Badagry is popular for snake trade. Yes, there is a market in the heart of the city that is meant for buying and selling of snakes.
Popularly known as Snake Market, and as incredible as it may sound to so many people, the market is busy, if not busier than every other market where normal everyday stuff is traded.
Perhaps because it operates every nine days, it could account for the reason the market is so busy as thousands of people from Nigeria and neighbouring countries come to trade in nothing else but snakes.
The snake sellers in particular are mostly non-Nigerians. Most of them are from neighbouring Benin Republic and also Togo and because they find a huge market for their crawling wares, they readily and eagerly look forward to every nine days to come and make some money.
Hubert Boni, a Beninese who has been in the business for over 10 years, said he rears snakes and brings his stock to Badagry to sell every week.
Taiwo Osueke is one of the people who travel all the way from her Igando, Lagos base to Badagry to source and buy snakes.
Osueke, who runs a restaurant, said she leaves her house as early as 4am in order to get to Badagry around 6.30am so as to get a good buy.
The market is filled with so many people and as such, I have to come very early. I buy different species of snakes from these men from Benin Republic. The prices differ. It all depends on the size of the snake. If the snake is small, I could get it for as cheap as N500 each but if it is the large sized one, I buy if for N1,500,” she said.
Osueke said her restaurant has become so popular and she doesn’t mind the stress she undergoes in order to get her stock. “Most of my customers would rather go for snake meat than beef or fish. I use snakes to make soups to serve food and I also use some to make pepper soup. It all depends on what my customer wants,” she said.
From a nutritionist’s perspective
According to Punch: A Lagos-based nutritionist, Mr. Okunola Oladimeji, said there is nothing wrong in eating snakes. To him as well, snake is like every other meat but even healthier. “Snake belongs to the class of reptiles. I am very sure that snake is a very good source of calcium and protein. There is nothing dangerous about consuming snakes. It is just that there is this belief that snake is evil and that makes a lot of people not to eat it. I don’t eat it but I have a lot of friends who eat it and they enjoy it. I have eaten it before in any case and I know there is nothing wrong with it. I would simply advise that if it is convenient for you and you find it okay, you can continue eating it. It is a healthy meat to eat,” he said.