Monday, 17 June 2013

Tembo ondoka! Dunia hii ni yetu wabinadamu... yakuharibisha tupu.... Ondoka!

Tusker, be off with you! This world is for my kind, children of Adam...
for us to ruin and clean out.... So just get out of my sight!
Copyright (c) 2013 by Mohamed Jiwa (All Rights Reserved)

Graphic content warning - 1 image of gentle beast hacked to death

Ask yourself, for a moment, after the last elephant has been hacked down, why you would really want to make a trip to your favourite lodge or wild spaces again.  If such an unlikely event were ever to take place, surely Man would have to organise a mass funeral and memorial service for the loss of this most mystical of royal beasts.  Will there be burials of the carcasses littered around the wilderness, too?  Perhaps that should start now.

Imagine gazing at the horizon, or from any viewing point where elephants thrive and live, how, in ten years from now, at this rate of slaughter, the afternoon landscape will be empty and the earth barren. The elephants will simply have rested, for ever.  Not a herd, not even a single elephant, nor even a heat-framed mirage of that familiar shape.

You know they are not coming back but you are still watching the silent dust swirling on the empty savanna, if only to conjure up the scene that would never have failed to nourish you in deep ways, difficult to fathom.  Knowing that elephants are right there for us is knowing we have a special home, a home that is blessed because we respect the wonders of life. Seeing elephants, we thirst for their sight again but the opportunity will have been lost, now.  And you and I will not know where to turn or look without asking ourselves what part each of us played in what we have collectively done.

Their shapes just won't change the landscape, ever again.  The loss doesn't deign even to haunt you. If you are lucky, it leaves you afraid only of yourself and, if you feel the meaning of this catastrophe in your soul, you will have to swallow the nausea that wants to well up. But it's too late.

Now, if you will, imagine a world where the populations of elephants are in fair ratio with the ecosystem, managed wisely by a species called Man.  Look at the reality, today, as you watch and smell and want to approach those elephants heading for the water-hole in all their grandeur, miraculously alive and well, their lives dependent on the minds of men.  Matriarchs, bulls, little calves with ears attached at the top of their heads and the Tusker, who also seems to know in his body as he strides gently along that something, indeed, is very wrong but "we have to plod on."

Man is politically seasoned enough to extinguish any species for the sake of land, resources, greed, revenge or control (which, in America's vocabulary is curiously perceived as 'prevention'). While he is thus busy being his worst self, the collateral damage is about to whiplash on him; but, sadly, he neither believes in nor cares for a tomorrow that could offer concrete hope and an opportunity to find rest in life as opposed to death.  He will get what he deserves: restlessness, loss of confidence and faith, and fear of grief.

Time is of the essence and the time that is important is here and now for Man to find the best in himself.  Would you believe that the job of helping him escape that cycle of exploitation rests on you, me and the creatures of the wild, especially the ones on the verge of dying out, like elephants?

How curious that quietness, deep affinity with one's folk, community, respect for vulnerability, trust, unity, love, grief during loss, inner security and, above all, non-violence are, today, treated with such contempt by growing numbers in today's humanity.  It does not take an expert to sense such qualities among the elephants especially in their collective aura.  Do these qualities not combine to reflect a temperament that is exemplary?  Is it not an example of the human propensity to seek to maintain nearness to one's intimate Self, or Creator?  It is a search which conceives spontaneously of thoughts that bubble up and burst into an act of care for the creation, resulting in an uplifting deed.*

Check out Elephants4KE on Twitter, NOW, if you are really human with your head screwed on correctly, and not ready to say goodbye to them.  This is not my fight for survival, or someone else's fight but it is yours, too.  It is a fight for the chance to say sorry.  Let the elephants die and a piece of us will die with them.

Check out Battle for the Elephants here and go to the WildlifeDirect website and read more. 

I'm flabbergasted by how much time I could have wasted and realise my own life's choices may have been a turning away in denial.  Have I been a coward in how I did not wake up to this and why I did not think about devoting my time to such a cause earlier?  I know why:  It now seems I have been immersed in the most trivial, meaningless concerns, making excuses not to look at that beautiful God-given horizon and all the gifts there are to enjoy on it!  Never again.  I want to help.  Would you help too?

Thanks to Paula Kahumbu, who gave us that talk and showed us that movie at the museum recently, and to Firoz Dharani for persuading me to come.

Right now elephants are dying at the rate of about three a day from slaughter. The ivory is valued at about USD8,000 per kilo and is taken to China in a 'diplomatic bag'.  There it is turned into ornaments, works of art and objects of worship (god of Happiness, god of Wealth, god of [something innocuous which they are really superstitious about in China].

I have suggested in @kirimba that the last elephant who will be slaughtered [with relish?] guts and little pieces of head flying off, blood spewing all over the place, should be named Budha.  Some people may not like this.  There are more links on Twitter hereFollow me.  I am more serious about these exemplary creatures than I am about 'Man' right now.

