People who are living in the hub of cities or in permanently noisy area like industrial estate or along ever busy highways are not likely to experience the chirping and twittering small birds at dawn heralding the wake of a new day. Their singing is cheerful, soothing and invigorating to human beings who savour nature. People who live in the suburbs or in the rural areas, or in serene environments as obtains in the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso are capable of confirming the early hours’ gift of nature to mankind.
It is the small kinds of birds that chirp and twitter. When a bird chirps, it makes a short and sharp note; when it makes the chirping continuously, we say the bird is twittering. These small birds are of different kinds and each has a peculiar way of chirping and twittering – those who live in the rural areas and the bird watchers are in most cases able to identify birds by their singing without seeing them just the way you can know that it is a cock that is crowing, or a dove that is cooing or an owl that is hooting without seeing them. Like the small birds, each of the bigger birds also has its peculiar way of crying or calling out. When next you go to a rural set up, ask the dwellers if you are so interested.
Apart from being early morning pleasure, birds’ twittering is beneficial to man in many other ways. if you have a fig tree “Igi odan” in front of your house and the weaver birds “Eye ega” have their colony on the tree, our tribe considers it to be a harbinger of good fortune to those who live in the house even though the birds may be disturbingly noisome at times. Twittering birds can also be an omen of warning to palm wine tappers or those who climb trees to pluck fruits. If some birds are clustering and chirping on top of a palm tree or around a branch of a tree, let the tapper or the fruit plucker be wary, a snake is lurking in such area of their clustering. Do you know that an important and powerful clan of Yoruba extract must neither kill nor eat the meat of weaver birds! The birds had prevented the ancestors of the clan from being totally exterminated by some invaders! How? You would want to ask: the invaders knew they were no match in face to face battle with the warlike clan and so decided to catch them unawares by climbing and hiding on many fig trees that were many in the clan’s abode in the dead of night not knowing that weaver birds were nestling on the trees. Early in the morning the birds seeing the intruders kept chattering unusually which gave the people the impulse of strange thing happening, as a result, the invaders were massacred. There are so many clans in Yoruba tribe that have similar familiar peculiarities. If you are interested in knowing why a family must either do or not do something, go and ask my articulate friend, Ojo Oluwatanna, who is a good repository on “Reason why – Idi abajo.”
However one man’s taboo is another man’s delicacy! People don’t normally go out catapulting or shooting at weaver birds but when there is a heavy down pour, many of the birds get drenched and fall from their nests. If someone who does not belong to the family I earlier mentioned is able to pick twenty to thirty of the small birds he or she would have a potful of tasty bird meat! Once I asked a friend in our village who I found roasting ‘Ega’ carcasses on the fire of what value the meat of small birds of that sort is. He simply replied that whole ‘Ega’ meat tastes more and delicious than a piece of cow or goat meat you town people buy for one hundred naira at food canteens. These small birds give joy to man, so don’t go out hunting them for your pot; rather you should cherish and appreciate them for carrying out their ordained duty to mankind.
The oracle says: the “Oluigbo,” the jungle king is angry at the twittering bird because the bird refuses to twitter the king’s note. Why? Because the bird says the king’s note is at discord with harmony and that such a note is not expected of a good monarch. The king becomes furious and orders that the bird should no longer twitter within his jungle and none of the jungle dwellers must listen to the bird’s twittering or ask it to twitter their note! The jungle dwellers say: “Haba, Oluigbo why are you using sledge hammer to kill a gnat? You cannot block our ears from listening to the bird’s twittering; neither can you prevent us from asking the bird to twitter our notes. Who can gag the twittering bird from twittering: no one can gag the twittering bird from twittering so says the oracle. The birds continue their twittering in neighbouring jungle out of reach of Oluigbo’s tentacles.
The above oracle divines for the current governance in Nigeria where democracy is being replaced by despotic autocracy, where obnoxious laws are being daily reeled out to gag citizens from talking truthfully, where minority members of the legislative house cannot bring the yearnings of the area they represent to the hearing of the house without facing suspension from the majority members – Kwara state, a case study, where vis-à-vis tribal favouritsm, other tribes who are not from the helmsman’s tribe cannot agitate for their right, where the helmsman’s tribe’s men perpetrating dastard deeds go scot free but genuine agitators from other tribes are treated as criminals and terrorists, where mediocrity or blatant ignorance is extolled, where in this modern world, a reasonable authority can be asking for the resuscitation of ancient cattle routes, where the federal might would tie the hands of one party and allow the other party rain slaps on the face of the tied one, where someone prompted by ravaging hunger to steal a cup of rice or garri is traumatized and another person who embezzled a huge sum from the public coffers is glossed over because he or she belongs to the ruling class. Think of any lopsided attitude on the part of the federal might, it is happening in Nigeria and no opposition dares talk about them without courting the wrath of the helmsman and his henchmen. Yet they say the twittering birds must not twitter about these! Remember what the oracle says: no one can gag the twittering bird from carrying out its ordained twittering; the ragged dancer dancing in the pitch of night, the daylight is drawing nearer for her.
Can you imagine what chaotic atmosphere would exist if the United Kingdom (UK), France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy are regions or states or zones in only one nation? These European countries have similar outlook to life: their languages are similar (peruse the translations of John 3:16 in the New Testament handbook in the languages of the nations, you cannot fail to notice the resemblances). Their culture, values and customs are very similar; yet they are distinct nations; one is not a part of the other. Now come to Nigeria, our culture, historical background, custom, value and language are not in any way similar neither do our thinking faculties work in the same wave. Why then the forced unity? The aspects that differentiate Nigerian tribes are of permanent nature; they cannot be compromised, glossed over, ignored, swept under the carpet or improved upon. “A” is naturally different from “B”, “C” or “D”. What brings us together is ordinarily the name ‘Nigeria’ which is ephemeral in nature and is capable of fading away at anytime.