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- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
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India Expo 2012 and the musings of a plant lover
I have not always been fascinated with plants.From when I was a little boy as a primary school student - as I was later told, by my mum - my fascination was with books. And not just any kind of book. I was fascinated with story books. My secondary school, Remo Secondary School, Sagamu, Ogun State, was one of those old generation schools established in the days of the British colonial masters. Even back then in 1977 when I was admitted as a student, the school boasted of a massive library with the works of classical prose writers. I therefore had the opportunity to read through the works of Charles Dickens, Jules Veme's, Jonathan Swift et cetera, et cetera.
My love for story books was so profound. So much so, that one of my earliest memories of me, was me walking down a foot path through a lawn or a bush, (I don't remember which) to school and reading a book. To illustrate; when Camara Laye of The African Child came to himself, he was a little boy playing outside his grandmother's hut. When I came to myself, I was walking and reading.
Can you believe that? Walking and reading! There were no backpacks in those days, so guess where my books were! In a portmanteau, delicately balanced on my head. And the grasses in the lawn, or the shrubs in the bush. I scarcely noticed them. Till today, my romance with books has not stopped but I now have a second and more alluring 'mistress': ornamental plants.
Recently a friend, Caxton Martins (a gardening enthusiast) wanted to know what ornamental plants are. I told him they are simply plants that you plant for the beauty they add to your surroundings. As the name implies, they are ornaments for your window sills, balconies, business halls, even bedrooms. Just like the gold chain you wear around your neck. But then other functions are considered, for example trees are also planted for shade, medicinal value and of course, their fruits. Shrubs are planted not just for their aesthetic values, but also for their fragrance e.g. jasmine.
My fascination with plants started with the taking of a core course in the Department of Botany, as part of the requirements for acquiring a Bachelor of Science, Botany Degree from the University of Lagos. I still remember my lecturer, Professor ‘Dele Olowokudejo, and the course title 'Introduction to Flowering Plants.’ All flowering plants fall under a botanical grouping: Angiosperms.
For a long time, flowers fascinated me and it was not a burden to study their inflorescence and their different types: simple or compound, inferior or superior, racemous or capitulum. So it was not out of character then, that I ended up studying pollen grains for my Master of Science, Botany (Palynology) degree. Pollen grains bear the ‘sperm’ of plants. They are the sperm in the Angiosperm.
Professor M. Adebisi Sowunmi took me under her wings and taught me to see the beauty in a single grain of pollen, whether under the light microscope or the electron microscope. Of course, it was only a matter of time before I came to see the beauty in even non-flowering plants as well. Who can deny the beauty of fems? By the way, my first degree project was a preliminary survey of the fems around Lagos University, Akoka area. "Enough respect" to Prof. D. I. Nwankwo, my supervisor. Neither can you brush aside palms in the business of Landscape Horticulture. Palms by the way, are flowering plants. Never mind the fact that most of them do not show any discernable flowers, they still belong to the Angiosperms: the flower-bearing plants.
Beauty is beautiful. Anywhere it is found beauty is fascinating.
And beauty is there everywhere around us. It is there in the spread of a bird's wings, in the scattering of a million galaxies, or probably, many more can relate with this - in the profile of a woman's body. Beauty is fascinating. But of all kinds of beauty, plant beauty is the most fascinating. The scriptures says 'Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one head of flower (Matt. 6:29).
But what is beauty if it cannot be shared? What is beauty if it only speaks one language? This is what informed my choice of Landscape Horticulture as a profession. This business allows me to created, beauties others can enjoy, while getting paid for it. I am in the business of beauty and satisfaction. And this business took me all the way to the NSIC Exhibition Complex, Okhla, New Delhi, India, to witness and participate in the India Flora Expo 2012.
It should be noted, however, that in the same venue, at the same time, the 4th Intemational HortiExpo 2012 and the 6th Intemational Landscape and Gardening Expo 2012 held.
This then is the biggest horticultural showcase of the plants of India, and it happens every year. It was concluded three days ago after running its 3-day course, 3-4-5 of March, 2012. And the expenence was so mind-blowing that I have yet to recover from it. I may never recover.
