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AM Inspiration: Decapitated Giants, Glamour Ground into Sand

Following up on Tuesday's post about Africa's environment reflected in poetry, here's another installment, this time about deforestation. While the word might conjure up associations with the Amazonian rainforest, deforestation is actually an acute problem in Africa. Unlike in Latin America, an estimated 70-90% of people across the African continent use firewood for cooking. Solar Household Energy (SHE) is a nonprofit with an innovative solution to this problem: using solar cookers means the time and money currently used in finding fuel can be redirected, preserving forest land in the process. This is critical in places like Mali, where, SHE reports,

"The desert is advancing 2.4 miles each year," says Gnibouwa Diassana, World Vision Mali."

The BBC's article "Deforestation 'faster in Africa'" says that the loss of forest land in Africa is 4 times the world average and 260 years behind the level of reform reached in the Amazon. The fact that much of the forest is held by governments rather than communities, they claim, has stymied preservation efforts.

The Solar Household Energy site has some information on how you can help fight the loss of forest land.

The Nigerian poet Tanure Ojaide has masterfully expressed the transmutation of treeland into desert in more vivid terms.  "Deforestation" sounds clinical, like a surgery, but in his poem "Doors of the Forest" he writes of "giants [getting] decapitated...all other species of glamour ground into interminable sand."

Doors of the Forest



“The doors of the forest are closed” (Pablo Neruda)



The doors of the forest are closed. Forever

closed by poachers, government-salaried guards,

of the green dominion that kissed the sky’s face

amidst ululation of leaves topped by a majestic crown.

On the dome and over the garland of opulent leaves,

the choir out-sang symphonies, vocals of every caliber—

soloists, duets, and ensembles pouring out melodies.

The bush was a countryside fair of a thousand voices

that rang from pre-dawn through wakeful hours...

With the forest gone, the bloodbath hushed over by rites

of sprinkling confetti at wraiths of a once proud stock;

the doors themselves fueled the delirium of seasonal fires.

Once the doors of the forest closed, came a new millennium

of woodless silence—a gaping wound in the earth’s chest

thrives with worldwide denial of rain to douse flames.

Humans, shut out, smart from the climate change.

The doors of the forest are closed to peace and joy

by the poaching perpetrated in the silence of lust.

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