Perversed Pride


Generally, we Nigerians are known to be very prideful, I have seen many people criminate us as the haughtiest swaggerest set of people walking the face of the planet. Is this pride justified? Or does this pride spring out of our characteristic lifestyle/culture of faking reality? Let us examine

Most philosophers and social psychologists remarked that “PRIDE is a complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a SENSE of SELF (emphasis added) and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions through language-based interaction with others”. Some identify it as “linked to a signal of high social status”. According to St. Augustine of Hippo, pride “is love of one’s own excellence”. Pride can also manifest itself as a high opinion of one’s nation and ethnicity.

It beggars curiosity what it is that justify our pride. We certainly have great fundamental cultures and esteemed values from Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, and other ethnics. Our languages are dynamic, and, especially Yoruba language with all its sub dialects, are very expressive, fluid, and receptive to change. These are worth being prideful of, but we Nigerians have deviated from these cultures and languages; it seems we have adopted another culture–worshiping others. We constantly yearn for western lifestyles and languages to the point of deriding, as not being hip, any of us that keep fidelity to our own languages and norms.  Our school system encourages us not to speak, develop, and perfect our indigenous languages, and also go as far as imposing English language in every corner. It is almost everywhere in our space to see households where the children are told and taught never to speak their indigenous language and never to engage in any native cultural festival or even study the geographical landscape of Nigeria. It seems to have taken some sorts of vogue to blurt out that you cannot speak in your own mother’s tongue. However, at any slightest chance, we are jocular about any of us who “murders” the English language.

The same can be said of accent and elocution; nigh on every Nigerian I have met has a sort of an unease disposition toward Nigerian accents, hence they grossly deform the intonation of their own names trying to put on it, an America/English accent as to make it pronounceable to westerners; Seun (enunciates as /shay hun/ in Yoruba) becomes intoned as “Shawn,” Tope (enunciates as /taw peh/in Yoruba) becomes intoned as “Top”, Ngozi (enunciate as/n gaw ze/ in Igbo) becomes intoned as “Gozy”, Emeka (enunciates as /a may kah/in Igbo) becomes “Meks”, Omisore (enunciates as /o me show ray/in Yoruba) becomes intoned as “Omi-shaw.”  I recognize the contention of the need to be easily and clearly understood, however this should not come at the expense of completely stripping your name of its meaning by applying to it, a deviated cadence so someone of different background may pronounce it. When we do this, we completely erode or silent our sense of self for sense of others; this is nothing short of complex. I was listening to one Naija show the other day and everybody and their mama were speaking in British accent, I could not believe my ears, upon further investigation, which I find out some of these people, have never left the shores of Nigeria. Have you ever seen any white person struggle to copy a Nigeria accent? They believe in their own excellence, that’s why they couldn’t give a hoot about anything beyond their enclaves. When we strive to be like them or communicate like them at the expense of our own, we are indirectly showing ourselves not to be good enough and that we are a second rate denizens of the World.

Another aspect of our lives guilty of this is our Igbo movies. They have taken some of this pretentiousness and faking reality characteristics to another level. Hardly are you going to see any lead character name in Igbo movies given Igbo or other indigenous (Calabar, Ijaw, etc) names, instead of promoting our language and our names like Emeka, Chudi, Onyi, Ibinabo, Ofonime and so on, they‘ll rather use English names like Ethan, Lampard, Steve and so on.

On top of this, we run the most “copy-cat” and visibly inept government ever. None of our governing documents contain any indigenously grown philosophy; we just facsimile, without fine-tuning, whatever “Oyinbo” does and slap it on our local dynamics, and expect to see progress. Basically we have perfected the art of living in other people’s world and playing them than living in our world and playing ourselves. This seems to be our new culture, culture of always giving preference and deference to western culture and language and directly extirpating everything that made us, us. Can this justify our pride?

Virtually every nation that is reputed for being prideful can point to tangible things that beseech their pride. USA’s pride and its reasons are axiomatic; England is known for its arrogance, but they can quickly point to many things they have imported to the world, among which are their language, system of government, and soccer. French can easily boast and justify their pride by pointing to their wines, philosophy of egalitarianism, and of course their aesthetically great city of Paris. Pray do tell what tangibles beget our pride? We are a producer of nothing but a consumer of everything.

I was chatting with a friend (who lives in Lagos) the other day and I asked about his daughter, he quipped, “she is at crèche”, I was taken aback and proceeded to ask him, “what the hell is called crèche?” he retorted “jelesimi otherwise known as kindergarten school” Then I asked him, why not just call it “Jelesimi” (since that is the Yoruba word for such school, the word is a derivation of Je ki ile simi (let the house rest…basically meaning; since children are so restless and always playing with whatever it is in the house, take them to somewhere like school where they would be, in order for the house to be undisturbed)). This friend told me Jelesimi is now called “crèche” (the French word for such thing) because crèche word is hip while Jelesimi is not and if you want to be hip, you call it crèche instead of Jelesimi. This is what we do to ourselves and it seems we don’t realize it at all. This is not a development of sense of self, this cannot be called love of one’s own excellence, and certainly this cannot be called high opinion of one’s nation and ethnicity, so what then justifies our pride?

