Each year, the knife sellers are seen waiting for customers. They also sharpen blunt knives to make the slaughtering of animals for Eid el-Kabir easier.
• We make up to N20, 000 daily selling, sharpening knives, they claim
Paul Orude, Bauchi
On Tuesday, Muslims in Nigeria joined their counterparts around the world to celebrate this year’s Eid el-Kabir, the Islamic annual festival during which rams are offered as sacrifices to Allah.
In Bauchi, one major venture that thrives during Sallah is the business of knives.
The Muslim faithful are often urged during the Eid el-Kabir Sallah celebration to imbibe the important lessons of sacrifice and perseverance embodied in the slaughter of the sanctioned animals. And every year, a group of blacksmiths usually travels miles to Bauchi to sell knives and make brisk money.
Each year, the blacksmiths usually converge on the Gwallaga area of Bauchi, near the ram and cattle markets. Their wares are displayed on pavement of the dual carriageway for whoever can afford rams or cows for the celebration.
And each year, the knife sellers are seen waiting for customers. They also sharpen blunt knives to make the slaughtering of animals for Eid el-Kabir easier.
“I came here to sell knives that I made myself,” said Nuhu Biliya, a 25-year-old man from Ningi town, which is about 110 kilometres from Bauchi.
“I will spend four days here to make money,” Biliya, a father of two who shared the same shed with his elder brother, told the reporter.
His elder brother, Auwal Biliya, 30, a father of two, said he had been coming to Bauchi to sell knives during the Eid el-Kabir for the past five years. “We are going to spend the Sallah here. We sleep anywhere safe, and after four days, we’ll go back to Ningi,” he said.
Auwal Biliya explained that for the next four days, they would be eating mostly bread, washed down with oranges and water.
“We have to hustle to get money to cater for our family back home,” he explained to the reporter, adding that he learnt the art of knife-making from his father.
“I started when I was about 10 years old. We make knives that are used to slaughter rams or cows. That is why we came to Bauchi.”
Auwal said each knife costs between N300 and N500, while of N100 is collected to sharpen knives or cutlasses. He said he makes between N15,000 and N20,000 daily.
“Yesterday, I made N15,000. I will probably make N20,000 or N25,000 tomorrow, which is Sallah,” he said.
Nasiru Ado, 54, was in Bauchi for the same business. He came with two of his 22 children.
“All my children, except the female ones, are in this business. Some of them are in school but during the holiday they join me in the business,” Ado said.
Ado told Daily Sun that he had been in the knife business for 20 years.
“I have been doing this blacksmithing since I was 30,” he said. “Since I started coming to Bauchi to sell knives, I have not stopped. I make a lot of money that I use to take care of my family.”
He usually sleeps at the Muda Lawal Market, Bauchi, whenever he comes for business.
“I am here today with two of my children while the others are at home,” Ado explained, as he wiped some blood from a cut on his right thumb.
“Accidents are part of the job,” he explained. He continued to sharpen a big cutlass, stopping intermittently to use a dirty rag to wipe off the blood. His clients waited patiently.
“There are different kinds of knives. We even have some that are used to crush stubborn bones. We also sell axes. While some knives are used to slaughter the animals, others are for removing animal skin. We produce all of them,” he stated.
Ado’s son, Yusuf, who is in his 30s, informed the reporter that since he started accompanying his father to Bauchi, he has not missed the trip even once.
“I love this business because it is putting food on the table,” Yusuf said. He disclosed that a knife costs between N500 and N600, while a cutlass goes for N1,200.
Mubarak Yahaya from Dass, which is about 40 kilometres from Bauchi, sat up on a bench, meticulously sharpening a knife. His father, Yahaya Adamu, sat on a sack on the floor of the pavement, awaiting customers.
“I started when I was three,” Yahaya noted, nodding his head repeatedly to assure you he wasn’t lying.
“As I grew up, I fell in love with blacksmithing and I have been coming to Bauchi to spend the Eid el-Kabir selling knives,” he said.
He told the reporter that he was planning to obtain a National Certificate of Education (NCE) soon. But he asserted that after his education, he would continue in the family tradition.
“All my children, except the girls, have joined me in the business,” Adamu, Yahaya’s father said.
“A friend introduced me into the business and since then I have been coming to Bauchi to make money. I make between N10,000 and 15,000 daily, which I don’t make in Dass. You know Dass is a small town, so we come to Bauchi during the Sallah to make more money.”
Usb’au Aliyu, a father of two, who has been coming to Bauchi since 2008, said he had a way of compensating his family at the end of the Sallah for the four or five days he would spend away from them.
“After the Eid el-Kabir business, I usually slaughter a ram for my family. Before coming to Bauchi, I would have made provisions for them,” he said, as he sharpened a knife for a customer.
The customer, a teenager called Ahmed Abubakar, a resident of GRA, Bauchi, said he was sent by his father.
“We want to slaughter a ram with it, and I was sent to sharpen the knife,” Ahmed, who handed a N500 note to Aliyu after the service, said.
For the knives sellers, it was a good time to do business. In Bauchi, Governor Mohammed Abubakar approved the payment of August salary ahead of the Eid el-Kabir Sallah celebration.
The governor said he hoped the gesture would make civil servants and their dependents to celebrate the important occasion in comfort.
“I feel happy receiving my salary because I am going to celebrate in comfort,” Inusa Mariga, a civil servant from the Ministry of Rural Development, said. ““I plan to buy a ram for my family.”
Musa Abubakar, from the Ministry of Education, said he didn’t waste time withdrawing money.
“The occasion needs one to slaughter a ram in order to celebrate with the family and well-wishers. I am planning to go to the market to buy a ram,” he told the reporter.
Mohammed Mahmud, from Local Government Education Authority, told the reporter shortly after the payment was made that he was planning to buy a ram. Shamsudeen Yusuf, of the Office of the Head of Service, said he was already in a joyous mood.
“I thank the government for making it easy for us. My plan is to buy a ram.”