NIGERIAN’S love for anything foreign has transcended goods and services. It is reflected in our dressing, food we give preference to, names we answer and the preferred communication language-English. Faster than we realize, our local dialects are given the back seat in our homes, and public places like hospitals, markets, etc. More than ever before, we see our local dialect as local and inferior to English which which we see as fashionable.

No wonder, our ingenouis manufacturers of shoes and wears would go to lengths to tag their shoes or wears ‘Made in U.S.A’, ‘Made in England’, ‘Made in Canada’ etc than wear it the real tag reading made in Nigeria. It would be treated as substandard and very few people would give it a second look. This attitude is not encouraging our local manufacturers.

We fail to understand that there are some goods these other foreign countries cannot beat Nigerian made goods in their quality. They include some electrical wires, seasonings like Maggi and beverages like Bournvita. We use the best cocoa for our Bourvita and most of these countries know it.

Personally, I think there is no cornflakes that beat Nasco CornFlakes. It has a unique taste and smells so good. I am yet to see and taste any Corn- Flakes –no matter how expensive-that can beat it. Come rain and come sunshine, it is my best choice. Too bad, we don’t treasure what we have. We throw it to the dogs and embrace a foreign product even if it tastes like gravel.

Recently, I have observed with disgust a new trend. Every one wants his child or children to speak English at all cost and everywhere at the expense of our local dialects which are relegated to the background. The parents may be illiterates, but come what may, they must bastardise English.

This conversation ensued recently at a salon. Salon owner: “Michel” (she pronounced it Michel- the ch like in chair)

Daughter (Michel): Yes Mummy.

Salon owner (Mother) “Did your daddy came back?”

Michel: “No, he did not came back.”

First, why give your child a name you cannot pronounce? There are beautiful local names with favourable meanings. We have Simi-Love, Mafeng-Thank you, Naanzem-God’s love, Shitnaan God’s work etc just to mention a few.

Secondly, must you communicate in English and ridicule yourself? when you are proficient in your local dialect and you can comfortably give instructions to your children in it and preserve your culture. Why bite your tongue and humiliate yourself at the same time? You should know that whether you teach your children English at home or not, they will be taught in school. It is our lingua Franca remember? So why not spend valuable time communicating in your local dialect to your children and our society will be the better for it.

We are facing a dangerous time that threatens our native tongues which are becoming extinct for lack of use. And are we going to promote English while our local dialects with the rich cultural heritage are  dying.?

The slavery continues as we see everything white as good and everything black as bad. Our mentality is still very much enslaved. When will we get it that “as a man thinketh , so he is (biblical). If some African customs and traditions were barbaric, that does not mean that there is no good in it. The whiteman has salvaged us, but please, do not throw the baby with the dirty bathing water.

Our customs and traditions are invaluable.  They lay high premium on morality, chastity, community life, and sanctity of life. We carry each other’s burden and are always there for each other. We can’t throw away our past because our history defines our future.

We have to redefine our lives. Going about with names we can’t pronounce only make us look stupid. Why answer a name almost impossible for you and people around you to pronounce?

My parents named me Yvonne pronounced Ivon. It was not until I was in secondary school before I met people who could pronounce my name. Before then, most people used to call me Evon, Ibon, Younne. They could not understand why the spelling of my name begins with ‘Yv’ and yet I claimed the ‘y’ was silent.

I have heard Elizabeth being called Elija, and Mary called Amayiye changing the names completely and making them African when we can simply go for our meaningful beautiful local names.

Our manufacturers on their part, should increase the quality of their goods to international standards to enable them compete favourably in the international market. People need to have confidence in ‘Made in Nigeria’ goods. I should be able to wear Nigerian shoes without fear for any disappointments like the heel breaking and or the side opening. What are the foreign shoemakers doing that ours are not doing? What is worth doing, is worth doing well.

It beats one’s imagination that till today, our bankers cannot sew corporate wears with ankara and proudly go to office. Instead, Friday in most tertiary institutions has been dedicated to a  day when students wear traditional wears. We have so given English wears a pride of place so much so that it is only one day that has been given to students to wear traditional African wears.

During weddings (church weddings), one must wear the formal white flowing gown. The exception is only seen in Islamic and traditional weddings. But even these too are copying the white wedding.

The situation is so bad that when we wear traditional clothes for wedding, it is incomplete, usually worn for engagement and traditional rites. We must wear the wedding gown for the ‘D day.

It is a thing of joy that at least the most confortable clothes for us to wear to go to Church and attend weddings is traditional wears. Our wears give one a sophisticated look and they are often very decent, modest and comfortable.



Categories: Column

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