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


  1. Bros are you sure you're not in the wrong profession? ! That was hilarious and you painted a vivid image :), thoroughly enjoyed it.