Ibon, where family turns pig to cash cow
‘Pork meat highly nutritious’
From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
To some people, pigs are filthy animals, hence, they stay away from consuming its meat. While the fear of ingesting tapeworms and excess fat from pork, has made some not include it in their delicacies.
To the adherents of Islamic faith, however, pork meat is forbidden in the Holy Quran. And for this religious reason, Muslims are not expected to consume it.
These reasons, health and religious notwithstanding, many people still make pork one of their best meats. While, many abattoirs where cows are slaughtered abound, few are found in pork business. But for the family of late Samuel Adenekan of Elelede’s Compound, Ibon, Ijemo Agbadu, Abeokuta, Ogun State, pork business is not only good but highly lucrative.
Tucked in the rustic part of Abeokuta, Ibon is synonymous with pigs and pork business, the popularity, which could not be divorced from the exploit of Adenekan in the business before he passed away in 1992.
The business, which has since been taken over by one of his daughters, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ogunsanya, and her 78-year-old mother, Madam Mojisola Adenekan, has turned the compound to a Mecca of sort as lovers of pork troop there everyday to buy the meat.
A visit to the compound by a first time visitor will not reveal much, until the abattoir comes into view and young able bodied men are seen, either eviscerating or skinning a just-slaughtered pig. Similarly, women, under the supervision of Ogunsanya will be seen attending to customers, who according to her come from both near and far to buy the delicacy.
The 47-year-old woman, who was born into the business, explained that proceeds from the sale of pork were used by her father to train his children and gave them solid education. She faulted the perception of pig as being a filthy animal and too fatty to eat, noting modern techniques in piggery and discovery of feeds, which reduce fat in pork, have helped to improve its nutritional value.
She stated that demand for pork has increased, hence, her family’s decision to expand the scope of business, to include the establishment of a standard piggery to ensure steady supply of pigs. She disclosed that officials from the Veterinary Department, Ministry of Health, visit the abattoir regularly to ensure compliance to public health.
She disagreed that only non-Muslims eat pork, claiming many Muslims, including clerics, patronise the abattoir: “Muslims often come here to buy pork meat, including top clerics. Apart from that, they tell us to reserve some parts of the pig for them to be used for spiritual purposes.
“It was even a cleric who used to patronise us that told us that it was because a pig used its snout to dig out water for ablution in Mecca, hence, decision to honour it by instructing Muslims not to kill and eat pig. Another thing we observe is that sales are usually low during Ramadan, which is an indication that majority of our customers are Muslims.”
On the profitability of the business, she said because many customers come from major markets in Egba and its environs, the profit margin is high. A kilogram is sold for N1,000. She called on the government to encourage piggery as a business, especially now that Nigeria is battling with recession.
Corroborating her daughter, Madam Adenekan said her experience of over four decades in the business, has shown that many people could be employed along the value chain.
For Damilola Makinde, one of the workers at the abattoir, pork business is not only lucrative, but exciting to see people trooping into the market to buy the product. He said it particularly excites him to see some people who jostle for some parts of the pork: “Heads of the pig are always in high demand especially for those who use them for spiritual concussions. Apart from the head, the legs and the innards of the pig are also relished by customers.”
Sharing his experience at the abattoir, Yussuf Bakare said working there has helped his finances as customers always visit the place to buy pork: “Apart from selling the pork, some influential people come around to purchase live pigs which they sell at N400 per kilogram, depending on what a pig weighs.”
Titilola Alabi who buys pork meat from the abattoir and fry to sell described her business as money spinning. She said people always wait for her at Lafenwa Market, Abeokuta, to buy the delicacy. With the volume of sales at her stall, she said “people irrespective of their religious leaning, eat pork more than it can be imagined.”
Tunde Ojo, a Christian and real estate broker, said: “Pork is medicinal as it contains high volume of iodine. Though in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, pork was one the foods God forbade Levites to eat because it is ‘unclean’, the coming of Jesus Christ made everything clean for the people to eat.”
Jacob Akinsola said he knows little about what Bible says about pork meat, the meat has been his one of the best delicacies since when he was a child. He added that though seeing pigs dawdling through dirt could make one feel repulsive, but eating the sumptuous meat could be tempting and arresting.
For Daood Ariyibi, the command of Allah in the Holy Quran that true Muslims should abstain from eating pork, supercedes any other reason. He explained that Allah even referred to pig as “swine” in the Quran and specifically instructed Muslims to stay away from eating pork because of its nature, which perhaps, could pose danger to their health:
“Even researches have shown that pork contains large quantity of cholesterol which is harmful to our health. Apart from the health challenge of tapeworms in pigs, conduct a simple experiment on a little flesh of pork. Sprinkle it with salt and cover for five or 10 minutes, when you open it, maggots will be oozing out of the pork.
“But Allah is compassionate and wishes the best for us. He, despite His clear commandment, allows Muslims to eat pork under a tight and helpless circumstance. For instance, if a Muslim travels to a place where there is no food except pork or any other forbidden food items, he or she can eat for survival. And the moment he or she leaves the place, he ceasing eating forbidden food.”
Yakubu Adeniji said though he did actually know the stance of the Quran or its implication on Muslims who eat pork, he just decided not to eat it as he learnt that Muslims should not. Asked whether he would it if he has the opportunity, Adeniji replied he would like to try pork just to know how delicious the meat is as those who eat it claim.