There are three universities in Akwa Ibom State. While two of them-University of Uyo and Akwa Ibom University of Technology- are conventional and impart knowledge on applied and social sciences, the third, ‘University of Thought’ is a roadside joint that specialises in the preparation and serving of dog meat to its rising clientele. Deputy Editor, Soni Daniel and Bernard Dada Tolani’s recent visit to the ‘university’ is revealing. Relish its savour.

The only thing that gives you an idea that something is happening there is the sustained dog bark. The bark hardly stops. And if the area located on Akpan Essien Street, off the Olu Obasanjo Highway in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, becomes very quiet, it would be clear that all the dogs in the cage might have been slaughtered for the day’s business.

The ‘university of thought’ does not teach its ‘students’ more than preparing dog meat and the delicacy is gaining more prominence and patronagez as the authorities of the school of dog meat take special interest in catering for their daily needs in ways different from other meat joints in the state and its environs.

A first-time visitor to the state may not easily understand what the ensign-‘404 or J5 is Available’ signifies. In Uyo, the state capital, the signposts are ubiquitous and they convey the same meaning to the consumers of dog meat.

But the stranger may mistake it for a car workshop or something of the sort. But the 404 or J5 is associated with dog meat because of the exceptional ability of dogs to run tirelessly like the rugged 404 or its now rested J5 bus.

Dog eating in Akwa Ibom is a thing of pride. Those who do not eat it are regarded as people who are missing out on the good things of life.This accounts for the ever-swelling number of dog-eating joints which bear surrealistic names and it is expensive too.

As one approaches the popular University of Thought’ in Uyo, the picture of a teaching and learning environment props up but it does not teach any of the courses that a normal university teaches. Its lesson starts and ends with dog meat, which is its only menu on demand at the university.

But as you move closer, you do not see any high-rise building. You do not also see students going for lectures yet curiosity pushes you further until you are confronted with the naked truth that the University of Thought is indeed not an academic institution but one of the popular drinking joints that dots Uyo.

In this uncommon university, the major pre-occupation here is the bizarre consumption of dog meat which is often washed down with either fresh palm wine or chilled beer. People of various social and academic status, age and sex are regular patrons of this unique school.

Behaving as though the world is in their pockets, they recline and discuss on various topics as though they are in a formal academic setting as the savour their delicacy.
But why is a dog-eating joint called a University of Thought?

Princess Unyime Ebuk, a University of Calabar graduate of Environmental Studies who manages the joint explains that she inherited the business from her late father, Mr. Archibong Ebuk who passed on some years ago.

According to her, the name of the joint was derived from the personalities who patronised the business. She disclosed that most of the customers were lecturers and students from the defunct University of Cross River State which later became the University of Uyo.

“These high-profile customers usually discussed and analysed topical issues bordering on every facet of human endeavour. That is what gave rise to the name University of Thought’,” she said.

A few yards away, Uyinme, owner and chief chef of the dog joint who says she had been selling dog meat for ten years now, scoops some? chunks of? meat from a steaming? pot from the kitchen and drops it in front of one of the regulars. “I am proud of this job which I started with my late father when I was five years old and I am not about to quit given the popularity and the revenue it brings to the family,” Unyime confessed.

Okon Emem a regular patron of the joint, says he eats dog meat because it protects him from different ailments.

Another customer of ‘university’, Mr. Akaniyene Udo maintains that eating dog meat gives special protection against the most potent juju (charm). “Dog meat also improves human sex life and if? you eat dog meat, you cannot be poisoned. Dog meat is good,” he said.

But not everyone is convinced by the many benefits of dog meat as espoused by Udo.? For instance, John Usoro? a member of Christ Believers Church in Itam along Ikot Ekpene road? argues that the very idea of eating dog meat is absolutely disgusting.? How on earth can someone relish dog meat, a friendly animal that is loved with affection by everybody?” he queried.

Usoro? said that dogs should not be eaten because of their security services to man.
“We have had stories of devoted dogs who sit by their master’s grave till the end of the dogs’ lives and there are a lot of services rendered today by dogs to humanity.

