I was driving on my way back from an engagement when the horn in my car packed up. I wasn’t able to use it again and that was when I knew the importance of the horn in a car driving in Lagos State.
I couldn’t overtake cars because driving in Lagos, before you overtake a car, you make sure the driver in front of you is aware of your impending maneuver. I could not go pass okada men, keke napep drivers, cart pushers because the horn makes them aware of my presence. While driving on a busy road, I had to drive very slowly and kept shouting comot for road because its only in Nigeria that people assume they are cars and walk on the road.
To cut the long story short, you can’t effectively drive in Nigeria especially in Lagos State without using your horn. Suffice to say, you can never go out in Lagos without hearing the annoying blaring of horns of different sounds. Its just a tradition.
Let’s go across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom where I lived for almost two years while undertaking my Masters degree program. I am about telling you an observation that shocked me. Are you aware that for almost 2 years that I lived in in Coventry City in the UK, I only heard the sound of a horn not more than 5 times. In fact, horning unless its an emergency is a social faux pas (A severe social blunder or major breach in etiquette).
I did my research on the driving laws in the United Kingdom and found the following:
1. A horn should only be used when warning someone of danger, not to indicate your annoyance at a manner of driving.
2. A horn should not be sounded when stationary on a road at anytime unless to warn a moving vehicle of danger.
3. A horn should not be used on a moving vehicle on a restricted road i.e a residential street (basically a road that has street lights and a 30mph limit) between 11:30pm and 7:00am under any circumstance.
The horning mentality is the showing off mentality. In Nigeria, if you are rich, everyone will know you are rich. You don’t live on the mainland again, you don’t enter public transports again, you don’t move with your poor/average friends again, you only drive the expensive cars. In the UK, you will hardly differentiate the rich folks from the medium class folks because everyone enters buses, everyone enters coaches, everyone enters trains, everyone watches football at stadiums together, everyone queues up at bank halls together, everyone goes to grocery shops together. There is no show off.
Are you aware that most United Kingdom Members of Parliaments (MP) which is the equivalent of the Senators in Nigeria enter buses or trains to work, some even ride bicycles to work. In Nigeria, if you are a Senator and you don’t have an entourage then you haven’t arrived. Quite repulsive.
Also in Nigeria, it seems the more average people are, the more expensive the phone they use. I remember seeing a picture of the Billionaire Aliko Dangote using a Blackberry Bold 4 phone, the Millionaire David Beckham using a seemingly average phone but some of my contacts still living with their parents or still in school are flaunting the Samsung Galaxy 5s, Apple iphone 5s of this world. People use expensive phones to boost their very low self esteem and to ‘belong’.
Let’s stop the horn mentality, stop showing off. Don’t flaunt what you can’t buy and don’t buy what you can’t afford. Be guided.