Working from home, as the new world order dictates, three birds perch by the windowsill and chant happily with such freedom. I had placed a couple of rice pellets by the window the previous night hoping to catch a sight of these magnificent creation that was made on the fifth day.
Looking yonder, there are grass reeds that seem to dance in the wind beneath the whizzing grevillea and the whistling casuarina. My phone beeps and I look it up – a friend from Pretoria has sent me a video of happy-looking African penguins cruising the streets of Simon’s Town. In the high-end, exclusive estates of Pretoria, the majestic gait of the kudu dominates the tarred roads where human activity seems to have been withdrawn indefinitely. During a Zoom call with some colleagues, the weaverbird, the laughing dove, and the common bulbul compete for attention albeit from the background.
These events are a confirmation of my rationalized approach to creation pre-man. I have always held three thoughts about creation with respect to the destruction caused by man on biodiversity. The first thought is that, going by the story of creation in Genesis, the planet belonged and has always belonged to the flora and fauna before it was ours. You see, Genesis documents that man was only created on the last day before God rested and that all else existed before him.
Given this logical approach, I have always held the thought that everything belonged to the animals and plants and the fishes of the seas and birds of the air before we were given dominion. This is my second view: that before man was, creation was, and that all that we claim to be ours was theirs first. A short, unexpected retreat from their spaces due to COVID-19 and voila! The animals and plants reclaim their rightful place.
A reflective consideration of initiatives such as the New Deal for Nature and People where focus is on halting nature and habitat loss and protecting biodiversity against extinction are really about re-establishing the once-existent harmony with nature. Perhaps, the main thing we need to do is to let nature be and let it restore itself. If we could teach the human mind to remain on Zoom more than in different cities, we could reduce our footprint significantly and allow the flora and fauna the freedom to rejuvenate and thrive.
Granted that the lockdown also means some considerable challenges to the survival of some species, it looks like man would do lots of species and habitats justice by simply keeping off. The messianic thought that we are the saviours of our planet, birds, fishes, animals, and plants is significantly challenged in the prevailing times. Perhaps our New Deal for Nature and People should be about humanity laying back as much as possible and letting nature be!
David N. Munene,
CYNESA Programs Manager.