The Parable Of The Cockroach And Nigeria

Posted: May 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson



The Edos say “Ehemwen wÿÿ iren te gua so ihuan, ren te vbe gua ku, sokpan ukpÿ iye-ÿkhÿkhÿ ÿre ÿ ma gie iren ku iku iren vbe avan”.  A cockroach knows how to sing and dance, but it is the hen who prevents it from performing its art during the day. (English)

When my son was a baby one of his scary moments was seeing a roach, he would scream, wail, and cry until the cockroach was killed or dealt with. He was so afraid of roaches until he was about three years.

The second time I significantly bothered about cockroaches was its use in one of either Hotel Rwanda or Some Time In April, both movies are about the Rwandan genocide, in which one group referred to others as cockroaches and machetes were used in killing ‘cockroaches’. I am sure you are immediately wondering what boring tale is it about cockroaches and what has it got to do with Nigeria.


Well, this admonition is about us, ruling party and opposition, State of Emergency, kidnap, rape, robbery and all the social ills in the Nigerian society, I don’t know if it is new but kindly indulge me as I share…I have not written it for everybody.

So, what about cockroaches

• Cockroaches don’t live very long – about a year or 2 depending on the breed

• They eat almost anything (even each other)

• It’s what they eat that makes them filthy

• Their main sense is from their antennae – movement, smell, touch

• They don’t rely much on sight and they can’t hear   

There once was a man who had two sons whom he loved very much.  In his garden were many fruit trees, but there was a certain one that had certain poisons that would harm his sons.


He warned them against eating of that tree.


Well, like the story would go, one day the younger son, along with his wife, ate of the tree.  And guess what? Lo and behold, they both became cockroaches.


As a cockroach, the son was much aware of the fact that he was once a man!  He knew for a fact how much he had lost, transiting from a human to a cockroach.  He tried hard to speak with his father, to get back to being a human again, but alas, it was hard for a cockroach to communicate, let alone enjoy a normal relationship with a human father as you might expect.


For starters, their tastes were very different.  Cockroaches do not naturally go for clean things, and take in anything.  How they “saw” things around them also changed dramatically.  Instead of using his sense of sight, the cockroach son now relied on other senses, mostly his antennae.  The son was also painfully aware of the fact that unless something was done quickly to save him, his life would be a short one year or less.  Then there was the specter of getting squashed or smashed by someone.


Meantime, the cockroach son and his wife started to reproduce.  There were many generations of cockroaches in a short period, and as time passed, the fact that their great-granddaddy was once a human became more and more hazy and less significant.  Less and less were they able to appreciate in their limited brains what being a human was.  To them, being a cockroach was all there was.  They became absorbed with living the best life a cockroach could enjoy in the short span they had.  They built cockroach empires, accumulated everything they could in the hope to make their cockroach lives more meaningful.  This involved taking in everything they could, clean or unclean, which made them very dirty indeed.  In their quest, they had even started to eat one another.  They were very unlike the human that their great-granddaddy once was. 

Now one of those roaches found its way to a restaurant, suddenly flew and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

There are roaches everywhere today in Nigeria from Boko Haram to kidnap, we find ourselves at an edge; a reader of this column recently said …my reflections are subdued. We need leadership that understands the cockroaches. The waiter handled the roach to near perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

Don’t forget these roaches are with us, live with us, know us. Have we taken into cognizance their behaviour so as to handle the disturbances caused?

More than the problem, our police is reactionary not responsively prepared. Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation. These are cockroaches but they can ruin it all in their limited short span. 

How responsive is the National Orientation Agency, what do they really do or have they done in a nation ravaged by roaches eating into the societal fabric. Other than good governance tours where there is no governance what does the Ministry of Information do?

I may not have eaten cassava bread or called a farmer on his/her mobile, how are we coping with dirty cockroaches on the farm.

Universities everywhere both legal and illegal, but what is the quality of research papers on “how to kill cockroaches”, when more time is spent on strikes, plagiarism, sex/money-for-marks and other ‘pro-cockroachial’ behaviour.

The roach epidemic is upon us…impregnators in baby factories, ghost schools, students, workers. Massive exam failure, government misadventure in most facets and the roaches are having a field day, the Jamaicans say cockroach neber so drunk him walk a fowl yard–in Nigeria, fowl im so drunk e no see cockroach dance.  Are we winning or the cockroaches overwhelming us, only time will tell.


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