The Songbird’s Silence: Financial Times Signs Up Ben Okri for 2019 Charity Appeal

Every year, The Financial Times of London (The FT) selects an international charity organisation from a wide range of entries for its Seasonal Appeal project. Through the project, The FT promotes the work of the selected charity, exposing it to a global audience and encouraging its readers to donate in support of the charity’s activities. This year, The FT has selected the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) for the Seasonal Appeal.

The ZSL is a 196-year-old conservation charity dedicated to the protection of wildlife. It is concerned with mitigating the rate of wildlife extinction, caused “by habitat loss, disease, the illegal wildlife trade, pollution and other human effects”.

The FT asked the Nigerian-British author, Booker Prize winner, Ben Okri, to write and narrate a story to support 2019 Seasonal Appeal. Okri developed a haunting fairy tale titled The Songbird’s Silence. In the story, a little boy is given a songbird as a present. The child was curious about what the songbird sang about so sweetly. No one could tell him until an old wise woman asked him to listen with his heart. He then had a dream in which the songbird told him that its songs were songs of sorrow – songs that lamented human despoliation of the forest. The killing of animals and birds and destruction of their habitat. The songbird also told the young boy that it preferred to be free in the forest rather than caged in his room. Okri has very adroitly treated a serious global issue through the perspective of the child. The subtle yet very powerful message is that we are destroying the earth that our children will inherit. His narration of the story, set against a colourful animated background depicting flora and fauna, is sublime. Watch here.

The British government will double whatever sum the FT Seasonal Appeal is able to raise. Previous charities to benefit from FT’s Seasonal Appeal include World Child Cancer, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Stop the Traffik and Global Fund of Children among others.

Given the relevance of the issue – the destructive impact of human economic activity on the environment, especially on animals – to Nigeria, Arbiterz is donating £50 to the FT Seasonal Appeal. Our readers too can donate on the FT’s website. Click to donate.

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