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#Pulse36 Day 19: The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

Travel lesson: Ask questions about how local food is made, the responses will surprise you.

Our host in Uyo was a great guy and the first thing we asked him when he showed up is, “Where can we find the best dog meat in this town?” he laughed.

The curious case of dog meat in Uyoplay

The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

His laugh, to us, meant he knew where to find it. So we set out immediately and our first stop was this little restaurant that still wasn’t open.

“I no get dog meat today,” he said.

Obong suggested we take a back road, to get to the next place faster. So we did, and we passed by this government school where all the kids were staring at us like we were white men bringing mirrors and gunpowder.

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Then we took a tricycle, and in 10 minutes, we were at Ekpeyong Bar.

We came a little too late for the killing of the dog for the day. But we also came too early in the day, which was fine, because the bar attendants won’t be distracted by customers.

To kill a dog.

They had two dogs. Two pet dogs. I wonder how they decided “This won’t be for peppersoup. These ones we shall give names and keep as pets.”

Idiong, the resident butcher said he was going to show us everything we needed to know about preparing dog meat. To start, he took us to a tiny yard across the quiet street.

There, sitting in a small cage, were two dogs. The exact local breed as the pet dogs.

“What are their names?”

Idiong laughed. “These ones no get name. Them be meat.”

The day is Wednesday, so I named them Thursday and Friday, the order in which they’d die.

There’s a tool they use in killing them. It’s a steel pipe with a kind of noose on one end. It tightens when placed around the neck of the dog.

It gets ugly. Really ugly.play

It gets ugly. Really ugly.

(Pulse36)

Then Idiong pulled. He pulled so hard, and the dog fought back.

And the screaming started, but a special scream. Have you heard a dog scream before? But have you heard it scream heard, but yet have no sound coming out? A noiseless scream. Fighting hard.

Then he released it. If he had kept at it for a few more seconds, the dog would have died.

“This one na for tomorrow,” so I named it Thursday.

Then the next stage is the burning. He showed us hole in the ground where the corpse of the dog goes in with fire. This removes the hair, mostly. Then a tree stump where all the butchering goes down.

All of the dog pieces go into a pot for cooking.

When the meat has cooked, semi-ripe, thick-sliced plantains are added into the pot. Then spiced. When it has cooked together, vegetables join in.

And in the end, what you have is a dog meat porridge.

The curious case of dog meat in Uyoplay

The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

At just about noon, customers start to show up. Two bankers who were clearly coming from a market where they tried to get people to open new accounts. A lady who showed up with a huge food flask. The urgency in her voice tells you there’s a boss waiting impatiently for his bark-meat.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

The customers didn’t seem to care. They just wanted their premium meat.

But where do these dogs even come from?

Mostly the North. Pet dogs aren’t so popular in the North, so dog merchants go to the North, grab all of these stray dogs, and ship them back down to the South in tiny cages.

The curious case of dog meat in Uyoplay

The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

“The first dog I killed,” he said when I asked, “was hard. I was scared it will bite me. That was two years ago.”

He’s killed at least one dog almost everyday since then.

He doesn’t look like he’s going to stop any time soon.

We weren’t stopping our movement too. Not for dog meat, not for anyone.

So we set out to Eket with one place in mind; the Land of Hope.

The Land of Hope.

Remember Hope? From last year? The kid whose family abandoned him because he was suspected of witchcraft?

The Nigerian boy named Hope.play

The Nigerian boy named Hope.

(Pulse36)

The Land of Hope is a home for kids like Hope, who are suffering from child stigmatisation, and neglect.

I’d been tracking Anja Ringgren Loven, the woman who rescued Hope, on her Facebook. So we literally just headed for Eket, for the Land of Hope with nothing but blind faith. I guess that’s what faith is about.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

“They’ve travelled” was what the gateman told us. He spoke so gently from old age and courtesy.

Disappointment. Anja and Daniel, the cofounder, were not around.

“But they’ll come back today. I just don’t know the time.”

We were still heading to Calabar, which was at least two hours away. It was already past 5 here.

“Is there anybody we can talk to,” I asked. So he got someone.

His name, as I later learned, is Orok and he works with the kids too.

The curious case of dog meat in Uyoplay

The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

“We are very careful with Nigerian media and donations,” he said as we got talking.

Many people, in the name of donating, always want something in return, mostly PR. But they aren’t down for any of that.

“All our donations come from Denmark, Anja’s country.”

And the funds seemed to be doing well. It looked like there was a lot of construction going on.

On entering the compound, to the left is a football field, to the right is a clinic, which is stipo under construction.

“Let me try to reach Daniel to see if he’s here already. Anja is still not back.”

Daniel is the co-founder and director of the entire project.

When he finally showed up, he seemed a little withdrawn.

While he was nice to us, he seemed to share the same worry Orok had. There’s a worry about the Nigerian obsession for clicks. But let’s not even ignore the fact that it’s a global problem.

I later learned that the most important rule for running a place like this is integrity. Funders and the general public want to know the kids are in the best hands, because scandal causes irreparable damage.

Daniel agreed, after consulting with two of his colleagues, that they’d show us around.

And when we started walking towards the hostel areas, I was blown away. First of all, the structures looked like they were taken care of. The kitchens were clean. The air was clean.

“They have a parliament led by Udoka,” Daniel told me. “So we allow them make their rules to a large extent.”

The first difference between the kids we ran into at a school earlier in the day and these ones is the level of confidence.

It’s quite common for Nigerian kids to not be able to speak up in the presence of adults for fear of punishment.

These ones were very confident. Very.

I met Udoka too.

“Madam Speaker.” I was just messing around to be honest.

She blushed. My name is Udoka.

I later learned she was the first kid.

“What about volunteers,” I asked later.

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

“We’re very thorough with our volunteer selection process,” Daniel said.

“First, we don’t want anyone to come and corrupt the minds of these kids. We don’t eant anyone coming to tell them that child witches really exist, especially since that is a problem we’re trying to keep behind them. The child psychologists do a really good job. We also don’t just accept volunteers. You have to have a special skill. For example, we’re going to be needing more doctors now.”

The curious case of dog meat in Uyoplay

The curious case of dog meat in Uyo

Impressive. Very impressive. By now, Daniel was already relaxed. Relaxed enough for a photo.

Read previous episodes HERE

*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

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