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On Language And Nigerians: Are We What We Say?

Language is one of the ways a group of people are identified. It's a form of identity and cultural tag; one can tell an Efik man from an Ibibio, just as one can tell a Canadian from an American, through their very distinct languages. World views and perceptions are expressed through the instrument of language. Language exert some kind of influence on almost every of humans' engagement and I am curious, if it also influences behaviour. That is, does language affect the way one does things or reacts to situations?


I grew up having my grandma around and that allowed me to learn some cultural nuances. My grandma would never say she's cash drained, rather she would tell you 'owo po lowo mi'. The direct transliteration is 'money is plenty in my hand'. I remember always telling her to give me some of the 'plenty money'. I mean, if you have lots of money, spending some of it shouldn't be difficult.


You call someone who has moved past you and headed in the opposite direction and he tells you 'I'm coming'. Dude! How can you be coming when you're going? That's one scenario every Nigerian is familiar with. He doesn't see anything wrong in his expression and he expects you to understand. I think that's highly deceptive. I also think since such act is rooted in our language, it might also be the reason many Nigerians are deceptive and fraudulent. It seems inherent!


Also, our deficiency in saying things exactly, never cease to amaze me. We do it with trivial and important things. I understand the need to censor some words in public places but for heaven sake, everywhere is not public. I have a friend who will never accept that she uses the 'F- word' because she never says 'f**k (I need to censor that) you' but her constant swear phrase is 'F you'. Just because you have given us the assignment to complete the '-cuk' doesn't mean you're a saint.


An average Nigerian is never exact with almost anything. "add about two or three spoons of sugar" She doesn't want to be held responsible should the sugar be too much or not enough. "I will be there around 6pm or 7pm sha". Of course, if I get there by 6:30pm and you've been waiting for 30 minutes, it's your fault. "Let's meet around Adeola Odeku" When you get there while I'm still at home, I will just say "start walking down, I'm 'there' too" after all, Adeola Odeku is a long road. We create leeway even before we ever commit the offense. Maybe smart, maybe fraudulent!


Our political leaders are masters in the act. As it is, we already have two different budgets. So, in future someone will be accused of misappropriation and he will slam you with a slander suit. Well, he is working with budget B and you've made your accusation based on budget A. He wouldn't need a good lawyer to earn you some strict judicial reprimand.


No one knows the exact amount of the Abacha's loot that was returned but we are all sure it's around 500m to 600m. Nigerians are the kind of people who will see an enormous animal like elephant and say, "oh, I think something just walked past". Jeez!! Elephant can't just walk pass, it moves majestically in all its glory and grandeur, constantly announcing it's presence!


Do you remember about 10 to 20 million Naira that Sanusi Lamido reported went missing in the central bank, sometimes ago? Yea, no one is sure how much went missing and depending on who is doing the narrative, the figure pendulums right or left.


A Muslim friend once narrated a story about prophet Muhammed (S. A. W), who went visiting a friend on the outskirt of Medina. On getting to the friend's house, the prophet met him on his way out. The friend didn't want to tell the prophet he had come at the wrong time. So, he asked the prophet to wait, that he wanted to take a pee in the Bush. He came back 3 days later and met the prophet where he had left him. He was shocked and asked if it was just a coincidence that the prophet was still on the same spot he left him three days ago. The prophet told him, he had been waiting for him, just as he asked.


Too bad the prophet is such an upright man but I am 'almost' sure the friend is a Nigerian.
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