A childhood friend, Kobi, was my mentor in this game of risks. A dark in complexion personality, pleasing character, towering figure, with a massive weight of about two hundred and forty-five pounds and in his late twenties. Being a chap with precocious knowledge on wild animals, he could say a lot on quite a good number of animals in the wild. He once narrated to me how he narrowly escaped death from the venomous fang of the feared, black mamba, which was indeed a breath-taking experience.
Before embarking on this historic, adventurous trip, he had informed me on some crucial techniques one needs to adhere strictly to as we go on. Looking carefully at dark undergrowths in the thick rainforest, watching out for the dreadful driver ants, engaging in meaningful conversations so as to arouse the attention of unwary animals in order not to stumble on them suddenly, these techniques and many more are what Kobi called safety tips against unprecedented attacks from dangerous animals.
The d-day rolls in. After trekking some kilometers that took us about two hours we got to the heart of the forest, it was indeed a sight to behold. I can burst into a hearty laughter without shocking the ridiculous propriety of a crowded street; I am not required to wear this kind of cloth material or that; to all intents and purposes, we were absolutely free; there is no vexatious etiquette to be observed.
Though the forest is a place where life is action, it gives a man a great deal of time to think: it peels from his mind the trivial veneer of civilization and leaves him to brood upon the elemental things which lie at the heart of life.
Herds of antelopes, gazelles, troops of monkeys, all litters the jungle, while birds of different plumage rendered melodious tunes that only an orchestrated choir could match. Later on, as we approached the evening time, Kobi took me to a hut at the border of the forest, it was another trek of about a kilometer away from where we were, as he said, "it belongs to a family friend."
We were given a warm welcome; a cane-rat stew was served us with a locally made orange drink for dinner. Before we lay down to sleep on our wooden framed bed completed with eiderdown-like stuffed mattress, I watched in awesome wonder the wondrous work of nature, I cannot but show my appreciations to the artistry work of God, the author of nature and as well say a big thank you to Kobi, a worthy personality for availing me this golden opportunity.
The sentinel stars have already set their watch in the sky, and now the moon rising with glorious effulgence, pales the lesser lights of heaven to insignificance and silvers the forest with a mystery that thrills me silently.
Consequently, our last day of expedition came and it creates a sort of reminiscence of nature within me. The motives behind our expedition was strictly on observation and not to hunt, in fact I had a lot to snap that I exhausted the set of films I took along with me. Within me I felt like another David Attenborough, George Schaller, David Shepherd, Peter Jenkins and even envied the likes of female naturalists like; the legendary Jane Goodall, the late Dian Fossey and others.
The journey homeward began. Kobi continued with his loaded narrations on some selected animals, I remembered him telling me about the huge rock python that is so big enough to swallow a leopard, the lion's power to subdue a full grown buffalo, the ferocious, fearless ratel (also known as the honey-badger) that turns away from nothing when fending for itself. Truly, I had a nice time in the wild through Kobi's company.
Alas, our expedition came to a close and as we approach home though, still in the wild, Kobi, a friend, probably would have escaped the ill-fated experience still in the shell about to hatch as he stepped on something slippery and before he could adjust his steps, he had been bitten, the culprit, a black mamba.
I did all I could to revive my bosom friend, but all efforts proved abortive. I ran wildly after the eight-foot slippery animal, though succeeded in killing it, yet, before my tearful eyes, I watched in a stone cold, squatting posture as my only "cicerone" in the other world passed out from a known world to an unknown world. Few days later, he was committed to mother earth. I will forever remember and also miss him dearly. Adieu Kobi, a worthy friend.
Written by Tope Akintola
Setting: Kabunda Forest
Location: Sebandu Village, Western Africa
Time of Event: November 1989
Published: 23rd September 2003