IBADAN — SEVERAL bush meat sellers, yesterday, proved to sellers and buyers at the popular Aleshinloye market in Ibadan that their wares (bush meat) were not infected with Ebola virus as they ate pieces in public to dismiss the claim.
Their action attracted other sellers in the market who empathized with them, saying the sudden spell cast on bush meat was not with good motive.
They vowed never to abandon the trade they have been practising for at least 50 years. This came as members of the National Hunters Association of Nigeria dismissed as non-issue, saying in Africa, nobody eats meat until it is well cooked.
Speaking through the two associations, Iyalode Bush Meat Sellers Association, Alhaja Risikat Odeyemi, aged 67, and Chief Olasheinde Afolabi Ishola said: “After cooking the meat, it is also roasted and dried for several hours, this does not allow any virus to survive.
“Help us ask them to prove to us that after roasting, cooking and drying it on fire, the virus can still survive. They should stop saying things they don’t know. If they don’t believe us, let them tell the whole world to stop eating all living things such as fish and meat but depend solely on vegetables so that they would not die.”
Odeyemi said she had been in the business for the past five decades and had never heard of anything negative about their meat which many doctors had previously certified fit for human consumption.
According to her, “it was my great grandmother that introduced me to this business and I have used it to do many good things in life. I can’t leave this business because doing so would tantamount to disobeying my ancestors.
We have sold all kinds of animal like the elephant, porcupine, grasscutter, antelope.” When asked about patronage in this Ebola period, she lamented that they had been living from hand to mouth since the problem started.
According tio her, “before they brought this Ebola issue, many customers would park their exotic cars here waiting patiently until we attend to them. Many a time, we would dress meat newly supplied in their presence.
They would queue here waiting for their turn. “But, now see how silent this place is. Look at the time now, for the past two weeks, we, including our children, have been eating our meat and nothing happened to us.
But, how many can we eat? This is why we are pleading with the government and our numerous customers that our meat don’t have Ebola. “It is the government that should be blamed for the outbreak.
If they had monitored our borders well, Patrick Sawyer, who imported the virus, would not have been granted entry into our country. Now, we are suffering for their laxity. It is not fair.”
Hunters lament The hunters too claimed that since the issue came up, the bush meat sellers had not made any demand at all and “if they don’t patronise us, who will buy the meat?” While corroborating their claims, the Otun Balogun of hunters, Chief Balogun Ege, said: “We are eating bush meat and nothing has happened to us. Since the issue started, business has been very dull.
Nothing for us at all and this is the trade we use in training our children. “Since the sellers are not buying from us again, it is unwise to go for hunting. Who will buy it from us?”