ABUJA (Sundiata Post) I promised I was going to get around to tell you all this story.
Happened last summer – before my accident.
The jazz of all my political enemies in Nigeria finally crossed the Atlantic and caught up with me here in Ottawa.
The trouble with Homo Occidentalis North Americanus is that as soon as he arrives within a certain income bracket that is no longer middleclass but not quite upperclass but dangerously close to upperclass, he will move far away from the city and create a new paradise he calls upscale suburbia. Swanky neigbourhoods with manicured lawns, removed from the rabble of the city.
That is where you will find high-earning doctors, engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc. If you are a Professor who negotiated a good pay when you were hired, you also tag along, buy property among them, and begin to form associate big man.
Trouble is suburbia in Canada or the US is always encroaching on the habitat of much older residents. Man steals land from these residents but cannot always predict consequences. That is why a family in Florida will return from work to an alligator chilling in their swimming pool. That is why a family in Arizona will grumble about rattle snakes all over their yard. They call animal services. Never mind that these animals have called that place home for millions of years before man put one leg on top of another leg and developed his suburbia there.
In Ottawa, if you live in the suburbia called Riverside South as I do, you have encroached on prime raccoon territory. As in Florida and Arizona, these raccoons have a way of behaving like omo onile in Lagos. Occasionally, they let you know who truly owns the land (This is where you google raccoon).
Because the jazz of my political enemies in Nigeria worked as I was saying, a family of raccoons elected residence in our roof last summer. We’d been hearing mawuru mawuru in the ceiling for months. The noise would come only at night. Tise said it was the tooth faerie. I thought it was squirrels, but we couldn’t fathom how squirrels could tear into the roof of a duplex from outside and make their way into the attic.
One day, madam called me urgently and asked me to hurry home. I arrived to a small situation in front of our home. Our otherwise very friendly neighbours had converged on our front lawn. It was quite a scene. Bloodshot eyes everywhere. No friendly faces. In upscale suburbia, we are naturally the only non-white homeowners within a certain radius so when normally friendly white neighbours converge, looking sorrowful and unfriendly, you worry.
I exited my car to behold quite a scene. Unknown to us, we had accommodated a pregnant raccoon for several weeks. Mama Raccoon eventually gave birth to six pups. On this day, she suddenly went crazy like she found a mixture of codeine, sniper, and tramadol in our attic. She began to fling her babies down on the lawn one by one. From the roof of a duplex fa.
That explained the sadness and sorrow of our neighbours. Remember, this is an animal-loving civilization. It also explained their hostility. Somehow, it must have been something we did that got that poor animal so crazy that she began to murder her own kids. Everybody was looking at us one kain, like, what have you guys done now?
The only analogy for you in Nigeria is if your home was invaded by destructive giant rats. You’d tried everything from traps to rat poison. Then, one day, Mama Rat begins to miraculously kill her own children before your very before. Only for your neighbours to gather around sorrowfully because those awesome baby animals are dying. Only for them to be hostile to you for not doing enough to keep the baby rats alive!
Anyway, animal services eventually arrived to rescue some of the babies that had not yet died. Come and see interrogation! Even Tise did not escape questioning! Are you guys perhaps a little noisy in the house? What time do you all normally sleep?
Nigerians, believe you me, Oyinbo was trying to determine if we did something to cause the postpartum depression of Mama Raccoon, which led her to killing her babies!! They began to explain the characteristics of raccoons to us. How it was still too early for her to bring her babies out, let alone fling them from the roof. There was the unsaid: you guys must have done something.
When we were eventually “acquitted”, the animal services people went into our attic to inspect. They screamed in excitement: three more babies that Mama Raccoon had yet to fling! We said: thank God. Now you can evacuate Mama Raccoon and her remaining babies.
I hope you all know that in Obodo Oyibo, public animals are government property. All those doves you see in Trafalgar Square or the squirrels you see on lawns, geese, ati bebelo, are all government property. Una wey dey go holiday in London from Nigeria, go to Trafalgar Square and touch a dove, that is the day you will realize that the life of a public animal is worth more to the government of obodo oyibo than your life is worth to the Nigerian government.
So, we asked Obodo Canada to please carry their raccoons from our ceiling. We were in for another shock. She is a nursing mother, the animal services people replied, we don’t move nursing mothers. By law, Mama Raccoon has the right to remain here and nurse her remaining babies. We will keep checking.
I have been in Obodo Oyibo for 22 years. I didn’t see that one coming. Apparently, the Raccoon had eminent domain! The best they could do for us was to come and move her at the end of the biological breeding cycle or something to that effect. With that, they entered their van and zoomed off.
I looked on in wonderment, lost in one of those na-who-send-me-come-obodo-oyibo moments that every Diasporan goes through on occasion. With which mouth am I even going to tell this sort of story to a Nigerian audience?
Then I noticed that Tise all along had had the same attitude as our Oyinbo neighbours.
Now she is glad that some Raccoon babies had survived and would not be moved.
I realized that only her parents had a problem.
I realized that we were two Nigerians raising a Canadian.
This is her country.
This is her culture.
These are her people.
These are her baby raccoons.
I jejely borrowed myself brain and joined the little girl in rejoicing that three baby raccoons had survived.