Answering Rhetorical Questions

Posted by keayo on Jul 2, 2010 in Naija
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Rhetorical Question

Girl: "Can you imagine??" Guy: "No, Imagine what?"

written by Onaedo Achebe

Nigerians, over the years, have demonstrated an inability to identify when a question is rhetorical. Sometimes they identify one but in the true Nigerian nature of wanting to have a say in any and every matter, they answer the question. I am sure if there was a Nigerian dictionary Rhetorical will be listed as follows;

Rhetorical question : No content available, please feel free to answer any and every question, shebi the person axed (read as asked) you?

Let us take the case of Victor, a character most of us can identify with, who comes home with a bad result.

1st case scenario

Mama: Victor, Victor, what is this result ehn? What is this ruport kad (report card)? Are you stupid? Are you stupid?

Victor: (no answer)

Mama: hei, hei, you cannot answer abi? You cannot answer she? 1 year, 6 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 10 hours and 17 seconds ago, when you were suspended from school for insulting your teacher, you could talk o! Now you are deaf and dumb. I have forgiven and ‘forgotten’ about that incident o because that is the type of person I am but now this is too much. My son is now a dullard! You will see stars today when I am done with you. Kisses teeth.

2nd case scenario

Mama: Are you stupid? Are you stupid? Ehn ehn?

Victor: No mama

Rhetorical Question 2

Girl: "Are you a good fútbol playa?" Guy: "HMMMM. Is Kola Nut bitta (bitter)? Is Suya Very Sweet?? Does Goat Meat Require Chewin' STICK????" Girl: "yes, of course." Guy: *blank stare*

Mama: Hei, hei, you have the guts to talk back at me? Do I look like ya mate? I said do I look like ya mate?  You are a very stupid boy Victor, very stupid. You are saying you are not stupid ehn! If you are okoro smart  then why did you bring this type of a result? Answer me before I slap you now (if you answer you will expressly be accused of talking back at her). “I am not stupid,nye nye nye nye nye” (mimicking you in the most annoying voice ever). Idiot boy.

3rd case scenario

Mama: Are you stupid?

Victor: (Confused and wanting no wahala) Yes mama

Mama: Heewo, Victor has killed me o! (Spins around dramatically). Nobody in our family is dull! All of us forst  forst forst (first) in the class. Where did they bring this boy from o! Olodo that admits that he is an Olodo. I am finished! At least you know you are dull, you must have gotten it from your father’s mother’s side of the family , I hope you did not carry her madness too.

Note:  After this don’t blink, shake or move a muscle, if not she will take this as an acknowledgment and as soon as your father comes home, she will surely say that YOU said that you got your dullness from his side of the family and that his mother is mad. Also note that all responses come with a koboko so what exactly is the right answer? (By the way, that was a rhetorical question, I’m sure you already answered it…)

How many times have we been asked ‘are you deaf?’(how will you hear the question if you are?) ‘are you blind? can you not see the soup is burning?’ ( If you were how will you see?!) ‘can you not read? did you not read the price is N500?’ (well if you could read,wouldn’t you have done so?), All with the asker expecting a response?

The Nigerian rhetoric is a thing of great annoyance yet very funny and beautiful in a way only a Nigerian can acknowledge. It may be a culture shock though to the Oyibo who is used to stares being averted when they ask ‘why are you staring?’. The Nigerian will continue staring and will even resort to pointing at your eyes saying  ‘Me? I am not staring o!, you ,which eye did you use to see me?’ Abegi, leave us biko,our I.D  is a green passport or you cannot see again?

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Nigerian Functions (Part 1)

Posted by keayo on Jun 26, 2010 in Naija
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In pretty much any culture, accomplishments like birthdays, graduations, and weddings are cause for celebration. These celebrations involve people, music, food and gifts but there are certain signs that will let you know that you’ve just walked into a Nigerian function.

DJ Setup

DJ & MC Setting Up

Now let’s assume that this celebration starts at 5:00 P.M., if you are Nigerian or read the Being Late post, then you know 8:30 P.M. is around the time showers are being taken. This is understandable, people have been talking about this party for months, but we all have things to do. While folks shower up, let’s see what’s going on at the party. Since it’s around 8 the DJ has just finish setting up his equipment in the furthest corner of the hall.

On the opposite wall furthest from the DJ, several mothers are setting up three or four long serving tables and stacking it with aluminum foil containers. These foil containers are filled with different foods; two or three different types of rice to choose from (jollof), puff puff, moi moi still wrapped in the foil it was boiled in, goat meat, fried plantain, five sticks of suya (that ALWAYS run out), scotch eggs, and salaad (which consists of iceberg lettuce and the best and only dressing known to Nigerians: ranch. Some of these things are also served in the large pot they were cooked in (like stock fish or peppa soup). Oh yea, and on the very last table there will be a box of pizza for the kids along with some desserts.  Around this area you will find large trash cans filled with ice and deep in the ice water are bottles of Malt, Coke, Guinness, Heineken, other hot drinks and right next to the bottles of Stout will be packs of Hawaiian punch, Sunkist, and bottled water. (Hold tight children, later tonight your uncles will have you elbow deep in this trash can full of ice, grabbing alcoholic beverages.)

Chin Chin

Chin Chin

Let’s not forget about the snacks, if we move to the main floor, you will see round tables covered with white plastic table cloths and in the middle of each table will be a program and plate of chin chin which will be dished out by the kids while the mothers are setting up the long table. A trick for snacks, boil roasted peanuts still in their shell in water and serve them on each table, you can tell people they are organic peanuts from Nigeria. Folded on the table will be a program that will include these must haves (Introduction of MC, Opening Prayer, Intro of all 50+ High Table Guests, Presentation of Kola Nut, 1 am dinner, and DANCE DANCE DANCE!!!)

