Why Your Igbo No done?


igbo2

“Are you from Anambra State? Your Igbo sounds like you’re from Anambra.”
“Are you from Mbaise or Obi-ngwa? What you said just now sounded like either Mbaise or Ngwa.”
“Why your Igbo no done?”
“You’re from Yoruba abi? What part of Yoruba are you from?”
“You look like Edo”
Over the years, I have heard all sorts as regards my ethnicity .
If I got a thousand naira each time I heard “you look Yoruba…” I’ll be pretty rich by now! 😀
But that’s not even really my issue. I like that people can hardly tell where I’m from by merely looking at me.
A few days ago, at a bank, a man saw me and just started speaking Yoruba to me. I just smiled. I could understand what he was saying. Thankfully, I only needed to reply “beeni sir” and “Ese sir” before I walked away.
I better get to the point.
Of all the comments and questions I’ve gotten surrounding my ethnicity, I’d say the one that I really find weird is “why your Igbo never done?”
The very first time I heard it, I was irritated. What did the young man mean by that? In my opinion, I speak pretty good Igbo. Well, considering that there are several variations in the name of dialect… So why would he tell me my Igbo was not “cooked?” It took me quite some time but I finally got it. I had to understand why actually, because once in a while, I still hear that.
By virtue of my state of origin, I’m Igbo, by my looks, I’m Yoruba and then based on where I was born and raised, I’m a proper northerner; A Hausa lady. I speak Hausa fluently, maybe even more than Igbo. I pretty much have a Hausa accent. And finally, I realized that was why my Igbo never sounded “cooked” to people who didn’t appreciate my background. I can’t magically possess the Igbo accent when I was never raised in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Neither of my parents have any of the “factors” common to Igbo people so there’s hardly anything in me that screams “Igbo!!!”
The last person to ask me why my Igbo is not “cooked” was a trader in the market and it made me wonder. Why don’t you just accept that I can speak the language with you? We communicate at least. So if you can understand what I’m saying, why must you make a big deal of how my language sounds?
I’m going off on this rant because I’m tired of people making an issue out of something that should be nothing. We keep complaining about how bad Nigeria is and how we aren’t united as a country yet every opportunity we get, we throw in ethnic sentiments. What’s even worse is that even when we get into our “zones” we still discriminate. We have several variations of Igbo people as well as several variations of Yoruba people. The northerners aren’t even left out. So even in our zones, we’re still pretty much divided.
Another issue I feel we desperately need to address is our reaction to young Nigerians who were raised abroad but finally decided to return home. Whether on vacation on permanent residence, these people nearly always encounter the ethnocentric issue. For most who were raised abroad, people have an issue with their accent. How is it their fault that they were raised outside the country and you weren’t? And then the “elders” from the village and probably some young ones too tease them endlessly and often time insult and humiliate them when they discover they cannot speak their local dialects. As much as I’m not against them learning to speak the language, I’ve got to ask, what’s the big deal about it?
I think for some, it’s knowing that those who have been raised abroad seem to be naturally ahead and so they hinge on their knowledge of local language to give them an edge over those who have been in obodo oyibo. My question is, what has your knowledge of your local dialect done for you? Again, I must say, I do not in any way intend to undermine our cultural values especially where the Nigerian languages are concerned. I’m simply saying we should not focus our attention on all the wrong things. That someone cannot speak a language does not mean they do not know how to communicate and I think that at the end of the day, communication is what is most important as far as languages go. If I can understand you and you can understand me then don’t worry about the how of it.
Oh well, end of rant and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to.
Feel free to worry about where I’m from, but it won’t tell you anything about who I am or what I can do.
Feel free to worry about how “done” my Igbo is, but it won’t tell you anything about my communication skills.
A lot of people tend to trivialize the most important things, foregoing them for the very insignificant stuff. We carry our ethnicity on our heads in Nigeria with so much pride as though somehow our States of Origin define who we really are. And then we get upset when people stereotype us especially with the negative stuff. If you missed my rant on the danger of stereotyping, check here. It was a very interesting rant.
So here’s my point for today. It’s essentially for us Nigerians. I know ethnocentrism is deeply etched in most of us, but make a conscious effort to rid yourself of it. We hardly make balanced and rational judgments/decisions when our reason is clouded by ethnic or tribal sentiments. Respect people for what they can do and not for the language they can speak.
Yours always,
Yougeecash

22 thoughts on “Why Your Igbo No done?

