March 25, 2019

Why do Nigerians like to “borrow-borrow”? By Viola Okolie

Why do Nigerians like to “borrow-borrow”? By Viola Okolie

I am not even referring to a more “decent” borrowing culture of dignifying items, but where we borrow things that are as indisputably un-Nigerian and un-African as the nose on our faces and proceed to force them to conform to us by force by fire, whether they like it or yes.

Case in point?  Accents. Or like my very good friend before-before, Remy Oge would say, “ha-sent” (you see, she is from Ibadan).

Okay, so here you are standing with someone with a very guttural Igbo accent. The accent is thicker than a tuber of straight-from-the-bush Benue yam. You can cut that accent and boil it and after three days, you come back to check the accent and it has not even budged a bit. The thing go just siddon for one corner inside pot dey look you. This individual’s only encounter with an airport is when they watch those contrived airport scenes in Africa Magic Yoruba. Perhaps he or she has only seen an aircraft when it flew overhead on its way to or from some unknown destination.

santa 1

Yet, they have an “ha-sent”. It is a curious mix of American-British-Australian-Indian, a hybrid of generations, but… they have it and you don’t! You both speak the same language so after some eye watering minutes spent trying to navigate your way around the “r”s that seem to populate this person’s speech straight out of nowhere, you decide to have mercy on you both and speak the common language but whosai? Oyinbo without safitikate of traveling MUST respond to you in Eengrees…

Another thing we love to borrow? Hair!

Sometimes, you go look the person sotay you go fall inside gutter sef. You see a lady who is as black as half past midnight and there, perched atop her head, is a blond wig. Maybe to add insult to injury, this blond wig is in “Brazilian” curls and is hanging all the way down to mid-calf length. Managing somehow, to look like Simba from Lion King meets Jasmine from Aladdin. How we wan take manage this kain one na?


Those of us who do not even apply the weaves or chemicals to our hair are not even better. Sometimes, right after you open your big mouth and compliment someone on how natural their dreadlocks or fro looks, you begin to express remorse as they delve into a long, never ending rant on how, their blackness is being rediscovered, and they are suddenly finding themselves closer to their roots as a black man, and how freedom from creamy crack is a finger in the air for neo-imperialism and all that jazz.

Meanwhile, you are thinking: Just shut up already! I am have dreadlocks because it is easier for me to maintain. I wake up in the morning, run my fingers through the dreads, pack am for one side with a rubber band and that is it! If you want to feel as close to your roots as possible, put on a loincloth and let your armpit hair grow wild. THEN, we will know you are ready!


Some of the stuff we borrow are extremely beneficial however, you can’t knock it all however hard you try and when you see someone who borrows and borrows well, it is a delight to watch. And to those who manage to blend a whole range of “foreign” products and own it effortlessly, I say to you all, plenty twale! Enough Respect…


Okay, so what about borrowed cultures like Santa Claus and the rest of them? Truly, there is nowhere in our entire history that an African man worth his salt goes around in December, all dressed in red, carrying a bag on his shoulders and sliding down chimneys (We do not do chimney’s in Nigeria, we do open fireplaces or stoves as near to the window as possible). I can make an attempt to understand how we came to borrow and own the culture of Christmas trees and Christmas lights etc. But Santa Claus?


Try convincing the people in the pictures that this is a culture we did well to borrow.

Santa Claus kor, Father Christmas ni… Santa Lolo or Ojuju Christmas more like!

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  1. Evans Ufeli

    We borrow this much because we feel largely inferior to the caucasians. We believe their culture is superior to our. We even borrow accent and sound stupid. We have become the veterans of creative suffering.


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