Here are some links on how the Chinese are attempting to staunch the pace of elephanticide.  There are other links as well.  Remember:  The elephant seems to be a much more intelligent creature than man.  If man left him alone he would thrive peacefully and set an example of peace and tranquillity.  Watching and studying him, thinking about him, are a meditation.  He is not self-centred, aggressive, capable of road rage and abusing his offspring.  He accepts his lot humbly and gets on with life.  He can be controlled and domesticated.  People who are found with his ivory in their possession should be taxed in such a manner that they'd rather let their ivory go into public museums where it cannot be touched without the coveting party's fingers getting badly burned (or as my friend Nazir might say with a wicked smile, "shall we remove their incisors, too?").

Regulation and security are key.  Yet, here in Africa, our public security services would be the subject of ridicule only if the rest of the world had not gone corrupt, too.  If corruption has to be stopped first, then the exercise would begin in the USA and in the UK, who get away with the suppressing, choking or snuffing out the lives of innocent American Indians, African Americans and African Europeans,  S E Asians, Africans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Syrians, Somalis and so on.  So initiating an example from the west will never happen.  It will have to start from here in Africa - with you and me.  And our own Ele can and would be happy to show us the way.

The solutions being offerred for the current and sickening scenario being played out so brazenly before our eyes are myriad as in this TED Qn but we seem to be too late.  A world without an African Elephant....  Would that be symbolic of a world that has signed its own death warrant? Is it not symbolic of our own reckless suicide? 

I feel that Laila Nimji has the right idea - someone should write such a riveting script for a movie that it is destined to be the most watched movie of our time.   Why not have more and more and more Chinese families on free trips to Africa just to watch elephants in their skins, and give the subject a prominent place in the informal curriculum for parents in China?  Indeed that is what someone is doing, too. 

This is from the National Geographic Video on The Battle for the Elephants

There is also a subtle relationship between the safety of the elephant and the run for Africa today, worst exemplified in America's desire to take control of prominent and symbolic pieces of land in our part of the world, using Africom.

But the elephant is certainly a powerful point of engagement for the ills and evils of our world today. That is what I should like to go deeper into in my next instalment!

G  Mohamed Jiwa
 *Taqwa (see commentaries on the Holy Qur'an):  Constancy in the desire to remain in the presence/ aware of God and His will - which is one definition of piety; genuine intention to search for and perform that which is good; maintaining pro-activity, seeking to serve constantly; all of which appear to be characteristics of elephants.


African leaders must emulate Chinese celebrities to save elephants ...

May 16, 2013 – Paula Kahumbu: Li Bingbing and Yao Ming are among the celebrities campaigning to save elephants – now African politicians must do the same.

  • News for china saves the elephant

    1. Save elephants from Chinese ivory trade or we lose them, says researcher
      South China Morning Post ‎- 6 hours ago
      China's insatiable appetite for ivory may mean the end for the animals if Beijing doesn't ban the trade, for which Hong Kong is a transit hub.

  • Save the Elephants - Using Chinese star power to fight ivory ...
    Using Chinese star power to fight ivory poaching in Africa. The biggest demand for ivory is in China, so conservationists are trying to teach Chinese consumers ...

  • Save the Elephants | Facebook
    “I'm very happy to see Bingbing and UNEP are jointly saving elephants. Chinese have heard BB's call, the world will hear Chinese call.”See More. Photo: Li ...

  • Leading article: Save the elephant from China - Editorials - Voices ...
    If the People's Republic of China is licensed as an official buyer of elephant ivory at a UN meeting in Geneva today, it will be one of the biggest setbacks to have ...

  • China- Save the Elephants in Vietnam from Extinction ... - Petition Site
    With China's demand for ivory fueling poaching of the elephant (both the Asian and the African... (75 signatures on petition)

  • Saving Elephants One School at a Time – News Watch
    Mar 26, 2013 – Climate Change: China, U.S. Bring Toy… Jun. 12, 2013 (1) ... Saving Elephants One School at a Time .... My main targets are schools in China.

  • Time Running out to Save Elephants from Ivory Trade – News Watch

    Jan 31, 2013 – Our own NGO, Save The Elephants, is one of many that are reaching out to the people of China. Last year, with our talented and visionary ...
  • 1 comment:

    1. Thank you for this beautiful, impassioned plea for the magnificent elephant. I wept. I fight for the wolf which the US is determined to kill off as determined to be an endangerment; the wolf who slept on my bed; who would put herself between any perceived attacker and myself. If only we were half as smart as there animals. If only we would allow these incredible animals to lead, we would solve all our problems. We have proven beyound any doubt, we are not superior to, and should not be in charge of anything, as our environment melts down.