir, popularly known as ‘sabo’ was not far from where we resided, and so we boarded a keke napep.

The area was muddy, mucky, sloppy, slippery, dirty, and it smelled of animal dung. We were welcomed by the blaring sound of Hausa songs and the voices of Hausa speakers wafting the air. The area was cluttered with shops, animals of different kinds and colours. Mostly tall and average-height men dressed in a white caftan and with a complexion as dark as the colour of tyres filled the environs.

It was not a nice place but I still had this feeling of intrigue and excitement, picturing the sceneries in the ‘cowboy’ stories; men dressed in a tight-fitting shirt and jean trousers, with a large cowboy hat over their heads. A woman with a blonde hair falling in love with a farmer and cattle-rearer, living in the house composed of cow dung and milking the cows like they were her children.

It was all fun and fascinating that I unexpectedly relished the odour of animal dung. We were welcomed by the dripping blood of an animal hung on a wooden shelve.

“This place looks like the north…even though I haven’t been there,” I told my dad and he agreed with me.

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“Yes, this area is like the north,” he replied in affirmative.

“Who would have imagined that there is a large community of Hausas in this market? What an experience!” I exclaimed, watching the women dressed in Guinea brocade and Kampala, with a veil surrounding their necks. Some of them were selling their goods while others had babies strapped to their backs as they were strolling around the vicinity.

“You’re right.” My dad agreed again.

We could hardly trace our path and the wet and dirty road stained our feet; we could hardly prevent it. Everywhere was dirty!

My dad had to call the seller, who in turn appointed someone to lead us to our final destination. In less than a minute, we were in a damp area characterized by tons of animals, all tied up and being fed on dried grasses that laid on wooden counters.

The man shook hands with my dad and pointed at the animal that was the fifth in the row.
“That one is for us,” my dad said to me.

I looked at the animal and wondered if it knew that it would soon leave this world. I looked at the rest of the animals, all tied on the damp-dirty floor and being fed with grasses that they were clearly not interested in.

‘Aren’t they better ways to keep these animals? This is so unsafe, untidy and inappropriate,’ I thought.

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A young girl was appointed to hold the animal and take us to the abattoir, where the animal would be slaughtered and cut into small pieces.

The road to the abattoir was worse and my dad kept turning to ensure that I was fine, to know if I hadn’t slipped to the floor or faced difficulty in walking along the slippery path.

“I am fine, this is an adventure,” I said, smiling.

Then, we got to a very slippery path that almost held all of my weight. I had almost fallen to the ground if my dad hadn’t held my hand.

“Take it easy. Give me what you’re holding,” he said, taking the big bowl from me.
A plump-rotund-old-looking woman who sat in a thatched building looked up to us and said, “That lady should be very careful. We do not allow ‘Dunlop’ here because of the very rough path,” she said in pure Yoruba.

I knew at once why I had faced a very great difficulty in walking along that path; I was putting on a ‘dunlop.’

We finally arrived at the abattoir; a small-spaced enclosure composed of a bench at both sides and two medium-sized tables that rested on the wall.

Three men sat on a bench and a young man (who was dumb) butchered a ram that was slated on the table.

On the wall was the inscription of an Arabic text (I’m still trying to remember what it read) and there was an inner section where the animals were slaughtered.

The animal was tied to the table and it witnessed its fellow animal being butchered on the table; blood spluttered at all corners, the intestines and other organs removed and the bones being broken into pieces. Immediately, it became really scared!

‘Will this be my end? Is that how I’m also going to die?’ I could imagine the animal thinking of that.

It got really scared and cut the rope, fleeing from where it was being tied. It was chased after and held by the horns.

“Dad, I do not like the structure of this place. This animal should not see the gory image of its fellow being butchered. Just imagine if we see a human like us being butchered this way; knowing fully well that the same will happen to us?”

“You’re right. This is what happens to people that are being kidnapped by occultists and assassins. When you see death with your own eyes, you’re already dead before being killed.” My dad remarked.

Twenty minutes later, the meat had been packed and the owners had paid and left the place. Five other people entered with two goats, waiting for their turn.

Dad returned a few minutes later, telling me that the animal had been slaughtered by him, in the ‘slaughterhouse,’ which was appropriate and decent.

Then the other goat was laid on the ground and the owner placed a knife across its neck. The knife was so blunt that it took minutes for the process to the completed. Blood drained to the floor and the animal gasped in discomfort. This act was done in front of the other goat!

They placed its head on the fire immediately! Gosh! The goat was still breathing when this act was being carried out.

“This is not nice, dad. Couldn’t they have waited till the goat dies completely? It’s just like burning it alive.”

“True. They should have waited. They’re trying to accomplish everything at a given time.” My dad said.

“What they’re doing isn’t nice at all,” a man seated beside us contributed.

The animals were butchered and packed into nylons. After completing the processes, we packed our meat home but as we walked out of the abattoir, I couldn’t help staring at the animals that are inappropriately taken care of and mercilessly killed.

When I arrived home, my siblings scampered away from me. “You stink. You need to have a bath right now.”

It was the abattoir; the putrid smell of animal dung that was reeking from my clothing. I had to hurry to the bathroom, to have a quick bath and change from my Sallah outfit.

Two days later, when I narrated the incident to a colleague of mine. He shrugged in an unfazed manner and said: “I went to buy meat one day, and the meat that the man was selling was still quivering; the animal was still alive.”

I shook my head with a lot of palpable disdain. “Why do we treat animals like this? It isn’t fair at all.”

Colleague shrugged again and we continued walking.

We eat tons of meat every now and then, having no idea of how they were taken care of and butchered. What role can we play to ensure that these animals will be well-taken care of? It’s our responsibility to make sure that these animals are being treated fairly.  



  1. Interesting piece your discription of abbattior is 100% correct i know cos I lived in the north for more than 25 years . For the unfair slaughtering i believe they have no idea on how islam teaches us to be kind to animals as stated in the hadith . More wisdom dear

  2. Thank you. Exactly...we have no right to treat animals unjustly.

    Aameen...thanks for reading!

  3. That is why some conscious people don't like taken beef outside, because of this inhumane treatment to animal, more so,it doesn't conform with the Islamic principle of slaughtering animals. Though the actually slaughtering is done by Muslims, but it is not just about the end, it is also about the means.
    May Allah preserve us all upon goodness.