Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Beginners Guide to Nigerian Psychology and Mannerism Vol 2

Continued from Vol 1...

In a flash, the driver jumped out of the car and in 3 swift steps he approached a man who appeared to be the driver of the car that had hit them from behind and delivered a resounding slap to his face while yelling "You dey mad?"

slap: transitive verb

: to hit (someone or something) with the front or back of your open hand.
: to hit something with a sound like the sound made when your hand slaps something.
: to put (something) on a surface quickly or forcefully.

Source: Webster Dictionary

Nothing quite prepares you for the crunching sound of an open hand when it makes contact with human skin. It was so unexpected and it took him a few seconds to process that the taxi driver had just assaulted another person in public. He wondered what the cops would say when they came over. He was jolted out of this thoughts by raised voices and the sound of a rowdy scuffle

"You dey mad? Why you catch brake for road like that? Na you jam me!"
"You still dey talk? I go tear you another dirty slap!"

Just when it seemed like the fiasco was about to switch gears to another level, he peeked out of the window and saw that a policeman had arrived on the scene. His black police uniform had seen better days but the imperial look on his face indicated that he was truly a man of authority. However there seemed to be a look of excitement or feverish joy on the police officer's face, if he hadn't been slightly shaken up by the crash he would have sworn that the cop looked like he was drooling like a dog at the sight of a juicy bone.

Police: Wetin dey happen here? Why una two dey fight for road?
Driver A: Oga officer, this stupid man just jam my car
Driver B: Na this mumu just match brake for road
Police: So that na why una 2 dey fight and cause traffic for here? Oya, una 2 go follow me go station for obstruction of traffic. Na 25000 naira fine be that...

Lesson 3
Webster's dictionary didn't exactly get the definition of a 'slap' correct. To a Nigerian, a slap is not just a physical action, it is also a "character reforming act, aimed at correcting perceived foolishness". There are different levels to a slap, but the general perception is that a "dirty slap" sums it up. The 'dirty' in the phrase refers to the aspect of the recipient's character to be reformed by the action of the slap. Here are a few other functional definitions of slaps, from a Nigerian perspective

Obedience-Inducing slap: This is generally delivered by parents to their children. A slap of this nature can quickly correct a troublesome child and trigger immediate obedience.

Destiny-altering slap: You tend to receive slaps of this nature in boarding house (secondary school). Common side effects include waking up randomly at night in tears, random nightmares in daytime, jumbled brain cells and frequent incoherent mumbling.

Thought-provoking slap: Delivered by a soldier, arguably the worst of the lot. Characterized by after-effects such as psychological reflections and sudden realization that life can't be any worse than it is.

Statistics will show that the probability that a Nigerian youth/adult received at least one of the above mentioned slaps before the age of 21 is close to 99%. In american terms, you can argue that we all are victims of abuse. We really don't see it that way though, who knows how we would have ended up without slaps ("character reformation").

Lesson 4
We prefer to settle our issues without involving the police. It doesn't mean that we don't appreciate the law, we just don't trust the people in uniform who interpret the law. Moreover, when we call the police, they never show up. When we don't call them, they show up and refuse to go away.

Lesson 5
If you hit our car, we may slap you and assault you verbally before calling our Insurance company (Geico/StateFarm). Don't take it personal, refer to lesson 3, it's all about 'character reformation'.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Beginners Guide to Nigerian Psychology and Mannerism Vol 1

This is neither a novel nor your traditional educative summary. The views you'll encounter on this journey are purely the results of the writer's vivid and somewhat dysfunctional thoughts. It is possible that you'll stumble across a figment of rational intelligence or a random poetic phrase that captures a trace of brilliance, but do not be deceived, mad men are often considered geniuses. The wonderful truth is that virtually anything can be considered a work of art, it all depends on perspective. So while you may feel a need to comment on this series and argue for or against one of the points raised, be consoled by the knowledge that your contributions are artistic, relevant and at the same time irrelevant to the underlying logic of this series. That being said, allow me to dive in. Be warned, there is no pattern or style to the author's thoughts, you can think of it as a work of art itself.

mad:  adjective \'mad\
: very angry.
: having or showing severe mental illness.
: unable to think in a clear or sensible way.
Source: Webster Dictionary

The first thing he noticed as the taxi rolled out of the airport was that the driver had his seat belt on. For some inexplicable reason, he found this pleasing. The fact that the seat belt in a car wasn't installed as an artifact had no restriction on his joy.

