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Inside Osun community where dogs are banned

‘Only Oba can tell why’   Most people believe that dogs are man’s best friend, but in Ara a rustic town in Egbedore Local Government…

  • ‘Only Oba can tell why’

 

Most people believe that dogs are man’s best friend, but in Ara a rustic town in Egbedore Local Government Area of Osun State where the rearing of dogs is forbidden. The myths concerning dogs set it apart from neighbouring towns and communities.

To a first time visitor to Ara, the agrarian community is enthralling but the attitude of the people towards dogs could be frightening. Any dog that enters the town must die and any indigene that rears or keeps dogs would regret it. Young and old indigenes of the town are friendly and receptive only when dogs are not involved. They simply hate dogs.

Meanwhile, many indigenes of the town do not really know the reason why rearing or keeping dogs is a taboo there. Most of them say it is a tradition handed down by their forefathers. When Daily Trust Saturday interacted with some youths in the town, they couldn’t explain why they must stay away from dogs but maintained that they would not have anything thing to do with dogs either in Ara or anywhere they find themselves.

Akin Ajao, a graduate of Business Administration, said he grew up and learnt that Ara forbids dogs and so he would not have anything to do with dogs throughout his life time. “Our parents never warned us about dogs and they never told us not to keep or rear dogs but we learnt that from history, this town forbids dogs and we have also been staying away from dogs. Honestly, I don’t know why dogs are not allowed in this town, I will try to find out.”

Twelve-year-old Bolanle does not know what a dog looks like because she has never seen one before. The little girl said she hopes to see dog when she travels out of Ara. Of course, like every other person in Ara, Bolanle has the same impression about dogs. “My uncle showed me a dog in a textbook one day but my teacher said the animal in that book was not dog. I have seen many animals. I can recognise a goat, cat, cow, ram, and others but I don’t really know a dog. Perhaps I will see a dog one day when I travel to another town or city,” she said.

Ara has a market which holds after every five days and farmers bring their farm produce to the market to sell. People from different places go to the market to buy different things. Interestingly, non indigenes who go to Ara market regularly already know about the dog myth.

A trader, Mrs. Falila Alani said “you cannot come to Ara with a dog. Other neighbouring towns and villages have dogs. When farmers and hunters are coming to Ara on market day, they keep their dogs at the boundary where they would stay until the owner returned. If a dog enters Ara, it will not go out alive.”

Daily Trust Saturday visited the traditional chiefs in the town to find out why dogs are forbidden in Ara but they declined comment. The chiefs said only the traditional ruler of the town is qualified to talk about it.

At the moment, the stool is vacant. The Alara of Araland, Oba Sunmonu Omolaoye died on February 3, 2010 and since then, a new Oba has not been installed. According to the Bara of Ara, Chief Alade Adejare who is also the Regent, the process of selecting or appointing a new Oba has reached final stage and he was not qualified to talk about the reasons Ara forbids dogs.

One of the kingmakers, the Sobaloju of Ara, Chief Ajayi Mathew corroborated what the Bara said. He said it was against the tradition for a chief or any other person to narrate the story except the Oba. The chief noted that since their monarch died in 2010, many things could not be attended to because the Regent and the chiefs have limitations in terms of issues they are allowed to dabble into.

“Our sons and daughters know that they are forbidden from having anything to do with dogs. Even our children who live abroad dare not rear or keep dogs. They could rear any other animal. I cannot tell you the reason because it is only our traditional ruler that can do so. When we have a new Alara, you will hear the story you want to hear.”

Similarly, the Ekerin of Ara, Chief Moses Adeoye, said there was restriction on who can talk about the reason dogs were forbidden in Ara. “The tradition does not allow me to tell you what you are asking me to tell you. Only the Alara can tell you. It is the duty of the Oba not a chief. We hope that the state government will approve the appointment of our Oba very soon and things like this would be attended to by the traditional ruler.”

When Daily Trust Saturday visited the palace, it was deserted. The photo of the late Oba was seen hanging on the wall in one of the buildings at the palace. The Regent said “the place is empty and it is not good. We appeal to Governor Gboyega Oyetola to appoint the new Oba for Ara so that our town will come back to life.”

A Muslim cleric in Ara, Alfa Amzat Deyeni, in a chat with Daily Trust Saturday, said he has not been able to find the reason why keeping dogs is prohibited in Ara. He classified the dog as a dirty animal, saying Islam does not encourage Muslims to rear dogs. “For me, the fact that Islam does not encourage us to keep dogs is a good reason to stay away from dogs even though I’m not from this town.”

However, an indigene of Ara who is a civil servant spoke on condition of anonymity. According to him: “A very long time ago, the Alaafin of Oyo requested the then Alara of Ara to get some bush meat for him. The Alara sent hunters to the bush to hunt for animals. They went on the hunting expedition with their dogs and came back with plenty game. The dogs killed majority of the animals. So, the Alara sent a lot of meat to the Alaafin in Oyo. They cooked the remaining animals at the palace in Ara and ate amidst celebration. When they finished eating, they packed the bones and gave to the dogs. One of the dogs became very angry that they were only given the bones to eat. That dog was said to have spoken like a human being, lamenting that only bones were giving to them from the animals they killed. When the hunters attempted to kill that particular dog, it disappeared. Since then, dogs were banned in Ara.”

 

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