Cameroon Muslims are looking for alternatives for the sacrifice as recommended by prophet Muhammad on the day of the Eid al-Adha feast. Sheep, traditionally slaughtered, have become very scarce as a result of the Boko Haram conflict and separatist war in the country’s main production areas.
Hundreds of Muslims are buying food stuffs from the popular market called “Marche Huitieme” in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde in preparation for the feast of sacrifice.
In Cameroon, large numbers of sacrificial animals, especially sheep, are slaughtered and their meat distributed to the poor as a religious tradition in Islam.
41-year old Abdoul Aziz says for the first time in 20 years, he will not have a sheep to sacrifice.
He says with the scarcity of sheep, he has decided to buy either a she or he goat. He says he does not want to miss a religious rite just because prices of the few sheep he has seen have increased drastically. He says the prices of goats are also increasing.
Aziz said because of the scarcity, some families are buying chickens, leading to arguments on whether the substitution is religiously correct.
Mohaman Aboubakar, assistant Imam of Yaounde’s central Mosque says Islam allows people to adjust with the changing times.
Imam Aboubakar says their religion finds nothing wrong if Cameroon Muslims who can not find the sheep they traditionally bought to slaughter in honor of Abraham’s willingness to slay his son Ishmael at Allah’s request, turn to goats and fowls today. He says the scarcity that started so many years ago with camels is now affecting cows and sheep.
Most of the sheep sold in Cameroon towns comes from the area around the central African state’s northern border with Nigeria that has been suffering Boko Haram atrocities, or from the English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions where separatists have been fighting to create an English speaking state, or neighboring Chad.
Issa Tchiroma, Cameroon minister of employment and vocational training, and a Muslim, says the crises the country is facing has had negative impacts on livestock production.
He says many people have escaped from ranches in the far north region of Cameroon due to Boko Haram terrorism, and from the English speaking north west region because of the war against separatist groups. He says on Cameroon’s border with Nigeria alone, close to five five thousand cattle and an unknown number of sheep have been stolen by Boko Haram terrorists.
In 2016, the World Bank approved a $100 million fund to help Cameroon improve the productivity and competitiveness of livestock production over six years. It said besides replenishing what had been lost as a result of the Boko Haram conflict, the program would help build resilience to climate change and improve the nutrition status of vulnerable populations.
Last July, Cameroon began distributing 60,000 goats and sheep to young people in villages along the border with Nigeria to provide livestock for a basic income, and replenish what has been lost in order to stop the Islamist militant group from recruiting the youths.
More than a thousand Mbororos, who are indigenous people in Cameroon have also fled their cattle ranches following repeated attacks and seizure of their cattle by separatists fighting for the creation of an English speaking state. The Mbororos say they are victimized and killed because they refuse to join the fight.