“Better learn how to speak Abiriba”

How many times has someone asked where you’re from? Uncountable huh?
How does it usually go?

  • What state is your daddy from?”
  • Have you been to your village before?”
  • So you mean that you don’t know the name of your hometown?! ” – This one is usually followed by, “Children of nowadays, I don’t even know! All they do is press phone and post on Facebook.” (In the thickest Igbo accent you can possibly imagine).

Well, two years ago, I went to see an aunt in Lagos, Nigeria (my mom’s friend, really but you know how we do). The conversation took the dreaded familiar turn:

Nne, what is your name?  Correction:

Nne, gini bu afa gi?

Of course, after my delayed and hesitant response, she followed with the question that made me wonder if she’d read the script in my head reserved for such circumstances:

Where in Abia are you from?

I quickly responded “Ohafia” with pride, you know? ‘Cus, obviously, I’m not like the Children of nowadays”.  Let’s just say… She was not impressed.

Sudden contempt, disdain and some other expressions which the English Language cannot possibly describe filled her face as she retorted: “Better learn how to speak Abiriba.”

Now I’d love to tell you how I feel about that lady and all others with whom I’ve had similar encounters, but this blog is not about me and should be filled with pleasantness. Mostly. What I do want to say, however, is this:

The Nigerian Culture is dying.

After hearing similar statements in multiple variations, I began to understand. Too many of us are so stuck on Kylie Jenner and Beyonce; Burger King and Lasagne, Justin Beiber and dabbing, British accents and London Raves, even Black lives matter. We’ve forgotten (and some don’t even know) what Bata or Swange or Atilogwu dances are. Igbo girl that cannot tie George wrapper is that one Igbo girl? Or you’re apparently Efik and don’t know what Ekpang nkukwo isSome of us know nothing about our country. Worse still, our languages are in a rapid, dramatic, intense decline to nothing but history and memory.

Friends, don’t get me wrong; Intercultural awareness is the major key but it exists only when singular cultures are upheld. Think about it, what would be the fun in travelling if everyone spoke English and dressed like the Kardashians? Kuku stay at home. Why let go of your roots in the name of “Westernisation”?

Let’s not allow the Nigerian Culture wither away and decay on our watch, We’ve got too much to lose. About 250 ethnic diversities to be precise. Kids, keep the culture.