"Éseéchinikañkendakéjemujoétim" (The hissing of the millipedes can only be heard when dry leaves are burnt)."
The millipede is gradually disappearing in Annang land as a result of the use of the DDT to control mosquito following the civil war in Nigeria. Prior to this, it was everywhere. Different varieties were seen. From the yellow brown variety to the jet black and red that were found in the forest, the millipedes were everywhere. One of the characteristics of these detestable creatures is that it seldom makes any sound, but the Annang believes that when in danger, the millipede hisses and a sure way to bring this out is through burning. Thus the saying arose that when one sets fire to dry leaves where the creature might be, the hissing sound of the millipedes might be heard. Thus, certain actions are purposeful in ferreting out what is seldom known. Individuals may lay bare the facts when in dire situations, and purposeful planning may accomplish what may appear impossible and difficult.
The world is a place of trials and error for nothing is ever gained without a risk. Since this is a place of uncertainty, to get certain answers and to discover what we need requires a certain amount of risk. Our forebears knew that and expressed it beautifully by saying that hearing the hissing of a millipede requires taking the risk of purposely setting a fire. The American historian, Kenneth Davis, once wrote: “Any life truly lived is a risky business, and if one puts up too many fences against the risks, one ends by shutting out life itself”. We cannot truly live without taking some form of risk. Crossing the street is a risk and so is riding a bicycle. Driving a car is a risk and so is flying in a plane. Nothing comes to us without an associated risk and if we are to pay more attention to such risk we become shut out from life itself.
We cannot see any growth without venturing out and taking a risk. The Indian guru, Rabindranath Tagore, once said that we cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. No matter how difficult the task, the first task of accomplishing anything is through a determination to do it. Once such determination has been made, the next thing is to persevere no matter what obstacles we face. Quitting is why so many do not achieve anything. They take the easy way out and rationalized their behavior by trying to solicit our sympathies through stories of hardships and woe and in the process they justify to themselves that they are normal and that they had a good reason to quit. The problem is that quitting leads us to nowhere except to where we began: with nothing. Are you taking risks or are you being cautious? Do you give up easily or do you persevere? Are you more inclined to think about all the things you do not have and all the people that are not helping you instead of thinking about all the things that you do have to work with? Those who conquer are those who persevere and as St. Paul reminded the early church, If God is for you, who can be against you?
We pray that you find the strength to continue working towards your goal today.
Adede (Dr.) Ezekiel Ette
For Annang Writers Association (A division of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc.)
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DISCLAIMER: Views expressed here are solely that of the author and do not represent the official position of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc. or any of its affiliate.