Towards the front of the room there will be a “High Table” for the elders and/or guest of honor (they also have not yet arrived). Anyway, this table includes a plate of kola nut that will be broken later, some flowers or roses, and glasses for champagne and palm wine.

The middle of the room is cleared for dancing and there will be a table nearby used to count money collected from the dance floor (we will revisit this later). Always a good idea that the host of the party has someone has alot of One Dollar Bills to give people that only have 20s and 10s, and plenty of plastic grocery bags and boxes to forcefully demand and don on children to collect the rain throughout the night.

Naija Cooler

This is before all the ice and water is added.

Now it’s about 9 o’clock and the MC is arriving right on schedule. You never know how he will look when he arrives. Some have on traditional wear, but if this is a graduation party, he most likely wants to relate to the younger audience so he has on his basketball hat that was purchased from Wal-Mart 10 minutes prior, a black t-shirt with FUBU across the middle, khaki shorts, and of course cotton black socks to match the shirt and sillpass. The MC talks in the microphone throughout the function about what’s happening next while attempting to keep everyone entertained. Now that he’s arrived he picks up the party program so that he can study and prepare what he is going to say. The MC knows that he needs to say UHHHHHHH at least 72 times and other fillers that he can repeat over and over again like ‘this is a joyess occasion’ (and when they say joy-ess they mean joyous).

Empty Floor

Hmm, 9 O'Clock......Where is everybody?

Maybe you are not familiar with Nigerian society and got to the function at the time stated on the flyer. For that I apologize, because I know as soon as you walked in you were confused and probably thought you were in the wrong building because no one was there yet. Well at least no Nigerians have, their may be some white and asian families looking wide eyed/lost/confused as well. Just be patient, you are in the right place and you’ll start to have fun in a few hours (but not before you’re forced to help set-up the tables and chairs).

Stay tuned for the next post about functions because this is just Part 1 of Nigerian Functions. The party hasn’t even started yet.

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Posted by keayo on Mar 16, 2010 in Naija
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Nigerian people love to naija-fy the English language – if a naija speaker does not use a “dey”, a native-tongue word, or does not speak certain words with a Naija accent then he dey Entah-A TRUH-bol [trouble].   Now to the non-Naija listener, these substitutions, extra words, and interesting pronunciation choices may seem like a completely unnecessary misuse/abuse of the English language.  But, eef you do not unda-stand owa talk, SHARRAP that yuah mout and listen well well . . . . ee-djut..

Sillpass - Slippers

Naija people will double up words in certain phrases to lend emphasis.  For example, to describe a good looking girl, a Naija will describe her as “fine fine”, a little child as “small small”, or a person who is easily led as “follow follow”.   Bicoz why? Naija people also love to hear themselves talk, and saying something twice allows the speaker more words “for come-out mout.”  Na waa ooo…

Naija people have pretty much created a separate language especially for their children.   Common phrases like “Cry….TRUH-bol dey call you”, “make am do kwik [quick]”, or “[*hiss/suck teeth*] no dey take….put eye see [*hiss/suck teeth*]” would probably have Noah Webster turning in his grave.   Because of this, American-born Nigerian children are forced to re-learn simple English words in school.  In fact, most Naija people  can think back to their younger days and remember the following exchange:

Baff - to bathe

Bāf - to bathe

Parent: “My fren, go and BAFF [Bathe]!”
Child: “But I don’t wanna BAFF!”
Parent: “Mm-Wa, BEFORE I COUNT TREE…..WAN!!!! TWO!!!! TWO AND HAFF !!!!! TWO AND WAN QWATA!!!” (Oh yea, did I mention, we also have to re-learn the order of our fractions.)

Special emphasis can be added to any statement by beginning the sentence with “Sef [Self]” or “In fact”. Like in this scenario:

Parent: “In Fact, Don’t Em-BA-RASS Me, in this place”
Child (mutters under breath): “You’re embarrassing yourself….”
Parent (top of lungs): “Hai!, you dey craze?! You haff mout to talk, Ee-DJUT[idiot]; STUPID CHILD OF GOD!”

(Now a conversation like this usually ends up in what Oigbo people may call “Child Abuse” but what we in the Naija community simply call “DETTY SLAPS” [Dirty Slaps].)

Another characteristic found in owa version of English is using one word to cover a variety of similar things. For example, let’s say your moda prepared a delicious meal using nothing but hot payppa [pepper] and salt. You may hear the following exchange at the dinner table:

Dad: “The chicken dey SWEET, sef.”
Child: “How is this sweet?!?!”
Dad: “WAT [What] A [Are] You TALKIN?!?! Na SWEET chicken!”


Dis'thin - That Thing

Some of you Nigerians reading this still don’t see what’s wrong with that statement, but I am not here to judge you.  You are probably the same ones who have interchangeably used the Naija-English “am” to mean his, it, him, her, she, you and whatever else you fancy.  You’ve also probably used ‘for’ in interesting and different ways.  If you have ever uttered “Come-out for road, useless man!”; “he dey carry am for head”; and “weak for bodi”, please note that ‘for’ is not meant to be used interchangeably with “of, in, on, with, etc.”  (Chei! Make I see why oigbo no unda-stan)

My papa and mama done use my head oh, I done pass 20 and remain small make I clock 30. Till today I no know if na stuck, stalk, or stock fish.

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