I shall not be nice in the coming year. I intend to keep you awake a lot…
If you have ever visited my home, you would know that I am a bushman. I love dense vegetation. When you grew up in my childhood home at Inalende with the iyeye tree that had its branches intruding onto the front porch where we would all spend the bulk of the day, you would understand. When your grandfather’s furniture factory, a favorite place to visit in my youth, was located at Sango, which was in the 1970s, a newly developing suburb of Ibadan, bedecked with ancient fruit trees of several types, you would understand.
I have several trees around the house, tall hedges, a mango tree, and several flowering plants. In their wake, I have also attracted a variety of wildlife with whom I have happily cohabited. The occasional reptiles, of all hues, my own gaggle of geese to discourage the less welcomed snakes from feeling too much at home, and the dogs to patrol the grounds and to discourage unwanted visitors including neighbors from being too neighborly. But in this idyllic wildlife refuge, there’s a price to pay.
Now there are a couple of trees in front of the house. The original occupant was the “Umbrella Tree”. Don’t ask me it’s name, for I do not know. But I have loved the tree since I first observed how rapidly it grew where I originally saw it planted for the first time, and the minimal effort required on the part of the planter. The Johnny Just Come is the mango tree, about which I should write some day. It has a lesson of its own to teach. The umbrella tree is the favorite hangout of several bird species, and all have been allowed to come and go in peace. I have never been able to abide the weaverbird. I find it rude, dirty, and a particularly ungracious visitor.
The weaverbird comes as a visitor, and then it takes over your home, rearranges your furniture, craps all over your space, and with its garrulousness, it will eventually make an unwelcome visitor of you, the actual home owner. Ezekiel, my groundsman, has clear instructions, evict every weaverbird without recourse to me. We have never allowed the weaverbird to build a single nest in the jungle that I have created in my home. The eye of my own sky is not big enough to contain the weaverbird.
My sermon has little to do with the weaverbird however. I want to tell you of the several wonderful birds that do come by, and are always welcome. Because of the gaggle of geese, I have a constant flow of birdseeds in the house, corn and millets being the food for the geese. Thing is Ezekiel is the typical Nigerian worker, he has settled into a routine that involves dumping the bird feeds in a bowl on the garden floor and in their enclosure, and he would leave the geese to do their own thing. He almost always left far more than required for the geese, and the other birds have learnt to simply wait their turn.
My garden is a constant source of food for all kind of birds, and I am gratified by the cacophony of birdsongs to which I am treated at all times of the day, and all through the year. I feed them, and they sing for me. But their songs have also been a source of some consternation for me in the past, at least until I learnt about the trade off.
When the umbrella tree at the front of the house was about 2-3 years old, it began to fruit seasonally. A hard green cherry like seed. Completely useless as fruit for human consumption, as far as I know, but apparently quite the delicacy for this stunningly beautiful but noisy, blue hued, and red eyed bird. It has never taken up residence in any of my trees, but has been a constant visitor in the seasons when the trees have fruited. It feeds almost exclusively on the fruits of the umbrella tree.
Thing is, the dang bird is a bloody early bird. It would be at its feeding post pretty early in the morning, before sunrise. It would not proceed to feed, but it would begin what at the beginning of our relationship must have sounded like the wails of the banshee: this would usually begin around 5:20 AM, and it would keep at it until it would begin to feed over an hour later. I have never observed more than 4-6 of them at a time, but the geese have nothing on them for loudness, when they are in full flow. I have never managed to sleep through their choruses, and that was the beginning of my inability to sleep beyond 5AM in the morning.
Relevance? If this platform is the jungle, my page is my garden. Ezekiel is my Zuckerberg anointed unfollow/unfriend/block button, and the weaverbirds are the ones that would not be reasonable in my space. The pesky red eyed, blue hued bird? That would be me. I turn 52 years old in the coming year. I am no longer a youth. If I live for another 18 years, I’ll be having my name prefixed with “PA” and I am closer to my grave than to my cradle. When I stopped moaning about being roused so early by the pesky bird, I got about the business of using the morning productively instead of complaining about the bird.
I shall not be nice in the coming year. I intend to keep you awake a lot. I intend to scarify your conscience, and to take away your sickening capacity to find peace in this graveyard, and with the madnesses that you are helping to normalize, either by your complicit silence, or by your active collaboration, and participation in the rape of your children’s future.
Happy new year to you all.
First published 30 December, 2019.