"Growing up as a kid, nobody wore seat belts, he couldn't recall why but people simply didn't, till a government decree was passed that made failure to wear a seat belt while driving an offense. Failure to abide by the new law would result in a fine, seat belts suddenly resumed a measure of importance in cars."

The car weaved in out of lanes under the guidance of the driver who was humming along to a signature afrobeat tune by Fela...

"I no be gentleman at all, 
I no be gentleman at all, 
I be African man

His brief joy gradually turned to dismay when he observed that there really weren't any lane markings on the road. The cars on the road were simply criss-crossing each other at every opportunity, almost like a scene from one of those car racing video games he played regularly. To accompany the daredevil stunts the numerous drivers were displaying on the road, was the symphony of multiple horns blaring out of coordination. Alarmed by the prospect of an impending collision, he leaned forward to ask the driver to slow down a little. That was as far as he got...

"The grind of metal against metal can be quite unsettling. Apart from the crunching or screeching sound, the sudden shock of being jolted forward can get your heart racing quite a bit. For a brief second your spirit leaves your body and just when it feels like the angels are about blowing the trumpet for you to begin your ascent to the pearly gates, your body forcefully drags your spirit back down and it slams your senses back to reality..."

He watched in a daze as the driver muttered a thousand curses.
Oga, are you okay ?, the driver asked with genuine concern
He told him he was okay, the impact had come from the rear and apart from the jolt and shock from the impact, he was unhurt.
"Okay, oga  just stay here, make I finish this idiot wey jam us" the driver responded, his voice rising and switching gears suddenly.
In a f;lash, the driver jumped out of the car and in 3 swift steps he approached a man who appeared to be the driver of the car that had hit them from behind and delivered a resounding slap to his face while yelling "You dey mad?

Lesson 1
We go from 0 to a 100, real quick! The nerve endings responsible for the switch in our emotions are in constant overdrive. It hasn't been scientifically proven yet, because specific analysis of our brain structure may come across as racist to the medical world. We are very emotional people and we can switch emotions faster than you can blink.

Lesson 2
Most of the questions we ask are 'rhetoric', we really don't need your answer. Our questions are more like statements of affirmation of our belief. And if you must answer, it is best you respond with a question. Yes, we answer questions with questions, and it makes perfect sense to us because it confirms our initial belief.  See a brief exchange between 2 gentlemen below:

Driver A: You dey mad?
Driver B: You dey craze?
Driver A: Something dey worry you!
Driver B: You no well!

Lesson 3
The Webster's Dictionary doesn't accurately reflect our interpretation of words. One word can have multiple meanings in Nigerian lingo, but from the inflection or tone, you can easily tell which it is, make no mistake about it. However what most people fail to explain to you is that this applies only to native Nigerian languages. In "Nigerian Pidgin English", a word can have only one meaning.

"you dey mad?" neither means "Are you angry?" nor "Are you schizophrenic?" nor "Are you capable of thinking clearly?". 

For starters, "you dey mad ?":
1. Is not a question.
2. Has nothing to do with anger. There's already a word that describes 'volatile or combustible human emotion' and that word is "anger". Why complicate it with another word?
3. Has nothing to do with mental illness. General traditional African wisdom alleges that there is no such thing as mental 'illness', rather we have people suffering either mental affliction from the gods or suffering side effects of excessive marijuana smoking. As such mental ailments are spiritual not medical conditions.
4. Is closely related to your capability to think, but isn't a question about your thinking capability.

"you dey mad ?" can be simply translated as follows: 'You are a lunatic'

To be continued

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In Defence of Patience...then Sola

Let me confess, I laughed as well. Yes I did, there was no way I could hold it back. But after observing the ridicule she received after her news conference, I kinda felt bad for her. So I've decided to come to Her Excellency's defence. I plead with everyone to be objective and unbiased in their analysis of her comments. I'll highlight the key sections of her comments that triggered the reaction.

"All this blood sharing in Borno..."
Now before you start laughing again, you have to admit that she does have a point. Roughly 200 girls were alleged to have been kidnapped and not a single witness can say exactly how or when it happened. Was it at night? Or during the day? Surely the Boko Haram terrorists must be vampires. How else can we explain their elusive nature. They leave a trail of blood behind and not a soul can see them coming. Vampires!

