By Richard Imhoagene, Longlife Gedu
Nigeria's latest enemy, the Ebola virus, has not only come to kill and to steal our loved ones, but to destroy our eating culture. The first time news of Ebola came to me, the first warning I got was “stay away from bushmeat.”
Before long, that personal warning from a telephone call had become a national orientation. Today, the fear of bushmeat is the beginning of wisdom.
Stop for a bit and ponder on these figments of imagination… there’s Joy galore in the Animal kingdom. The biggest party the world has ever seen. The flora is as green as ever, bursting with celebration. Sweet fresh coconut juice can pass for Champaign; hummingbirds and chest-beating chimps can provider good music, and yes, the celebration can begin. Lest I forget, the Monkey, Bush Pig and fruit Bat are the chief celebrants.
These can become fragments of reality only if they knew the liberty they are beginning to enjoy. Since creation, man has hunted the animal for food, diary, and clothing. It has been that way from generation to generation. The continuous exploitation of the wild has continually triggered protests and agitations from zoologists and conservationists who seek to protect animal species from extinction”.
Apart from deforestation, a product of urbanization, hunting is the single major enemy of the wild posing serious threat to animal existence. In societies like Nigeria where the bushmeat market is serious business and where there are no legislations prohibiting such animal exploitation, hunters have had a good time over the years extolling bushmeat consumption to the status of “luxury.” An average sized Rabbit before now cost as high as N1, 500 (one thousand, five hundred naira).
All that has changed today. It is surprising to know that there can ever be a time when the Ijaw man can eat Kpukpuru and black soup without bush meat. People no longer eat bushmeat for fear of Ebola. In fact, the bush meat industry has been sickened by the infectious Ebola virus. Investigations have revealed that a full-sized grass cutter now sell for as low as N400 (four hundred naira) due to lack of patronage.
Health experts and scientists have provided a list of major hosts and possible carriers of the virus including monkeys, pigs and fruit bats, but Nigerians, true to their hyper-sensitive and “false-alarmy’ character, have chosen to desist from the consumption of any kind of bushmeat. Even the innocent bush rabbit has been labeled “Ebolized” by Nigerians.
These are rainy days for Nigerian hunters. While humans mourn these terrible times, animals are expected to jubilate, but that is if they had 10 percent of man’s intelligence. Their cognition is perhaps too crude to fathom the times and seasons. They would’ve known that hunters are “sheathing” their guns and blades, and so they and their kinds can live beyond their prior determined life expectancy.
Wait a minute! This may also mean an explosion in animal population. While human population sadly continues to decrease, animals are increasing in number daily. Again, if they (animals) were half as intelligent as humans, they’ll probably plot a vengeance against the human race for the holocaust we have carried out against them all these years. At this rate, they’ll probably just be plenty more to kill when we must have conquered Ebola.
Even Suya sellers are not left out of this misery as they carry their faces about, despair written all over them. The few individuals who still patronize them do so after conducting UTME examination on the poor illiterate seller. They ask questions like “what animal is this?” what part of the animal is this, and where did you buy this meat? “They even go as far as examining the meat itself.
“Over time, man has continued to give up certain pleasures for fear of death. Bird flu said we should not eat chicken, Lassa fever had once told us to stay away from bush rats. Remember HIV/AIDS keep reminding us to abstain from sex, even as cancer tells us continually to avoid the momentary and transient pleasures of alcohol, smoking, and certain foods – and we seem to obey. Indeed, nobody wants to die but we all want to get to heaven.
The dreaded and most deadly disease which rocked the country on July 25th, 2014 called Ebola has been recorded as the most dangerous disease that has ever invaded the human race. This disease since its arrival has disrupted so many activities in the country, causing death and also creating enmity between friends and associates.
The deadly disease, Ebola now sets the pace for humans as to how they should interact with one another, the mode of interaction and the kind of food they should eat and the kind of animal they should buy for consumption.
Before the invasion of Ebola, there was the existence of HIV/AIDS but yet this did not keep a communication gap between humans because people who had the disease still lived among their peers, exchanging handshake pleasantries, eating together and so on as long as they lived.
Man is now told not to exchange hand shake during pleasantries and thereby making the Christian faithfuls to almost doubt God as if His words are not true by embarking on a precautionary method of discouraging handshakes in the church which also prompted the outsiders to adopt same.
Aside the exchange of handshake, Ebola has also restricted man from eating bush meat because they were said to be the carriers of the virus.
People who ordinarily could not do without eating bushmeats have abandoned the meat for fear of contracting the deadly virus.
God the Creator of all things in the beginning gave man the freedom to eat everything in the garden of Eden including the animals except for one particular fruit.
But unfortunately this aspect of the word of God is almost defeated due to Ebola. Majority of Nigerian fore fathers were hunters whose primary aim was hunting animals for the consumption of man. It also served as a source of income for them even before now.
But as it is now, hunters can no longer hunt for animals because people have been discouraged from eating animals in order not to contract the dreaded disease, which on the other hand has rendered them (hunters) jobless.
However, there is call for celebration in the animal kingdom due to the fact that hunters may no longer hunt for them and so there is what I call “the independence of the animal kingdom”.
Because they are now free to move wherever they want. As a matter of fact if an animal is found coming form the forest to pass through a location where there is crowd of people, there is the tendency that people will run away to allow it pass instead of death penalty that would have been metted on it.
There will also be increase in population in the animal kingdom or population explosion because animals which ordinarily would have been killed by hunters can now stay for as long as they can and also give birth to their young ones.
One major hazard of this animal population explosion is the fact that there will be low farm productivity because these animals will invade farmland to feed on the crops/vegetables that have been planted by farmers causing low productivity in the agricultural sector.
There is also likelihood that these animals would also have their chances of invading our villages and cities in search of food.
Therefore, there is joy in the animal kingdom because they have just been given independence since the creation of the world to live and not to die any more in the hands of man who has been its greatest enemy.