When I lived in Anthony, two things woke me up virtually every day. First was the muezzin’s call to prayers, loud from a mosque that was four streets away from mine. The other was the brothers from Chosen church who came a few minutes past 6am or sometimes later, with their megaphone preaching the gospel on my street and surroundings, every day.
There was no consideration for me and the community. We were not consulted on whether we wanted the speakers from the mosque to wake us up at 5.30am every day and keep us up at 3-4 am during Ramadan. No one asked if we wanted to hear the brothers who swapped days to preach on our streets every day.
They assumed we welcomed it. That we needed to pray, to be God conscious. In fact, to be glad they were preachers pointing us to God.
For people like me, there was no getting used to the disturbance. No matter how late I slept and I often slept late; I would always wake up when the call for prayers came up every day at 5am. Even before I turned to adjust and drift back to sleep, the Christian brothers from Chosen were already settling at the street corner., Bible in one hand and megaphone on the other, to ensure I listened to the Word.
I never heard any of my neighbors complain. Either about the mosque or the Christian preachers because this isn’t unique to us. All over Lagos, all over Nigeria, I can generalize, this is our waking reality.
Even in the estate where I live now, I still hear the Imam’s call to prayers every morning even though it isn’t so loud…Yet, I wonder about the people who live close to these churches and mosques.
Last year in London, my friend and I were in the bus. We were viewing a video on my phone. It was one of those comedy skits. We didn’t want to turn it up because we felt it would disturb other passengers. So, we put the phone close between us to listen just a wee bit.
As soon the bit of audio came on, a middle-aged woman tapped me on the shoulder, telling me to mute the sound or use my ear phones. She said she didn’t want to be disturbed by the ‘noise’ from my phone.
Neither my friend and I had ear phones. But we were quite shocked that despite the fact that it was hardly audible, it was a lot of disturbance for the next person.
We apologized and killed the video. Why am I citing these ‘noisy’ examples?
We are celebrating yet another Independence day in Nigeria. Congratulating ourselves on how far we have come as a nation.
We are asking the government to do even more. And while these are legitimate requests, can I appeal that the every day Nigerian be mindful of how he expresses freedom with his neighbour, his community, people who can’t repay him for his kindness?
Can I appeal to the motorist for instance, to be more considerate of his fellow road users? Especially those who stop by the road side and obstruct roads too narrow for two cars. Yet, they would park their vehicles or stop to price roasted corn, causing distress to other road users?
Can I appeal to traders who sell adulterated medicines killing innocent Nigerians? Please repent.
Can I appeal to the nurse, who has made a habit of screaming and insulting already traumatized patients at the General Hospital to be considerate? Yes.
While you can express your freedom to be vexed by a system that doesn’t work, kindly think of the emotional trauma your patients are being subjected to?
Can I appeal to the police whose duty it is to ensure the protection of lives and property to please train their weapons at terrorists instead of unarmed civilians on our roads?
Too many times, we hear of accidental discharge?
Can I appeal to government workers to stop waiting for their palms to be greased before they perform their duties?
Can I also appeal to Nigerians to vote in leaders who can do the job regardless of where they come from?
Can I make an appeal against the quota system that keeps us down as a nation?
A system that celebrates mediocrity over excellence?
Finally, can I appeal to the churches and mosques to turn down the speakers and allow the rest of us have some peace and quiet, especially this Independence day when many of us want to catch up on sleep?
Yes, we all have freedom of expression but when your freedom infringes on the rest of us, kindly turn it down.
Happy Independence Day, my people!