Osu ba ba ba is here and a thick blanket of myth has fallen on the land ushering dreadful panic, morbid fear and travel phobia. Pundits in the mould of veteran drivers, road safety experts, hardened ‘agberos’ and even Olu Mike Olagunju, the FRSC Road Marshall have all colonised media houses to further spread the germs of fear that coil around ember months like poison ivy.
Churches have dusted up old, reliable ember homiletics for their congregation. Special vigils are being called by pastors to avert the murderous revenge of ba ba ba months. Long, drawn out fasting are imposed on reluctant fellow worshippers to placate the many demons of ember months who apprenticed under Dracula as blood suckers.
Imams are not left out. Special ‘hadiths’ are being chanted and repeated over a thousand times to ward off ‘satany’ whose ghoulish and gory moment is in the months of ba ba ba. Worse, yearly Ramadan 30-month fasting cannily falls on ba ba ba months to make it a far more important prayerfest for all Islamic believers. Same for the Christians round December. Nigeria is truly a land of myth. Mythological nuances are imported into all areas of our life from chil birth to return to the grave. We pay high priests to placate family-assigned demons. Even modern pastors and ‘alfas’ must have sound grounding in myth-busting to be seen as gifted.
We are manacled by the power of self-imposed myth which has no root in science but deeply embedded in daily experiences and happenstance. I joined a commuter bus from Ibadan to Lagos early last week. A middle aged, ebony black beautiful woman sat in my front. She looked sober, pensive, apprehensive and in deep meditation. When the manifest log book which contains names and next of kin of passengers was handed to her, she grabbed it tepidly, scribbled and held her head.
As we eased out of Challenge for the Lagos-bound journey, she launched into a loud, communal and interactive prayer. It was a Yoruba-led, typical CAC-driven fervent prayer. She must have called ba ba ba a million times and cursed the ember months to perdition. Her fear and our fear both fused together to morph into a delightful but unquestionable myth. Ember demon was eventually arrested during the journey and mercifully, I am here to tell the tale.
First myth. Monstrous ember months become more monstrous with the belief that drivers tend to drive maniacally during this dreadful, accident-proned months to make more money before the year end. This is a myth. Has it been proven that drivers-Nigerian drivers- drive sanely between January and August? Nigerian drivers from what I have seen are on ‘speed rush’ everyday of the year. Not even the ‘drive safely’ plea of FRSC could placate the restive madness of majority of our drivers who are bad, sad and mad.
Second myth. Commuter drivers are forced to drive insanely in order to meet loan repayment especially in the ember months that are laden with festivities. Another illogical, monstrous myth. Ramadan month is not a social festivity. Neither is Christmas. Both are spiritual and sobering experiences that are meant to offer believers, drivers and non-drivers a self-probing period of self-rediscovery. The ember months should be a God-sent quarterly period for dredging the poison of bad behaviour, impatience, greed and carelessness which infected us at the start of every year. It is a period to de-brief our minds and a time to de-junk of our hearts. The myth of ember months needs a rational understanding. We need to state the real reason why the supposed angels of death are assumed to be on the prowl in those deadly months.
For instance, in the UK, a country I have driven in for 20 years there are ongoing, daily tips and warnings for motorists from the air, land and the broadcast media. The adoration and respect the white man has for life and living are absent in our society. To keep us alive and safe, motorists must have valid MOT, insurance and driving licence. There is a fine of one thousand pounds and or jail term and ban for any lawless violation of the transport laws of UK.
When the laws are violated, there is absolutely no sacred cow in the UK. From the Prime Minister to the road sweeper, British law is supreme and above class, race, social and political interests. Here, commuter buses and many private cars are nothing but contraption of death on wheels on our roads. Tyre threads have become bald, wiper is non-existent, MOTs are not rigorously made compulsory and driving licences are fakes.
The Police officer is content with the cursed N20. The FRSC officer is content with the cursed N200. With such easy payments which eliminate rigorous transport law enforcement, any surprise that we daily harvest orphans, widows and widowers through the greed, corruption and blatant truncation of our transport and hackney laws? The M1 and M25 are notorious as motorways to hell on earth during bank and Christmas holidays in the UK. Roads are jammed and gridlocked but thank God for good roads, lightings, motorway telephones, recovery vehicles, transport police officers, careful drivers and above all, the respect for human life, which, when taken together eliminate the need to embrace a delusional myth of ember months which is typically the exclusive preserve of the Africans.