Anytime I watch romantic Nollywood movies, I am always irritated; the couples act western for reasons I don’t understand. In such movies, when the lover boy – usually played by Ramsey Noah or Desmond Elliot (for the past fifty years!) – talks to his lady, his accent and intonation automatically becomes American. Likewise, the ladies try to “westernize” their behaviours, replying with their own yankee accents, twisting and playing with their hair, and laughing at EVERY joke the guy makes with a kind of “babyish” , “shyish” , cute , but yet hysterical laughter.
For a while, I thought these annoying romantic acts were only confined to Nollywood movies but I was wrong. One of these days, when you’re free, just go to The Palms Plaza, Silverbird, Ikeja City Mall, or even eateries like Mr Biggs, try eavesdropping on couples conversations , and you’ll hear the way they talk , and see the way they act , like “American Couples”. But when you look at some of the faces of these “Americana” couples, you’ll see they are typical, “ogbonge” Nigerians just behaving like oyinbo.
After observing all these behaviors from our naija couples, I was disturbed and decided to pour my feelings to a close friend, a Nigerian, but I wasn’t explicit at first.
I asked her “If you go on a date with a Nigerian guy, and he wears traditional attire and orders traditional delicacies –like eba , pounded yam and all those sorts – what will be your reaction?”.
I remember, she paused, looked at me, smiled and said “NO WAY!, how will someone eat eba on a date ? or wear agbada”. Her answer surprised me, so I was more direct in my next question, “Why is it that most Nigerian couples spro (our mutual slang for “using American accents”) when they go out on a date, what is wrong with out normal intonation?”.
“Using foreign accents shows you’re globally exposed” she replied. After that reply, I got irritated, the conversation ended there. In fact, it is that conversation with my friend that inspired me to write this essay.
Globalization may have made us borrow a lot of things from America: their free market economic models, their democratic style of government, and even their fashion. But must we borrow the way they do their romance? Globalization has really robbed a lot of cultures — especially African cultures — of their identities. Countries and people are unwittingly loosing their sovereignty, uniqueness and originality all because they want to copy something or a style of living that they perceive as being superior, the ways of the west. I’m not implying that couples should behave in primitive manners or neglect etiquettes, no, but what I have a problem with is why our media, and couples seem to base their standard and “level of exposure” by what the west thinks. Furthermore, as a person of faith , I believe God made each tribe , race , and country for a distinct purpose. If we copy other people , there is no way we will discover that “distinct purpose”.
On the other hand, it will be fair to add that this “westernization” of romance is not an African crime alone. Back in my university days overseas, I remember occasions where some non-English speaking European couples or Asians tried altering their accents in order to impress their significant other. When I remember those events, I laugh.
So what is wrong with telling a girl you like, “Kin na da kyau”, in Hausa, instead of the conventional, “You look so burriful baby”.
Or why can’t we go eastern with marriage proposals, “Achorom inu gi”. It’s more natural than asking for a girl’s hand in marriage using elaborate but pointless phonetics.
And then, if you want to pour your heart out to that person you fancy, but you don’t know how to “posh up” your accent, it’s okay, just say “Mo fe ran re”.
Globalization has made Nigeria adopt an economic model which has made the average Nigerian suffer today – look at IMF’s directive on the removal of fuel subsidies. Please, we should not let globalization touch our romance.
So if you ever invite me for a date, and I wear kaftan instead of a tuxedo, and order for amala instead of rice, don’t be annoyed. If you’re annoyed, you’re on your own. After all, that’s the way our forefathers did it.