The Coming Breath of Fresh Air

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From Reno Omokri

Nigerian radio stations did not start playing local music because they wanted to. They only did it because they were compelled to do so by Obasanjo’s administration, which promulgated a 60/40 ratio in favour of local music. May God bless President Olusegun Obasanjo forever!

However, more needs to be done. Much more. I listened to Nigerian news stations last night, and as I flipped from channel to channel, all I heard were foreign accents, both fake and real. Nobody spoke like a Nigerian, except Dr. Reuben Abati. This is injurious to our national psyche.

The NBC should introduce a policy to force Nigerian stations to only employ broadcasters that speak good English, but with a Nigerian accent. It is too sad that our own TV and Radio stations consider a Nigerian accent a liability. How can our own institutions be biased against us? It breeds deep inferiority complex in the population. It makes citizens want to speak like foreigners.

It is shameful that the largest Black nation on Earth feeds a national self hate via her own broadcast media.

A nation’s broadcast media should be used to project the culture of that nation. But we have used ours to sex up Western culture and demean our own culture. And the effects are glaring.

Our women are bleaching. Our adult men in their forties are sagging their trousers (elumadare Oba ogo!). Our children are rejecting their Nigerian names. A beautiful regal name like Adaeze will be turned to Daisy! How can you leave Adaeze (daughter of a king, ie Princess), and bear the name of a flower? Why will you change Kayode to Kay? Do you know the meaning of Kayode that you will change it to a useless Kay just because it sounds Western?

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I have traveled widely in the Caribbeans. Caribbean Blacks would NEVER, EVER, EVER change their accents or their culture to conform to Westernisation. Would you have loved Bob Marley if he tried to speak like an American?

In case you do not know, Bob Marley lived in America as a teenager and his step father was an American. But you and I first liked him because of his unique patois. That was the first impression that sucked us in, before we now learnt about his Rastafarian philosophy and the simple and humble lifestyle he lived.

Now, the whole world loves the Caribbean patois accent. And several Jamaicans have benefited from the transfer of that love, including Shabba Ranks, Usain Bolt, Shaggy, Sean Paul, and Maxi Priest, amongst others.

Anywhere you go on Earth, the Jamaican accent opens doors to you as a Jamaican or a Caribbean Black.

If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect others to love you? Do not underestimate the big difference small things can make!

Scripture says ‘my eye affects my heart’-Lamentations 3:51. What we see and hear on television and radio greatly affects what goes on inside our heads. And as long as we are seeing and hearing fone (phonetics) on TV and radio, that is what we are going to aim for.

And finally, speak your native language to your children at home. Never be ashamed of it. Let it be the first language they learn. Do not worry, it will not affect their ability to speak English. This has been scientifically proven. In Europe and America, Spanish, Indian, Pakistani and Arab parents do it. Their children learn English when they go to nursery school or kindergarten. The first language they speak at home is always their native tongue. And it makes them more intelligent, because learning multiple languages is a function of the intellect.

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Learning your mother tongue is a firm foundation that builds confidence in you, and gives you a lifelong unshakeable connection to your roots.

I am rather peeved as I write this. All my children were born overseas and have dual citizenship. Yet, I speak my language to them. My relative in Nigeria called me and I spoke my language to her daughter and she was clueless! Why am I incensed?

I am not trying to be alarmist here, but if we continue at this rate, most of the indigenous languages in Southern Nigeria will become extinct in fifty years time. And then we will become a people without roots, tossed to and fro by whatever the West flings at us.

Mark my words, without our culture as a defence and a buffer, transgender, non binary, gay marriage, open marriage and the cancel culture will sweep through Nigeria, and our foreign accented newscasters will celebrate it (after all it comes from ilu oyinbo) and describe it as a breath of fresh air!

By that time, it will be too late. Anyone who speaks about it will be labelled ‘offensive’ and ostracised in the media. Your social media profiles will be overwhelmed by hordes of ‘woke’ youths called Daisy, lovelyn, Campbell, and Kevin.

A storm is coming. And only trees with deep roots into their soils can resist this particular storm. We keep on talking about our great destiny as a nation. All that talk will definitely come to nothing if we forget our great history as a people.

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Speaking of Bob Marley, it is perhaps expedient to end this piece with a quote from that sage, who was himself quoting another Jamaican pan Africanist, Marcus Garvey:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Bob Marley wrote that song in 1979 when he was made aware that he had cancer and would likely die.

He sang that song while in pain from cancer, alone, without any background singers, and only with his acoustic guitar.

Perhaps that is why Redemption Song is such a powerful and emotive tune. Maybe those lyrics can help Nigeria redeem herself.

By the way, here is the original quote from Marcus Garvey, from a 1937 speech he gave:

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.”

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