Colombo Telegraph

The New Year Bird!

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

One prominent symbol that we use to identify the traditional new year, may in fact, speak to what we have become as a society. The Koha Brid heralding the new year utters not a song of joy, but a stream of shouts, designed to draw the attention and annoy of a pair of parent crows to a level enough that they give chase to the bird, leaving their nest defenseless. In that moment the female Koha Bird swoops into the nest and quickly lays her own egg and flies away to join her mate and sing the song that we accept as the herald of the new year. The hapless parent crows return to their nest, to protect and care for their young. In the nest the egg that hatches first is that of the Koha Bird, who immediately begins pushing all of the other eggs or babies out of the nest. The crows, unaware of their loss, continue to feed and care for their only baby, looking after it until the day it can fly. On that the the Koha Bird utters a stream of shouts at the parents and flies off, leaving a pair of angry and confused parents behind.

It is said that art imitates life, could it be that the symbol of a parasite who lives at the expense of the poor garbage eating crows, is the right artistic expression of the reality of a grandiose parliament with its daily emission of streams of shouts and invective, living in a parasitic relationship with the poor soil tilling pheasants?

When so-called leaders squander the patrimony of the nation on vanity (but personally profitable) projects, or push out our rights to clean water and clean air, in favor of their ‘investors’ one could term the nation as being held hostage by a group of parasites. The screaming and squabbling to get their hands on the levers of power is much like the Koha bird screaming to get the parents attention away from the nest. If fact, that is all politics has descended into, as summarized by a politico on that we wanted to do for the country in the next few years his reply was “to hold onto power”. There seems to be no concern for the state of the nation. Just as the young Koha will callously push the baby crows out of the nest, to fall into a tragic fate in an inhospitable environment. So will our leaders young and old callously push our youth into an ever worsening state of health, due to no concern for the environment that provides public health. In a nation with leaders like that, it is fitting to have the Koha Bird as our national symbol for the traditional New Year!

The Crows nest is poor enough to begin with, cobbled with bits of sticks and wire, but it serves well as the nest for baby crows. The parents and chicks maintain a relatively tidy home. Once the parasite gets into the nest everything changes. The nest becomes broken as the parasite becomes more and more demanding. Once we had a nation, financially stable, offering a modest but healthy life, then the the game of borrowing for ‘progress’ and ‘growth’ began, much like the appetite of the baby bird, there was no concern for anything else than ‘growth’, until today the environment of our nation ‘ our nest ‘ lies in tatters.

To make things even worse, processes that have been proven to be bad for the health of the public, such as coal fired power plants are being touted as if public health was not a matter of concern. Oil processing companies who find it difficult to conform to clean air laws in their countries look for countries who do not have laws protecting the air quality for their citizens or politicians with no concern for the health of their people.

So given the mockery that we are being sold as ‘development’ It seems apt to vote for the Koha as the symbol of the New Year !

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