The year is 4028. Planet earth died out 2000 years ago. In the year 2028, a scientist known as Dr. David Pilcher gave a presentation at a conference on climate change.
His key findings were that humanity would cease to exist in a few centuries time and unless human beings made the necessary adjustments to the way they lived, the world, as they knew it, would disappear.
The participants at the conference laughed at him and most of them walked out. Undeterred, Dr. Pilcher continued to work on his theory and research. He came up with a plan, similar to the biblical story of Noah and the Ark. He worked on an experiment that would put thousands of people in hibernation (including him) for thousands of years.
This would ensure that should the worst happen, the world would continue to exist with human beings in it. His bold plan worked, and 2000 years later he woke up with all the people he had programmed to sleep. He had been right all along. The world had ceased to exist. Planet earth was wasteland. Nothing could grow anywhere, except for within the new Garden of Eden he had designed with his co-survivors.
This is the plot of Wayward Pines’, a science fiction TV drama in the United States inspired by a trilogy of the same name by author Blake Crouch. It turned out that human beings had not completely died out. Due to environmental factors and genetic mutations, they had evolved into terrible creatures known as ‘Abbies’, short for Aberrations.
Abbies were blood thirsty, violent, rabid carnivores who hunted in packs and fed on anything that moved. They did not need to be provoked, they were relentless aggressors. They were always on the prowl for something to devour. The creators of the new paradise called Wayward Pines had to erect a massive electric fence round the town to keep the Abbies from destroying what was left of the human race.
As I watched the series three years ago, I thought to myself, ‘This is not a story for 4028. This is 2016 and Abbies exist right now, we are living side by side with them’.
Let us take a good look around us. In Russia, a newlywed woman murdered her husband and hand fed pieces of his body to the family dog. In North Carolina, USA, a woman sold a freezer containing the dead body of her mother to a neighbor for $30. In South Africa, a deranged Pastor feeds his congregation with snakes and orders them to eat grass. Not to be outdone, another Pastor in the same country happily poses for photographs of him buying litres of Dettol disinfectant for his befuddled congregation to drink and wash away their sins.
Somewhere in India, a group of four men raped a dog to death. I have not bothered to go into those marrying their cats or snakes in various parts of the world. Nor will I dwell on the mobs who descend on accident victims to loot and take selfies instead of helping. We do not need to wait 2,000 years. We already have Abbies amongst us.
The rate at which we are going, psychotic and aberrant behavior will become the new normal. The shrinking economic opportunities in our societies continues to tear at the social fabric that binds us as we all engage in a deadly battle of the survival of the fittest. All around the world, the gap between those who have and those who don’t, those who are hungry and those who are overfed continues to grow. How can we minimize the chances that we might one day evolve into vile creatures that cannot be described as human beings?
My organisation, Ekiti Development Foundation (EDF) is about to start a Food Outreach Program for the elderly in Ekiti known as Ounje Arugbo. During the verification exercise in Ikere-Ekiti last week, the project team discovered that one of the nominated recipients, Madam Jolaade Osho, could not make it to the meeting because she was very frail, so they went to her home.
Mama is over 105 years old (there are claims that she might be much older) and she lives alone. Mama Osho does not have any living children, she lost all her three children over 30 years ago and she has been on her own since then. Some people labelled her a witch and taunted her endlessly. She was often told she would die unsung and be buried like a dog because she was a witch. Occasionally a few kind people would give her money to buy food, but some wicked people – Abbies, would break into her house and steal whatever little she had.
When the EDF project team visited her, she was found living in such squalor, they were badly shaken as they were giving their report. They showed me the video recording of where they found her. It was not fit for any animal to reside in not to talk of an elderly person. We all swung into action.
One week later, Mama Osho now has a new place to live, while her family home is being renovated. She no longer has to worry about where her next meal will come from. We arranged two carers for Mama to work in shifts. They will prepare her meals, take her for walks, supervise her medication and keep her company. I visited Mama a few days ago in Ikere-Ekiti.
There was not a dry eye in the room as we all laughed, joked and danced with Mama. I could not hold back my tears as she clung to me and prayed. In most African communities, every child has a mother and every mother has a child, biological or otherwise. It diminishes us all when our elderly are found in the kind of condition Mama Osho was last week.
Most of what makes us human is our compassion, love, and care for others. Our willingness to protect the weak and encourage the meek. Our capacity to forgive and the humility to seek forgiveness. Even animals can show love and compassion, but as human beings, we have a responsibility to improve the world and not engage in acts to destroy it. We should be thirsty for knowledge and hungry for justice. We need to be our bothers’ and sisters’ keeper, and learn the fine line between eccentricity and full blown madness before disaster strikes.
We need responsible servant-leaders and not ruthless looters to pilot our affairs and envision a future free of fear and danger. All these and more will hopefully ensure that we stay human, and raise a generation who can in turn pass on these values to others. To other human beings. There is always something to be gained from wanting to be a better person. We can never be perfect but we can try. Let us not normaIise mean, rude and wicked behavior. I do not want my descendants to evolve into ‘Abbies’. How about you? What can you do more or less of to stay human?
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com