RHYTHM OF THE RAIN
In the beginning, there was no rain. The land was dry and thirsty. The sun, from its oven of the sky baked the red soil hard into cakes. Cakes that the hungry couldn't eat.
There was threat of famine. You couldn't plant cassava and watch it grow. It died. Garri became scarce and they blamed it on the rain. Prices of foodstuff rose sharply and everybody blamed it on the rain.
There was no light and PHCN blamed it on the rain. The level of water at the electricity dam had gone low. Too low that it could no longer generate sufficient electricity. Darkness stretched across the nation. Life became unbearable.
The heat at night became tormenting. And the mosquitoes, merciless as ever, attacked non-stop, spilling blood, sucking blood and spreading malaria.
Then we remembered God. In times of affliction everybody remembers God. In mosques, we cried to Allah to send down the rain. In churches, it was the same suppliant voices praying for rain.
Out of the blues, a young, virtually unknown musician emerged like John the Baptist from the wilderness, carrying a bell on stage, asking people to repent, for 'the Kingdom of Jah is at hand.'
The young prophet of reggae carrying the voice of Bob Marley burst on the Nigerian music scene with his song of the rain.
'Send down the rain, send down the rain,' he chanted in his prayerful, disco reggae anthem that captured the hearts of Nigerians. The young, the old, little babes who can barely talk all chanted the music of Majek Fashek: 'Papa papa papa yoo…Mama, mama, mama yoo…Send down the rain.'
That's one musical catchphrase that has hooked everybody from Majek Fashek's astounding album, Prisoner of Conscience.
Straight to the top of the chart, the album zoomed. An impressive start for a debutant. God also listened to the album and He seemed to have liked it. So, He sent down the rain.
All night long and all day long, it has been rain, rain, rain, in Lagos and everywhere. Up above, the sky is still misty and cloudy, pregnant with the promise of more rainy days ahead.
Not since the days of Noah has Lagos been deluged with such a torrential rain. You don't really know how to categorize this: whether the rain is a blessing from God or is the sign of God's anger. Rain is both a blessing and a curse.
Oh, rain! It's a blessed thing, beloved from pole to pole. The sound of rain drumming on the rooftop at night provides the music of romance for people in love.
Let your adult mind travel down to your childhood world on a rainy night where you were clung to your mother.
In those childhood years, the sound of the rain was an invitation to play: rapturous kids trooping out of their homes naked to play football in the rain or searching for ice drops that God throws down to kids from heaven.
In those penurious years, the only time we could afford to drink ice water was when the rain fell. Rain water, so pure, so cool, so clean, depending on how you fetch it.
The rainy season comes and God switches on His big air conditioner. Then, heat is automatically abolished. No more sleeping and sweating. No more the buzzing mosquitoes. To hell with the tyranny of PHCN. PHCN can take the light if it wants to.
Rain is the farmer's delight, the harbinger of plenitude, the celestial sperm that gives fecundity to Mother Earth. The flowers will bloom and the vegetation will throw away their brown rags and wear verdant robes of greenery. And the grass of the lawn becomes greener.
In homes where water is scarce, rain water comes as a blessing. If you can't cook with it, you can at least wash with it or flush the stinking toilet with it.
Car owners, who cannot spare the time or the money to go to the car wash, get free wash in the rain. And there is an added bonus of underneath wash as your car splashes through the pools of rain water on the street.
Rain: and the chaotic beauty of running waters, waters running fast through the gutters, clearing the garbage and simulating sounds of waterfalls.
There is the other side of the rain which Lagosians know too well. Every Lagosian knows that with the coming of the rain, he or she must learn to live an amphibian life: wading through pools of water to get home, ferrying your car through lakes, big and small, getting it stuck in water and looking round for mallams or area boys to help give a push.
That is the rainy day blues. Rainy day blues is when you are standing at the bus stop searching for a ride home and all your body is wet drunk with rain. Rainy day blues is when you no longer can park your car at your residence because of flood. Rainy day blues is when you need a canoe to paddle home, when you have to collect buckets of rain every time from your flooded home.
Rainy day floods expose the shameful nudity of governmental planlessness for the future. No government in Nigeria ever had the foresight of planning ahead to fight flood. So, like a recurring decimal, the problem of flood must rear its head, again and again, year after year, leaving us with the bitter truth that in Nigeria, no government ever saves for the rainy day.
There is the paradoxical side to rain and its pattern of falling. Call it the paradox of the rain. While Lagos and some parts of the southern states are being deluged with more rain than they need, our brothers and sisters in the North are crying for rain, and being threatened with desertification and famine, all caused by prolonged absence of rain.
The fate of our other African brothers in the Sahelian zone is even worse. The gruesome picture of Ethiopians all reduced to skeletons by the pangs of hunger is an all too familiar iconic images of horror, an open wound that pricks the conscience of the world of the haves.
Only God in His infinite wisdom can explain why one area of the world should be deprived of the rain while another is crying of too much rain.
The paradox of the rain is like the paradox of human existence. Everywhere, the rich is getting richer and richer while the poor is getting poorer and poorer. That is the law of the land. And the law of nature.