Nigeria, August 12, 2008
Loud, annoying and stinky too
Disregard what others may say is the Nigerian National Anthem. It is not the first anthem "Nigeria We Hail Thee" nor the second "Arise, O Compatriots". Those may be official decrees, and "Nigeria We Hail Thee" may be the most popular of the two, but neither compare to what I say is the real national anthem.
Anywhere in Lagos, any time of the day or night, there are two sounds guaranteed to sing forth in a chorus of noise: the rumble of big diesel generators turning on and high squawks of little horns from every passing vehicle.
Even though Nigeria is a great exporter of oil, the basis of power for much of the world, it does not have the electrical generation or distribution capacity to light even its own major cities. Therefore, Nigerians have taken power generation to the micro level - every home or building of any note, from little shops on the corner to big homes in walled gardens, have a generator producing power and noise. Just listen for yourself: From lights to air conditioning to refrigeration, electrical power is the basis for modern living and the proud Nigerians live with the constant belching of diesel exhaust and decibels to maintain their high standard of living even as the government lowers its ability to provide this essential service.
Transportation infrastructure is another ailing state service that Nigerians overcome with noise. This time the humble car horn. Used to say everything form "hello" to "watch out" to "its Tuesday and I am alive" the car, bus, and motorcycle horns blend together to form a high-pitched counterpart to the bass of the generators.
Think of a dramatic score, like the 1812 Oveture, but instead of cannons or violins, add the grunt of diesel engines and tweet of motorcycle horns. This would be how I generate the real National Anthem of Nigeria