Saturday, 17 October 2015

Feeling Horny


Feeling Horny

Now that I've caught your attention with an ambiguous heading I should make clear that this article is about the use of the car horn in Accra.  If you were expecting something a bit saucier then I can tell you now that you're going to be very disappointed and it may be worth hitting that back button and choosing the next link. 

In a country where there are over 30 languages spoken, the one which has stood out the most to me over the past 6 months is an 'unofficial' language - the car horn.  On the constantly chaotic but charismatic roads of the capital of Ghana the car horn is the chief of communication.  As with any language, it takes time to master.  However, after 6 months I feel in a position to publish a beginner’s guide.  Read on... 


Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep 

Commonly used the exact moment the traffic lights turn green by every single car, taxi and tro-tro behind the vehicle first in line.  It is like an alarm but one where you are already awake.  It's humanly impossible to be quick enough out of the blocks to beat the beeps of the incessantly impatient queuing drivers.

Beep Beep 


Used by the multiple taxi drivers fishing for fares, this beep is a hopeful, hankering one.  If you're searching for a taxi, it will never be a fruitless search. Indeed, it is more likely the taxi will find you before you find them for taxi drivers have super-human vision and an inbuilt rider-seeking radar. 


BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP, etc. 


Employed by the police, government vehicles, the army and anyone in a rush to get home. The aforementioned beep creates a parting of the sea of traffic and allows the employing vehicle the chance to pass through the middle untouched and without delay.  

This should not be confused with the slightly less aggressive beeeeep beeeeep beeeeep, etc. This is used when just one side of the road is blocked with traffic.  It gives the driver authority to career at full speed towards the oncoming traffic giving just enough time for them to perform a vehicular sidestep that wouldn't look amiss at the Rugby World Cup.

Beeeep 

Probably the most standard use of the car horn, this beep has many translations yet sounds exactly the same. Rumour has it that it's only accurately understood by the most experienced Ghanaian drivers.  Translations include; "watch out I'm driving into that gap", "pedestrian, you may cross", "I'm about to pass your rickety motorcycle so be careful" and "get out of the way before I run you down".

To the untrained eye this may convey pandemonium
.  In essence, this is communication at its purest; it is poetry in motion.  Ultimately, it works.

This is a feature article by Joeseph Palmer who blogs at Ghanagabber.blogspot.com



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