A lesson from a palm wine tapper | Juwon Ogungbe

A public intellectual of blessed memory once offered a story about a palm wine tapper who lived in the homestead of his forebears. The moral of the tale made a lot of sense when the piece was published on several online platforms, but it is probably even more relevant today.

The writer had a good rapport with this particular tapper, who kept him refreshed on a daily basis when he spent time on vacation with his mother. The teachable moment in their relationship came on a day when the tapper couldn’t deliver a keg of fresh palm wine to the writer, as he usually did.

What did the tapper do? He called the scholar on his mobile phone. When asked of his whereabouts, he revealed that he was at the top of a palm tree, doing his job.

The writer reflected on the fact that Africans of all walks of life, literate or illiterate, posh or from humble origins, no longer need any spokespersons or intermediaries to tell their stories. A phone call, photograph or video clip can provide the scope for expression from anyone.

Perhaps we’re living in times when everyone should speak for one’s self.

Originally published at https://juwonogungbe.com on February 10, 2021.