Taking a walk round the town I lived in, one could easily conclude that part of a thick forest was cleared by the early settlers to establish the town. As a result of the presence of the trees and other vegetation, the effect is always felt in terms of weather. The vegetation helped control the effects of the rise in temperature.
I have an uncle residing in the northern part of the country. Whenever he came to Ekiti those days, he would complain of the kind of hot weather they were having in the north. At the peak of the hot season, he used to tell us how they would spread mats outside the house and sleep till daybreak.
Whenever he came and see women killing trees to get firewoods for fueling their cooking, he used to advise them to protect the free gift of nature to them. He drew a comparison and let them know that the weather they are enjoying as a result of the vegetation is what the Northern part of the country is praying to have. The women would only listen without talking of alternatives to the firewoods for cooking. I was young and indifferent.
After graduating from college, I was posted to a core Northern state to participate in national service. I arrived at the community in March. The kind of weather I met there wasn't something I have witnessed since my birth. The weather defied fans and it was a village where possessing an AC was unattainable luxury.
My colleagues and I that were new in the town didn't have the confidence of sleeping outside like the natives initially. We would remain inside and only open our windows. During the day, we would trek for a few meters to look for a tree to stay underneath and cool down our system.
Due to that reason, we planned to visit a beach in a nearby State. Hadi, my colleague, had a car and in the morning of the day, we hopped in and headed to the beach. We picked two other colleagues in the next village and we traveled the 10 kilometers distance.
Arriving at the beach, the air penetrated my skin and I came back to life like someone deprived of water in a desert for days who was eventually given water to drink. I would enter the beach to relax in the water and come out and lie on the beach sand. After a few hours, we decided to sit and discuss our service year running into the third month.
It was from our discussion that a geographer among us hinted to us that one of the major challenges faced by the people was deforestation. The people were notorious in felling the already scarce trees for firewood. When I was told this, my mind went straight to my experience while growing up in Ekiti. The kind of weather and the peace of mind that came with it.
We decided to launch a campaign for tree planting while we urge the people to stop deforestation and find alternatives to firewoods as fuel for cooking. Before I finished my one year service, the campaign was yielding fruits because we recorded a sharp increase in the number of households that embraced alternatives such as gas. Students were also given projects of planting and nurturing a number of trees. I left there and handed over our plans to the Corpers that took over from us.
Some days ago, I saw a man cutting down a dead tree. I went closer and realized that they killed the tree with fire before cutting it down for firewood.
This again brought back my memory of years ago. I pleaded with the men to stop threatening nature for our own good. It happened close to the school where I teach. I decided to take them to the school premises and showed them the tree planting efforts of both the staff and pupils.
They promised to join us in the campaign of "say no to deforestation"
It's been many years that we sat in the beach and exchanged ideas about our possible contribution in preserving nature and till this day, I still implement the action plans.
A preserved nature is very conducive for humans and animals.
**All the pictures unless otherwise stated are mine.