Whatever an average Nigerian copies he overblows it, he cries more than the bereaved and he is often more catholic than the pope. If you listen to few on-air-personalities popularly called (OAPs) some carry accents that are bad mixes of British and American intonations, quite confused whether to be British or American. It’s wrong to believe an accent is a problem. An accent is a sign post to your core identity. It is reflective of our roots, language and history. A Ghanian speaks and is instantly recognised from his accent, a French man speaks English not without his accent, a South African, a Kenyan, a German, a Spaniard, not one person is without an accent. Even the British Isles. There are differences in tonation of the English, Irish, Welsh and counties in between. There is an accent or a variation that distinguishes the Yankees from the Southerners. A Texan has a distinct accent from a New Orlean. That’s how distinguished and unique we are.
I narrow it down to the average Nigerian. Especially in matters of tribe. An Igbo man whether in Nigeria or the diaspora ensures his children or wards learn the Igbo language as the mother tongue then other language follows. Their names they carry with pride. I would not be sentimental and ignore the fact that some (not all) Yorubas are guilty of wanting to westernise the mentality of their wards which often results in adult causalities. The other day and this is not the first time, I watched a young mother scolding his son to not speak the Yoruba language as it is vernacular. As we moved together at the aisle at the mall where I went, it was providential that I received a call and the call that should have been done in English I deliberately spoke in Yoruba spiced with little English to the hearing of the child. The child watched me in fascination, while the woman wore an annoyed look and hustled him out of the aisle. I would have loved to tell the child that his language is a beautiful one that he should be proud of, but I realised that it does not take a village to raise a child anymore nowadays. It’s possible to be challenged by the mother, why you had the right to intrude on her instructions. Dressing up and carrying smart phones nowadays does not translate to a functional brain and healthy minds. Many people are blood thirsty and are filled with ominous rage just looking for who to tear to shreds.
But the scenario is a reflection of the problem of the society where parents are trying to force anything western down the throats of their kids. Anything indigenous is preached to be black and not good enough even to the most basic like language, while the western is the standard to follow. This is the foundation for shallow half-baked adults who have no clue about what they want in life, who are listless, bored, vacuous, dull and depressed because of inner battles of conflicting identities.
My mother retired as a teacher. Her area of specialisation were children from four to seven years tops. Her experience was interesting and vast in many respects. She related one of her experience over the last Easter holiday. During lunch time in school, the kids relied on the teachers to assist them in opening their lunch boxes and flasks. She then noticed that this particular four year-old boy continually left his lunch untouched for three days in a row. The lunch was noodles cooked with egg. Every day. So she asked him why. He said he hated it. What did he like? Eba and ogbono soup. Do they cook it at home? Yes, when dad is around. Dad lectures out of town and is away from home most times. When his mum came for pick up at the end of school, mum told the boy’s mother. She was amazed and then upset. She told mum. She didn’t have time for that, she’s busy. Why couldn’t he settle for “convenient food?”
My mum said she told her how lucky she was. The food her son craved was one that other parents are forcing their children to eat due to nutritional benefits found in local cuisine while she struggled to force foreign meals down the throat of the child.
The next day the boy brought the eba and ogbono beautifully packaged. He ate every morsel with relish. Ignored his juice and finished his water. When his mum came she was even more surprised and told my mum that he ate the same thing the night before and he enjoyed it. From that day, the mum continued to prepare tasty local delicacies that the boy always ate, fostering his cognitive development.
The world grows interconnected every day allowing for cross of culture, races and even languages, norms, traditions and education but we must keep our identity while we add to ourselves things that improve our value from other cultures.
If other cultures are coming to our country to learn our craft and even study scientific and spiritual knowledge of our traditional religion, then what say we?