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Snakes, Cattle and Rodents: Nigeria in the Animal Kingdom - Mayor Ikoroha

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All the animals, most of them with miens and postures of righteous indignation, were gathered around the Lion.

“This is unbelievable!” the Lion roared. “First, their would-be leader referred to baboons and monkeys being soaked in blood. Then he became president and his spokesman rattled rats and rodents. Most recently his people were killing and maiming because of cattle. And now snakes. Unbelievable!”

The Hyena made a loud noise. He may have laughed or cried. They both sound alike.

“Why did you leave yourself out?” he asked the Lion, wagging his tail and everyone realised that the noise he made was a laugh. “Was it because you were the only one used in positive light? Because Buhari’s spokesman referred to The Lion King?”

“I know that you are still hurt over the president’s wife’s statement,” the Lion mocked the Hyena. “She said they are going to chase Hyenas and Jackals out of her husband’s kingdom when the president returns from medical tourism. But we all know it was never done. So you shouldn’t be sad over it. It turned out to be an empty statement.”

The Hyena laughed again. This time it was in anger.

“Why didn’t they leave us out of their affairs?” he asked. “When last did a Hyena or Jackal disturb anyone in Nigeria? Why must we always be presented in negative light by humans? Why are the Lions the only animals always presented in positive light?”

“The rats were also used in positive light,” the Cat mewed in protest. “They were attributed with superhuman powers. How can ordinary rats chase a man presiding over the affairs of 180 million human beings and tens of billions of animals out of his office?”

The dog barked at the cat in disagreement.

“I don’t think that incident favoured the Rat,” the Dog said. “The president’s ardent supporters seemed very aggrieved with the Rat. Most of them bought rat poison in large quantities. Many rats were unnecessarily killed as a result. I should know because I am closer to Nigerians than every other animal here.”

“Maybe you are correct,” the Cat replied. “I remember a lot of my siblings, especially those at the northern part of Nigeria, were in high demand during that period.”

The mosquito leapt up and flew around, buzzing for a while, attracting everybody’s attention. It served her well because with her tiny size, there was virtually no other way she could have drawn attention to herself. She rested on the ear of the dog.

“So you think you are closer to Nigerians more than anyone else here?” she asked the dog. “Would you want to reconsider your statement?”

“They trust me,” the dog insisted. “I am man’s best friend.”

The Cow mooed in mockery.

“Are you sure you are man’s best friend in Nigeria?” he asked the dog. “How many Nigerians have been killed because of a dog?”

“I want the Cow to keep away from this deliberation,” the Lion stated. “You give all animals in Nigeria a very bad name. Thousands of Nigerians have been killed because of you. The country is on the brink of disintegration because of you. You should have some sense of remorse. Please don’t say anything today.”

“That is not fair,” the Cow protested. “What did I do? Did I kill anyone? Did I hurt anyone? Am I not only being dragged around into the farmlands of people by my handlers under the guise of feeding me?”

“But you could have resisted,” the Dog barked.

“Resist?” asked the Cow. “Maybe you don’t know how painful the koboko and the bulala are.”

“But we can’t continue like this,” the Lion said. “Nigerians now talk about Cattle more than any other thing. I hear that many of them now pray and fast for the mass death of cows, believing that it would bring peace to the country. The situation is giving all animals a bad name and may lead to catastrophic consequences. The Hen and the Goat jointly reported two weeks ago that Nigerians in the southern part of the country are planning to boycott the consumption of Cattle. They are afraid that that would mean untimely death of millions of Chicken and Goat and also fishes. The Cow must do better to save other animals from premature demise.”

“What can I do?” the Cow asked and mooed stridently in annoyance. “Who mentions the Cow in bad light in other countries of the world? In most of those countries, we live peacefully in ranches. Nigerians are using us for their selfish purposes. We are been used by those who want to grab the land of others. The Nigerian government is talking about Cattle Colonies. Can you imagine Cattle being associated with colonization? Cattle Colonies!”