So why would a horticulturist resident in Ibadan leave the comforts of Baale Mosaderin Road, Jericho G. R. A., Ibadan, to brave the uncertainties of Asaf All Road, New Delhi? Why would he eschew the familiar taste of amala dudu, abula and kundi for the unusual taste of murg kadhai (pieces of chicken in a curry sauce served with coriander rice and black gravy with kidney beans), rajima wasala and rasmalai -all being elements of an exotic Indian cuisine? As a matter of fact, there are many things I ate, whose names I know not.
But most importantly, why put quite an amount of hard earned cash into obtaining travel papers and travel fare to a country and people whose language I don't understand? Why? Why Why?
The ‘because’ is, first off, life as a whole is a discovery and once you stop discovering, you stop living, and you start dying. Secondly, beauty is universal; it cuts across all tribes, languages and dialects. A flower arrangement that is beautiful to an Indian must of necessity be beautiful to a Nigerian also. Furthermore both India and Nigeria lie in the tropics. Baring the effects of topography, proximity to the desert or altitude, the plants that grow well in India should flourish here in Nigeria. In the same vein, a handbook written for home gardening in India should be very relevant and useful to plants enthusiasts here in Nigeria.
There it is, it is out. My interest is not wholly altruistic. But while opportunities for business were met, catalogued and are being followed up, my mind is still reeling from the extravagant display of cut flowers, potted flowers, horticultural books: Artificial flowers, exotic and special breed apples, chillis, bananas, cabbages, tomatoes, broccolis, et cetera, et cetera, bamboo furniture, anthuriums, gerberas, lilies, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, knapsack sprayers, golden ropes, irrigation systems, water treatment devices, horticultural services,- harvesters, flower pots, garden furniture, organic fertilizers, horticultural journals/publications, cooling systems, fruits and vegetables graders, laser guided land levelers, repairing systems, polish and drying systems, pressurized treatment vessels, wood, air and gas handling systems, spray paint booths, moisture meters, gas analyzers, dust extraction systems, ceramic, glass and metal vases, plasticulture items, subsurface drainage technologies, pond and reservoir drainage technologies gardening tools, seeds, dosing and control systems, climate control systems, trellising products, crop management technologies absorbent solutions, mosquito proofing products, geosynthetics, packaging products, green walls, chain saws, brush cutters, clearing saws, bottle trees, dwarf moringas, et cetera, et cetera. The list is not endless, but it looks a lot like it is.
And all too soon, three days are over and I have an Emirates plane to catch. But I will never be the same again. My horticultural practice will never be the same again, and my capacity to imagine, will never be the same again. And the problem I have right now is "How can I affect you with this experience I had?"
As I conclude, I will say this, Ibadan has a lot to leam from Delhi.
Without hesitation, I will declare to you that Delhi is the most green city I have ever been. Well! I am not Alarinka Agbaye, so I have not been to too many places, but as far as my experience goes, Delhi has the first position. There might be more trees and shrubs planted in New Delhi alone compared with all the towns and cities in Oyo State. But what does this mean? What benefIt is there to derive? Why plant up our cities with more trees, shrubs and lawns?
First off, it means we will have a more beautiful Ibadan. It means our subconscious and collective psyche will be made to acquire a better appreciation of the beauty and tranquility that comes from watching the sway of a leafy branch in the breeze. Hopefully, greening up Ibadan should promote a cleaner city. It should be more difficult for a person who had just finished drinking a sachet of pure water to drop the nylon on a trimmed, mowed and well-kept lawn than to drop it on a dusty patch of ground. Thirdly, it means you can walk longer distances in the city, for longer periods of the day without breaking into sweat. Because your walk will be through tree-lined streets and avenues. What this means is that more butterflies, more birds, more beneficial wildlife will return to the cities. We need them, they make for a more tranquil and healthy life. For example, as an individual, when was the last time you heard the moming song of a bird? Can you compare it with the growl of your neighbour’s generating set? ID: addition, with more shade to walk under, we will avoid some of the repercussions of ozone layer depletion.
But beyond all that, trees and shrubs are needed to take substantial amount of water from the soil into the air. This enhances the water cycle and it ensures that we get the condensation that results in rains. Furthertrlore, it means the air of our beloved city will be cleaner to breath because the trees and shrubs clean it up by taking in carbon dioxide from it to prepare their food.
Photosynthesis! Don't forget your secondary school biology! On the whole, the harmful trends of climate change will be mitigated because carbon dioxide forms the core of the mixture of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect. I hope I have not lost you!Share