There's not much mystery about this phrase. It is simply an exclamation of trepidation borne out of frustration. What would be your first reaction if you ran into Wesley Snipes in his full "Blade" regalia? Now visualize a vampire chilling next to your window at night. The simple thought of that image would cause you to say "Chai". Other phrases can be substituted for it, but "chai" best captures the emotion.

"Dia ris God o..."At this point, I'm sure you understand why she said this. Do the math: Human forces alone can't stop vampires. Clearly spiritual forces are required. Considering how ineffective our soldiers have been in the battle against Boko Haram, I believe it was only prudent that Patience reminded the terrorists about the existence of a far superior spiritual power.

Now when you put that information together, the only missing link was an interpreter. It would have been perfect if she had an interpreter in the mold of the congressman from Edo state (Patrick Obahiagbon I believe, the last name is kinda tough), known for his deep understanding of the English language. Any man who can use "political higi-haga and economic hara-kiri" in a sentence is qualified to decode spiritual language as well. I bet he could have easily translated her words:

"All this blood sharing in Borno, chai, chaiii, dia ris God o"
translated as
"This incessant vampiric activity in Borno, damn, reprehensible, the presence of God cannot be doubted..."

That wasn't so hard, abi? I know we've all had our laughs at Patience's expense, but let's cut her some slack. If the pre-requisite educational level for a political office in Nigeria is a secondary school degree, we shouldn't expect too much from the spouses of political office holders. I know she 'represents' the President, but our fault finding should be with whatever points she raised, not her grammar or diction. The public bashing is a bit too extreme. I'm sure she didn't mean to speak incorrect English, but let's not ridicule her forever.

In other news, the entertainment world was shocked this week by a video of Sola punching and kicking  my guy Jigga. When I watched the video, I was shocked o. Sola was really fired up, if she had a weapon with her, she could have used it. It is amazing how a moment of insanity can cause you alot of wahala. Now assuming Jigga pressed charges, it would have broken the family. Chaiiiiii!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Naija: Daytime Nightmare

Almost 3 years ago, I blogged about the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria ( Back then, the situation was bleak, but right now it seems like we've finally managed to unlock Pandora's box. Nigeria is at war, our leaders refuse to admit it, instead they argue and point fingers at each other while the death toll keeps mounting. Back in 2011, I had my own theories and ideas about how to tackle the problem but right now my mind is blank.

How do you fight a daytime nightmare? Stay awake and resist sleep? Keep the lights on at night and seek the comfort of other people in daytime? Focus on pretty things and keep a positive outlook? You can only run for so long...Gradually, your eyes will grow heavy, your vision will become blurry, and as hard as you try to fight it, sleep will creep in like a long lost lover whispering soothing words in your ear. Eventually your eyes will close, your chest rising and falling slowly as you embrace the lullaby of dreams, whilst reality gives way to the hazy world of your imagination. When your eyes finally regain focus, there is no escape from the monsters that your imagination has created...

I've always wondered how the Nazi soldiers at the concentration camps during the Jewish Holocaust (WW2) were able to sleep at night. The heart of man is wicked, and it is shocking to see the depths people would sink to in the quest for power. I refuse to believe that Boko Haram is just a religious sect. The audacity and brazeness with which they carry out their attacks transcends the actions of "a religious sect". The sheer frequency and scale of their attacks are tell-tale signs of a well funded and sophisticated militia group. We are neither dealing with religious renegades employing guerrila tactics nor a band of fanatics intent on curbing western education. The moniker "Boko Haram" is just a ruse for the sinister monsters who infiltrated them to unleash havoc and run the country.

The Bible advises us to pray for our leaders, but I have to admit that I'm finding it pretty hard sending prayers to the heavenly hosts on behalf of our current crop of leaders. Campaigning for Goodluck Jonathan to resign is not an option, he is our leader, whether he likes it or not, the mantle of responsibility falls on him. If he steps down due to the pressure, then the message we are sending to the world is that we are a "community", not a nation. Nigeria is not a social club where leaders throw in the towel in surrender. A President simply does not step down because the job is "tough". He campaigned to be President, he has to live up to his role. It doesn't matter if he was "selected" and not elected. Mothers bring children into this world, the infants don't have a say in the matter. But when the child gets to a certain age, he/she can make his own decisions regardless of what his/her parents say. So our president needs to man up, no excuses.

As for the monsters behind this menace, time will tell...

For concerned citizens, I don't know if there's much that we can do except to keep asking the leaders we voted into power to step up to their responsibilities. The only other option is to take up arms and chase shadows.

Also keep praying, something has to give...