  1. Well I seem to get ur point, but for those who worry that ur Igbo is not done, let them get a pot and season, marinate then cook it propely. Else every one else should keep calm and sing kumbaya while worrying about more pressing issues

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  2. I agree that the basic solution for Nigeria’s problems will be to get rid of ethnocentric biases. However, it is important to note that these biases do not stem from our cultural identities but rather from corruption and greed. Having said thus, the identity of a people of which its language constitutes a core part should never be trivalized. A lot of

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    • A lot of young people these days are even ashamed of where they come from which should not be. Young people must be encouraged to connect to their roots. Otherwise with the prevalent wholesale copying of western culture and etiquette, within a century we may lose our authentic identities and heritage as a people. Your language is sacred and must never be toyed with! I rest my case.

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      • Yet again, I state for the record that I am not in any way trying to undermine the identity, culture or language of any people. I’m just saying we should try and be reasonable. Etiquette and morals are not the exclusive preserve of any culture whether Nigerian, African or Western. I also did not say young people should not connect to their roots. I’m merely saying, we should pay more attention to the things that are important. We would always have our different cultures as Nigerians but the moment we begin to exalt that over our place as a united country, we gradually fall apart. It’s why things hardly work in this country. We want to vote in a president and we’re thinking “where is he from” rather than “what can he add?” “what does he know?” and “what experience has he gathered?” We want to employ someone in an office, we think “is he my brother?” “is she from my place?” rather than is she qualified? It’s why I personally have issues with the federal character/quota system. What that essentially does most times is sideline experienced and more qualified people for others who lack capacity, all in the name of meeting up the quota system.
        By the way, culture is not static, it is ever-changing. And not everything about culture is good. I mean, it was in our culture to kill twins at some point was it not? How “wonderful” can you say that was? Eventually, it had to go. Now we have lovely twins all over the place doing really well and I haven’t heard of anyone bringing ill luck to their families yet.
        And if I may ask, what is so sacred about a language? What is the point of a language actually? Is it not communication? We learn to speak languages so we can communicate easily with people not so we can intimidate or gloat about having an edge over someone else. At least that’s what I think. I speak Hausa and Igbo, I understand a bit of Yoruba, the point of all these for me is to be able to communicate easily with anyone of such persons that I meet. The essence of language is communication me thinks and not some sacred culture up-holding ish. Thanks for your feedback though! 🙂 Cheers

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    • Well, if you read my piece on “Imprisoned in the stereotype”, perhaps you would understand better. I beg to disagree. I do not see how the biases we experience stem from corruption and greed. These are personal opinions of people who have either had negative personal experiences or have decided to uphold the opinions of others. It’s why in my other article, I stressed the need for people to treat individuals on an individual basis, experience them for yourself and not judge them based on some stereotype. Read the article please, so I don’t have to go into details about it again.

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  3. Word! I’ve been discriminated against more times than I can count ‘cos I don’t speak a particular language. It doesn’t bother me anymore ‘cos like you said if I can communicate, what does the language speak matter?

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    • Yeah, you’re right. What does the language matter? What is important is that communication is established. A mastery of language is important, as sometimes we might meet people who do not understand English and in the absence of a translator, we would need to communicate with them as effectively as possible. That is understandable. What I would find offensive is when someone who can communicate with me in fluent English decides to make a big deal out of my unpure Igbo. Omo, wahala ti de o. Ha

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  4. Wow nice one dear! But rly I support ur ranting 100%. Pple shuldnt judged by background but by wat U̶̲̥̅̊ can deliver, n I think dat wot is killing us as a nation…God help us…btw UG it rly nice U̶̲̥̅̊ understand d 3 basic language in nigeria. Dat wl giv U̶̲̥̅̊ an edge anywhere.. 🙂

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    • 🙂 thank u so much dear! Well, thanks to my parents for being Igbo and raising me in the north then sending me off to school in the West. I’m not very efficient at all 3, especially the Yoruba but I know enough to get by. Thank you so much for your feedback dear. Cheers 🙂

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  5. Nice, I could expand on your rant on behalf of minor tribes who people often bundle amongst ‘omo ibo’ even when the name clearly screams Efik or Rivers or Edo for instance but i wont. Lol. It doesn’t matter where I’m from if all you wanna do is critique me without a valid basis. We clearly fuss over what shouldn’t matter whilst we are typically tactless in the expression of our opinions causing more harm. Imagine if we actively deployed our fascination with tribe checking to more productive matters.
    As always,I love your attitude, rant but pay them no heed. Smile and keep enjoying your ‘almost’ Wazobia multilingual ability, where many of your peers can’t speak their mother tongues. Lol! Keep cooking your ibo, they can keep checking the status whilst you busy with more productive things. Whoops. Much love!

