Sunday, 5 August 2018

Man, Animals and Our Ability to Fly

The Flying Whale
I was thinking this morning.... about flying. While growing up as a little boy in Warri in the late seventies, flying was not what anybody wanted to be associated with because of the negative connotations. Though the Warri airstrip was created in the 1960s, followed by the upgrade of the Benin Airport and subsequent handover to the Nigeria Airport Authority (NAA) in 1978, air travel was the exclusive preserve of a handful. So most children in the then Bendel State knew little or nothing about aircraft or air travel. One craft that was however common and talked about a lot particularly when adults quarrel and fight is 'witchcraft.' So when you talk about flying, you could be misunderstood to be a 'kpiance' which is what witches and wizards were referred to in those days in Warri. So imagine my initial reticence as I got educated, when people desire and verbalize their intention to be high flyers. Why and how would anyone want to fly when he or she is not a 'kpiance?' Such were the days of our ignorance.

Fast forward 40 years to 2018, where I sat reading an aviation incident report where a passenger onboard a flight had grabbed and bitten a fellow passenger during take off. Having investigated the root cause of the incident, the investigation lead had surmised, 'Phobic passengers are part of the business of air transport as most people express varying degrees of fear. This is for the obvious reason that humans are not meant to fly.' Hmm!!! As I read the statement that 'humans are not meant to fly,' I smiled and saw a subtle explanation for why anyone with the ability or capability to fly in those days is regarded as a 'kpiance.' That is because only birds and insects are created to fly and humans are neither.

If humans are not meant to fly, why do people desire to be high flyers? In any case, many braved it and became high flyers, taking to the skies and brought a lot of advancement in air travel. Today, humans are now traveling from one end of the earth to another in crafts designed to look like birds. It is a no-brainer why flying crafts are designed in the shape of birds, because birds are created with the natural ability to fly. You will now understand my discomfort when you look to the skies these days and find flying crafts of irregular shapes (drones) and of recent, crafts designed to look like an aquatic animal.

It gives one the feeling that we are violating our boundaries. This was my thought when I read the headline 'Airbus launch new Beluga XL plane that looks like a whale.' Why would they design a plane in the shape of an animal that lacks the capacity to fly? I dey fear o!!! The new cargo aircraft made by the European Aeroplane Company, Airbus is deliberately designed  and decorated to look like a gigantic whale and named after the Beluga whale or white whale (Delphinapterus Lucas).

I am really thinking about how confused some children will be in the near future about who runs the skies. Is it the birds that were created for the skies or the terrestrial beings like humans that have taken to the skies in amazing ways or could it be the aquatic beings that are beginning to find their way up there? As it stands, the skies have become the playground of terrestrial and aquatic animals.

Irrespective of whether you are a high flyer or flying below the radar, thank God that we can fly and not be referred to as 'kpiance.' But before you fly, make sure that you are mentally ready, to avoid stories that touch. And if you really want to be a high flyer, just make sure you are not biting anyone on your way up. As for me this Sunday morning, amidst all the depressing news of  8 being greater than 22 in Nigeria, Psalms 55;6 has given me a getaway plan. It says, 'I said, oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.' Oh believe me, I would fly to the Caribbean or the Maldives for a great summer vacation and a well deserved rest. For now, it's time to go to church, by road.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

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