Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Enough is enough – Nigeria’s goats fight back

By. Tolu Ogunlesi

It’s a serious matter. Nigerian goats are really taking the piss, and taking laws into their own horns.
Two weeks ago the papers have been awash with the news of five goats arrested in Osun State, for contravening environmental sanitation laws.
It’s a serious matter. Nigerian goats are really taking the piss, and taking laws into their own horns.
You might not remember, but exactly four years ago (January 2009), the newspapers reported a similar story. This time it was of a goat arrested for, wait for it, robbery.
That report, published in the The Vanguard newspaper of Friday, January 23, 2009 (“Police parade goat as robbery suspect”), inspired me, back then, to write the piece you’re about to read:
The story is quite simple. Eyewitness accounts have it that members of a local security group (popularly known as vigilante), were in pursuit of two men who had been trying to steal a Mazda 323. According toThe Vanguard (quoting the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tunde Mohammed): “one of [the men] escaped, the other was about to be apprehended when he turned his back on the wall and turned to this goat. [The vigilante] quickly grabbed the goat and here it is.”
Reactions have been fast and furious: How can the Nigeria Police Force peddle such balderdash in the 21st century?
That, in my humble opinion, is the wrong question.
The question we should instead be asking is this: which came first – the man or the goat?
In other words, do we have a man who turned into a goat for the purposes of evading arrest (a man disguising as a goat), or a goat who turned into a man for the purposes of stealing a car (a goat disguising as a man)?
The implications of both scenarios are quite different, mind you.
If it’s a man who turned into a goat in order to evade arrest, well, I think that’s his problem. Imagine trying to cram the scale and depth of a human mind into the personality of a goat. A goat! What is that if not heightened stupidity? And what if someone decided to convert you into ‘isi-ewu’ before you transformed back into a goat?
Our main concern therefore should be with Scenario 2, which in my opinion is the more plausible one: a goat transforming into a man for the purposes of stealing a car (and with the intention of becoming a goat again afterwards).
Background first. Nigerian goats belong to the bottom of the Global Animal Treatment Index (GATI). They own that space. They always get the short end of the stick. Even Nigerian cows fare better, in a country where everything on four legs is destined for a bowl of soup. At least cows are fed and fattened and – most importantly – feared. Goats on the other hand are always treated as vagabonds. There is something about a Nigerian goat that invites assault, physical and verbal. (See the phrase “stubborn as a goat.”).
Potbellied children – stick-in-hand – tormenting goats (which are often taller than them) are a common sight on the potholed, pond-ridden alleys (aka roads) of Nigerian cities. Goats are good for nothing save pots of steaming pots of super-peppery soup. Vilified in life, exploited in death.
With a destiny like this, common sense dictates that it would only be a matter of time before a grand rebellion. Which explains why a goat would find itself wholeheartedly embracing armed robbery. Anything to escape the quiet desperation – or desperate quietness – of goat life, and get a taste of human life on the fast lane.
I imagine what must have been going through the goat’s mind as it attempted to (in its human disguise) make its way into the Mazda. Finally, a chance to sit in the driver’s seat of a car. Not in the boot. Nigerian goats are often transported in car boots, or in the black Maria-like compartments of pick-up vans or the wooden ‘pens’ of open-roofed trucks. Every now and then you will even see a goat astride an okada – without the comfort of a helmet!
In the absence of animal rights activists and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the poor goats have therefore decided to put up impressive acts of subversion, from car-stealing to defying environmental sanitation laws. Stealing and plundering and avenging. Payback time.
The Cats will strike soon. Cats are arguably the Most Hated Animals in Nigeria today. They are witches and daemons and principalities; bead-eyed monsters that lurk in the shadows of human dwellings; devious, possessed.
When our Cats decide to strike back, they will not steal cars.
They will snatch ballot boxes instead. They will steal confidential Presidential memos and leak them to the world. They will not give a damn! They will put to shame the professional skills of our Zoologist-in-chief — none of the Feline theories he learned in school will be able to explain them! And labelling them “opposition animals” won’t work either.
They are not only smarter (by far) than goats and cows, they are impossible to catch. They will embarrass the police! If they can’t be caught, how will they be paraded as criminals?
And with their nine lives, how will they be overwhelmed by the famed “superior firepower” of the NPF?

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