The torrential rain of ineptness, negligence, stubbornness and greed pouring on us on a daily basis ensures that every year when it rains we feed our land and people to the sea like some Aztec tribe offering human sacrifice to appease malevolent gods.
The ritual preceding the yearly August sacrifice to the deities of Samba gutter, kroo bay, and the Ocean starts with the patching of our shanty homes precariously on the path of waterways, the ripping of vegetation from the hills, rolling of boulders from mountain tops, the blocking of drainages with plastic products and the ever present flood of lawlessness.
After the completion of the rituals the August down pour begins with mudslides, landslides and flood taking everything in its path like an angry god.
The potential corpses of the next rain rush to the scenes with their pre-prepared templates to report a self made disaster.
This year alone the number of the dead in this senseless ritual has risen to nearly twenty. The figure is insignificant when compared to the number killed so far in previous years.
Yet year after year we repeat the same rituals we build our shanties in disaster prone areas in the dry season and wait for the August rain to kill us and our children.
How many more August torrents do we need before it dawn on us that we are dying needlessly?
How many more lives and property must go down the drain whenever it rains before it pours on us that we are heading for anarchy? The choice of the metaphor of human sacrifice in this piece is deliberate; it is intended to communicate the deliberateness with which we allow these incidents to happen.
It is intended to communicate the power we have within us to stop the human sacrifices. It is intended to expose the priest of this human sacrifice parading the corridors of the Ministry of Country Planning in Safari suits bought with the proceeds of the rituals. It is intended to show the blood we have in our hands when we drop non bio degradable waste like plastic bags in the drainages. It is intended to expose our shared guilt when we buy the charcoal from the vendor who rendered our hills bald in the name of “hand to mot”. It is intended to stab the consciences of policy makers who should have promoted the use of alternative energy like Gas in order to save our forests. It is intended to shame those who perceived every national disaster as some political capital invested on their behalf with a return on investments in the form of votes. It is intended to bash at opinion makers who twist national debates to score cheap points in radio talk shows. It is intended to tell us that we don’t need donors to tell us that we are dying a senseless death.
These disasters would not have graduated to a norm in our existential calendar if we had listened to the many warnings and signs given to us by the Press on the dangers of abusing the environment.
As I listen to the cacophony of cries of the victims of the recent disasters, the distance auditory of Sama Banya’s voice made a solemn refrain into my ears as he warned of the pending disaster of ravaging the landscape with impunity years ago. Today we are reaping the sour grapes that we sowed and the grapes are being fed to innocent children who were not here during the planting season. The mangled remains of a toddler beneath the collapse rubble at Kissy and the cries of a three day old baby trapped for nine hours in the recent mudslide were meant to warn us of our pending collective suicide.
Before the war we were busy emphasizing our “Mendeness”, “Themneness”, “Krioness”, and all the other “nesses” that marred our lives.
The war came and de-emphasized our emphasis and united us in death and suffering. Again we have started treating the issue of the Environment as if it is a partisan issue until a non partisan tragedy unites us in death. We like to participate in the pedagogical process of the world as specimen of how not to live life perhaps that is our concept of altruism- we die so that others will learn.
Every time it rains I see the colour of the ocean changing to the colour of mud as we feed our land to the sea.
Ours is not a case of the Sea eating our land rather it is us feeding the sea. The sea is savouring the appetizer every August, until the August of all August when we shall have fed the ocean with the main course meal complete with all our Lion Mountains, sons, daughters and edifices. Historians and Poets will transform the dessert to epitaph befitting a stubborn strand of humanity. Posterity will learn of a People who like William Golding’s Children in “Lord of the Flies” took a perfectly pristine paradise and transformed it into an enlarge tomb.
How many human sacrifices must we make before we open our eyes to the coming anarchy nibbling at our existence in every August torrent? When is a civil servant who issues a permit for a structure to be built in disaster prone area is culpable of Manslaughter?
When is a father who bore a hole under a rock to build a shanty home be charged for murder of his baby? When are we going to individuate our shared guilty so that people pay for these crimes?
When are we going to stop singing the hymn of “e sorry” and go for real people behind these crimes? Definitely someone is responsible and we demand justice. I still maintained my stance in the previous article; changing attitude change, that ours is not an issue of attitude but a blatant case of lawlessness.
In my village, in bygone days, when the elders say this is a sacred bush you don’t dare to point a finger at it not to talk of making a farm in it.
But here in the city there are no elders, there is no sacred land, not even the botanical gardens of Fourah Bay College. Not even the pipe lines are sacred. If this is not anarchy, I don’t know what else is.
Olu Gordon is right, the Press is powerless they cannot bring change all by themselves; they only hope to prick the consciences of those who have the power to change things but when those consciences metamorphose to metamorphic rock it takes more than a pen to prick them.
We need dynamites to blast open those consciences if we are to save this nation from zooming to doom. As it is we are at the dawn of that doom, we only need a little downpour of our usual poverty of purpose and some August rain to drown in the flood of our flaws.
Before you trash this article as the ranting of a demented columnist remember that even the demented have a moment of brilliance and the brilliant have moments of stupidity.
About this ranting in this Flood of Flaws with all the empirical evidence, it might just be my moment of genius. Your blandness and indifference to this message might just be your moment of platonic stupidity from where all other forms of stupidity derive succour and your obituary will read they died in a flood of flaws.
By Oumar Farouk Sesay