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Tortoise, the ultimate gatherer of all knowledge


The other day we were all gathered to meet Gentleman and Lady Yannibo Ijapa for an interview on our friend’s latest what to do. Ijapa recently moved in with his swimming cousin Ijopo. They had changed their names the day they came to live in the sea, Ijapa explained to us. But how are they different from us except that they have developed some remedial webs on their limbs? We are told that we new arrival economic refugees will soon need to grow some if we are to survive here. Anyway, we were still marveling at the gadgets we were given to make us breathe in water and on earth. Some Nigerians were already wondering how much bribe would be demanded for us to keep the breathers, as they were called. Why can’t we manufacture such instruments that allow us to breathe in water and on earth? We don’t need something for us to breathe on earth. We do. Sorry, said the feeble-minded guy who said that, apologizing.


Ijapa introduced his swimming cousin and began his talk. All his life how he’d always wanted to have all knowledge, and I mean every one and all human knowledge, to myself. Here is where everything will be stored, he indicated a container.

He began by collecting all the contents of all dictionaries. Every one of them. Then he went on to collect all the encyclopedia on earth beginning with the Britanical stored in Edinburgh. Then he came to google, everything on google. He put them in The Container. Whoever owns the container owns world knowledge. And who will own world knowledge if not Tortoise alone? And when he dies? He dies with world knowledge. Human beings can start again to gather, anew, knowledge of the world!!! Because nobody will know where the container would be. That was one reason he had come to live with his swimming cousin at sea. The sea is endless. Somewhere Ijapa intends to find ‘soMewHere’ to hide The Container. Ijapa forgot to gather wise sayings along with the wisdom of the world.


A few decades after that interview, we accidentally met Ijapa, on earth, no longer living in the sea. What happened to the container? Where is it? Hey, my brothers and sisters, selfishness is no good. The day I left to go and hide the container, I did not tell my cousin I was leaving. It was the day they released our swimming equipments to us. I left alone, taking Yannibo with me. We were going to the end of seas and the beginning of the oceans. On the way, in the seas, we slept. We slept and the container slipped from our grip and swam away on its own. We looked and searched and dredged and never found the container.

Which is the reason for praising all gatherers of knowledge, be they dictionaries, or proverbs, or wise sayings, not just for gathering them but, most important of all, for gathering them to share. It is so glorious to share. Which is thanks to google that I got to know about Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer, born in 1967, who wrote Director’s Cut, which is an incredible read, which I would have missed if Brother Tortoise had succeeded with his container idea. That short story about the director’s cut came from a short story collection entitled Tel Aviv Noir edited by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron.

The NOIR series started in 2004. The first of them that I read was Haiti Noir. There is a LAGOS NOIR! It is edited by Chris Abani, not abami!!! (strange creature). The stories take place in specific places in the city or country.

Lagos Noir was published in 2018. “Life is tough; life is cheap; it is man versus man; there is police corruption, pay-offs and bribes; there is violence; and money is the key.” “…there is something for everyone in Lagos…it is no place to be poor…”

Mostly because of my arabization, I always was shy of being ambiguous towards Israelis. Yet, no topic on earth deserves ambiguity than the Arab-Israeli topic. Only negotiation and reconciliation can resolve the conflict. Both sides are right.

One day, Lev, Etgar’s son came home from school. He was 8. He pleaded with his father to stop expressing his opinion publicly. His father asked why not. Because everybody who wanted peace in the Israeli-Palestine issue had been shot: Rabin, Sadat, Lennon. Lev wanted peace but he also wanted parents.


Consistently, I have read one writer who might be Jewish but does not live in Israel. Daniel Silva writes about the incredible adventures of Gabriel Allon, master spy who is also art critic, restorer of ancient paintings and some time art forger. Gabriel Allon is unforgettable as a spy, as a patriot and he is soon to become a father again, of twins – a girl and a boy – and also the head of the Israeli Secret Service.

Reading Daniel Silva was like reading Ian Fleming with his James Bond pummeling a third world citizen to the cheers of a third world reader until the particular reader concludes that the hero, James Bond, is not on our side! Which raises the perennial question: for whom does the writer write? The way writers answer this question depends on their experience as readers themselves before they became writers. Anyway, the question became important when writers began to write in languages other than their mother-tongue. Invariably, the original language of a book determines the intended audience of a book.

The fact that some specie of animals adapt and live in other environments should tell us that some versions of human beings should be able to live inside water, especially. When, for instance, did the water tortoise go to sea? What drove it to seek refuge in the sea? What did it have to do to be permitted to go to sea? Why is it that the male never leaves the sea but the female goes to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches when it is nesting time. Have you ever seen the recently hatched egg make for the sea? They come out of the wet sand, look left and right, and then left again before rushing to the welcoming arms of the sea.


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