We’re not ashamed, it’s in our blood – Convener
For three successive days, Billiri town in Billiri Local Government Area of Gombe State came alive in frills and excitement as the Tangale people and their kindreds celebrated the popular Dog meat eating carnival, ‘Shag-bai’
As the carnival rounded up on Tuesday evening, December 28, 2021, the impressive procession threw up great memories of the festive celebrations in Billiri town of an age-long event that was dutifully observed by the Tangale forefathers.
The massive crowd of mostly youths that marched excitedly from the popular Kalmai Dog meat market into Biliri town was accompanied by loud music, including Tangale’s traditional dancers who thrilled enthusiastic residents and visitors alike.
Capturing the essence of the celebrations, the Convener and Chairman of the Shag-bai carnival, Mr. Jesse Malum said it is meant to project the Tangale culture as a people who eat and do so many other interesting things with dogs and their meat.
According to him; “The essence of this carnival is to project our identity. Many people think that eating dog meat is something dirty and our people faced some social stigma. We are trying to tell them that eating dog meat is a positive way of life.”
“There is nothing negative about it, we’re not ashamed of eating it”, he said, adding that not long ago, “a DPO came to this place and there was an ugly event where people believed he was trying to stop somebody from selling dog meat at a particular spot.
Jesse Malum, who is a lecturer at Alex Ekweme Federal University, Nduifo Alike in Ebonyi State said; “I think such things should not happen because this is Tangale land and the constitution of Nigeria has made security agencies and Government protect and promote people’s culture.”
“Shag-bai is not just about celebrating dog meat but the dog as a whole. So, if you talk about dog meat, our forefathers didn’t have goats before now. What they had were dogs. If they were celebrating anything, they kill dogs. In fact, in our marriages till today, there is what is called ‘bayauli’. That is money paid to buy firewood to cook bai (dog).
Commenting on the dog meat market, Jesse said; “That is a loud statement of a Tangale man’s culture. If we have a visitor, our forefathers used to welcome them with dog meat”, noting that regrettably, there exists a gap between the present generation with their culture which the carnival is trying to interface and mingle both.
He cautioned the youths against being eurocentric but said; “They must come back to their African culture”.
On the massive turnout at the celebration, Jesse said; “Despite the challenges we faced in organizing this carnival, there has been massive support and turnout and it goes to say that eating dog meat is in our blood.
“If you separate a Tangale man from eating dog meat, it means you don’t even know the Tangale man. If a Tangale man’s new religion forbids eating dog meat, we don’t force him, he should face his religion.
“But he shouldn’t tell us that Tangale man doesn’t eat dog. Even the person that doesn’t eat dog meat, his parents had ate dog meat so much that dog meat blood is running inside his blood.”
One of the elderly men in Tangale Town, Isaac Usman, who was upbeat about the festivity, said the grand event was a statement to tell the world that “this is Tangale land and we are synonymous with eating dog meat. It is our culture”.