fast and testimony Sunday, a member in the bishopric spoke of how he
survived two encounters with deer while driving home from work after
the first incident the deer had hit his car sideways, seriously
denting the vehicle in the process. During
the second encounter, the deer hit the fender, bounded back into the
bush and vanished. When
curious students saw the dent, the member narrated what happened and
explained he had no chance to get the wounded deer to a vet.
that point I took added interest because here the principle to
conserve animal life actually works. But
the speaker recalled how two unlucky young fellows he knew had been
killed when a deer crashed through the windshield of a car they were
somberly of that lethal encounter, he expressed gratitude that he
escaped alive. He said, however, that being sixty-three years old and
having had to deal with serious health issues, he knew death was not
as far off as it was when he was young. He invited others members to
join him and spare some thought on what they would be remembered when
they be thought of as kind, compassionate, Christ-like persons who
made a difference in the world and lives around them?
the Church, we love, honor, and sustain our leaders not because we
are taught to do so, but because the men and women in leadership
positions sacrifice so much of their time, talent, and resources for
the uplift of others that it is difficult not to love them naturally.
know that they will one day stand before God the Father and the Son
to account for their love for God and humanity, for the way they
strengthened the faith and testimony of members in the Savior. Knowing
this, these selfless men and women focus on things of eternal
consequence and therefore magnify their calling with an eye single to
the glory of God.
they do so much without hope for any material reward, we feel sad
when, like the rest of humanity, they fall ill or sad, or are hurt.
Sunday, I felt pity for that priesthood leader in the sense that
Aristotle used that word as undeserved misfortune.
accident with the deer was bad enough, but for it to color his mood
so sorrowfully for the trials and inequities of mortality made me
feel to cheer him and the rest of the congregation up.
do not know if my joke carried over with him, but it had other
to the pulpit I shook my head as if he had done something awfully
wrong. How could he hit a deer and think of taking it to a
veterinarian instead of seeing it as a windfall?
told him that if he did a thing like that in Africa, the community
could ostracize him — for if a man was so blessed he was
expected to summon the tribe to a feast.
recalled how once we were clearing a communal farmland in my village
and suddenly a big antelope jumped from the marshes. That was the end
of the work as everyone, children, men, and women went after the
it had not always been like that. In the villages where I spent part
of my childhood, colonies of birds including bush fowls, partridges,
parrots and weaver birds, built their nests in the brushes and
low-hanging boughs without fear of being preyed upon by humans.
shoals of fish blanketed our river and streams and swarmed about
lazily. Sometimes they even pecked at our sores when we went
of baboons and troops of monkeys jumped from branch to branch in the
canopies of our forest.
that frolicked by our river even had time to play games with us kids.
would throw ripe bananas to them and were thrilled to see them peel
the fruit like us humans and eat them.
if we tricked them and sent a missile up, they would catch it and
return the favor! It was not uncommon the see a child who fooled
with them hit back so hard his forehead developed a lump or even
giant squirrels, porcupines, and assorted edible rodents prowled our
farms and ate cassava, yams and melon to their fill. When they got
out of hand, folk trapped them and brought them back for barbecue.
for hawks and kites, women and kids had a hard time raising a din to
scare them away each time they swooped down to steal a chick.
the five decades it took me to become an old man, we had become so
poverty-wracked, the abundant wildlife has virtually vanished. The
kites no one bothered to catch for food, now fly like eagles close to
the sun to avoid being felled.
was no law to protect them or if there was, it was so unenforced that
folks thumbed their noses at it. Even elephants and some species of
monkeys noisily protected by radio announcements are routinely shot
and openly sold as meat.
snakes have been eaten up. A kinsman just a couple of years back
caught a king cobra. He sneaked back home with it and, to avoid
sharing with neighbors, hurriedly cooked the beast. Apparently he
forgot to drain the poison sack for he died not long after.
realized that the slash-and-burn type of farming in my village could
not augur well for live communities in the land. I recall how charred
the landscape used to look like each time we cut down the bush and
burned it before planting. Even as a kid I wondered aloud why we
roasted the land in order to bring forth new life.
always said burning made it hard for weeds to grow in the farm after
planting. But was burning the land into a black, scourged spectacle
and overexploiting it the right way to dress and keep it as its
time I see a family of deer prancing around and eating up my
vegetable garden here, I get an added feel of the song, “America
I wonder where all the animals back in my village have gone, I am
also stumped and mystified as I reflect a humanity where pets inherit
great fortune at the death of their owners while millions of
miserable children live in haunting, damning poverty and scavenge
refuse dumps for food.
more I think about it, the more I feel my priesthood leader was not
only merely talking about the damage deer do to people and cars but
was using that story to comment on the need for us to get our
Imo Ben Eshiet was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Raised in his village, Uruk Enung, and at
several cities in his country including Nsukka, Enugu, Umuahia, Eket and Calabar, Eshiet is a
detribalized Nigerian. Although he was extensively exposed to Western education right from
childhood in his country where he obtained a PhD in English and Literary Studies from the
University of Calabar, he is well nurtured in African history, politics, culture and traditions.
Imo is currently a teacher in the high priests group in the Summit Ward of the Greensboro North