Lazarus Musa Samdi's environmental vignette, from the perspective of the tree
We give humans medicine from our bark; food and vitamins from our fruits. We clean dirty air and produce clean air for people to breathe. We love being trees. Sometimes we hear birds, people, snakes and monkeys saying to themselves, "Trees must be bored to death. They remain stuck on one spot for a lifetime! They can't move around and see the world like us."
That is not true! We move around and see places. It's just that we don't travel the way snakes, worms, people and birds do.
We trees move around. Guava trees for instance, produce beautiful sweet fruits with many seeds. We hide in our seeds, and if people or animals pluck and eat our fruits, we remain in their tummies and go with them wherever they go. Sometimes we float in streams and go to far away places.
Monkeys take us to the jungle, humans takes us to the city. We visit different countries on free rides Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Isn't that fun?
We travel without paying train, bus, air or ship fares.
The wind plays a special music which only trees hear. When the wind blows, we dance, laugh and clap our many hands. People call our hands "branches".
People think we trees are lonely. No! We are never lonely. We receive visitors always. Some of our visitors stay with us for rest of their lives. The woodpecker makes holes in our trunks in which she lays eggs. The weaver bird weaves our leaves with bits of grass and little twigs to make nests on our branches. Monkeys spend the whole day playing on our branches. They swing from one branch to the next, shouting and laughing. Sometimes they bend our branches and cause us pain. We shout out, but they don't hear us.
We love insects a great deal, especially bumble bees. Insects come to us seeking nectar from our flowers. We hear their songs of admiration. They sing about the beauty of our flowers and their wonderful aroma. Bumble bees dance in excitement. Their dance helps our flowers blossom.
Trees do no harm to anybody. We are everyone's friend. But some people are not our friends. They come with chainsaws and cut us down, after which they cut us into slices. They peel our skins and force nails into us in order to make us into objects. Some people make us into walking sticks, others turn us into tables and beds. They forget that we are living things too. They don't need our bodies to make these objects. The rubber tree has promised the people of the world that it can produce enough sap to make everything needed in place of wood.
We are not here only for people. Animals too depend on us. The whole world depends on us. I, the Laughing Guava Tree! I am as important as the president of any nation. Let me tell you a secret: Trees have been learning how to speak human languages for some time now and have learnt so many languages. We have Hausa, Spanish, Korean, Ga, English, Igbo, Hindi, French, Yoruba, Arabic and Swahili speaking trees. There is no language that trees cannot speak. But people often don't understand us. We shout across continents to trees in the Amazon jungle and they shout back at us; trees in Denmark, Congo, Mexico, Australia and Burma. We hear the cries of the wives and husbands and children of trees whenever they are being cut in large numbers to be made into tables, roofing planks and boats. We cry out together at their pain.
We need a human voice today. Children's voices the most. We shall put together the voices of all children in the world, voices of Chinese, African, European, Indian, American and Alaskan children, and make them into one loud voice. Every tree, in every forest, park or garden, every tree turned to a table, walking stick, or bed shall speak out. You could be lying on your bed and hear them speak to you in your mother tongue.
The African woman with a bundle of sticks on her head, going home to cook her dinner would hear them say: "Please try gas, kerosene, or cow dung, or even solar energy. Write to your son in the city and tell him to send you a stove. If you must use wood, please cut tree branches only."
Perhaps what would surprise people the most would be the wooden sculptures in galleries and homes. They will tell people where the trees from which they were made were cut, and the pain they went through from the chipping of axes and chisels in the process of being carved into a mask or a figurine. They would tell their owners how they screamed and yet their sculptors didn't hear them.
I, the Guava Tree, have been providing beautiful shade to the owner of a logging company in Africa, he loves relaxing under my shade in his garden and sleeping after a hard day's work. I have been protesting to him for long now. But he can't hear me. I have been trying to tell him to stop logging and start selling rubber or even plastics!
We trees love to dance, sing and laugh to the music of the wind. The music we dance to can cause buildings to lose their roofs, or even collapse. We want to be safe too. Can we strike a compromise? You protect us, and in turn, we provide you fruits, medicine, shade, clean air and protection from wind storms.
Have you ever wondered how the world would be without us?