Notes on the Goodluck Jonathan, Christiane Amanpour Interview

I am Nigerian. I don't know that I've ever quite stated it like that but it's true, I am Nigerian. I am Nigerian even though I've spent the greater part of the last 6 years away and even though I no longer sound like one. I think the big change happened when I was 18. For a year I was the only black English speaking African at Cheltenham. During this time my West African guttural tone was battered and honed into what it is now: a weird fusion between my original Nigerian accent and a thick Southern English one.

As a result of this change, when I'm in Nigeria people tend to assume that I am a visitor. They assume that I was reared on distant shores. They cannot believe that I have only been away for 6 years. They think, "Surely someone that talks as you do must have lived in England since he was 5." I never know what to make of this and I cannot imagine what they must think of me. They must think that I ditched the ruddy bloody thing as quickly as I could and they wouldn't be wrong. At school I needed to be understood. I got tired of saying things three times and speaking very slowly.

 I just saw the Goodluck Jonathan interview with Christiane Amanpour and I cannot see what all the fuss is about. Would you rather they had interviewed his wife? In my opinion the woman shouldn't be permitted to speak English on duty. She must be provided with a translator. I'll tell you why I didn't mind it as much as a lot of you did.

  • Have you heard yourself speak? If you are Nigerian think about this one very carefully. There's something I like to call tin, dem, dos. This is in reference to people who say tin, instead of thing, dem instead of them, and dos instead of those. It is unbelievably common in Nigeria. So you shouldn't turn on your president for making the same mistakes that you do. You voted him in. Who knows? You probably voted for him because he talks like you.
  • He did not attempt to don a false accent. He should be rewarded for this. There is nothing worse than rubbish phonetics. I once met a chap who told me that his name was Iferni. Through out the remainder of our conversation I thought deeply about what sort of name Iferni was. Iferni is not a common Nigerian name. I had a eureka moment when I suddenly interjected, "did you mean Ifeanyi?" When he said "yes" I very nearly died. 
  • He held his own. Nigeria has it's problems but there's something honourable about choosing not to air the issues on international television. He may have come off as defensive but I think I like him more because he was defensive. When people are talking to you about your child and saying awful things about him or her, what kind of parent would you be if you revealed the thick of it in public? What kind of parent would you be if you washed your hands of the child and said "This Child is irredeemable, God help us all?" 
  • I think Nigerians have developed the habit of setting themselves up for disappointment. What were you expecting? Were you expecting him to suddenly morph into a great orator? If you have some sort of genie with magical powers then I'd like to graduate with a first class degree without doing any work at all! Put in a good word for me will you?
Of course there are several things he could work on, like looking at the camera. There's just something shady about not making any eye contact. Some English lessons couldn't go amiss but I feel like that would be asking for too much...

There seems to be a horrid trend in the Nigerian blogosphere. I cannot understand why people feel the need to use so many complicated and generally unwieldy words. Are you a fiend? Take this phrase for example, "excusable pressures of impromptu dialogic exchange". Of course I know what it bloody means but is it necessary to be so impossible? I find that in our quests to ensure that we sound educated and intelligent we often go over board. If you are in fact educated and intelligent then don't worry about it. The truth will come out one way or the other.

Happy Days,

1 comment:

OluwaMayowa Idowu said...

I agree with you that he held his own. These days, people just want to interpret everything to fit the narratives in their heads.

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