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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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