Monday, 30 April 2012

Would You Eat A Dead Whale?

You woke up on a sunny Saturday morning and headed to the beach to have some fun; with splendid imaginations of how wonderful your time in solitude or among friends is going to be. But, on the contrary, you are welcomed by the noxious smell of a dead whale lying on the seashore in the midst of a boisterous crowd. Members of the crowd are not even bothered by the offensive smell of the decomposing mammal. Rather, they are  cheerfully gouging and incising the whale’s meaty flesh with every kind of fathomable cutlery. You were ogling and they too were fitfully staring back; as if to question your lethargic and disparaging stance, "Wouldn't you rather join?".  If you had been there that day, what would you have done? If you had membered among the multitude at the scene in November 2010, what would have been your decision? Let’s create a diorama built on assumptions.

Perhaps, you had gotten there that day and instantly changed your course. You were very shocked to find a dead baby whale at the bar beach. Beyond that, you were surprised that fellow Nigerians like you were their trying to obtain some portions from the "fish." But again, you had thought, "this is Nigeria, a country where some people’s ideals varies at times and strange things may appear like a norm. So, you were disinterested in the whole beach idea and simply returned home.

            Or, upon arriving at the invented abattoir that day, you were nettled by the  butchers' nefarious act. Instead of sighting the minutest portion of the whale meat for a brief examination, you were grossly vexed by the attack perpetrated at the whale’s corpse. You had thought, “This is wrong! Animals too have rights!” The countenance of the feckless whale had moved you so deeply that you had tried to stop the hacking. After all attempts to persuade the police to come over had ridiculously failed, you had hijacked the local harpoon of one the most assiduous whale hunters and lambasted him verbally.  In return, you had received the beating of your life while the other hunters acted deaf and blind to your cry for help.

On a third likelyhood, you had arrived at the scene and joined them in chopping off some free meat. In fact, you had grown so interested and returned home to fetch buckets big enough to cart away extra meat portions. On your way back, you were even nice enough to alert two of your neighbours about the manna from the sea wasting away at the beach: “Baba Wale! Iya Isiaka! Wetin you dey do? Your mates dey beach dey commot free meat. U siddon here dey brush yeye teeth wey never bite meat. Na wa o!” Then, you’d sped off to the street to catch a commercial bike back to your spot at the new abattoir.

            Finally, there are those who were not at the beach that day.  I  rather belong to this group because visiting the beach has not appeared on my agenda for many reasons. If I took a count of my beach trips on one hand, I'd still have spaces. Like the others, I neither perceived the smell of the decaying corpse nor obtained a meat portion for "whale fish" pepper soup. To us and the rest, it is astonishing  that persons of similar tongues could  suddenly develop the ability to eat decaying meat, especially the kind that belonged to a baby whale. A whale is a marine animal which seasoned taxonomists term as a mammal and not a fish the eaters called it. But on a second thought, what won't people do? What cant they eat?

            This is Lagos metropolis; a city where many inhabitants still sleep with half-empty stomachs and a hungry man is perhaps the next disaster to consider after a suicidal terrorist. A hungry man would do anything to quench his hunger; a suicidal terrorist would kill a pregnant woman while she's in labour.  The are both driven by wild emotions. In less virulent but similar fashion, countless youths in the metropolis are driven by dangerous values. They are often found expending more time on futile pleasures and idleness than in working for a living. You never know the extent of a man’s hidden potential for evil and cannot accurately predict his desperation quotient until he is recruited for such. The level of impecuniosity in the city is as high as the number of matured boys who wake up daily to merely pick pockets, exploit commercial buses or simply stand aloof ubiquitously. There are those who work and there are those who work hard to steal their earnings. In the end, everyone claims to want a better life.

            Yet, these are not adequate reasons to feed on a whale. The baby whale whose corpse was abandoned by both the germane government agencies and animal rights initiatives did not die a good death. The members of the crowd who made pepper soup, barbecued meat and vegetable stew out of its corpse are probably awaiting another dead whale. But even if you happened to bear an uncontainable penchant for sea foods, would you join a boisterous crowd to mince meat portions off the body of another mammal?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Why Dogs Cry

         Rover was the second dog we had in my nuclear family. Energetic, frolicking and always up to something, he never allowed a moment of emptiness to have its way. If he was not hiding a bone, he was excavating the earth for one. I still recall having to shovel up sands and stones and garner fatigued tyres to protect the earth from the ecstatic dog’s gymnastic exercises. I have uploaded a couple of videos from Youtube in this post to feed your curiousity on the behavioral pattern of some dogs.

 Now, something was peculiar about Rovers. He was not just a dog; he was a dog’s dog. I observed severally that whenever a car or a train of automobiles blew sirens, Rovers would uprightly extend his head towards the skies and howl like a grieving wolf in the dead woods. Fitfully, he would transit between the lawn and the junk yard as though trying to find a way out of the fenced compound. Initially, I thought he was just trying to be funky or show territorial presence. So, one day, I busted outdoors to shout him down till he obliged and resort to mellowed noises and grumbling. But on a second thought, I realized he was attempting to communicate with the other guy at the remote end and left him alone. He probably perceived someone in danger was trying to get his help or attention. That person or supposed someone was the other guy. What a nice dog Rovers was! He was not human yet his affection for other “people” was deep-rooted.

