They form a dark cloak in the sky. And if you are brave enough to go closer to take a look, you would find these dirty rags flying in the air do a gyration before they perch upside down in huge clusters on the mango trees at the Benin Ring Road Museum grounds.
Around where these dirty rags are perched, normal human activity goes on – a lovey-dovey couple sits backing the tree whispering their sweet nothings, a woman displays her wares (biscuits, soft drink and other consumables) by the side of the tree. Right under the tree, easy chairs for relaxation lounge there easily as well. If you would wonder why the duo standing under the tree in animated discussions is not afraid of the droppings from the dirty rags….bats and that they are likely to come down with a dreadful flu, then you should be afraid as well for the children who came to the museum on that day for an excursion.
But no, not to worry, an official of the research and documentation department of the museum in Benin told me. ‘There are two species of bats but these ones here on these trees are not Ebola carriers. As they don’t live in the bush with chimpanzees and monkeys, they hardly spread or carry any Ebola’, the official said.
I was the everlasting skeptic. How does he know? Has there been any scientific enquiry about the safety of the bats? What has the government done to assuage the worries of residents of Benin City who daily have to use the Ring Road as a transit point to other parts of the state capital? Are the bats some kind of symbol?
‘Yes, they are. They have a spiritual significance with the customs and traditions of this ancient town. When the Ebola epidemic was waxing strong in Nigeria, the government didn’t do anything extraordinary, and that was because they already know that the bats are harmless’, the official said.
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2nd March, 2015, 2:56pm
I have just been informed by a reliable source that the Binis eat the bats and don't come down with EBOLA. They have only just stopped eating them because of the news that the EBOLA virus is not really over yet.