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Kimiyya

Serving health through unhealthy carvings

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This female journalist even within her environs faces more challenges than she ever imagine.

A regular day at the central abattoir outlines hordes of energetic men striving towards making a living. Your presence is welcomed by the smell of blood- evidence of near unceasing practice of animals being slaughtered. It teases a sense of gore, fear and excitement at the sight of bloodied clothes as huge men hurry here and there with basins of meat on their heads chanting ‘Gafara a hanya’ meaning ‘give way’ while others could be seen on motorbikes all heading to various destinations, unified in the mission to ensure the supply chain is not broken within the metropolitan.

A mountainous pile of grime that threatened to merge with the blue sky was what greeted me as I eased my way into the large and popular Kano central abattoir.

Just in front of the horror that is the unpleasant mountain were two refuse collection vehicles making sounds that seem to underscore the enormity of filth that is chiefly animal faeces and unwanted body parts, dug and lifted into the air before being dumped in the open back of the vehicles. All that, in close proximity to where the meat meant for public consumption is being processed. Close by were some butchers dealing with customers who prefer to visit the abattoir for their purchase due to the belief that it is cheaper than buying from outside retailers.

My visit to the abattoir was spurred by age long complaints concerning what an abattoir should be like. Being a reporter more inclined to environmental matters, it became only natural to feel the urge to investigate further. After spending the best part of a day at the abattoir, I became convinced.

Naturally dismayed at what I saw, I sought for explanation from the market authorities regarding the ugly sight immediately one sets foot in the abattoir.

My question: Doesn’t it occur to them that such might repel potential customers? The simple inquisition sparked dingdong of threats from the chairman of the butchers’ association prompting me to compose myself and address him with renewed courage. Doubling as the spokesperson of the butchers’ association, the chairman set out alleging that I was an agent of the state government with whom they have been at daggers drawn over a relocation policy which the butchers have vehemently rejected hence the suspicion that my coming could not be unconnected to the situation.

The banter took a different turn when I had to be put through on phone with the chairman of the abattoir itself. I had to use all the skills in the book to clear the air that I am not a politician and my report is not with the intention to be sentimentally biased. It did not all happen in a blink – far from that. But in the end, I had justified myself enough to get the information I needed.

I demanded to see where the animals are slaughtered. It was a large hall with blood stain everywhere. The air that hung around was not pleasant and at one end was someone looking comfortable as he slept. I asked myself if I would ever be able to catch a nap in such a place. My mind echoed a NO.

Mallam Halilu, the spokesman of the butchers’ association offered that they have no place to dump the waste hence the pile on a daily basis at the front yard that is the entrance to the slaughter house. As he put it, the lorries clear the muck without delay thus claiming that the ugly scene witnessed earlier must be as a result of a “mix up”.

I headed to the health inspectors to inquire about what is being done on their part with the abattoir looking every inch unhealthy with members of the general public complaining. As is the norm, government officials never accept mistakes.

Head of the department, Jafar Isa Gwarzo spoke to me and voiced something about the case being unusual for the abattoir. He promised to check for future reoccurrences.

From my observations, my bit part of an attempt at finding the answers to what questions that led me there in the beginning, was only an occasional cog in the wheel of a usual routine.

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