Churches have dusted off reliable old homiletics for their congregation. Special vigils are convened by the pastors to avoid the murderous revenge of the ember months.
By Taju Tijani
The last quarter of the year has arrived and a thick layer of myths has fallen over the country, causing terrible panic, morbid fear and travel phobia. The ba-ba-ba months are September, October, November and December. Experts like veteran drivers, road safety experts, hardened “agberos” and even the Acting Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Dauda Ali Biu, have all colonized the media to further spread the seeds of fear that curl around the embers like poison ivy. .
Churches have dusted off reliable old homiletics for their congregation. Special vigils are convened by the pastors to avoid the murderous revenge of the ember months. Long and prolonged fasts are imposed on reluctant worshipers to appease the many demons of the Ember Months who apprenticed under Count Dracula as bloodsuckers. Imams are not left out. Special “hadiths” are sung and repeated more than a thousand times to ward off the “satany” whose macabre and bloody moment is in the months of ba-ba-ba. Nigeria is truly a land of myths. Mythological nuances are imported into all areas of our lives from childbirth to the return to the grave. We pay high priests to appease the demons assigned to the family. Even modern pastors and alfas must have a solid knowledge of mythology to be considered gifted.
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We are handcuffed by the power of a self-imposed myth that has no root in science but is deeply embedded in everyday experiences and chance occurrences. This year I joined a commuter bus from Ibadan to Lagos. A beautiful middle-aged ebony black woman sat in front of me. She looked sober, pensive, worried and in deep meditation. When the manifest logbook which contained the names and next of kin of the passengers was handed to her, she grabbed it lukewarmly, scribbled and held her head.
As we left Challenge in Ibadan, Oyo State for the trip to Lagos, she launched into loud, communal, interactive prayer. It was a typical fervent prayer led by the Yoruba and conducted by the Christ Apostolic Church. She must have called ba-ba-ba a million times and cursed the ember months to perdition.
His fear and our fear merged momentarily. The hustle and bustle of the trip fell on us. We were infected with the Ember Month myth almost instantly. In the end the ember demon was stopped during the trip and luckily I made it down to Lagos alive and well.
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First myth. The Monstrous Ember Months get more monstrous with the belief that drivers tend to drive maniacally during these dreadful, accident-prone months to make more money before the end of the year. It’s a myth. Has it been proven that drivers – Nigerian drivers – drive safely between January and August? From what I have seen, Nigerian drivers are in “speed rush” every day of the year. Not even the FRSC’s plea for ‘driving safely’ could quell the restive madness of the majority of our drivers who are speed addicts, bad, sad and mad.
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Second myth. Commuter drivers are forced to drive wildly to meet loan repayments, especially during the ember months loaded with festivities. Another illogical and monstrous myth. The month of Ramadan is not a social holiday. Neither does Christmas. Both are spiritual and thought-provoking experiences that are intended to offer believers, drivers and non-drivers a period of self-exploration of self-rediscovery. The Ember Months should be a quarterly period sent by God to dredge up the poison of bad behavior, impatience, greed and neglect that infected us at the start of each year. It is a time to debrief our minds and a time to unclog our hearts. The myth of the ember months needs a rational understanding. We need to state the real reason why the supposed death fiends are supposed to be on the prowl during these murderous months.
According to the Highway Safety Corps Command, the higher number of road fatalities during the ember months could be attributed to “impatient commercial drivers who tend to try harder to achieve their goals and expectations. set in view of Christmas and New Year celebrations. And this can lead to a loss of focus on safety consciousness, thus engaging in overloading, night driving, speeding, dangerous driving, among others. Every ember period, the FRSC embarks on aggressive sensitization of motorists across Nigeria, with the aim of reducing appalling accidents during this period.
For example, in the UK, a country where I have driven for 20 years, there are daily advice and warnings for motorists from the air, land and broadcast media.
The concern and respect that the white man has for the safety and preservation of life is absent from our society. To keep us alive and safe, motorists must have a valid inspection, insurance and a driver’s license. There is a one thousand pound fine and/or jail term and disqualification for any unlawful breach of UK transport laws.
When the laws are broken, there is no sacred cow in the UK. From Prime Minister to road sweeper, British law is supreme and above class, racial, social and political interests. Here in Nigeria, commuter buses and many private cars are nothing but machines of death on wheels on our roads. Tire threads have gone bald, windscreen wipers are non-existent, technical inspections are not strictly enforced and driving licenses are fake.
The policeman is content with the cursed N50. The FRSC officer is content with the cursed N200. With such easy payments eliminating rigorous enforcement of transport laws, is it any wonder that we are reaping orphans, widows and widowers daily through greed, corruption and the blatant truncation of our transport laws? transport and hackney? The M1 and M25 are known as the highways to hell on earth during UK bank and Christmas holidays.
During these times the roads are congested and congested, but thank goodness for good roads, lights, freeway telephones, recovery vehicles, transport police, careful drivers and above all respect for human life, which, taken together, eliminate the need to embrace a delusional myth of the ember months that is typically the exclusive preserve of Africans.