Whistling in Sambisa forest

Symbolism with Simbo Olorunfemi

Email: simboor@yahoo.com Twitter: @simboolorunfemi

Simbo QEDWho could have seen it coming? Who could have seen the forest pocketing our land in its belly? But here we are – the rambunctious giant is overwhelmed on account of its many failings. The forest has finally overtaken the land. Our land has become one huge forest – infested with all kinds of demons. The little demons of yesterday have grown massive wings. There are ugly demons all over – daring us to dare. The nation has lost its way. We are all now whistling from our different enclaves in the forest, yet we are in the dark. We think we are shouting. But our voices are faint, swallowed by other voices. We can no longer see ourselves. We cannot find our way. We can no longer make our way out. We are marooned in Sambisa forest – lost to the world, lost to ourselves. Sambisa forest has come to define us as a people.

Are we even thinking, at all? Have we realised where we are, at the moment? We are too busy tearing at ourselves. Too lost in ourselves to be able to realise we are truly lost. Too self-centred to realise we ought to be finding our way out of the well we have helped ourselves into. But we are too busy screaming at ourselves, debating every move, reading meaning to every thought and action of people around us. Rather than seek the means to pull together, we are acquiring more flash-lights to dig into the hidden corners for reasons not to think as one. We need to simply shut up and put on the thinking cap, but we are so loud, the voice of reason is lost – it is but a whisper in this dark Sambisa forest.

Rather than bring down the trees that are standing between us, or at least prune the branches, we are busy planting more trees of hatred. We are fortifying the forest, shutting ourselves in, making it more impregnable for the forces of progress and development to make their way in. We are busy planting trees of animosity with our words. Ethnic jingoists are singing discordant tunes. They are competing with merchants of religious intolerance to fan the embers of hatred. Young men who were not around when yesterday’s wars were fought are getting drunk on their own lie of the superiority of one ethnic group over others. Some of our misguided friends only feel good when they are allowed into the cemetery to exhume skeletons, to further stoke raging fires that dot the forest.

There is an overcast of angst over the land. These are delicate times. But it would seem those who have voices are not aware of this. Many are speaking, simply for their voices to be heard. We are easily given to carelessness, recklessness and insensitivity. We have turned the online media platforms into one Sambisa forest. The posts, tweets and comments on social and conventional media platforms reek of hate. We now have standing armies trawling the net, seeking for perceived enemies to take on. The Voltrons often come – not with superior arguments, but to defend the indefensible, malign perceived opponents, confuse issues, and cause division. There are no-go areas, in the bid to drive home their jaundiced views. Logic or facts do not count for anything with them. Insults are hurled across party, ethnic and religious divides, as if there is no tomorrow.

There is a word of caution attributed to one Omar Bangura, a Sierra-Leonean, making the rounds on the net. He says – “I don’t think you guys know what you are playing with. You can call each other names and laugh about it now but when you end up inciting hate here as I read through your posts here and a real civil war start in your country you will regret what you are doing now.”

One hopes those who have ears are taking heed. It is interesting that the most insensitive bunch, including  those touting the Chibok abduction  a hoax, those who have taken delight in posting all manner of sarcastic and derogatory remarks about those strong enough to keep up with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign are also putting up the post by Omar Bangura. Perhaps, they cannot see it applies to them. They might need to take time to read the post again – it applies to them as much as they think it speaks to others. We need to remember that Nigeria is not the only country in the world with centrifugal and centripetal forces pulling in opposite directions. We have to be sensible, while there is still time. We are all together in this Sambisa forest.  The shout in one nondescript corner of the forest is only a whisper in the other end.  The time to come together to fashion a way out of our Sambisa forest is now. We do not have time.