Snail Hunting Expedition:
Snail hunting expedition is a classical one for me. My name is Kensi. My community is naturally endowed with green vegetation and that is because we live in the forest region of West Africa. The aerial view of my community reveals a terrain of massive vegetation canopy covering the entire community. This depicts an assurance of life survival and not just the survival of humans but also animals of different species.
The human population density of my community is relatively high thanks to the forest that feeds its occupants. The agricultural activity that goes on in the community has helped to neutralize the presence of poverty. Therefore, harnessing the forest by tilling its ground and hunting animals in it becomes a way to put food on the table. Though without much physical cash it is possible for a family to eat healthy meals because of the forest.
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Whatever product any family harnesses from the forest is sold in the community market. So the community market is where we sell our farm products and animals in exchange for cash. One of the animals we can harness from the forest and sell in the market is Snail. So many children in my community engage in snail hunting. Snail hunting is periodical because of the lifestyle of snail. During the dry season, the snail hibernates because it cannot stand the dry nature of the weather. As a result of this, snail hunting during dry season is more of a futile venture. This is because it is not possible to get snails in the forest during the dry season. Therefore, snail hunting booms during the wet/raining season.
Snail Hunting On Sunday Evening:
It is a Sunday evening; we have just finished from the Children’s Sunday school. I was wondering why Bato didn’t come for today’s Sunday school. Bato’s presence makes our Sunday school very engaging and interesting because we always have this healthy competition in answering questions. The way and manner we compete in answering questions thrills our teacher Madam Ziri. It makes her feel good at what she does and hence the warm relationship between us. Therefore, the absence of Bato makes the whole activities in the Sunday school boring and glumly. This is because I was the only one answering questions and I felt it badly.
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Just as I was about entering the road to our compound, I heard a voice behind me… Kensi! Surely, I know the voice, it is Bato’s. I turned to look at him and there he is with some lops of raffia palms. I didn’t wait to halt him with the question of why he didn’t come for the Sunday school. As usual, he smiles and said to me Kensi, so you don’t know what is on board? I don’t know tell me I said. Well, you act like a stranger, the whole children in the community are preparing for the show.
What show I requested… Snail hunting of course, we are ready; we are set for snail hunting tonight. Well I can acquiesce to it because few days ago it rained. And this kind of rain at this particular time marks the beginning of farming season in my community. This however, means the beginning of another year in our lunar calendar.
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Lunar Calendar Month:
According to our elders, one year is made up of thirteen lunar months. A month starts with the very first day the new moon appears. And it ends on the last day the moon disappears. So it takes thirteen lunar months from the beginning of the farming season to another farming season. Therefore, it implies that the time is ripe for snail hunting because the snails will come out from their hibernation. However, I was not happy that Bato missed the Sunday school because of this snail hunting. Nevertheless he went ahead to cajole me to join in tonight’s snail hunting. Meanwhile, my agreement to join him in tonight’s snail hunting makes him happy. And I love to see him happy because we are friends and share mutual relationship in Church activities.
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Immediately, we went to a corner of our house to prepare the Nmumu Owa. The nmumu Owa is made from dry raffia palm lops. One has to separate the soft tissue from the thick bark and cut the thick bark to a sizable length. Then gather them and make bundles of them which might contain at least twenty stripes of the thick bark. In snail hunting, we don’t need a battery touch light because it is expensive; therefore, the Nmumu Owa is cheaper and better. It is better because the light from it shines and scares away some dangerous animals. Interestingly, in a little while we were done, and I have ten bundles and Bato has ten too. Therefore we are good to go.
Preparation For The Expedition:
Snail hunting is not done is the evening but right in the night. We are not the only ones ready to go. Issy and Nta are also ready and many other children are involved. It’s going to be a massive movement into the forest and this will help to scare fear away from us. Meanwhile, as we were preparing the Nmumu Owa we made an agreement. And that is we go for the snail hunting and use the snail for children’s first fruit harvest. The children’s first fruit harvest is the kind of harvest that children bring whatever they have laboured with their hands. These include craft works, farm produce and animals. The church gathers these items and auctions them in a bazaar. The money from it is used in the maintenance of children church.
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However, because snail hunting takes place in the night, many parents consider it dangerous for their little ones to participate. My mother hesitantly agreed because Bato is involved and she prayed for us before we set out. On the other hand she advises us to access the surrounding forest and that we should not go far into the deep forest. Honestly, this is my first time to participate in snail hunting, and really it is exciting. As we set out feet into the forest, it was as if the snails were asked to gather for us. The forest is filled with snails of different species. The fish gathering miracle in Luke chapter five comes to my mind.
The Result Is Worth It:
The snail hunting is so thrilling that we didn’t know when we have gone deep into the forest. And suddenly we started hearing some awful noises and sound from animals presumed to be dangerous. This calls for attention and we started redressing our steps and by this time we have almost exhausted our Nmumu Owa. Therefore, we couldn’t wait to rush out of the forest and start heading home. Thank God, my fiber bag is filled with snails; the snail hunting is worth it.
In a short while I was home, at the door of our house is my mother standing and waiting. She couldn’t sleep throughout the time I was away in the forest. She made me take my bath that night, and prepared me for a good night sleep.
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However, while I was lying down on my bed, I begin to ponder on how to share the snails. Some should go for the harvest; my mother should sale some and some for consumption. A snail soup with Ugha leaf is the most delicious soap I have ever eaten. This time I cannot avoid missing it!
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