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    • loool. Thanks sis. Always an encouragement you are! And yes, we do focus too much on the trivial things that should ideally not even have our attention. I only hope we get better! Thank you so much for your feedback! 🙂 Almost Wazobia abi? lool. Nice one! 😀

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  6. The limit to which one can go is actually not a function of ‘done’ or ‘undone’ tongues, people always fail to see d pointlessness of tribal ‘wars’, it takes an enlightened mind to get things done, not a fluent tongue.

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  7. Babe, I’m on a world domination conquest! And iWill undermine the cultural system as iDeem fit. Anybody with an opposin’ opinion should personally pick a bone to contend with me (yes, its my open beef invitation). Biko, iWas born in Lag, I’m still not sure of my cultural heritage whether I’m a Portharcourt boy or Abian, no thanks to the final creation of states in 1996 which left my clan under the (then) new Abia state. My dialect is not even igbo, doesn’t sound igbo and not even understood by most igbo speakin’ folks. Bein’ raised in the SouthWest wasn’t even any much a helper. Ok, I’m jez bickerin’. Last last with all their accolades in the various local dialetics, has it gotten them a sit down with Oprah, Obama or even Bey & Jay? Nigerian Ambassadors are those fluent in other foreign languages which actually is one of the qualifiers for ambassadorship (buh then, this is Nigeria where corners are cut for anything or in this case, anybody to go). Sha, your Igbo no kuku done, my own nko wey never even cook at all? Buh regardless, iDare make bold to say that my “raw rice” Igbo and Yoruba can hold me sway anywhere iFind myself. Long as you can’t cheat or sell me. If its not enough, then I’d advice you go on a rock kickin’, transformer huggin’, skinny dippin’, sky divin’ spree if it’ll make you feel better. You could also try gettin’ hit by a bus in Agodi-Gate, Ibadan.

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    • Phew! That was quite a rant! lool. You raised major points here, I’m so proud and glad that you commented! What actually matters to the world is your knowledge of international languages and not your local dialect!!!! You couldn’t have put that better! I’m not undermining the local languages yeah, but priding yourself on being able to speak your local dialect and shoving that in the face of someone who doesn’t is just making yourself a local champion! Not even a national one! Funny thing is, some of the people that make all the noise about local dialects cannot even speak more than one! At least if you’re proficient in two or three or more, I can cut my cap for you and send you off to run for presidency. Oops, I forgot, that might not count for much!
      Anyways, like you, I’m on a world domination quest and I think I need to busy myself brushing up my French, learning German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish and the likes! As much as I love my country, I’m certainly not going to let her serve as a limitation for me. I will try to learn Nigerian languages but I will not allow anyone use that as a standard to judge me. Neither will I set that as the limit for myself
      Some time ago, a friend of mine was introduced to some random guy that could speak a little of the three major Nigerian languages. He could speak only a little o, but he was super good at his own. Next thing I know, he’s being condescending towards my friend who could not fluently speak his local dialect. I was livid with rage! And here’s why I was angry. This guy, has likely never left the shores of Nigeria. But there he was, being condescending to someone who had spent most of his life abroad and who was regularly in the company of presidents (not just Nigerian presidents o) governors, senators and ministers alike. My friend is not just book smart, he’s people smart too and then because he could not fluently speak a Nigerian language, someone was being condescending to him?!
      I had to ask myself. What did this have to boast about? What was giving him his pride? the fact that he could speak his local dialect and a couple more Nigerian languages? People really do have misplaced priorities in this country! Oh well, I hope to change that. It’s why I will not stop writing especially about issues like this.
      If I continue, I’ll likely just end up writing another post here so I better stop. lol.
      Thank you for your feedback dear. You remain an encouragement as always. Cheers! 🙂

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  8. Sis, I get ur point. I particularly liked ur emphasis on ‘We want to vote in a president and we’re thinking “where is he from” rather than “what can he add?” “what does he know?” and “what experience has he gathered?” We want to employ someone in an office, we think “is he my brother?” “is she from my place?” rather than is she qualified?’. Nice one! Thanks for this piece.

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  9. Thanks for this article. It’s attitude like this that alienates those outside the country from engaging with those within. Things need to be less on how well you can speak your language and more on how well you treat others irrespective of ethnicity.

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    • Yup Yup. You should get brownie points for how well you treat others regardless of their ethnicity and certainly not for being able to speak your local dialect. These things mostly just come naturally. If you were raised in the village and all that was spoken around you was thick Yoruba, how on earth will your Yoruba not be “done” abi over-cooked sef?
      Same way someone who has spent his/her life mostly in the company of white people will definitely end up with an accent. Of which my uncle who has been in the U.S for a long time now said to me the other day “Nigerians are the ones with the accent” Americans just speak their language!
      So yeah, if home-bred Nigerians keep being condescending to the foreign-bred Nigerians over their dialect, the alienation will remain. Thank you for your feedback. Cheers 🙂

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