It is difficult living in Nigeria if you are a person who dislikes noise. From my observation, a majority of Nigerians are just noisy and loud. It is like being noisy is ingrained in our DNA.
You can’t escape the noise in Nigeria, it follows you everywhere you go.
I had an argument with the driver of the bus I boarded last night over the volume of music playing in the bus. I requested that he reduce the volume of music. I was tired and having a headache while Lil Kesh was blasting at full volume on the stereo. He was miffed at my suggestion and responded rudely but I finally got him to turn down the volume.
We have normalized noise in Nigeria, it reflects on our aggressive behaviour. It has a psychological effect on us. Have you noticed that everybody seem to be angry in Nigeria? People flare up at the slightest provocation.
To alight from a commercial vehicle, you either have to shout to the driver or you hit the vehicle before the driver stops for you to alight.
Hanging out at joints, bars, clubs and other public spaces is a nightmare. The music is always at the highest decibel, you have to shout to be heard. People can’t hold normal conversations in such places. It could be amusing watching them sitting at a table shouting at each other.
I can’t count the number of times I have gone to a bar and either had to request for reduction of the volume of the sound system, step up and try to reduce the volume myself or walk out of the place, all because of the unwholesome noise.
Don’t even talk about religion and places of worship…These ones are noise production centers. Preachers with lousy megaphones waking you at the early hours of the day when sleep is sweetest to you and forcing you to listen to their preaching, call for prayers from mosques with loudspeakers, all night services in residential areas, etc.
While searching for an apartment earlier on this year, I found a nice place I wanted to pay for, but when I got inside the house and opened the back window, I saw a church at the backyard. The signboard revealed it was one of these mushroom prayer outlets that run services 24/7, I almost shouted, “God forbid!” as I quickly exited the premises.
The noise pollution is endless. The cacophony on our streets and roads from people advertising herbal medicines, concoctions and drug supplements using loudspeakers mounted on buses, record shops playing music at loud volume, thugs and conductors calling out to passengers at loud voices, hawkers advertising their wares at the top of their voices, etc. Total chaos and madness!
People shout at the top of their voices in their houses. You stay in your house and you are forced to listen to a man’s conversation with his wife in their bedroom. People make phone calls and everybody around them are forced to listen to the call.
In a bid to escape from noise and concentrate, you go and lounge in a hotel only to realize that the noise in the hotel is on a higher level than the noise you were running away from at home.
The only place(s) that seem to be excluded from the noise are the exclusive neighbourhoods where the rich and elite class live. However, they are not totally free from the scourge because once in a while, the serenity is broken.
I believe most Nigerians can’t live in the western world where noise is prohibited in many public and private places. We need to maintain a balance between noise and quietude.
A creative person cannot function in a noisy environment. You cannot introspect and reflect in such an environment.
But as it is, there is no escaping the noise in Nigeria…
Iniobong Leroi Umoh is a guest writer.