One of the wonders of the 21st century to me is the power of technology; that is, the power of science and the power of environmental transformation through scientific reasoning. Whoever imagined that in so short a time man would develop drone technology that could be deployed to the kind of use that we currently associate it with? With drone technology you could travel without traveling, you know, strike something positive or negative from a remote place, with no real physical contact.
What about robotic engineering? That one! You could deploy robots to fight a war or clear a large portion of land for farming. It is this same spirit that has led to the driverless-car technology! Can you beat that? A car that is self-driven even inside the madness that is Lagos, meandering successfully between crazy danfo drivers in says, Mushin or Oshodi or some God-forsaken areas of Lagos or Warri or Ibadan, reckless okada riders and drunken Yahoo boys! Technology, my brother, will not kill us. I got really disturbed that while the world dreamt and deployed technology; we were dreaming and deploying malu!
My mind started wandering and wondering about technology during the high-tension week of RUGA, the malu matter that almost exploded the fragile nature of our dithering republic. In other words, I wondered why we were thinking malu while the rest of the world was thinking technology. Malu! Nama! Suya- the potential cause of a conflagration in a federation that had managed to hold itself together some sixty-odd years! I wondered whether we could not start thinking of technology in resolving the Malu matter. Last year, it was a House of Representatives member, a lady if I remember correctly, that pummeled us out of our infantile ignorance when on the floor of the House she asserted that ‘malu’ is more important than the life of the herdsman. I didn’t find it funny. It was educative.
It was revelatory. I remembered Cyprian Ekwensi’s novel, Burning Grass, and things fell into place. I sat back to weigh the import of that definite assertion: the life of malu is more important than the life of the nomad! Did any of us in the southern part of the country ever attach any importance to that bloody meat we love to consume every day? I doubt if we ever did. As an aside, this same malu is deified in parts of India, yet it has not led to world war because we eat the hell out of it in Nigeria and Brazil (Burrito) or Argentina or Australia!
If technology can produce genetically modified crops, why can’t it be deployed to reduce wandering cows so aptly captured by J.P. Clark in that poem of angst poignantly titled Fulani Cattle? Technology and malu! We all got used to the roadside suya before grilling came and we are told that we could actually prepare our suya at home with minimum supervision. Be sure that it won’t taste the same! The roadside culture is part of the ethic of eating suya. Suya that is made at home by a non-Hausa or Fulani is no suya at all! Is this not a myth? There are some of us who have given up beef for health reasons and the aroma of suya is haram to our sensibilities. So, there! But we are also told that about ten thousand sad cows are murdered daily in Lagos to meet our daily consumption demands! Waow! Is that not a frightening figure? Is that not a smiling-to-the-bank fact for the owners of cattle? So, who is ready to give up that cattle fight so easily?
Our big mouths are wide open every day in Lagos to kill ten thousand beasts to thrill our palates. Is that not enough reason for the spirit of malu to throw confusion into the land in order to quench our desire for killing harmless beasts? The nomad used to carry sticks around to shepherd those docile animals. These days some nomads carry AK-47 weapons! Hahahahahaha! Have they gone nuclear or technological in securing the cows? Boy, who is ahead in the struggle for possession, for control of economic resources? Which makes me wonder why the same technology cannot be deployed to feeding and maintaining the cows. The arid lands of the desert around the northern fringes of the country could be fully harnessed as feeding and breeding ground for cattle. Consider the notorious Sambisa Forest! With technology, we could wipe out the Boko Haram scoundrels and convert the land to a massive ranch, scientifically reinforced yearly for continuity.
Technology and Malu! I visited Israel around 2011 and was amazed by what the Israelis had done with watering the desert, by piping water (is it from the Mediterranean Sea?) to farms thousands of miles away because of the challenge of land. I saw that fruit which I love – bananas – everywhere, looking as luscious and unearthly as they come! Where nature proved stubborn science came to the rescue. Just imagine the scenario if Israel were to depend on Palestinians for water and agricultural resources! Hehehehehehehe!
So, let technology come to the rescue. Whoever developed the Ruga idea and the proposed manner of implementation was either infinitely arrogant and insensitive or disrespectful of the rules governing cultural and social relations particularly in a multinational setting. One of the obligations of leadership is to read the mood and feelings of the people all the time.
There is palpable fear and concern in the country currently that the presidency is sworn to promote a clannish agenda that is in dissonance, which counters the received system of management of plurality which the country had enjoyed even under military administrations. The Ruga idea and timing is akin to Decree 34 of 1966, which led to massive resistance even though its promulgators claimed to have good intentions. If the presidency is not aware that there is simmering anger against the government in the country, then the nation is in danger. This is not party politics. It is a reality. The government must learn to say the right things, do the right things and generally give hope to the people.
Malu Technology! I didn’t set out to write a serious essay, yet here I am sounding serious. No one, except the gun-toting herdsmen, should take ‘Malu technology’ seriously. Of course, their patrons too! We the consumers can skip malu meals for a while and stay healthy. After all, our doctors warn against malu consumption after Age 50, particularly those battling with high blood pressure and high cholesterol issues. Won’t it be great if we deploy technology to breed the cows in a ranch somewhere close to Fulani country and used the same technology to transport the finished product to the rest of the country? If the AK47 has been deployed to protect cows something should be deployed to respect the plurality of the constituent parts of the nation. Technology is the way to go! The world is thinking about technology and we are thinking malu! If that is not malu behavior then we may need to re-understand malu!