Who Will Bell The Cat?
Hi there, this is a guest post by Bunmi Dayo-Ayeni and Chukwu Obumneme. It’s a story about oppression and helplessness, and I particularly like it because to me it’s reminiscent of the happenings in our country. Please share your thoughts about it in the comments.
P.S: A new series will begin soon, don’t despair!
The ants all agree on one thing, albeit secretly, that the ant-king Po Ti, must leave the throne. This particular meeting of the Ants Parliamentary Chamber (APC), the top decision making body of the communist Anthill, has all its members attending in consternation. The action of the Ant-king the previous day had gone too far. The mood is all the same, he simply had to go.
“How could he?” bellowed the general, while sharpening his fangs and claws. The other ant, Tu Wa, chairman of the workers’ union and fellow parliamentarian, was scouting the undergrowth in vain for food and dry leaves for nest building.
“No regards for the queen and traditions. He has turned my lady soldiers to his chambermaids yet he isn’t content. Every morning, half of my working troupe goes to clean his chambers and spray their juices all round him”. Tu Wa added dishearteningly.
“What!” screamed the general, “That means they are useless for the rest of the day”.
Cu Zi, the general, looked around cautiously, his senses at full alert, no ant could hear this discussion. “How well are we progressing with operation Eswama?” He whispered, referring to their plan to oust the king.
“Si Fe has refused to cooperate. All modes of inducement have failed”. Si Fe was a very popular lad with a talent for rousing speeches.
“What of the soldiers I sent to guard his hole?” Cu Zi asked with amazement.
“He dug out another hole and moved his family,” Tu Wa answered despondently.
“Si Fe must be brought on board….we need to find a way around it.”
King Po Ti sat in his Chamber, he reported only to queen Kon Li and served Her Majesty’s needs. He was one of the trusted kings who served the most royal goddess of the ant Kingdom as the queen never went out, and spent most of her moments indoors due to old age.
She had trusted him and made him king of the seven colonies of which she was the progenitor. Reporting to him were the ministers, junior kings actually, that took care of the daily running of each colony. So far so good, he was her trusted right hand man until recently when he started hearing of attempts to see the queen by members of his ruling council behind his back. Of course, he had thwarted all such attempts and increased the number of the royal guards to ensure that such a move never saw the light of day.
Right now, he had a parliamentary meeting to prepare for. He smiled mischievously as the memory of his trusted, inner caucus of soldier ants, the KariKari unit of the ants warmed his cold soul. They were dreaded and would be his guards for the meeting.
He stepped off his throne and called on his stylist, Ant Si Si to put finishing touches to his crown and red royal robe. His orderly then picked his horn from the right hand of his throne and blew for the Karikari unit, the royal order to join him.
One Two Three…..
Well-armed with weapons fit for battle, they marched in front of the king and straight on into the parliamentary meeting.
“All rise for King Po Ti..” Ant Chuan, the clerk, bellowed.
The whole parliament rose in amazement, wondering what the royal order was doing at a parliamentary meeting.
King Po Ti took his seat and proceeded to the agenda of the day.
“Welcome my subjects to this very important meeting. I have some few announcements to make before this meeting commences. According to section 20.0 of the laws of the parliament, by the power invested in me, I hereby make the following amendments to the constitution:
Amendment 1: Henceforth, the food storage will now be guarded and supervised by the legion of the royal order, nobody takes food without due authorization from the royal order KariKari. Anyone found with food not issued by the royal order, will be sentenced to death at the hands of humans”.
A horrified murmur rose up amongst the ants. That was the worst possible death sentence. Humans either slapped the soul out of you or crushed you with that sledgehammer foot of theirs. But King Po Ti was not done.
“Amendment 2: Henceforth, the General of the army ants will now report to the royal order KariKari who will report to the king. The military general can no longer give orders unless expressly approved by the royal order of the KariKari. Any such flouting of rules will lead to banishment”.
You could hear a pin drop in the parliamentary room as the king ordered these devastating changes in structure.
“Any questions?”, King Po Ti bellowed.
Who dared to raise his hands in the face of such menacing looks on the faces of the royal order; the king had just handed over their lives to the soldiers and these soldiers looked more than willing to snuff the life out of them if they as much as sneezed!
Gen Cu Zi knew he was being watched. He didn’t rise to his current rank by being stupid. Any misstep would mean instant, lethal death. He stood up, drew himself to his full height, facing the King. The tension in the chamber was tangible as the parliamentarians watched him and wondered what he was going to do. Cu Zi stared hard and long at the King, who returned the gaze with more fierceness, and a bit of amusement. The general’s face then dissolved into a very beautiful, heartwarming smile, and he started clapping. An applause. For the King. Tu Wa joined him and instantly, the whole parliament was up on its feet, applauding the King.
“Cowards”, Si Fe thought, as he too stood clapping.