December 21, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS




Abdulyassar Abdulhamid



Some of the questions human beings tend to skirt intentionally, perhaps to accrue all the sources of intelligence to their species or to claim enviable superiority in the order of the universe are: Are animals intelligent too? Are animals capable of overthrowing human beings from their self-acclaimed superpower on the surface status of the earth?


It has become conventional, these days, to claim that only humans have the sense of group feeling with insights and absolute oneness. Can this be proven wrong? Whatever, the story of Yaka, an unabashed meddler, bully and freak to the core may disrupt the status quo – that time-honoured assumption that only humans think or reason well.


There are many instances that show the intelligence of the dog, reprisal attacks by elephants, snakes that hunt in packs, the talented Howler monkeys, the wily fox, the long-lived orangutan, among others; but man can’t absolutely believe these stories, perhaps, because by accepting them wholeheartedly he is undermining his vaunted intelligence and that will make him look minute in the cosmographical setting of the universe. And he hates this with passion.


When we were children we would always try to outsmart black or brown rats, rodents, domestic cats, tree-dwelling lizards and a host of other animals that had been domesticated or had neighboured us; or we hunted on weekends. It gave us great joy to trap and forcefully pull animals out of their dens or burrows. We would always be proud of our adroitness in taming, killing or skinning them without damaging the hides which we later striped to wooden handles of our knives or the sticks we carried for self-defense or missiles against fleeing animals we pursued.


One very Sunday when sitting with, as usual the best way to kill time then, one exceptional story teller, Sani Lauya, a tiresome companion, Usman Dan Mama and a very cantankerous friend, Alaramma, I was told a story by Sani Lauya that shook the foundation of that very belief that only humans have the sense to cooperate. It has reshaped my worldview and the story, after all the wonders, has engrained itself in my heart. It endeared the characters, the scenario and importantly the owner of the he-goat for his unflinching love for his pet to my heart.


In the midst of a heated argument of how unintelligent a poor echidna we caught and killed the other day was, Sani Lauya decided to relate a crowd-pulling story of Yaka, a sacker of herds of sheep and dog-kennels, an unrepentant bugler as he called him, to repudiate our beliefs. We all listened to this great narrative, one of its kinds, that made jaws fall, raised eye-lashes straight, gave the listeners goosebumps; and made eyes teary, with keen attention. We all kept quite with anyone’s attention on Lauya. An unbroken silence reined for long that day. All one could see and hear were throaty coughs and fidgetings, for sitting for so long.


I love the story for its teachings and Yaka for another. Yaka so much believed in what he did. He saw himself an activist or messiah of some sort. His internal dialogue is powerful and he plastered it with action. The reader may misinterpret Yaka as a non-conformist. Alas, he worked, thought and acted in conformance with what he thought was rightfully his and refused to accept the label the society in which he lived gave him – coward, downtrodden or a socially low being.


You know, Lauya is such a great story teller that would keep you waiting for hours. His craft made everyone forget his troubles. He was one of the greatest narrators I have ever seen. He embellished stories with so able characters, colourful scenes, and so piercing an atmosphere.


Perhaps this is because Lauya was raised by his paternal grandmother whom, when alive, would always be ringed by children after Isha’I prayer every night to listen to her heart-rending stories. She narrated tens of Gizo and Koki stories to teach children values or in some cases fore-warn the children of the consequences of negative behaviours. Many of her listeners believed the stories; some even mistook the old woman’s stories for firsthand accounts.


“Last winter”, Lauya began, “when I was moving Gidan Wake-ward together with two closest friends, K.B and Iro Jaba, we witnessed one crowd-pulling encounter between a courageous, strong-head, dear-devil male goat called Yaka and a dog pack. The sky was heavily hazy, for mist had filled the air and painted faces, leaves and branches of trees snowy. You would hardly recognize people from afar and I was clad in my three-piece, thick jacket and a wool hat, K B wrapped his head and enveloped his body in an old over-all to beat off the biting wind, Iro Jaba was only in a dirty shirt and trousers. I could hear his teeth gritting from the cold wind.


“The goat had, I was told, terrorized the area for many months. Gracious! That encounter, although we reached the scene late, wasn’t the first. The people there were familiar with such skirmishes. He’d injured many animals, broken into neighbours’ kitchen, to eat his fill and devastated anything he had come across. The people were fed off with Yaka’s unruly behavior. I laughed with my head up at the end of my discussion with one of the guards of a factory that seemed to know better than the rest, after telling me all that quenched my curiosity.


“You know Abdul”, Lauya continued after snorting repeatedly, taking some fresh air into his dried lungs and wiping some mist off his face with his left hand and adjusting his grumpy voice, “Yaka was ostentatiously daring. That very day we could see dust rising and hear growls of different sort from afar; and a large crowd of young and old moving according to the movement of something I didn’t know what they circled.


“At my arrival at the spot panting, for we ran as fast as we could to reach the place, I nudged my way through the teeming crowd and fixed my sight searchingly on something that looked like a heap of soaked rags. As my eyes became accustomed with it, there lay the wounded animal, his eyes drowsy and the lids were flipping in slow motion. He seemed to have been dozing for hours and blood was oozing out of different fissures all over his body. I had lost myself in this day-dreaming when a friend nudged me out of it. I turned around; it was a playfellow, Ibrahim Lemi with whom I shared most of my childhood. Ibrahim Lemi – you must know him for we played for Pama FC Tudun Murtala together and he was a great striker then – he’s ‘Yar Tsana’s friend.”




To be continued





Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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