Muslims around the globe are bracing up for one of the most important feasts in their calendar, the Eidul Adha (Tobaski), slated to take place in the middle of this month.
Observed on 10th of the 12th month of the Muslim calendar, Tobaski is a major religious activity celebrated by Muslims worldwide. It is meant to honour the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ishmael as an act of submission to God's command and his son's acceptance to being sacrificed, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a ram to sacrifice in place of his son.
In The Gambia where 90 percent of the population is Muslim, the celebration of this feast is no different from that of the rest of the world. Like in many countries, Gambian Muslims also buy rams for sacrificial purposes immediately after early morning prayers on the day of the feast. But what has been the recurrent practice is that the prices of rams are more often than not beyond the reach of average citizens given the fact that the livestock dealers see the period as an opportunity to make a lot of money. Their belief is anchored on the fact that the period only comes once in a year.
In a bid to explore whether the same trend characterise this year's Tobaski ram sales, the Daily Observer visited major spots including the Central Abattoir in Abuko.
Alhagie Kebba Jobe is the president of the Livestock Dealers Association at the Abuko Central Abattoir. He told this reporter that prices of rams for this year are exorbitant, attributing it to the appreciation of the CFA currency. He noted that since most of the dealers buy their livestock from Senegal and Mali and the fact that they spend a lot of money ferrying them to The Gambia, prices have skyrocketed as they also look for profit. Apart from those expenses, Jobe also indicated that the dealers are also charged per head of a ram upon their arrival in the country. He appealed to the Kanifing Municipal Council to reduce the rate levied on the dealers so that it could influence the price charged to customers.
Although the prices of rams vary for different reasons, Jobe however disclosed that most are sold between D5, 000 to D10, 000. "Some are even sold above these prices depending on the size of the ram," he stated,
"This year we are expecting more livestock at Abuko and other selling points in the country. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to my fellow dealers to help people buy rams at reasonable prices," he stated.
The chairman of the Livestock Dealers Association, Momodou Njie, also appealed to the dealers to be reasonable in their prices to enable Muslims afford ram.
Commenting on the issue of middle-men, who play an intermediary role between dealers and consumers during the Tobaski, he vowed that those people would not be allowed to engage in the business of livestock this year. He described them as "troublesome", saying they are people bent on creating more problems than solutions.
Speaking to this reporter, a customer, Saihou Njie lamented the expensive nature of the prices and called on dealers to be reasonable.
Another buyer, Lamin Darboe, said since he cannot afford the price charged by the dealers, he has no choice but to join with other family members to buy a bull.