"Ébomakeawok’iböñöibokenkpöade, adeiböñsaikwöiyöghöéchid (A bird does not sing because it is alarmed, but it sings because it has a song in its heart)"
Welcome to the month of November and welcome to the season of harvest, today we reflect on a popular saying about a familiar bird, Ebom. It is a bird that features prominently in Annang folklore. It is often given anthropomorphic characteristics. Found in the tropics, its song can be mistaken for that of the owl by those who are not familiar with this bird. A popular story with a didactic meaning concerning this bird is that of a conversation between it and the snail. The snail is said to have asked the bird to move away to avoid the snail being discovered by the hunter when the bird who insisted on singing is shot. The folklore has it that the bird refused and was consequently shot by the hunter. As the hunter picks up the half-dead bird into his sack he discovered the snail and picked it into the sack also. As both creatures met each other inside the sack the snail turned and reminded the wounded bird about the warning to shut-up or moved further away. It is said that the saying that the tears of the bird affects the snail had its origin in this tragic but mythical event. Today’s saying continues and represents the bird’s response to the snail. The bird’s song does not indicate the need to call attention to itself but rather, it is an expression of thanksgiving and a song to the world. Happiness is not found in something but in ourselves. We do not have a reason to be happy but we generate the happiness that we seek.
The absurdities of the human condition are what the existentialist writers of the last century showed us. We seem to focus on getting something that will bring us happiness. We either locate such source of happiness on something or someone but quite often on the illusion that if we have money all will be well. In the process we live our lives concentrating on what we do not have instead of what we have. Like an ever moving target, what we believe will bring us happiness keeps slipping away and the more we move towards it the faster it slips away. Sometimes when we finally get it within grasp we discover that such object once seen as a source of happiness needs more to fulfill the mission and so we start the quest again. What we fail to realize is that happiness is located not in what is outside of ourselves but what is within us. The word itself comes from an old Norse word happ meaning good luck. Therefore, the belief that we have no control over our happiness, and the willingness to locate happiness in the other is as old as time itself. The truth remains, however, that there is a lot that we can do to be happy and this begins by locating happiness within us and not outside of us. A wife cannot make the husband happy neither can a husband make the wife happy. Happiness is a personal and intentional decision that the individual has, not because all is well but in spite of all that is around us. It is the recognition that no condition is permanent and it is a tacit refusal to be miserable.
The bird in our story has a choice. It can scream loudly about the uncertainty and the danger that is all around or it can sing to the world because it has a song in its heart. It decides on the later. You can decide to succumb to life’s circumstances or you can stand up and say I shall not be defeated. Many in this uncertain world had risen up despite their handicapping conditions. A man named Timothy Dwight, became blind soon after assuming the presidency of Yale University in the United States but in spite of his ill-fortune became a popular song writer and wrote several songs that we sing in church. Each day for us is a gift and an opportunity to say I shall not be defeated. You have the choice of sitting still and moaning about how bad things are for you or realizing that you have the key to your own happiness. May you know that real happiness comes not from possessions but from contentment, and as you go about the world today may neither the dread of ill nor the helplessness around you make you afraid.
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