I want to tell you about camels. For those of you who do not know what a camel is, let’s get the basics out of the way. Wikipedia says that “a camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back.” Done.
Camels fascinate me. That is why I was excited when former activist and civil society man Shehu Sani who is now the Senator representing Kaduna Central, decided that the best use of 15 million naira this Ramadan, was among other things, to buy camels for his constituents. I remember Shehu Sani apart from his afro which he is bold enough to carry with his slowly receding hairline, as a man who was vocal against human rights abuses, wasteful government spending and corruption. But now I will remember him for spending millions to deliver camels to his constituents. And this is a
good great thing. Let
Camels are very symbolic. First, camels live for up to 50 years which is close to the life expectancy in Nigeria. Donating camels is a symbol of where we are as a people, a sober reminder of how short our lives are and how much work there is to be done. When Shehu Sani’s constituents slaughter the camels and eat the meat, they will be killing that spirit which makes us die in our 50’s. Only a man with extreme wisdom could have thought of something as deep as that. I mean he could have used 15 million naira to sink a few boreholes or start a scholarship scheme, but you can’t beat camels as an idea. I pray God continue to give Shehu Sani uncommon wisdom. There is more.
Camels can go for a long time without water. Nigerians are no strangers to water scarcity. In fact many parts of Kaduna and indeed Nigeria have never had running water. But somehow we have been surviving. Our life expectancy may be 51, but we have been surviving. Just like the camel. When the Senator donates camels he is wishing us resilience in the face of scarcity of water and other essentials of life. We need resilience. We need camels. We need Shehu Sani.
The thick skin and fur of the camels insulate them from extreme temperatures. The symbolism of this is clear to see. Nigerians have had extremely bad leadership and have had to deal with extreme conditions like poverty, weekly bombings, and stupid politicians. As the constituents in Kaduna central skin the camels after slaughtering, they are adopting the insulation of the camel and protecting themselves from the extreme conditions they find themselves in. Are you beginning to see why I love Shehu Sani? Let us continue.
The milk of a camel is richer than that of a cow in vitamins, minerals, proteins, iron, potassium, vitamin C and immunoglobulins. Also it has lower fat and lactose. Meaning if you are a bit lactose intolerant you can enjoy camel milk. Do you see how thoughtful he is? Lactose intolerance is more common in adults of African descent than in Europeans. Who needs real long lasting projects when you can have milk that lactose intolerant people can drink? This is an idea born way before its time. There are tears in my eyes as I write this. I want to be like Shehu Sani when I grow up.
I saw someone who did not even vote for Shehu Sani writing to him saying that he did not queue in the sun to vote for someone who would begin his political career by distributing camels. How ungrateful. Some will say that Shehu Sani should be a senator to all regardless of whether they voted for him or not. But they forget that even though he has uncommon wisdom, the brilliant senator is not God. It is God that treats everyone equally. In fact, even God makes a distinction between those who follow Him and those who do not. That is why there is heaven and there is hell. People who did not vote for him should not complain about his camels. If they do not like camel meat or milk or skin, they should go and find a senator who will give them what they want – unimportant things like scholarships and boreholes. I am happy that Shehu Sani responded to the man by saying that he did not ask for his votes. Some people need a strong hand.
Intelligence should be rewarded. Uncommon wisdom should be praised. Because only a politician who truly cares can come up with the idea of giving away something as important as camels. I thought I cared. But Shehu Sani cares more.
Ps. Someone has drawn my attention to the following posted on his Facebook and Twitter pages in 2012:
Let me just say in response to people who don't have anything to do with their time apart from digging up Shehu Sani's past comments, that rams are NOT camels. It is an insult to camels to make this comparison. Rams cannot compete with camels in any way, not in symbolism, nutritiousness, resilience or size. Moreover, the money he used to buy his camels do not "belong to all". People really need to mind their own business.