“Destroy her! Destroy her!” That voice again. This time I could hear it loud and clear. At first there were faint voices yet embodied with power and might. Was I dreaming? Who was speaking and to whom was he referring as the destroyer? Besides these voices was silence, a stench of poverty and death.
“Destroy her! Destroy what’s left of them! They are not fit to live and be part of this beautiful heritage!” This time I could hear the voices closer to me –clearer, stronger and angrier than before. Surely the voices could not be coming from within me because I wasn’t programmed for self-destruction. The other voices shouted “Aye!” in unison. I lay in the dirt, quiet, powerless and afraid. The voices sounded like distressed men and women wearing violence on their necklines and bitterness like crowns of gold. They were voices of evil who were determined to kill me. I tried to look up in the sky, but it looked grey and unyielding. The sun scorched everything beneath it. That yellow warrior in the sly looked like a servant with no mercy. His stance matched the evil passion in the voices surrounding me. Who were these men and women and how did I end up here?
After a long moment, I regained some strength and found my voice. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I looked hard enough but saw that I was surrounded by nothing but dead trees, bare rock, skeletons of dead monkeys and birds. Dry grass and leaves covered this dry land which teamed with every kind of flora and fauna. There once was life here, but nothing is left. “Silence!” cried the loud voice. The noise sounded like a lightning strike on a plateau of granite. I closed my face with fear and peeped through the gaps between my fingers trying to see where the voice was originating from. The one who spoke continued, “We are prisoners of your cruel deeds- you and your kind. This is how you repay us after all we have done for you for free. Look at us- young and old wear thirst and hunger like fetters on our feet. Each day we brought joy and gladness to mankind –food and wine for your souls to rejoice. You returned the favour by cutting us down, digging our foundations and exposing our nakedness. The roots we have kept hidden below the soils for generations you want all new born babies to see. The roots are the great secrets of life that you do not know and for ages their network has keep us well watered and fed. Because of the so called development you drained the rivers below the earth which is our life blood. By so doing you have doomed your future because they have refreshed the surface waters you continually polluted with your waste. You killed all the aquatic organisms-thousands of species you have never named or seen with your naked eye.
Each day we brought you hope when we tried so hard with our collective efforts to clean the air you poisoned with smoke. Our strength was tested each dawn and we vowed to endure, hoping you would change. Our strong brother came out racing through the skies cheering us on so that you could breathe fresh air. We stood arm in arm even when you burned charcoal and resurrected our waste we buried under the ocean crust for millions of years. Has it never occurred to you that we buried our dead ancestors down below for a reason? To us, the sea was a place no one should sojourn but you in your quest for longevity found out our secret. You called out our ancestors-the ones we so gladly wanted to forget forever and gave them a new name-black gold. We the living things wailed the day you discovered crude oil because we knew that our future was bleak. The past should have remained in the past because it brought memories of our dead and the evil air pollution. Oh mankind, what can we do to your inquisitive minds? It’s a great gift but a dangerous master.
For years we tried frantically to send messages when your oil rigs polluted the great expanses of the seas. We tried to warn you about re-digging our history. You could have let sleeping dogs lie and harness harmless alternatives we provided from our big yellow brother in the sky and our mobile sister the wind. But you, Oh mankind, are so impatient and do not want that which is tried and proven. The sun you looked down upon has powered our vast ecosystems for millions of years without fail. In all his battles this humble warrior has not been defeated and all nature celebrates this unsung hero with cheers every morning. No one except nature can hear the sweetest songs of love and greatness we sing. Only few people who listen with the heart can hear these songs. We have funded your dreams since the beginning of time and put you first even at the expense of some of our friends but you called some of us non-living, lifeless, voiceless and incapable of emotions because we do not let out voices like yours, languages like your Shona, Ndebele, Zulu or Swahili. Be informed mankind, we have voices and even the rocks cry out, but only a few man and women understand us.”
And then there was silence. The sun was now going down. I was hungry and thirsty. I only had 3 dried mangoes and dried buffalo meat. I tried to shove away the thoughts coming to my mind. I had seen the one who was speaking all this while; it was the last baobab tree in the Sothern hemisphere. For three years it never flowered or developed leaves. The only signs of life were the green color in the bark in places where it was left. The wildebeests and zebras had eaten the bark out of desperation but it survived. Men too drilled holes in an effort to draw water until they gave up. I made over a dozen trips to this land for the past two decades just to see it and the wetland that had endured for so long. The valley just below these plains was has very rich history. Many African nations had benefited from the fish industry that existed here until greedy capitalists started developing the land around the lake as the effects climate change devastated the land. The overwhelmed ecosystem deteriorated-man literally survived on this small lake until it ran out. Rich man exploited the waters, selling a thousand pennies for just 500ml of fresh untreated lake water. Just the thought of what happened a decade ago sent chills to my frail body. I was an ecology student at one of the local universities then and I dropped out when life became unbearable. People around me –women and children-died of prolonged malnutrition and thirst. I changed my home and lived in the dying forest and hid dried fish, meat and fruits just enough for one. I took care of a small garden near the baobab tree because the trees around that place seemed to endure. In the middle of that garden I dug a well and kept drinking water in steel and plastic containers I took from the university. All the animals in the great forest had died-beasts and birds alike until no birds were seen flying across the sky.
Later in the night, I sat alone thoughtless, staring into the pitch black sky. I was alone, and for the very first time I longed for human companionship. I had last seen other humans over two years ago when I had visited the city and I literally ran away from them because I had little to survive on. I was engulfed by the silence- no creaking bugs or frogs. The rocks that had cheered the wilting baobab tree had slept. The winds that whistled and made the dry leaves rattle had gone silent too. Was there hope for me? Did I have a second chance? I felt like the last man standing just like the enduring baobab tree. No one could guess how old it was but its trunk revealed the battles it had fought just to remain standing. All the cacti and the thorny bushes of the savannah had given up because no rain came for almost 5years now. Just some light showers with loud thunder. The drizzle had stopped almost 3years ago.
No one could ever re-do what mankind in his greediness did. Even though sleep eluded me, I tried so hard to close my eyes and hope for a miracle tomorrow. No one could put a monetary value on the opportunities the world had lost. All the dreams I had when I was a teenager were lost. Scientist had done all they could to save the endangered flora and fauna but they were overwhelmed by the rate at which destruction came against them. All the trees died when layers of dust chocked their stoma. The earth like a strained mother was lying in dust and dirt. She had miscarried then became barren completely in year 2050.
When the dawn came, I wailed loudly for hours and shouted. “Is anyone there? Yes, I am guilty. Save me and I will be perfect!”