I’ve tried to be nice. I really have. I tried to put myself in their shoes and I’ve played Devil’s Advocate but to no avail. I have to say this; whoever instituted these new noise regulations needs help. They really do.
Last Wednesday night I went to the Spoken Word Rwanda a monthly event that gives a platform for the more artistic amongst us to explore their talents that was talking place at Jazz Lounge in Kimihurura (just behind Papyrus), I’m not a huge fan, I guess I’m not that artsy, but a friend persuaded me that it would be fun. And honestly, I didn’t fancy it that much but that’s just my opinion. But I digress.
At around 9:30, right in the middle of a recital, a bunch of policemen, carrying the latest machine guns (you know, the ones that the Presidential Guard sport) arrived outside the venue and told the owners of the lounge to pack it up, the event was too noisy. Mind you, this wasn’t a hip-hop concert or a loud gathering; I mean, how could it be? It was a poetry slam for chrissake!
Trying to reason with their commander, I joined the lounge’s patron and asked “why exactly are you trying to shut it down”? “Because it is noisy”, he answered. “According to whom”, I challenged him. “According to the person who called us and made a complaint”, he said. “Who is the complainant and where does he/she live”? What law exactly are they following to shut this event down”, I asked.
I guess I was asking too many questions because they refused to answer any more questions.
Now, I’m pretty sure that they would have indeed shut the whole thing down if there weren’t two men in the crowd who were able to reason with them. I will not divulge their names, but I will say that they were both former military officers. I guess its true what they say, ‘BIG IS BIG’. But I find it disgusting that they had to throw their weight around (and make phone calls) for sanity to prevail.
I mean, what could possibly posses the cops to shut down a POETRY session because it was too loud? Was it the clapping after each performance? Was it the gentle guitar playing? I actually kind of felt bad for the cops who came, all they were doing was following orders. Orders from on high. And so those ‘higher ups’ are going to be the target of my vitriol.
Firstly, whoever called the cops (and I bet it is some ‘Nyakubahwa’ with an overly inflated sense of their own power- not anyone can call the cops and they send the elite ones, along with an afande in tow) is a sad, sad human being. But whoever called the cops is only doing it because they can. Someone decided to institute this harebrained nonsense. Guess who THAT IS?
The Lord Mayor. Fidele Ndayisaba .A man whose common sense I dispute. A man who tried to close Papyrus for shits and giggles. A man who will fine drivers for honking their car horns. A man who will do anything and everything in his power to tackle the scourge of noise pollution. Never mind that he isn’t tackling the scourge of Kigali’s lack of a sewage system. Or proper public transport. Or lack of affordable housing. Or rising petty crime. Or lack of proper neighborhood streets and streetlights. Nope, it is the NOISE that is Kigali’s problem.
I tried. I’ve really tried to be as understanding as possible to those among us who can’t sleep because of loud music but I feel like there is a collective piss-taking on the part of some people who have no sense of fun. Or common sense.
What’s the way forward? First of all, we need to get a new mayor. Sometimes that’s the only solution. Remember last year’s ban on Halloween? That was the brainchild of former culture minister, Protais Mitali. With Josesph Habineza we won’t have to go through that again, fingers crossed.
And barring that, the police have to start using their common sense more. Just because some person complains doesn’t mean that they have a case. Yesterday was a case in point. We all know that they will not buy instruments to measure sound levels (they don’t even have breathalyzers anymore) so I won’t even go down that route.
You know what, I think this is all our fault. The reason this is all nonsense is possible is because outraged people don’t organize. All they do is agonize. Bitching and moaning on Facebook and Twitter won’t change a thing. So, here is contribution.
If this blog post is shared more than 200 times on Twitter and 100 times of Facebook, I will start a petition under the name ‘Rwandan Youth for Change’ to voice our concerns about the noise pollution law and how its being used unlawfully and nonsensically. I will be looking for your signatures. Lets do this!!!