How Kebbi won the battle of pleasures between eating our crocodiles and cultivating them

History has taught us that all pleasures are not the same! They may even be categorised based on how long the feelings linger. But that we are creatures given to pleasure is without question.

So when recently, news filtered out of Bayelsa about a crocodile that was caught, butchered and eaten, curiosity got the better part of me. What did I find on the faces of those who butchered the animal from looking closely at their faces? Anticipatory pleasure; a mental exploration of the coming attraction and pleasure. How they would relish the moment when portions of the peppered meat caressed their palate letting their teeth tear through pieces that will send all manner of sensations into their brain. This process might repeat itself every time the crocodile stew is eaten until it is finished but you can bet that the pleasure quotient will not be as it was the first time. Some people might even tire from the meal and not want to eat from the same crocodile stew the next day. When the last piece of meat is eventually eaten, it is bye bye to any kind of pleasure from that unfortunate crocodile.

But move over to Kebbi State and see how another pleasure-driven engagement with crocodiles unfolded. It was the occasion of the 2020 edition of Argungu International Fishing Festival, hosted by Governor Abubakar Bagudu, which held last week. The rich cultural package had as one of its unmissable pieces, crocodile handlers entertaining guests with the animals on their backs! There were big crocodiles, medium-sized and small crocodiles. All seemingly lapping the attention of the appreciative crowd. Some of whom were obviously not amused but curious. And scared. Prompting the question, how did the handlers do it? Have they forgotten that these animals are killing machines? Ferocious as they come. With all those NatGeo Wild videos about ferocious crocodiles returning with force into one’s subconscious. But the handlers were ready for the question. They knew visitors and guests would certainly wonder how they did it. The answer was one word – Cultivation! They chased the animals, intent on cultivating a relationship with them. They learnt what they needed to know about the animals, knew what red lines they could not cross, as it were. And the mutually beneficial relationship started. Such that the pleasures they derive from engagement with the creature is an ongoing one, instead of being a one-off that ends with the last piece of crocodile meat crushed between the teeth. And they are now in a position to share the pleasure with a large number of people compared with the limited group that must have feasted on the crocodile stew!

What is the difference between the two incidents? Cultivation. And whilst we are at it, I am inclined to view both incidents as similar to what mankind has done with electricity. When properly harnessed, we can derive immense benefits from electricity but handled without thought and care, we will experience terrible losses.

Kebbi can continue to showcase its crocodiles getting not just the fascination of tourists and their appreciation but affirming in the process what we must all do with things and situations generally classified as potential threats.

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