30 Jun 2001
A TALK PRESENTED TO THE MOGHAMO TRADITIONAL RULERS BY Njei Moses Timah ON THE 30TH OF JUNE 2001 AT THE PALACE OF THE FON OF NGYEN-MUWA
WE MUST ACT NOW
Our traditional rulers,
I am highly honoured to stand before you to add my humble contribution to your search for a better Moghamo for your subjects. I am thankful to His royal highness the Fon of Ngyen-Muwa for extending the invitation for me to be here today.
From the knowledge I have gathered from travelling, reading, listening to the radio and watching television, I have come to the conclusion that the Moghamo man is living in a geographical area that can be likened to paradise. The only problem is that we are unaware of the wonderful potentials of our surroundings. Ignorance has driven us to wage a merciless war on our environment. We have decimated our natural forests and we are already reaping the negative results of our action. The streams and rivers are drying up. Thousands of exotic plants and animal species have gone extinct. I believe we have done more damage to our environment in the last 50 years than the damage done by our ancestors in the previous 50,000 years. If we do not apply breaks now, we are doomed. Our traditional rulers and other administrators must liase with competent environmental experts to find a means to reverse this ugly trend.
The second urgent issue that begs your intervention is the exorbitant cost incurred by the Moghamo man for death-related expenses. The burden of this expenditure has pushed many people into indebtedness and bankruptcy. We happen to be living during an era that death is so rampant. This present situation is only getting worse due to the ravages of the modern plague, the proliferation of illegal and fake medicines on our streets and markets and environmental degradation among other factors. Do we really have the means to sustain an expensive culture of burying the dead? Where will the living get money from when they now spend more than 50% of their productive time at funerals/death celebration? Don’t we see that we have reached a point where our expenses are rising inversely to our productivity? Why must we continue to cling to some negative aspects of our tradition that are surely leading us to ruin? I salute any village in Moghamo that has taken steps to lessen the financial burden of its grieving people. I call on the rest of the traditional leaders to courageously dump the negative vestiges of our reactionary past. We have only one choice i.e. moving forward. The time to act is now.
The last point that I will like to mention is the scourge of AIDS. This terrible disease is the biggest disaster of recent memory that is affecting us as a people and transforming our society. In Sub Saharan Africa, one new case of HIV infection occurs every 25 seconds. There are 26 million HIV positive/AIDS patients in black Africa. We have read reports that the productive populations of whole villages have been wiped out in some parts of Africa. The fight against AIDS should be considered as a national security emergency. It is your role as leaders to encourage all AIDS awareness campaigns in your respective areas of jurisdiction. You must also encourage your subjects to show compassion towards our fellow citizens who are victims of this terrible disease.
In conclusion, I will like to emphasise that we must clearly understand that we are living through one of the most difficult times of the history of our people. A combination of forces and events are putting to test our ability to survive. It is clear that the death rate will still continue to climb for some time to come. We should have contingency plans in place to grapple with resultant rise in the number of orphans and destitute people. To survive, we must start planning from today. We must realign our priorities. We must stop and reverse deforestation. We must choose between spending 500,000frs for the death celebration of a parent or using a sizeable fraction of that money on the surviving dependants. The number of pigs we eat or jugs of wine we drink during death celebrations will never determine our greatness. It is our contribution to the advancement of humanity that will count. History will judge your greatness as traditional rulers by the bold actions that you take today to do away with the negative vestiges of our traditions. I am confident that all of you have the leadership qualities to tackle this unfolding crisis. I equally believe that all well-meaning Moghamo people will stand behind any progressive reforms or actions that you may take. We cannot afford to drag our feet any longer. Time is not on our side. We must act now.
May we all be blessed. Thanks.
Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah