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?

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