by Paul Chika Emekwulu
On one clear Monday morning, one of those Sit- At-Home days declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and observed throughout the South East, I was at the front gate of my house when a woman dealing on local snack known as “ntụcha”, also called “ọkpa” in some parts of Igbo land walked by. Now she was within hearing distance. The next thing I heard was:”Goronu ọkpa dị ọkụ”.
When translated into English it becomes, “Buy a hot snack.” Immediately I heard that I started to live in a decision island. Decision whether to buy or not having had a good breakfast and it wasn’t lunch time yet. As she stopped and started pitching ther delicious snack to me, a young man on a motorcycle rode by going west, blowing his horn.
As soon as I took a glance at the motorcyclist and his motorcycle, I noticed something common to them all. Pointing to the motorcycle I said to the woman, “Look at that.” Immediately she turned and I said, “No mirrors! Does it make sense taking off the mirrors after purchase?” She regarded me for a few seconds without saying anything really meaningful. “He blew his horn, maybe they knew each other,” I thought. I also thought that she didn’t want to respond in a manner that would disturb her conscience. To ask her if they knew each other would have been poke nosing. I knew the horn wasn’t for me. It was to catch someone’s attention and that someone wasn’t me.
Let’s now leave this and first agree on certain things starting with Nigerian roads. You’ll agree with me that some motorcyclists overtake from the right hand side. I see this everyday. You’ll also agree with me that motorists and motorcyclists deal with traffic in their front, on their left, on their right and behind them, in addition to other side attractions. Now, any machine can be compared to the complex human body which is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and has different parts. We’ve the heart, the stomach, the large and small intestines, the spleen, the ears, the lungs, and so on. Each of these parts is distinct and unique, different from each other and performs different functions. The same can be said about any machine and a motorcycle is a machine. Every motorcycle, the make notwithstanding, has different parts that perform different functions. We have the brakes, the tires, the wheels, the fuel tank, the engine, the choke, the headlights, and the mirrors etc.
You’ll also definitely agree with me that there is a certain conformity syndrome widely going on among motorcyclists throughout Anambra State in particular, and perhaps some other parts of the country in general. By definition, conformity syndrome can be defined as a situation where some or most people are emulating a particular behavior not necessarily because the behavior being emulated is reasonable, but because some or most is involved in the behaviour The conformity syndrome as it applies here is a situation where most motorcyclists have one or all of their mirrors yanked out. This is true for new motorcyclists as it is for older ones. At a combined count at a motorcycle mechanic’s and an electrician’s workshops, there were a total of eleven motorcycles. Out of these, only one of them had a complete pair of mirrors, one has only one mirror, while the rest has none at all. These motorcycles, whether new or used, the mirrors are taken off years, months, weeks, days, or even hours after purchase from the dealer, shop or from the owner. This has many dangerous implications. At times, you can’t see others and others can’t see you. That is not good for road users. It is against the law for the manufacturer not to have the mirrors installed, while for most motorcyclists, it looks like it is against the law to have the mirrors installed, therefore, one or all of the mirrors should be taken off. But the mirrors are there, for your safety, so keep them.
Several reasons have been advanced for this dangerous behaviour by those I talked to. For most, these reasons are personal and the most funny is one where a man told me that he doesn’t have his mirrors because the motorcycle with which he learnt how to operate a motorcycle didn’t have any. So when he bought his own he decided that the mirrors would not stay, they have to go and they were gone. This, according to him was to maintain some kind of consistency. “Bur mirrors are for safety and not women’s earrings,” I told him. It didn’t take me time to find out that I was fighting a lost battle because he seriously objected. Truly, these mirrors have nothing in common with women’s earrings. The mirrors on the motorcycle are there for safety whereas women’s earrings are there for beautification. The motorcycle manufacturer installs the mirrors on every motorcycle that passes the factory requirements and they are installed for safety reasons.
Now, since the reasons for taking off the mirrors are different for each motorcyclist, the blame goes to individual motorcycle owners should there be any safety violations that could lead to accidents. On the other hand, if these reasons are the same and independently arrived at, the blame doesn’t go to individual motorcyclists, the blame goes to the manufacturer. The manufacturer is the one to bear the consequences and usually, this reads to product recall and consequently, defect correction.
Getting rid of the mirrors on your motorcycle after purchase is not the right thing to do. That everybody is doing it doesn’t make it look right. I’ve said it umpteen under different situations but let me say it again here too. What majority has is power and not necessarily reason. John L. Mason, the author of An Enemy Called Average says it so well, “The majority, many times is a group of highly motivated snails. If a thousand people say something foolish, it is still foolish. Truth is never dependent upon concensus of opinion.” I am saying here now that equally, if a thousand people do something foolish, it is still foolish. Continue doing what is morally right as a road user and one of them is to keep your mirrors and not to get rid of your mirrors. Again, listen to John L. Mason Mason.” Knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is wrong.” While overtaking from the left side for example, is the right thing to do, taking off your mirrors partially or entirely is the wrong thing to do.
Please, keep your mirrors. By not doing so you’re not only risking your life, you’re also risking the lives of other road users.
Conformity, of course, at times is good but in this case, it doesn’t make any sense. Drive safely!