In the same vein, Pastor Jacob Isaiah of the Later Day Pentecostal Church along Idoro Road in Uyo said is appalled by the idea of eating dog meat.
“People who eat dog meat only use such excuses to deceive? themselves that what they are doing is right “Besides, I cannot eat dog meat because dogs are supposed to be seen as pets,” he says.

Another dog-meat eater, Uduak Awa, a civil servant from Etim Ekpo local government area of the state says he was introduced to the cuisine years back as a cure for malaria.
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Despite the raging controversy over the propriety or otherwise of the consumption of dog meat, the unrelenting eating of the meat has triggered an astronomical rise in the cost of the animals. And, the dogs are brought in like cows and goats from the Northern part of the country and some parts of the South West.

However, findings show that the dogs from the Northern part of the country, are bigger in size and are more expensive than their counterparts from the South-West.

For instance, while the ones from the Northern states like Nasarawa and Kano cost between? N19,000 to N20, 000 those from Lagos are cheaper and go for between N9,000 and 12, 000.?
But the Chief Medical Director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital Professor Etteh Peters rejects the extra-ordinary medical benefits ascribed by dog consumers to the animal.
“Dog meat is not any different from any other meat. The claim that it cures malaria is definitely not true.
“It cannot also be true that it boosts human immunity either,” he says.

He explained however that eating dog meat is a question of choice like eating any ordinary meat.

“I hear that some tribes eat snakes and lizards in certain parts of the world. But I tell you, anyone who says that dog meat cures malaria or any disease is just joking; there is no truth there whatsoever,” the CMD said.

At” University of thought”? the major recipe for preparing dog meat consists of pepper, onions, palm oil, and local gin known as Ufofop and scent leaves locally called Ntong? and another known as Odusa.

?The meat goes well with boiled plantain, palm wine from the villages or chilled beer, which counters the pepper in the delicacy.

At the university, a plate of dog meat goes for N100, a deliberate sales strategy to maintain its customers and attract new ones as opposed to what other joints whose prices range between N200 and N500 per plate. However, the head of the dog is fixed at N500 in almost all the joints because consumers claim that it contains more meat and its more tasty than other parts of the animal.

But the method used in killing these dogs would make an animal-rights activist cringe. They are either strangled by an iron noose permanently attached to a wall or simply clubbed to death.

This notwithstanding, dog meat has attracted a growing population of ardent consumers in the state , who are like worshippers of a cult or something of the sort in recent years and they are not about to chicken out of the practice that keeps their jaw wagging and gives them happiness at least momentarily.

As it is, what others consider as poison in dog meat in other parts of the country is taken as a way of life in Akwa Ibom State where the meat is eaten proudly by those who matter in the social and political spheres.

Dog meat has been in hot demand for ages in the state and no one seems to be ashamed of eating it. Like a bond that binds, the three major tribes in the state-Ibibio, Annang and Oron, relish in the art of dog consumption as a way of life. The only difference between the old days and now is that dog meat is getting more expensive than it was some years ago, due to its ever-increasing demand by consumers, who cut across the different strata of life.

While normal universities offer courses on virtually all aspects of human life, the dog university on the other hand, continues to explore ways and means of preparing its dog meat in a way that no other joint in the state does.

And whereas its counterparts solicit for students and other services through the mainstream media, the dog university in Uyo, relies heavily on the testimonies of its clients to bring in more customers daily.

Arising from the ever increasing patronage that it has been enjoying over its competitors ‘university of thought’ has become a household name particularly among the male students of the University of Uyo and other institutions in the capital.

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As the dog joint elicits more attention and goodwill it has unconsciously? created a cult of followers whose days are hardly complete without going to the ‘school’ to? ‘reflect’ on contemporary national issues over a plate of spiced dog meat, fresh palm wine and chilled beers.

The population just keeps growing because of one controversial animal: dog, which is seen by many as a friend and a foe by others.
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