Donkeys were introduced in Nigeria during the Trans-Saharan trade. As pack animals, they provided a cheap, reliable alternative for short and long distance journeys. Donkeys have a great reputation for patience and endurance. The use of this animal in the transportation of agricultural produce has persisted in Northern Nigeria especially in areas with a network of bush paths and in hilly countries where no roads exist. While donkeys are not part of the landscape of South-Eastern Nigeria, trailer loads of them allegedly arrive the region almost every day. Their destination is usually Ebonyi State where most indigenes of the state are said to consume donkey meat.
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Donkey is called jaki in Igboland. It is alleged that in Ebonyi, the consumption of donkey meat is as old as the state. In the state, the sale of donkeys and donkey meat is quite lucrative; hundreds of people feed their families from the trade. The major market for the trade in this meat is Nkwor Jaki. This market is located at Ezzamgbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state, a few kilometres away from the Abakiliki-Enugu expressway. From this market, donkeys are supplied to butchers and marketers in major cities and villages across the state and beyond.
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The rate of consumption of jaki meat is so high that donkeys are said to have become an endangered specie. The meat allegedly looks and tastes like cow meat. It is said that most restaurants in Ebonyi cook with this meat and some customers consume it in ignorance. Even though the meat is supposed to be far cheaper than cow meat, some mischievous butchers sell it at the same price as cow meat. It is also said that the sale and consumption of this meat in the state is so high that non-indigenes find it difficult to differentiate between cow meat and donkey meat.
Some customers, in reaction to this influx of donkey meat to the market question the true identity of the meat they want to buy. Some others only buy cow meat from reliable butchers and some have simply switched from cow meat to goat meat to avoid stories that touch.
Gyanden Peter Kughur and K.M. Baba, “The Role of Camels and Donkeys in Rural Transport in Dundaye District of Wamako Local Government Area of Sokoto State, Nigeria,” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305710880
Nabob Ogbonna, “Nkwor: Ebonyi Market where Donkey Meat is the Major Attraction,” Daily Trust, June 5th 2016.
Onwuka Njoku, Economic History of Nigeria (Enugu, Magnet Business Enterprises, 2001).
Featured Image Source: The Express Tribune
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