Our Love For Noise

Photo Credit: www.zameeen.com
Photo Credit: www.zameen.com

When I did a piece on “How To Be A Nigerian”  here I omitted the fact that Nigerians love noise. It is almost unforgivable and I apologise for that. Our undisputable love for noise should perhaps have come first on the list of the factors to look out for in identifying a typical Nigerian. The average Nigerian thrives in a noisy environment, whether on the streets, in our homes, cars, offices, churches and mosques who perpetually hold vigils and early morning services (are arguably the worst culprits when it comes to propagating noise) or at events. It’s almost as though we are not existing when we don’t make noise.

I have a neighbour who seems to be clueless about how to speak quietly. When we first moved into the area, I could have sworn that she used to make so much noise deliberately, or had a mini microphone embedded in her vocal chords. Many years down the line I have since realised that that is actually not the case and that she is innocently oblivious of how loud she sounds. I once had another set of neighbours who were always at logger heads. Every day was a constant battle. They would wake me up with a daily dose of vituperations on one another. It was a traumatic experience.

Beyond quarreling or getting into arguments, the typical Nigerian appears to be in love with all forms of noise. Loud telephone conversations, screaming mothers, wailing children, shouting conductors, earth-thumping music from street parties and night clubs, rumbling sounds of distressed generators, blaring horns and speakers are all hallmarks of the typical Nigerian environment. One cannot help but wonder if sometime in our history, we had been threatened with a short life span if we ever dared to do things a little more quietly.

I remember running into an old teacher of mine sometime ago. We were on opposite sides of the road, and even before I made an attempt to cross to the other side in order to say a proper hello and possibly catch up a little, they had shouted a personal question from across the road! Of course I pretended as if I didn’t hear them! I couldn’t believe they expected me to spill details of my life in full public glare. But, many of us actually do that everyday! Must everyone really be forced to hear a phone conversation that is supposed to be private? Must our religious institutions really blare their speakers in the middle of the night in an area that is supposed to be residential?

A certain religious institution is just two buildings away from my residence, and every Thursday, they have a service which commences around 12 midnight and doesn’t end till 5 am. Needless to say that with their vigil goes my sleep as their public address system is usually tuned to the loudest volume possible, while any singing and dancing is accompanied by the full compliments of the drums and other musical instruments even at that time of the day! There are times when I have been forced to close my windows and endure the heat even when power is not available just in a bid to shut out the noise as much as possible. Now, I certainly won’t be praying for anyone or body who deprives me of my God-given right to sleep for the better part of five hours.

A couple of weeks ago, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) sealed off about 30 buildings because of noise, environmental and air pollution with a view to drastically reducing the rate at which organisations constitute a nuisance to the general populace after series of complaints by residents in those areas. A step in the right direction if you asked me.

Our affinity for all things loud reflects in various aspects of our lives; in the way we get animated and gesticulate in conversations, in our penchant for big parties, in the way we unwittingly disclose intimate details of our private lives in public transportation even though we are supposed to be chatting with just one person. Even in the cacophony of sounds that we have embraced in these times under the guise of music, as opposed to good old meaningful and uplifting songs which have become a rarity nowadays.

People who have an affinity for noise more often than not reveal an innate need to make up for a sense of insecurity or inadequacy in their personality thereby using noise as a facade. In other words, a self assured person hardly needs to be loud to communicate effectively unlike an insecure one. It’s probably the reason why they say “Empty barrels makethe loudest noise.” Besides, health experts have warned that exposure to noise levels of 150 decibels and above for a duration of six hours or more can lead to deafness.

A little less noise in our environment will be instrumental in ensuring a more introspective and sane society. A less noisy Nigeria is a wish one hopes can come true sooner than later.


13 Replies to “Our Love For Noise”

  1. Actually there’s no place in the world you won’t find noise but Nigeria’s own has to be unique. The neighbourhood I stayed while in Lagos had this church that makes so much noise with their speakers. The awkward part is that during vigil, the don’t use speakers so as not disturb the area but their mouths become the speakers and one can hear their loud prayers. What strikes me most is we raise our voices on things that shouldn’t be. E.g a discussion that is debatable or when you want to complain, you shout as though it will solve your problem. Or you want to greet the neighbour. Sorry about the noise disturbances but even with the part time I spent in Lagos, i adjusted to the system and I must say I quite enjoyed it. It’s worth looking back and having lots of laughs.

