This particular incident happened about noon on Apri 1, 2014. A colleague met his friend and obliged him to join him for them to embark on a visit to a nearby garden in Abuja in order to discuss some critical professional issues as it was called by one of them who initiated the meeting. He was though conscious of the date, but the friend that was invited was certainly oblivious of the date for inexplicable reasons.
After a while in the garden, his friend said, “I called you here to inform you that you must not go home today.
Continuing further he said, “Local hunters in your locality have announced that a lion has strayed into the community where you live and every community member is staying indoors. So, call your family members in the community and inform them about it,’’ he said.
The friend believed it because it had happened to some communities around his place of residence previously.
He allowed his friend to place a call through to his wife; shortly thereafter, he told him that it was simply ‘April fool’.“Isn’t this too expense a joke?”He asked his friend.
They laughed it off after all and later had some bottles of lager beer to spice the moment.
However, the prank had done the damage of frightening his friend’s family members and others who might have been contacted immediately by the wife, although his friend had to call back and tell them it was ‘April Fools’ day prank.
So it is with the enthusiasts of April fools’ day when pranks and hoaxes such as this is prominent. It is a day that seems like the god of lying descends on liars to display expertise and even infect others with the temptation to tell lies for the purpose of the day.
Involving practical jokes and hoaxes, it comes every April 1 somewhat unannounced. This, perhaps, gives reason why the captivated public listens and believes fairytales until they are told it is April fools’ day.
Because the day is not preceded by advocacy for its triviality as it is in the case of Valentine and other observances, enthusiasts of the day take the advantage to lure the unsuspecting public to believing whatever is fabricated to fascinate them.
Expensive pranks, fictitious narratives, flattery and lies, among others, aimed at stimulating hearers’ emotions, have become the order of the day in April Fool’s day all over the world.
The deception involved in the observance of the day which is expected not to last into few hours of the day is purposeful, dwelling on the absurd and unusual events in the society. Its origin is however uncertain but it has been with humanity. Unfortunately, many do not remember the day and to that extent, a lot fall victim to the prank.
In climes such as UK, and even Nigeria, all pranks and jokes accompanying the day are expected to end at noon and there are some differences and variations in the observance of the day across the world.
Some segment of the public believe that April Fool’s day was preceded by an event in which France changed its calendar to the modern Gregorian version in the 16th Century by which January 1 is observed as the beginning of a new year instead of the last week of March, being the tradition then.
Some people opposed the new calendar and chose to continue celebrating theirs at the end of the new year on April 1 and those that chose to stick to the old calendar were referred to as fools.
So, on every April 1, the observance is focusing on testing how gullible some segments of the public can be through their reaction to fabricated lies just for the fun of it.
Brazil captures the observance of the day succinctly by referring to it as Dia da Mentira (Lie Day) in which people try to fool friends for jokes and in the process create fun out of it.
Irrespective of insignificance of the observance, psychologists note that April Fool’s day moments can provide good health by creating a relaxed atmosphere to relieve stress through jokes, hoaxes and pranks, among others.
But critics say April Fool’s jokes could be nasty, deceitful and misleading and generate confusion and panic especially when the victims of the jokes take the falsehood or pranks seriously.
They observe that in some cases, people die, get injured and heart attacks, among other development as a result of lies accompanying such expensive pranks arising from the observance of April Fool’s day.
Mr Wale Olorunda, a resident of Abuja says he was nearly involved in an accident in his car when a friend he was travelling with on an April Fool’s day announced that someone close to both of them was in coma in a hospital.
According to him, “The prank created a lot of panic before I realised it was the normal deception of ‘April fool’ as announced later by this friend’’.Another resident of Abuja, Miss Paulin Abutu, says “April Fool’s day observance is just a creation of an event to expose the capacity of the public in doing exploits in the art of mischief-making and creation of oddity when the occasion presents the opportunity.”
A student in a tertiary institution in Abuja, Miss Lilian Ogwuche, believes that the day is entertaining, engaging and hilarious such that should have been expected to last longer than noon on the day.
According to her, people should not, however, engage in expensive pranks that can cause panic or create what she called instant blood pressure for the victims of the pranks.NAN