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Freedom is Not Free

By Mohammed Ibraheem Zakzaky
Who will bell the cat? It is one of the old stories, which I often find most relevant to our current times. It is a story of a colony of rats. Much like the ones that invade our homes, contaminate and destroy our furniture, Fixtures and food, among other things.

 No matter what sort of traps, poisons and tricks, we may use we never seem to get rid of such smart, adaptive and resilient colonies of Rats. Much like the ones I left in Kwarbai, when I was a child, they were still thriving when we were forced to leave the house.

 Except in this instant, the home owner in the story managed to find a very, strong, active, aggressive, voracious and vengeful cat; that was by far, more than adequate for the job; perhaps too adequate. The cat named Uxx or Pxx or Gxx (I can’t remember) was such a menace to the usual life of the mischievous Rat colony that they formed a great council of all the most important rats, the strongest, smartest, the most distinguished and all the excellencies of the Rat colony, were gathered to address the Cat problem.

The council continuously deliberated, adjourned and passed motions, trying all the tricks in the book of tricks; yet to no avail. The cat was simply too much for extracts from the book of tricks. Finally after all the politicians, hoarders (business men, like myself) bishops and chief Imams and all those entitled excellencies failed to provide a solution; one Rat devised a very simple and elegant solution, which is also a final solution. Mind you we are not talking about humans with opposable thumbs here, we are talking of one cat and a colony of Rats. That rat proposed that a bell be tied to the neck of the cat, so that finally, the rats could know the location of the cat as it moved, from over a Rat league away.

 Much like they can hear the footsteps of all humans, 10kg and above, or even lighter children, but ounce weighed Rats. Just place a Bell around the cat’s neck firmly, it can never take it off, I assure you. Now the rats could go about their mischievous ways, thanks to a reliable early warning system they could continue as Rats are. It was agreed, motion passed, unanimous votes, what a good idea! A jolly good idea! Passed, confirmed, and done! For the great patriotic colony! Sadly all the excitement ended when the colony’s members great and small realized the absence of an answer to a very importance question. Who will bell the bloody cat? A Rat Army focused on Daddawa (cheese), with no purpose other than eating? Special Rat Forces, specialized in murder of Fellow Rats, for cheese? Colonial Rat Guard focused on cheese? Rat Customs, Rat immigration, civil Rat defense etc. etc. all focused on cheese.

For Cheese is the currency of Rats, meat is the currency of Cats, and money is the currency of guess who. But who will bell the Cat? Sadly there were no volunteers, the rats continued to die in agony, pain and sadness. Thanks to the cat’s less than admirable qualities and the cowardice of the Rats, they are now only a story; for the cat devoured so many of rat colony’s finest that the remaining survivors left the house out of desperation to brave being confronted by immigration officers from greater Rat colonies. The end. The liberties I took with the story aside, I know and I am sure that you will all agree that we are nothing like Rats, even though like them we are mammals too.

On the ends of April we proved it so. For the common rat shall never ever pass that point, ever! No matter what sacrifices rats make they shall never invent a bell, let alone bell a cat! But we can do all that, we can make a bell, we can bell all cats, including lions. From house cat to a lion, together we can bell any kind of cat. In April the people choose the cat bellers! And God willing most of them are more than capable of belling cats, vultures, jackals, hyenas, and wolves. For most of our problematic so called excellencies have never included anyone who could be described as something as graceful as a cheetah, as beautiful as a tiger or as noble as a lion.

 Through Unity of purpose and action, it is not so much a question of who will bell a cat, but rather a question of whether a sufficient number of people can commit to belling the cat. The people’s cat bellers will never ever be able to succeed alone. We must all play a role. Even if it is just so an x number of people are not extorted of 500 Naira between Zaria and Kaduna.

For starters I think we should resolve to stop paying bribes and be ready to take the hit for it. One driver tried just this, and as a result tens of thousands, including myself, drove comfortably from Zaria to Kaduna and back the next day, without being harassed by blood soaked extortionists, wearing the uniform of the Nigerian army, with AK47s terrorizing and murdering us as they please. Enough is enough, we have had enough of terror, intimidation, extortion, frustration, sadness, helplessness, depression and despair. If they won’t or can’t do their jobs they should all bugger off to where they came from and leave us in peace.