Nigeria has a very high rate of noise pollution. There’s the music video/CD vendor blasting music at the highest volume at every other junction. We have drivers honking their horns for the fun of it. Generators are making people have sleepless nights. Religious houses have speakers outside their place of worship. There’s someone advertising or preaching loudly in the bus. Everywhere you go, there’s just so much noise there and it is difficult to find your peace and quiet.
Nigerians can also shout! Ahhhh! Everyone is screaming at everyone, people are talking over one another – desperate to be heard. People want to show you that they cannot be cheated or rode over, so they scream at the top of their voices. When people are discussing a topic, it will be as if they are fighting. In most parties, people are always screaming; from the food servers to those who are eating or carrying their plates to
beg ask for food – everyone is shouting.
Should we talk about phone calls? That one is worse. How can you be receiving a call in the bus and you’re screaming at the top of your voice? To worsen it, you will now still put the phone on loudspeaker. Must we listen to your conversation? Do you know the funny part of it? It is those people who lie over the phone that shout the most – those ones that will say “hello hello, I dey road to Uyo, I travel” whereas, you’re both on the bus going to Oshodi. Sometimes, they will even pretend they can’t hear, “ah, the network bad gan, I no fit hear you”. In a bid to sound convincing, they will be screaming at the top of their voices and disturbing everyone in the bus.
Come to think of it, why do we shout so much in Nigeria? Why do you feel the need to scream at the top of your voice when scolding someone? Why do you go out to a nice bar with your friends and start yelling at the top of your voices? Why is an average Nigerian so loud? We sha want to be noticed everywhere we go.
Is it a show of power?
An average Nigerian boss can be found constantly shouting at their staff. An average Nigerian will shout when the groundnut seller is not fast enough or when the conductor has not released the change. They shout at the bar-attendant, at the receptionist, at the gateman, at the pepper-seller – at everyone who they feel they can easily shout at.
There’s also the issue of ‘do you know who I am?’ If you have ever been in a small misunderstanding (or even a slight argument) with a Nigerian – with an over-inflated ego – they are already shouting at you and screaming “don’t tell me that, do you know who I am?”.
Is it because of our environment?
It is very easy to shout at the top of your voice when the whole environment is noisy. And our environments are always noisy. Sometimes, you’re not even aware that you’re shouting. You have to shout in the bus because there’s one person with a microphone and mini-speaker selling a drug that can cure all ailments – including cancer. You have to shout on the road because one loudspeaker is releasing the latest jams. Let’s not talk about the marketplace.
Or is it just who we are?
Even in a quiet and ‘sane’ environment, many Nigerians still think the world revolves around them and still shout at the top of their voices. The bank is a perfect example, How can you be screaming in the bank. How? In some parts of Nigeria, talking calmly can be misinterpreted as you being a mumu “why you dey talk like say your mouth dey pain you? Talk out na, who go beat you?”
Because a lot of people also don’t want to be seen as gentle or timid or naive, they also shout at the top of their voices. They believe that in ‘notorious’ cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Onitsha, Benin and so on, talking gently means you’re a mugu – someone that can be taken for a ride. So everyone keeps shouting like an agbero.
But what would you do if you didn’t have the option of shouting at someone? Imagine that the government banned shouting for a couple of days or the ‘universe’ was created in such a way that human’s shout-subscription expired after a while and you would no longer be able to shout at anyone, how do you think you would have coped?
We must begin to learn how to stop shouting at the top of our voices all the time and it starts with consciously respecting people. You wouldn’t shout at your boss, would you? You wouldn’t shout at the president, would you? As a matter of fact, if you see a foreigner (in other words, white man/woman), would you shout at him/her? So why do you feel the need to shout at other people? Why do you yell at that taxi-driver?
You should also master self-control. Whenever you feel the need to shout, take a deep breath, probably count 1-10 and then talk calmly. It might be difficult at first, but with constant practice, you’ll get used to it.
To master self-control over noise, also learn to be considerate. Before you start screaming or increasing the volume of your TV to the highest, remember that your neighbour might be having a headache or might not even like noise at all. Before you bang the wall and shout die by fire or that calling for worship at 5 am, remember that your flatmate is practicing a different religion from you.
There’s so much noise in Nigeria today, we can reduce it a little when we all play our part.