We shook the bridge

When the duo finally arrived at the other end of the bridge and the ant had alighted from its ‘carriage’, it announced with a smirk on its little face: ‘We shook the bridge.’’

Funke Egbemode

It was time for the masquerade festival again. Not the annual one, it was the big masquerade festival where the spirits, the recently dead and ancestors visited the earth to bless and felicitate with their children. So, everywhere was agog, everybody was involved. It was a dawn to dusk celebration. The living arrived early to wait for the descent of the ancestors from yonder.

The journey from all over the kingdoms started early. The men went in groups, the women too. The youth went in age groups. Oh, I forgot to alert you, this was a masquerade festival in the animal kingdom. All the animals were involved.

But the ant was stranded. Why? There was this big river all the animals had to cross, walking or swimming to get to the venue of the celebration. Dogs had no issues. The bigger animals didn’t even have to worry about swimming. They simply waddled across. The birds flew, of course. But the ant, it needed help. It could neither fly, swim nor waddle. So, it stood at the bank of the river, waiting for help. Other animals saw it stranded there, some jeered, many just ignored it. The ant, it was so small, almost invisible, really.

As the morning gave way to early afternoon, the other animals advised the ant to return home, with barely concealed sneer.

‘This ant sef, what does it think it is?

‘Don’t mind the disrespectful thing, it actually thinks it should be where the rest of us are.’ ‘I wonder how long it would stay on that same spot before knowing that it is too small to be on a journey like that.’

But the ant kept its faith. It was true that it missed the last three festivals because it waited all day and could not find any means of getting across to the celebration side.

Then it saw the elephant coming majestically. Usually, the elephant used an old bridge so it would not trample on the smaller animals while crossing the river. The ant approached the elephant.

Oh elephant, help me across the river

I’m tired of standing on this spot

All day, they have jeered at me
All day, my neighbours have sneered Let me ride on your back

Let me hide in your hide
I promise to be of good behavior
I promise to be good.
Softly, sonorously, sweetly, the ant sang. The elephant was moved by the appeal and offered to carry the ant on its back all the way to the venue of the celebration. Of course, it was no big deal for an elephant to carry an ant. The large mammal didn’t even know it was carrying anything.

In the middle of the old bridge though, the elephant had to slow down because of the rickety frames.

The weight of the elephant rattled the bridge so badly the ant almost passed out. When the duo finally arrived at the other end of the bridge and the ant had alighted from its ‘carriage’, it announced with a smirk on its little face: ‘We shook the bridge.’’

The elephant roared with laughter. ‘So, you and I are now ‘we’’?

The ant pranced off into the crowd announcing gleefully to anyone who cared to listen to its little arrogant tale of how it shook the bridge and got to the party before many animals.

In no time, the ant was in full ‘owanbe’ mode, moving from group to group, eating, drinking and dancing. It had so much fun it forgot it was small, vulnerable, and above all its inability to undertake the second leg of the journey on its own. When the elephant was set to start the return trip, it went looking for the ant and told it was time. The ant kept prancing. The elephant sent other animals to warn its passenger that it was getting impatient but the ant was too drunk with the spirit of owambe to care. It even told the elephant to leave it alone, that if it could find a way to attend the party, it would find its way back home.

One by one, the animals left. Gradually, the masquerade returned to the land of the ancestors. The arena emptied out. That was when the ant realized it was on its own and truly stranded. Both the dead and the living had gone to their houses. The elephant had left. That was the time it knew that without the elephant, it could not have shaken the bridge or be part of the big masquerade dance.

Even as you read this, the ant is still at the arena, alone, lonely, stranded. It missed the last bus home.

So what is there to learn from this story, especially at a time like this?

I worry about APC and PDP. When APC needed transportation to electoral victory, nPDP provided it. They rode together to the victory party. Where victory had been a mirage, nPDP brought a miracle. While PDP was waddling through the river, nPDP helped APC become a victory song. For me, without the exit of nPDP from the PDP, the APC would not have won. I may be wrong but think of the number of serving governors and lawmakers APC gained and the size of the electoral fortune it translated to.

And now APC, like the ant, seems to have forgotten the ride to the party. It is having so much fun it has allowed the ride back home to go without getting on its back. Both APC and nPDP need each other. They are a winning team only when they work together. All this talk of ‘I’m not losing sleep over exit of nPDP or R-APC’ seems like hot puff of smoke and I have a strong feeling it has a potential to become chronic insomnia for all concerned.

Neither APC nor nPDP can shake the bridge on its own.

Ant to elephant: ‘We shook the bridge’ or making sense of the APC crisis