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Overpriced Rams at Abattoir, A Pandemic Consequence

Ninety-five percent of Gambia’s population belonging to the Islamic faith are gearing up to observe the annual Edu-ul-adha commonly called Tobaski next week Friday. This is one of the most anticipated joyous day on Muslim calendar across the Muslim world. But this year’s celebration of the day has already seen some changes that will affect the day due to the global coronavirus pandemic. 

Like other parts of the world, various households in The Gambia have a common way of celebrating this moment which include socializing amongst themselves, exchanging best wishes and slaughtering rams. Rams are particularly key in the process and every compound will ensure that they have one even though it’s not a religious obligation. A ram brings joy to the family especially among children. Meat is freely accessible at least on the day, even for those who could not afford it. 

But it’s certain that this year’s Tobaski will be seriously affected by the virus which forced countries around the world to close their borders as a measure of containing COVID-19. Gambian Muslims have already started complaining about the price hike as a consequence of border closures with neighboring countries like Senegal, Guinea and Mali which the country heavily relies on for rams. 

“Rams are expensive this year. I came here [Abuko Abattoir] to buy one [ram] in order to celebrate Tobaski with my family but the price they’re saying is costly, laments Fatou Cham, a buyer.

She suspected that this is caused by the absence of many ram dealers who could not come to Gambia from the neighboring countries due to the pandemic. 

Saho Joof, a ram dealer at Abuko abattoir, describes this year’s sales of rams as poor. “Many are not coming with their rams because of the closure of the borders.” he said.

     Saho Joof

Another ram dealer, Demba Sowe seeks public understanding that it’s against their wish to increase the price of rams.

He said with the halt of ‘Lumos’, dealers are forced to increase their price due to the high expenses they incurred.  

“Before, you would buy rams at 15000 CFA Franc, now it costs 18,000 to 20,000 CFA Franc.” 

According to him, their aim is to satisfy every buyer base on the price one come with 

“We cannot also sell a ram we bought for D10, 000 to D8,000. It means we are selling at a loss. The least you can have for a ram here is 8,000. We also have rams for 10,000 to 12,000 depending on what you’ve.  

According to him, closure of borders is mainly responsible for the price hike since rams are not as many as they used to be available.

He explained that they would most times attempt to smuggle by walking kilometers through the porous borders of Gambia and Senegal to sell their sheep. However, he said they are usually caught by the police and they always pay when that happens. 

Tobaski is held on the 10th of the 11th month of the Islamic calendar.

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