  2. And I support the move on Lagos state government clamping down on Churches and Mosques. They are just increasing and there are more people with terrible character. It’s only Nigeria that takes issue of faith to a level that isn’t seen anywhere in world. Oh there goes another thing that makes us Nigerian. You should look into it. Good work lolade.

    1. I guess it’s one of the factors that makes Nigeria in general and Lagos in particular unique. Yes, they make noise in other parts of the world too, but ours is certainly on another level. Like you said, even in ordinary discussions and everyday relations we tend to be loud. The flagrant disregard for other people’s right to a little peace in the community by organised bodies is certainly a cause for concern. Thanks Kunle.

  3. Nice one again Lolade.

    I’m not sure of the actual figure but I know a sizeable percentage of Nigerians and Lagosians already have partial hearing loss!

    I hope more people not only read this but actually start making modifications to their lifestyles.

  4. Lolo, you can’t imagine what we go through almost every day. There is this church beside my house and the speakers they use are facing us, as if it’s a planned work. One of my neighbours almost beat up the pastor on Monday morning cos it’s now an everyday, early morning thing. Moving out is our only option now. The thing tire me joor.

    1. Trust me, I can imagine what you’re going through. You may need to report to the relevant authorities if you still plan to stay in that location for a while. Thanks Osowah.

  5. Noise! Noise!! Noise!!! It’s a form of disruption and too much of it can not help a society that desires tranquility and bliss. We, as a people, need a reorientation on how to conduct ourselves daily that noise would not make us and generations after us insane.
    I guess it’s just the order of the day in the urban cities. Noise in the rural settings is minimal and a loud one usually creates panic. Special lessons are required for the urban cities’ dwellers and those aspiring to migrate from rural areas to urban areas.
    I think Nigeria will be a better place if serenity becomes the order of the day. Noise is painful.
    My office is on one of the major streets of Lagos and I know what we go through in the hands of ‘molue’ & ‘danfo’ operators. Trucks & trailers’ noises are not in anyway pleasant.
    I just hope to remain civil in my next meeting outside the office.
    I wish Nigeria a noiseless regime.

    1. To a very large extent it’s true that urban areas are usually characterised by noise due to the hustle and bustle, but one would find that organised societies devise ways of reducing it to the barest minimum via the introduction of the ban or minimal use of the car horn for example among other measures. Thanks for your contribution sir.

  6. Nigeria is indeed boisterous nation, noise has become a way of life for us,siren blaring,loud music,to mention a few.I have seen cases of people who live on the Island,who find it extremely difficult to live in GRA, because they feel that the place is too quiet for them, they prefer to live on the Island where noise making is the order of the day. One thing, I find very annoying is the issue of receiving calls, when receiving calls, some people will be practically screaming and they will be shouting at the top of their voice as if the person at the other end is deaf. May God have mercy on us.

  7. I will be very very glad if LASEPA could show up on my street and clamp down the two churches situated herein. Unfortunately for me, one is opposite my house while the other is beside me. This is supposed to be a new settlement scheme in the lekki-ajah axis. I am very convinced both churches are in competition with one another as they have their deliverance nights, vigils, midnight service, revivals etc on same nights! I think you have put it mildly as love for noise. It’s plain madness! Otherwise how do u explain the outright breach of the law on use of siren. Many have refused to comply even in the light of full compliance by the Governor of the statement. Talking about empty barrels making the loudest noise… permit me to deploy the church example once again. The smaller ones tend to make the loudest noise. It’s funny how one drives past City of David, House on the Rock etc during Sunday service and the sounds are somewhat contained in the building while my good old church neighbours have their megafones blarring without decorum just as it is right now as I drop this line!

    1. Lool, I can imagine what you’re going through. Those pubic address systems employed by small churches are the true definition of noise. I don’t even know what to attribute the situation to anymorem

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