The Lion roared. The Snake hissed. The Elephant trumpeted. The Monkey screamed. The Pidgeon cooed. The Goat bleated. The Eagle screeched. The Walrus groaned. The Rhino bellowed. The Cricket chirped. All the animals shouted in disgust.

“That is our pitiable fate in Nigeria. We are being used by Nigerians to settle political and religious scores. We are being used as an excuse to kill and maim innocent people in thousands. Now we are being associated with violence, machetes, guns, mass killings and terrorism. Our handlers are now said to be the fourth largest terrorist organisation in the world.”

The Cow mooed again, this time for a long time. Other animals observed that he was shedding tears.

“Nigerians, if you continue treating us this way, you can never have peace,” he swore. “Lions, snakes, crocodiles, even mosquitoes all kill humans in scores. Now the Cow is associated with mass murder. Only in Nigeria!”

“Shut up!” the Lion roared. “Don’t bring us into this. I remember in the past you came here complaining that you no longer live very long because of the many creative ways Nigerians were using to shorten your lifespan – suya, kirishi, cowleg, cowtail, cowhead, kanda and so on. Maybe they got wind of your complaints and decided to make you the animal most linked to the death of Nigerians.”

The mosquito buzzed and flew around again. She perched on the back of the Lion who wagged his tail to send her away. She then perched on the horn of the Cow and the latter shook his head to chase her away. The mosquito finally settled on the husk of the elephant and buzzed again as the Lion and the Cow glared at her.

“This tiny thing!” the Lion roared. “This female irritant.”

“I am the female anopheles Mosquito,” she replied. “I kill Nigerians in thousands. Please never give that honour to any other animal.”

“The Cow is becoming your closest challenger,” the Rat squealed. “But whatever you do, no one can match my achievement. None can ever force the president to abandon his office.”

“Let’s tackle the issue that brought us here,” the Lion said. “The Snake has been accused of swallowing 36 million naira. Nigerians are apoplectic over the incident. We want to find out exactly what happened. Let us hear from the snake.”

The Snake, a 20-foot python, hissed and curled himself around a huge Iroko tree to show off his enormous size.

“Let us understand 36 million naira first,” he said. “That would mean 36,000 pieces of N1, 000 notes. That would mean 5 Ghana Must Go bags of average size. Owing to the fact that the money was realised from the sale of JAMB scratch cards sold largely to youths who are known to use mainly N100, N200 and N500 notes, it means that we should have at least 10 Ghana Must Go bags of average sizes. Can you imagine a snake gulping 10 Ghana Must Go bags even in Nollywood movies?”

The Bat screeched. The Parrot squawked. The Rhino bellowed. The Frog croaked. The Turkey gobbled. The Horse neighed. The Pig grunted. The Duck quacked. The Swan cried. The Vulture screamed. All the animals yelled in disgust.

“It is very amazing excuses Nigerians give for impunity, corruption and incompetence,” the Snake continued. “When the Goat told me about the allegation and I flatly denied it, he insisted that I must have done it; that I have always hated humans which is why they hate me so much; that I was very greedy that I want to consume 36 million naira alone; that I was once accused of swallowing an elephant so I can swallow anything of any size.”

“You can’t deny the truth!” the Goat bleated.

“I am not surprised you have little sense,” the Snake mocked the Goat. “That is why Nigerians leave you to roam about without any form of restriction even when they are about to slaughter you, knowing that you can never run away. They only feed you with useless grasses and their leftover and in the south east they use you to thank those who give them Cattle as gift. For your information, when I swallow a goat, it melts in my stomach after some days. Thirty-six million naira can never melt. Money is not a living organism. I did not swallow any money!”

“I am satisfied with the Cow’s explanation,” the Lion said. “We have to send a delegation to the Nigerian government to leave animals out of their corruption, incompetence and wanton violence. The delegation would consist of the Baboon and the Monkey, the Hyena and the Jackal, the Rat and the Snake.”

“And it would be led by the Lion King,” the Goat suggested.

“No, the delegation would be led by the Cow,” the Lion stated. “I understand they love the Cow more than fellow human beings.”

Mayor Ikoroha is an author and blogger. He is on twitter as @tellthemayor

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