Notes on Nigerians and Otherness: The pursuirt of the Ernglirsh Arccernt


Words by Afam
I've found Nigerians to be rather peculiar in almost all respects. Now, I do not know that this is restricted to just Nigerians, it may be an African thing. It seems that when our colonial masters pieced us together and diced us apart without any consideration for us as actual people, they not only left us with more than half a century's worth of political problems, but they also somehow saddled us with so many complex inferiority complexes that I'll wager that the thorough examination of just one of these said complexes would probably be sufficient for the award of a nobel prize in literature. Why literature you wonder? Well, if anyone were to read it, it would probably appear to be the most wonderful and imaginative sort of fiction in the whole entire world.

Take this remarkable example for instance:

Why is Persil better than Omo?

You all know what Persil is don't you? It's a pretty naff smelling detergent that's made by Henkel AG. Omo is an equally naff smelling detergent that's made by Unilever Nigeria. Having handwashed with the both of them equally for the better part of 6 years - the worst 6 years of my life!! I can testify that there is no great difference in their cleaning powers.

In fact, Omo boasts of a further use that Persil does not. Back in the day, Omo was a fairly decent hair texturiser. By now, you must all know that African hair is rather kinky, nappy, curly, and damn hard to manage. To make the texture of their hair finer, some of the boys at school smothered their hair in Omo and achieved impressive results! 

So why is Persil better than Omo? Nigerians have a general tendency to not like things Nigerian and an even greater tendency to not like things African. They don't even particularly like Asian things, but present them something European or American and they go crazy over it. The Nigerian fetish with all things western isn't restricted to material things either, it spreads its wings to the immaterial and the unquantifiable. For instance Nigerians have developed a particularly tragic obsession with accents. 

I do not know when it was that Nigerians collectively decided that being in possession of a good old Nigerian sounding accent was entirely unsuitable for life. Every day my ears are assaulted with phonetic creations of imagined exoticness that simply have no place coming from a human mouth.

I have had several interactions with this phenomenon, but the most profound one occurred when I had a conversation with a few mates and a chap I didn't know.

"So what's your name?" I asked, because I'm friendly like that.

"Iferni" he replied. I was a little taken aback, because I had never met a Nigerian called Iferni before.

"Pardon" I coughed. You see, I was so surprised that I couldn't get my mouth to form the syllables right. I was also half hoping that I'd misheard him. I was wrong.

"Iferni" he repeated.

We continued the conversation for a while before it dawned on me that his name wasn't Iferni, but Ifeanyi (which is pronounced Ifanyi). It was profound, because, the fakeness of his accent had exceeded the boundaries of the English language and extended itself to his name.

It was then that I realised that, I could be of assistance. In Iferni's imagination, the key to a successful English accent was to insert an r after every vowel sound. As a result of this, when he spoke to me, he spoke like this.

Enter Afam and Iferni

Iferni: Herllor. Horw arrrre youuuur?

Afam: I'm alright thanks. How are you?

Iferni: Irm firne tarnk youuuur. Carn Irrr firnd ourt whoooor youuuuur arrrre?

Afam: How do you mean?

Iferni: Terll me Arbourt yourrrserrrlf.

Afam: What is it that you would like to know about me?

Iferni: Errverrrythirrrng tharrt therrrree irrss torrr know arrbourrt youuuurr.

Afam: Read my blog, the ramblings of a madman, and we'll go from there.

Sometime this week, I shall publish an instructional guide on how to create an English sounding accent that won't leave everyone in the room wondering where you went to school, if you went to school, and what the hell the matter with you is.


Anonymous said...

Very well said! It's really very sarrrd ;)!!!!!

Afam said...

Irr Knorrw. Tarns. Irr arprerxcarte it.

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