Saturday, May 15, 2021
Harrisburg, PA, USA

ome mornings, here in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, when I don’t have to wake up early, I notice that by the time dawn begins to sweep away the darkness of the night, the ubiquitous but melodious sound of birds chirping, permeate my room through my bedroom window. The trees, just next to my window, provide the perching and comfortable place where these birds use for their morning pow wow.

I must confess that I sometimes just lay there on my bed, listening to this beautiful sound emanating from God’s creation. But this experience always brings back memories of Africa, Nigeria and of course my Nnewi. For that was the type of serenity that used to greet the mornings, as we grew up. You did not need a clock to tell you that daybreak was afoot as the combination of cocks crowing to no end in their pens and the chirping of birds will alert you to that. Of course the ample presence of trees and greenery everywhere, complement what already has the bucolic and quaint disposition of a place of quietude that fosters relaxation

Every time I visit Nigeria and end up in Nnewi, I always crave that experience. Yes, there are still places in the very interior parts of the town, where trees still flourish and the landscape awash with farmlands and greenery, but for the most part, as real estate fast make its unbridled incursions into all parts of the town, these features are fast disappearing to oblivion!

I tried to replicate the experience, in my neck of the woods in Nnewi, by planting ample ground greenery and some trees, in our compound. I made sure to have some trees next to my bedroom window as in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But sadly, even when the birds chirp in the mornings, this beautiful sound of nature, is hardly audible. It is usually subsumed, drowned out or muffled by the cacophonous booms from loudspeakers mounted on mobile vehicles, blaring gospel music or announcing the imminence of one event or the other.

Uncontrolled urbanization continues to be the bane of existence in erstwhile villages like mine. Buildings are springing up at a pace that the landscape cannot handle. Deforestation, the bye action of buildings everywhere, result in sustained elimination of trees and greenery without replacement. Air pollution, noise pollution and general environmental degradation continue uncontrolled incursion into the hinterland. It is almost like a place of refuge to rest the mind and body no longer exists in the villages that have fast turned into “towns” by conscription

But I dare alert citizens to the fact that environmental serenity also enhances quality of life. This is why in most western climes, unadulterated forests and Parks are established and treated like gold. These are places where people go to commune with nature, refresh and rejuvenate. They realize that a healthy quality of life is a wealthy one. My people must begin to repurpose what has been advertently or inadvertently destroyed and place anew, a huge premium on the environment. Tree planting, emphasis on landscape greenery resurgence, reduction of noise and air pollution must become important goals to seek.

It is only fitting that when one leaves their place of work and abode, whether internationally or in Nigeria, to go back to their “village”, for any amount of time, that they find a place where environmental serenity prevails. A place where chirping birds, crowing cocks, and trees swaying in the wind will beautifully be greeting every waking moment. A place where opening the bedroom window overnight brings in fresh air rather than polluted air and adulterated by the bye product of trash burning, burning of tires and burning of plastics.

Here I Stand!

Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays

2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War