In one of his famous songs, Ariwo Ko, Adekunle Gold, a Nigerian singer and songwriter chorused “Ariwo ko ni Music…” This line appeared about 9 times in the single, one a lot of Nigerians use to vibe quite well. However, for Nigerians, it is easy to wonder if this line is true.
According to a report by TheCable, Nigerian Businesses spend about N5trn ($13.9 billion) on generators yearly. Meanwhile Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry had a revenue of $3.8 billion, as at the end of 2018 according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria.
With the erratic electricity supply, it is not surprising that Nigerians have found a replacement. So, whether it is “I-better-pass-my-neighbour” or some other types of generator set, everyone tries to grab one to use. This purchases, of course, are not without effect as every single purchase adds to the noise in the neighborhood. But then, we’ve come to get used to it, maybe because it has become luxury music.
I once had a neighbor with a really noisy and loud generator set. For one year that he lived in the apartment next to mine, I had come to live with the sound and even got used to it. How did I know that he moved out of the apartment? The absence of the generator’s noise. Although I never liked it, my ears and heart have grown used to its “irregular” and “aperiodic” sound. Almost, like a music that I’m addicted to.
Did you grow up in a neighborhood where the pepperseller stays close to your house? How do you know she’s not around? When you do not hear the loud sound from her “tatakuku” all day. The noise from her machine bears the good news of her wellbeing; it bears the news that you do not have to go a long distance to grind; and that one could say is a music.
On streets like the city where I grew up, Ibadan, horn use which is regulated or banned in some countries are our music. It is our way of saying hello to the neighbor driving right next to us. No, it is not usually used to warn people or alert them, many people use insults and jeers to do justification to that. It is a way of calling attention to a particular car and simply something to be honked when you are in a good mood. Horns are no nuisance to us, they are like music.
Few days ago, I sat down with a group of friends to charge our phones in a shed somewhere in the school while we read. The lack of electricity won’t let us have lamps and fans to read comfortably anywhere else. “Light don go?” someone stood up, alarmed as we all heard a generator set go off somewhere close to us.
Apparently, the electricity voltage dropped and the business center had to start a generator to power its instruments. None of us noticed this till the generator was turned off, after over 5 minutes. Someone missed the sound, and the “ariwo” from the gen.
For many Nigerians, “ariwo” is like music, if not a form of music in itself. It is no wonder that many of the best selling songs are the ‘street music’. Many of us take joy in producing noise at any chance we get. And the rest? Everyone gets used to it.