But have you ever wondered why your dog cries? Or if you don’t own one, do you know why the ones trying to wake up the entire neighbourhood cry at night? Some say, they see ghosts and that if you removed some of the vitreous waste on the tips of their eyes and applied it to yours, you would see what they see. Entities like ghosts, vampires, witches, members of the underworld, etc, would appear to you. Others have screamed out in response, “superstition and white lies!”. Well, I do not know if those holding either claim have been wearing dogs’ eyes to confirm their speculations. But if it’s true, I think you’re better off not experimenting, especially if you are not an ophthalmologist.  That's a word of advice from someone who thinks you shouldn't try it in Africa; except, of course, if you know exactly what you are doing. But most dogs actually cry because they are afraid and want company. Yes, dogs could get scared too. In the midst of whispering winds and humming birds, dogs could pee in their pants. That finally explains why Rovers often jumped at my lanky frame to lick me in the face whenever I had a reason to go outdoors at night. And I often did because of "Up Nepa" or just to tuck our generator in its bed sheets.

As human beings, we sleep at night to recharge our bodies and cool our "engine" (the heart). But dogs have to stay awake and watch in fear. So, they would be glad if you could, at least, walk them out before the night arrives. Most dogs relish this ritual, particularly those left at home all day long. In the absence of activity, almost all dogs find time to sleep during the day. Then in the thick of the night, when trees throw their shadows across the lawn, under the moon’s torch and the breeze forms a wizardly hum, the insomniac dogs are left alone in the dark. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t hallucinate? Even if a ghost does not appear you would believe you have seen one. Dogs have to bear all that while you snore aloud. From the spoken burdens we cannot hear to the pending dangers we cannot see, they keep a lot within their hearts. Yet, in the morning, they run at us and cheer us up. They are faithful, persevering and brave and we should care  about them too. So, when next the night comes and your dog is wide awake and very bored, show him\her some care and offer a pat before you go and snore aloud.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

NYSC & Social Work: Enhancing the Safety of Pedestrians

When crossing roads, look left, look right, and wait until the road is not busy. Once the road appears free, look left again, look right again before taking big leaps. If in doubt, wait and check again. Those are lines often used by parents, guardians and even road safety officials when enlightening children, the aged or the general public. Perhaps, that was how many of us learnt to cross busy roads.

After reaching out to the primary and secondary school students in Victoria Island and sharing the euphoria of Christmas with gentle orphans in 2011, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members of the Drama CD group in Eti Osa 1 local government (LG) lately set out to impact their immediate environment. Their newest community development (CD) project work titled, Project Zebra Crossing, was initiated on February 17 2012 and completed on the 24th day of the same month. The project which had been chosen from a pool of ideas generated by corps members in a recent call for submissions was funded and executed by the CD group members while artisan manpower and traffic regulation resources were provided by the works personnel of the Eti Osa 1 LG. The Drama CD group coordinator, Alhaja A.O. Igara, had mandated all corps members to assemble and brainstorm for new projects some weeks ago and the Zebra crossing idea was one of the many realistic and proactive suggestions.

Chosen because of its budget-friendliness and the need for a pedestrian walk on the Muri Okunola Street in Victoria Island, the Zebra crossing project attracted the attention of many workers and inhabitants in the neighbourhood. During the project execution proper, the Drama CD group members safely redirected traffic onto one side of the two-lane road and consciously sped up the rate of the Zebra crossing’s construction. This was done to reduce the effect of their work on the ease of traffic. It is unfortunate that many road users, motorcyclists especially, do not know the meaning of a Zebra crossing. Partly because of their ignorance for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) road users’ handbooks, several drivers, pedestrians and riders guessed that the well-spaced white lines are often put for mere beautification purposes. To rectify this speculation, some of the corps members briefly orientated a few commercial motorcyclists on the implication of the newly constructed Zebra crossing.

In December last year, the FRSC reported that 171 lives were lost in 268 known crashes. In February alone, the corps has found no less than 52 dead persons in ghastly road accidents while several survivors are still on admission in specialist hospitals receiving due treatments. On Fridays, several tens of muslim faithfuls troop out of the central mosque located within the Eti Osa 1 local government office after observing their religious duty. As such, crossing the road hastily on such days could result in pernicious collisions with motorcycles, automobiles or any other moving machinery. And, considering the desire of most pedestrians to be punctual at the mosque or leave after the prayers, accidents are not impossible. In the same vein, the NYSC corps members who often cross from their local government office to the opposite commercial complex en masse and in search fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) are vulnerable to road mishaps. Consequently, the Drama CD group thought it wise to improve the safety of all pedestrians and corps members by providing a Zebra crossing on the roads in front of the Eti Osa 1 LG.

Read More at: The Nigerian Guardian

See Photos on: Flicker page