1. The superlative of swagger!


  1. I think Eleniyan has said it all. We are perfectionists when it come to faking thing. Our culture and language has been relegated to the background. Children can no longer speak their own mother dialect-thanks to westernization. Nigeria is tilting toward a point of no return and unless something is done about this trend the next generation would regard us as the most unscrupulous generation ever. Our parents handed over to us our mother tongue and I dont see any reason why we should not hand over same to our children. We take everything that the OYIBO man give to us. For example he said, polygamy is the bane of the society and that it is not good,yet they could stay with one woman. This could be seen in the rate at which the get divorced once they feel the other partner is no longer good enough for them and they go ahead to marry and remarry as many times as they like. Tell me is that not worst than polygamy? They say female circumcision is not good and they gave it a new name "genital mutilation". They also say our home made ogogoro is not good, yet they take same abroad, refine it and sell back to us as gin. We are zombies in our own land and the oyibo man is now looked at as a demigod. Of course there is no pride in all these things. If you love yourself you will be proud of what you are no matter what other people say.

  2. The DoublePrince Agrees With this Article… I have been Preaching this sermon for a longtime… Nigerians and Africans Need to Leave that colonial Inferiority Complex that the west Imbibed in the African Soul… When i tell people that my Unborn kids are not going to Have English names the think I am being harsh and unpolished. my stand is that till I see a member of the British Royal going by an Igbo name, then i might consider giving them English names…

    I like this article.. I have to say its one of the best articles that have surfaced On….

  3. One word sums this up… Colomentality. We have been soooo brainwashed in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole to think that oyimbo is better, and doing oyimbo things gives us a higher status in society… When did all this begin?…and how can we get out of it?

    it’s like those that live in Naija do more than those that have actually been out of the country. Blowing fone` up and down like it’s going out of style… saying people are razz cos they retain their naija accent…*sigh* It’s a sad sad situation.

    Like you said, we are the consumer of everything and producer of nothing…in terms of culture. Our culture is slipping away and it’s heart breaking.

    Great Article!!!

  4. Good Read! And to anwser the question based on my opinion, I think all this assmilation & acculturation possibly began with the high exodus of Nigerians,(younger generations at that) from Nigeria. There is no city, town, village or underneth a rock, you will not find a Nigerian. We are so wide spread, that it is sometimes difficult to understand and just generalize why we are not so passionate or prideful about our true roots. I mean, Naija music popularity began to rise when most songs took a more westernize spin.

    To the first poster the polygamy and especially female circumcision arguement, does not carry weight. When you think of the reason why genital mutilation is performed this has nothing to do with bringing one closer to their culture, but to “keep a female” faithful and loyal to her spouse.

  5. Excellent read… all of the comments are well taken. The question is where do we proceed from here. I commend many of the Yoruba, despite the pull of western ways, even many here make an effort to speak native tongue. I sometimes envy them as well as many cultures like the spaniards and jews who refuse to dilute their values and norms fully with the fleeting pop culture of the West. It is as though Nigeria or most African cultures have not learned from the original mistakes in dealing with diverse cultures. The truth is and remains that the nature of Africa and namely Nigeria is every man for himself. We name streets after pop icons like Jayz, though I am a fan of his music, should not hold such a place to receive an honor.

    The truth is that our culture is dying and in serious need of life-support if it is to survive another decade.

  6. Okay, let me address a few issues –
    There is a difference between an adult and a young kid when immersed in the western culture (i.e coming to live in the western world). It is very easy to adapt to where you are as a young kid (so in this case, modifying ur swagger and manner of speech is unintentional albeit debasing). The young kid, I won’t blame, if the grown man starts changing – too bad.
    You mentioned we “perfected the art of living in other people’s world”… really not so, cos we would have better government if we did.
    I am dating an african american and I told her that if we got married, our kids would spend age 15 to 18 in Nigeria to be immersed in and learn the language and culture. I am beginning to think that they would come back the same since we all want to be ‘oyibo-like’. One way to fight that is to constantly speak and encourage your kids to speak your mother tongue. I know a couple whose kids have never stepped foot in Nigeria but those kids speak Igbo just as good as myself or even better (and I pride myself for being a perfect speaker and writer of my mother tongue).
    Personally, I believe it is okay to copy just a little to make yourself better. The English did it, most english words are derived from latin, some from french and oh so little from spanish. Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages borrowed some words from each other, I do not know about other languages in the world but I am willing to bet that they are composed of words from other languages. So I believe a little copying is okay – problem is: We naija peeps have copied way too much.
    Lastly, (I mean no disrespect), I understood your first few paragraphs but I had to read so slow because there was some sentence structure and grammatical errors. If we choose to write in english, I guess we should write it correctly – don’t u think?


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