UNDER THE RADAR — ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE: AN APPRAISAL

Preamble

In the village of my birth which is in God’s own State, and by extension all original traditional settlements around the globe,the town crier’s Ekwe (gong) wooden or metallic, is a symbol of authority and a major instrument for information dissemination. The sound waves it generatesconstitute an alert signal to all dwellers to suspend every other activity and pay attention to the information being disseminated.

The town crier disseminates information from village square to village square with the aid of the Ekwe which he holds firmly in his left hand and a one-foot-long seasoned hard stick the size of a middle finger in his right.

To gain attention of his intended audience, heraises the Ekweone footaway from the chest level while on the move, and strikes it intermittently with the seasoned stick; gently at first and gradually increases to a higher frequency for the highest impact. The quality of sound produced is governed by the rate of vibrations producing it. The energy generated penetratesdeep into the immediate surroundings and dissipates in the form of sound waves.

This sound wave bounces back and forth fromobjects in the surrounding environment. Objects with larger total surface area reflects more wave while those with smaller surface area reflect lesser waves; walls, roof tops,plants, leaves, ant hills and animal lifeetc. By echolocation,inhabitants living nearby, young and old, are drawn to the source of the soundto catch a glimpse of the town crier and receivethe information being disseminated.Every other inhabitant who could not readily get to the source of the sound but perceives that it is the distinct soundof the Ekwe, freezes on the spot and listens attentively.

This display of authority by the town crier persists untilhegets to a centralised location in each village squarewhere everybody in that neighborhood could hear him distinctly without distortion.  Hehalts abruptly and freezes on the spot like an inanimate object; you could hear a pin drop.Seconds after, hetakes a deep breadth and clears his throat loudly in the glare of those who had gathered to listen and hear the latest development. Eloquently but persuasively he announces to the people the decisions and/or resolutions, policies and programs agreed upon by the Council of Elders(CoE)that sent him; most of which are prescriptive and mandatory for the inhabitants.This process is repeateduntil he has successfully passedon the message to all inhabitants.

Amazingly nobody exhibits any iota of doubts or query what he/she has heard or shows some signs of stubbornness to constituted authority. Rather,everybodywelcomes it, embraces every instructions and directives of the CoE, and pursues its realisation with vigour.In the village of my birth, the information passed by the town crier is sacrosanct.

Often, the issues addressed are as diverse as species of trees in the forest. There rangefrom environmental issues, energy issues, economic issues, marital issues, conflict issues, agricultural issues, housing issues, to social responsibility issues to which inhabitants are to be held accountable. Usually, when people at all level of society perceive something would benefit them, they embrace it support its actualization. What you find in such situation full scale loyalty of all concerned.I admire the tenacity of the African village dweller in this regard.

Before you begin to form an opinion about the write-up, it is important to let you know that the paper is not about African traditional practices but an exposition on the contentious issues of Environmental Degradation and Climate Change with the underlying assumption that when the African is firmly convinced of something, he/she holds tenaciously to it and goes the extra mile to seek for solutionand rectifies any abnormality if it is in his/her power to act. To go ahead with this exposition, let me put your thoughts on the tendency of the African to acculturate at the slightest opportunity.

One of such convictions is the fact that the earth in which we live, dwell and have our being as humans is in constant turmoil and changing rapidly; no one, even science cannot stop the process.

Look around you; everything is changing.  There is environmental degradation everywhere you turn. You may not perceive it but the biodiversity that bears the brunt of degradation can confirm it.The environment is changing faster because the climate is changing fastertoo. Now Climate Change has become a long term global issue which requires a long term global solution.