Tuesday, 19th October 2021
To guardian.ng
Breaking News:

What wheels will do for us

By Kole Omotoso
22 November 2020   |   3:37 am
If anyone has ever wondered what is in store for the future of human beings, all they have to do is look around them. What is around us that has never been put to use.

If anyone has ever wondered what is in store for the future of human beings, all they have to do is look around them. What is around us that has never been put to use. Or what was put to use and put aside because it’s time was not yet. Let’s take the example of the wheel. Whoever invented the wheel solved virtually all the problems and all the challenges that would confront humans to the end of time. The reason is that life is about movement. Yes, humans might settle in cities and towns and such places with water and fertile land, humans are also about movement. From time to time humans would move. And wheels are there for them.

Recently, a group of architects wondered what they could do. They looked around them. One person said that buildings were too close to one another. As a result of such nearness, there was not enough space for fresh air to pass in front, to the back, to the right and to the left.

And so people were always hot. Someone suggested that planting trees between the houses would solve the problem. The rest of the group laughed and asked if the person who made the suggestion of planting trees has ever tried planting trees between the houses in Ibadan or Lagos or any built up area in any country in the world. As soon as humans are allocated a piece of land to build upon, they build on every inch of the land.

They then add a bit of their neighbor’s land while she’s looking to pinch her friend’s piece on the other side. The trouble such piece of land taken by mistake causes is endless. They will go to court. They will be asked to go and settle the matter at home, among themselves. Is it that they have no elders at home to pour oil on boiling water for them? Before you know what’s happening, the land matter escalates and it no longer matters!

It becomes a matter of principle, the principle of cheating, of taking what belongs to someone else. And issue of planting trees between the Ibadan houses or any houses anywhere in the world for the purposes of fresh air is easily forgotten. Now that they were back on the matter of the houses, a few people suggest that the houses should be demolished and houses re-built.

This was not going to work. In the first place, how do you get the same number of houses on the same expanded pieces of land? Perhaps you could compensate some owners of land with cash. But how much is enough to compensate the owners of these mud family houses? And given the number of owners, some have since gone to Lagos or London with no departing address, it becomes impossible to trace those to be paid. What is to be done?
Someone suggested that they should demolish the houses and rebuild them as proportions of their original sizes. They took one street in Isale-Eko and began to use it as the sample. They first measured all the houses. They then calculated what each house would amount to when proportions were determined. By the time air space had been provided for the spaces were too small to take the houses with twelve or fourteen rooms originally built on the ground. And nobody agreed to have their houses reduced. So, they all returned to ground zero.

By now it was obvious that there would be no solution to satisfy everybody. Could the town council give them new land equal to what they have at the borders of the town? People were asked to go home and think of this possibility. They went home and came back and asked where in the borders were they going to give them. If they were going to give the space in the evil forest, they will not agree. First of all, they could not re-bury their ancestors in the evil forest. How could they do such a thing to their ancestors? These were people who lived well and did not do anything deserving of being buried in the evil forest. No matter how much money was given to sweeten the going into the evil forest, they would never agree to go there. It was the evil forest they were going to send them to. Now that the cat was out of the bag…

It was at this point, after a short break, that two people separately suggested the use of the wheel. They thought they were joking talking about the wheel while they were talking of serious matters. The two insisted they were not joking, that it was the only solution that would please everyone. In addition, they would be able to bring their valued ancestors along. They were asked to present their ideas for the group for general discussion.

The drawings were done. The idea was that wheels will be put under the houses wheeled out of the area and taken to wherever it pleased the town council and the owners of the house and their ancestors agree to place their house.

There were murmurs and grumblings. How will it be done? Those who brought the idea and the few who have joined them insisted that once it was agreed that the wheel is the will, doing will suggest itself along the way. This point was argued until weariness overtook every one. Towards the end of that day, it had been agreed that wheels will be put under the houses and they will be wheel from the neighborhood.

In no time at all, companies were formed. Some specialised in digging around the houses. Some were specialists in making wheels according to the weight and the length of the houses. There were companies that insured the houses as they moved to their new abode.

There were churches, mosques, houses of the Gods each attending to their congregants as their ancestors prepared to move to new places.

There were problems. There were challenges. But they were overcome as they went along. The belief that the wheel is the will, everything went smoothly. Houses moved away and the rest, as they say, is history.

Come and see the tourism that arose out of the houses on wheels.