A parable by Reno Omokri
The Chinese have a greeting which goes ‘may you live in interesting times’. Somebody must have said that to me because I am witnessing some of the most interesting times. I am witnessing a series of events that are proving to be more entertaining than the best Hollywood and Nollywood can offer.
Since these events have been more of a case of life imitating art, I feel that I should also go poetic.
I am in a forest with many trees and all of a sudden I find myself watching a comedy of a tiny desperate tree that is shedding crocodile tears over a fruit from the mightiest Iroko tree. Both the tiny tree and the fruit from the Iroko tree have agendas that set them at cross purposes but both think they can use the other. The tiny tree wants nourishment from the fruit of the Iroko tree in order that it might become as big as the Iroko tree. The fruit thinks it is ripe and wants the tiny tree to rock the forest so that it can be detached from the parent tree and fall to the ground where its seeds will germinate in the fertile soil. It also imagines that it will become a great tree.
But what the tiny tree and the fruit it wants to suck on for nourishment do not realize is that fruits that are ripe will fall to the ground at the slightest breeze from God. As for the tiny tree, in its eagerness to cheat nature it forgets that the juice from one tree may nourish it for a day but it requires regular daily nourishment to grow into a big tree. If its roots do not reach far into the grounds it can never get the nourishment it needs. A nourishment that is daily available to the big Iroko tree.
And so the comedy continues and I keep watching. I see the unripe fruit condemning the Iroko tree that has given it nourishment to the tiny tree and I wonder at its naivety. How can a fruit condemn its tree to a shrub and expect the shrub to treat the fruit better than the tree that gave birth to it?
Does this fruit have memory at all? The spirits that ensure the codes of the forest are obeyed had once told the Iroko that it (the Iroko tree) is the source of the nutrients that nourish its fruits and that since that is the case the previous fruit in the place of the ambitious fruit could not lay claim to the nourishment and should thus shrivel away and give way to the ambitious fruit. Being that that is the case, should the fruit bite the tree that nourishes it? Who is the ultimate loser in this comedy if I may ask?
As I watched on I saw that the desperation of the tiny tree and the ambitious fruit of the Iroko tree grew such that they hatched a plan to get the monkeys in the forest to throw stones at the Iroko tree. And so the stone throwing began. The monkeys threw stones and more stones and as they threw stones a little bird flew past and whispered to them the following words ‘the Iroko tree is not upset when monkeys throw stones at it. It takes it as a compliment because nobody throws stones at a tree without fruit’.
And when the monkeys heard this, they reasoned amongst themselves that the bird’s saying was true and they sought to make a deal with the Iroko tree so that it would lower its branches in order that they could climb onto it and pluck some fruit. But the Iroko tree ignored them.
Then they said to the Iroko tree, ‘we would help you destroy the tiny tree if you will only lower your branches’. The Iroko Tree spoke for the first time and responded thus ‘why should you destroy the tiny tree? Leave it alone. I am not in competition with other trees, I am in competition with my potential. It is only those without potential that compete with those with potential in the same way as a blind man follows a man with sight’.
The monkeys saw the wisdom in this logic and left the Iroko tree and I kept on watching because the comedy was so engaging. I had never seen anything of the sort.
Pretty soon the clouds above the forest became grey and it was clear that a heavy storm was approaching. All the animals in the forest began to seek for shelter from the storm. I saw the birds and the monkeys and the elephants and the deer and the antelopes and the warthogs and all their fellow forest dwellers running to and fro seeking shelter.
‘Where shall we shelter’ they said, ‘who will save us from the coming storm’? They ran to the tiny tree but it had little room and could not shelter everybody. Then they ran to the Iroko tree and it sheltered everybody under its branches.
Finally, the storm hit. It brought with it lightning and thunder, rain and more rain but the forest animals were not affected. They were safe under the Iroko tree. And what was more, I beheld a wonderful thing. The storm caused the ripe fruits from the Iroko tree to fall to the ground to the great pleasure of the forest animals whose hunger was quenched thereby.
That storm taught the forest animals a great life lesson which is that in times of storms, you cannot shelter under tiny trees. The tiny tree itself also learnt a lesson from the storm which is that a fruit that will not fall under a storm is a fruit that is not ripe for plucking. And finally, the ambitious fruit learnt its lesson which is that it is a tree that nourishes a fruit and not a fruit that nourishes the tree.
And after everybody had learnt their lessons, the forest animals and all the trees in the forest lived happily ever after.
B. Reno Omokri is Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media.