That Horn Free Day Repentance -By Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu

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That Horn Free Day Repentance -By Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu

Lagos, the noise capital of Nigeria, fell short of her decibel threshold last Wednesday.

That ran against the grain of a normal weekday reality in the megacity. But it happened in part because Governor Fashola had proposed that it be a horn free day and rallied motorists to fast from honking.

Now, Lagos roads serve up a case study in how to cripple automobiles and passengers with paralytic gridlock. During rush hours, queues sprawl like interminably long pythons. And competition for right of way is often so intense it’s hard to secure even an inch of progress.

In this scene, practically every motorist compulsively honks.

Honking is the indigenous driving dialect we deploy to alert others that we have an urgent business that deserves to be rescued from the barrier of cars ahead.  And with countless drivers trapped and desperately honking, you have a well resourced bedlam!

But the Lagos of that day, according to many testifiers, experienced a lull. Otherwise ‘’horny’’ motorists abstained.

Some had scoffed at the proposal when it was first broached. They queried the sense in attempting to mitigate the climate of noise.

Obviously, they were less of cynics than conservationists. They were jealous protectors of a comfortably familiar atmosphere they had been socialized to regard as sacrosanct.

Conversely, the novelty of the idea won many hearts and minds. People were excited by the prospect of rebelling against the subliminal dictatorship of their conditioning.

And the strange calm that possessed the city that day proved that a significant part of the residents refrained from venting noise into the air. Suddenly, we discovered that Lagos was not the haunted city she’s touted to be. Lagos had simply been yielding a return on our noise investment.

Now, the noise of Lagos echoes the shibboleth of the country.

Lagos is the melting pot of Nigeria. She is the truest specimen of the composition and cacophony of this country.

Noise is the currency for our communal transaction, the common denominator of our conversations. We deploy it in opportune moments to assert our presence, to win a portion, to intimidate rivals.

Noise is the idiom that defines our contestation for power. Power seekers send their hired agents as forerunners ahead of the election season as a preliminary necessity. Their task is to function as ventriloquist scarecrows.

They warn that their only begotten favourite must be awarded a second term or Armageddon will dawn on the land. They threaten to soak the country in blood if the Presidency is not surrendered on a respectable platter to their tribe.

The noisemakers use their words advisedly, gauging them for sensational fitness as headline news. They aim to impose psychological defeat by applying terrorist bullying.

Noise trends in governance itself. The parliamentary authorities in the states and Abuja severally shame and entertain us by acts of verbal violence and corporeal abuse so awkwardly intriguing they became instant Youtube curiosities.

And these are sanctuaries that should serve as go-to places for gravitas and grace, restraint and reflection.

A climate of chaos denies people the ambience suitable for self-introspection. It is often in places and times of tranquility that one’s heartbeat and conscience become most audible to him. There, the soul measures the man against the virtues he should grow into.

Quietness makes it easier for one to brood until the mind buds new ideas. In these quiet times, one is better able to collect his thoughts, appraise his past actions and glean wisdom to order his next steps.

In the success of that day, we saw the self-evident truth that places do not have inherent destinies except the one bestowed on them by humans. That the environment reflects whatever character the dominant population has chosen to inflict on her.

We observed that citizens find motivation to exercise the power to secure their preferred vision of their society when they come to terms with the significance of their roles in creating problems or solutions in their surroundings.

We need to grow past hunting for scapegoats and disown personal attitudes that contribute to the inertia of dysfunction in our homeland. We must realize that a saner society is available on demand. And that the change we seek around us will materialize the selfsame day we demand it from ourselves.

We are hypocrites when we throw banana peels out of our car windows and return to that spot a week later to marvel at the foul smelling dunghill that has grown from our mustard seed capital.

Twitter: @emmaugwutheman

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