Why You Won’t Live long enough as long as you live in Kenyan Urban
Everyone wants to live long enough to see generations unroll. This desire may not come true, mainly if you live in the Kenyan urban. There are countless reasons for this claim, but I will focus on a particular trigger that is rampant in the cities – noise.
If you reside in a major town in Kenya, you are likely to perceive supra-optimal sound (noise) virtually every day. It could be from neighbours who are partying or who listen to loud music, in chaotic matatus, and, even worse, at church – where we go to search for inner peace.
Noise reduces the lifespan of a person. Substantial evidence implicates noise as a non-specific stressor that stimulates the nervous and endocrine system. Both systems control our bodies’ physiology. Exposure to clamour initiates mental disturbance, which manifests in a lack of concentration, annoyance, and sleep disturbances. The effects open for a more aggressive subsequent chronic stress, which elevates the risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke, implying that one is at a higher risk of dying.
Two decades ago, the world was concerned about communicable diseases, particularly in African countries. Many efforts have focused on infectious diseases until we are tipped off upcoming health challenges. No one realised that the rising urbanisation was a tumour and would soon contribute to non-communicable diseases, and eventually death. Lifespan would never be the same again. Growing populations in major towns and cities have become a hubbub, and noise has become an order of the day, threatening health and life in disguise.
In Africa, we have an iconic way of minding our businesses until someone steps on us; this explains why we should be more concerned about the state of our cities. You will encounter morons who think that blaring music is stylistic, yet, it is not even in the slightest sense. Funny enough, anyone who is keen enough to rise against the pack is slapped with scorn.
The Kenyan urban has a reputation for noise, particularly the matatu sector. I am yet to understand the trigger for this situation but trust me, it is not attractive to passengers at all. I opine that the noisy environment is a part of a large con-game – where the touts use the noise as cover to gouge the passengers. I have encountered this situation at some point. I was heading to Roysambu using MNK buses. The initial charge was 50 bob per person; once the vehicle was in motion, the driver set the volume to its peak, turning the vehicle into a slam-bang. The tout charged the passengers 100 bobs, contrary to the initial agreement, boasting that even if anyone raised the alarm, even the next seat occupant could not hear the lament.
Prompt action is paramount to save millions of children, as well as adults, who use this system every day. Exposing them to nonauditory effects is equivalent to a death sentence. The noise affects the cognitive state of every human, particularly children, who are extremely sensitive.
Science ascertains that noise will cause 3 heart-associated deaths in every 100 people. The numbers will increase with the increase in the frequency of noise exposure and the level of noise encountered. Given that those of us living in major towns and cities use noisy matatus every morning and evening, there is a need for public outcry to the relevant authorities; NTSA and NEMA.
Simon Ndung’u Waihura, the author of this article – a Medical Microbiologist.
He thrives on the slogan “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning”