By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Few days ago I drove down to Onitsha and entered into Onitsha Main Market, which is the biggest market in West Africa, to buy a radio operating without any battery. I went straight to the electronic sector. The traders nearly tore my prestigious garment as they were pulling me left and right to come into their respective shops to make my purchase. I moved from one shop to the other looking for a radio without battery. Some of the merchants laughed at me as if I was mentally sick. I encountered one of them who had not sold anything from morning till my arrival in the afternoon. He was full of hope when I came into his electronic shop. In other words, he thought that God had answered his prayer for daily bread. He welcomed me with exceptional smiles. Even he offered me a seat and a bottle of cold water because I was sweating profusely. I sat down with many thanks to him. After the consumption of the cold water, I cleared my throat and then asked him, “Oga, do you have a radio without battery? I need it badly.” He frowned and asked, “What do you mean?” I replied, “Please do not be annoyed. I urgently need a radio that operates without battery.” He rebuffed me and shouted, “Are you out of your senses? How can a radio operate without battery? It is only a fool that thinks that way. Therefore, get out of my shop before I lose my temper! I am here to sell my wares and not for a joke. This is a market place and not a cinema hall.” He demanded a hundred naira from me for the cost of the cold bottled water he offered me free initially. Quietly I gave it to him. Out of excessive anger he pushed me out of his shop for adding to his bad luck that day. But instead of I myself falling down, he himself fell down like a pack of cards. Probably the fall was caused by hunger and anger. In other words, hunger plus anger equal to downfall. By this time many of the electronic sellers have formed a semi-circle watching the scene. In order to avoid being a victim of mob action, I walked away gently without insulting any of them.
As I was walking away fast, they followed me shouting, “Go away Mr. Radio without battery. Mad man! “I turned sharply and shouted, “I am not mad! I know what I came here to look for.” One of them raised a big stick over my head. Since life has no duplicate and a dead man does not bear witness of what caused his death, I gently ran away before it becomes too late.
The hen says what she pursues in the midst of rainfall is very important to her. So, from Onitsha I travelled straight to Enugu and entered into Ogbete Main Market. I searched and found the electronic sector. The sellers were eager to sell their wares by calling and making signs to me to patronize them. From one shop to the other I made enquiry of a radio without battery. Some politely said they did not have it. Explicitly, one of them called me closely and said, “Sir, there is no radio built without battery in this market. You can go to China to purchase it.” I laughed and asserted, “Do you want me to contract Coronavirus because of radio without battery? God forbid!” As I stood still gazing up and down, one of the merchants out of insult shouted, “Sir, you are at the wrong place! I can see that you are out of your senses. Therefore, go into the Holy Ghost Cathedral Church over there and ask a priest for deliverance from demonic possession.” The insult was unbearable. Hence I left the market in haste before I see myself in chains. I asked myself, “Does a sane person need deliverance from demonic attack?” When I opened my eyes I saw myself lying comfortably on my bed. I jumped up and exclaimed, “So, I was dreaming!” I made the Sign of the Cross and said my morning prayer.
The dream was over. I returned to the land of reality and entered into the cognitive sphere. I asked myself, “Is it possible at all to have a radio that operates without any type of battery?” The battery is a stored electrical energy which comes in different forms such as electricity, solar, in-built battery, acidic battery, dry cellular battery, etc. Any of these makes a radio to work. Then strictly speaking, there is no radio without battery in the world of physics and chemistry.
Contrarily, in human world there is a possibility of a radio functioning without battery. That radio is reddish in colour and takes the shape of a flame of fire. Are you with me? I am not philosophizing here, instead I am humanizing. That radio operating without battery is the human tongue, which resembles a flame of fire. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines the tongue as “the soft, moveable part inside your mouth that you use for tasting, eating and speaking.” Yes, it is the tongue that informs you that something is sweet or bitter. If anything happens to it, everything becomes tasteless. In the democratic State or National Assembly there is someone known as the Speaker of the House. In human anatomy, the tongue is the speaker of the body. The brain conceives and analyzes while the tongue speaks out. The tongue can be used to praise or to curse. Saint James says, “The tongue is a tiny part of the body but it is capable of great things. A small flame is enough to set a huge forest on fire. The tongue is a similar flame; it is in itself a whole of evil. It infects the whole being and sets fire to our world with the very fire of hell. Wild animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures of every kind are and have been ruled by the human species. Nobody, however, can control the tongue; it is an untiring whip, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless God, our Father, and also to curse those made in God's likeness. From the same mouth come both blessing and curse” (James 3:5 – 10).
The tongue is a precious part of the body. Without it talking is impossible. Any impediment in it makes speech distorted. The worst tongue impediment leads to dumbness. Hence some persons have tongues but are unable to talk. Hence if you are capable of talking, give praise to God. However, the tongue should not be abused by talking nonsense. The commonest nonsense is gossip. Gossip is the evil act of spreading the news you are not sure of. It is a hearsay which may not be true. Gossip is equivalent to a radio without battery. Formerly, women are known for gossiping. But today many are of the view that men gossip more than women. Is this true or false?
There is a certain woman in my area commonly known as Mrs. Radio-without-battery. She goes from one place to the other spreading false news. She takes delight in it. Even when she sleeps, she continues to gossip. She brings bad name to his husband and children. One day she set fire to her town by spreading a false rumour that the traditional ruler of the town died in a hotel while sleeping with a prostitute. The town's people saw it as the greatest abomination of the century. It was then decided that his corpse would be thrown into an evil forest for the vultures to consume. When the time for the casting away was approaching, it was discovered that the traditional ruler died of heart attack in a hospital. The Radio-without-battery woman was arrested for false information. She was chained to a tree with a thick bandage crossed over her mouth and tied at the back of the tree for two weeks. During the painful agony she was fed intravenously. At last she was set free. Since then she has jettisoned her radio operating without battery. Her new radio is now functioning with battery.
Today in our country Nigeria there are so many radios without batteries here and there. Men, women, youths even children are involved. These radios without batteries can be found in the state and federal government, in the market place, in beer parlour, in schools, in commuter buses, among pedestrians, and even in the church. Some commissioners or ministers of information metamorphose into radio without battery in a bid to suppress the opposition. Instead of disseminating the truth they turn into liars. In war times such misinformation is known as propaganda.
The use of the social media has many advantages. But the disadvantages these days seem to outnumber the advantages. Through these network systems some people take delight in spread of false information. By so doing, they create fear that often claim lives. In nutrition they spread falsehood such that we do not know what to eat or to drink for healthy living. Someone posted sometime ago that if you drink coca cola after eating mango you will die.
Out of courage I tasted it and I did not die. It was also posted that a combination of ripe plantain and beans is a poison. But on my own estimation it is a delicious meal. Some radio-without-batteries have spoilt others businesses through the use of social media. They name certain commodities and make caricature of them. By so doing, the consumers or users are scared away. One the night to 15th February 2020 around 2.00a.m at Ihiala in Anambra state, three siblings lost their lives in an inferno that consumed their apartment. It was cause by a candle burning before they slept off. Radios without batteries started broadcasting that their mother left them and went to sleep with her boyfriend on Valentine day. People believed it until the father of the burnt siblings came openly and debunked the rumour.
The present insecurity in Nigeria has given room for so many radio-without-batteries being on the air. Often they raise false alarm. People now live in fear here and there. To cut corners short, radio without battery is also insecurity.