Whoever said: “there is no such thing as a stupid question” was never privileged to meet some Nigerians living in Jand. If you think Nigerians are nosy, then most of the ones that live in Jand suffer from a particularly virulent strain of Busybodylitis.
Depending on where you run into your fellow Nigerians, expect to be asked some or all of the following questions, and you know, I have provided you tips on how to go about answering or deflecting them.
So…what do you do?
Usually asked at stuffy Nigerian events such as book readings and charity events where most people are only charitable to the mechanics of social climbing. Answer truthfully at your own peril.
Scenario 1: If it is a man in a three-piece suit asking you (adult male) whilst twirling the free glass of wine served, then switch to your best British accent, mentally multiply your income by ten and start answering with: “I run a…”
Feel free to add the word “start-up” or the standard Nigerian words: “I am into…”
If you have one of those meaningless business cards we all make using Vistaprint now’s the time to whip it out.
Scenario 2: If you are a woman being asked this by a good-looking man who doesn’t seem to have a ring/ring mark on the relevant finger then mentally divide your income by ten, thrust out your bosom, switch to your best British accent and…go for it.
Scenario 3: If you are a man being asked by a woman who sounds very British then forget what she looks like and respond as with Scenario 1. The words “oil and gas” are great to have in your repertoire.
What type of visa are you on?
At any Nigerian gathering, you can be sure to find people who morph into UK Border agents for reasons best known to the witches on their father’s side of the family. Some Nigerians will start with: “Are you based here?” Others will go through the “How long have you been in the UK?” route. Don’t be fooled because basically, the question above is the koko, the main point they are trying to get to. Don’t be caught napping, because this question has as much to do with your visa status, as with how the person asking is dressed.
Scenario 1: If the man asking is elderly and you are a fine-boy-no-pimples, then say you are fully resident—he might have a (British citizen) daughter he desperately wants to marry off, or could be that brand of Nigerian business owner who only hires Nigerians. Or both. Win-win.
Scenario 2: If Mr No-Wedding ring/ring marks is asking you, a lady, he may be looking for: a passport to marry, a free cook/fellow student bedmate or he may be an eligible bachelor merely seeking to escape the passport-seeking Nigerian females. Weigh your options, decide which way to answer but always add “by God’s grace” into your sentences from time to time. Yes, these men prefer ‘Ada Ada’ by day; save your inner ‘Caro’ for nighttime.
Scenario 3: If you are a man being asked by a woman be careful. Yes, she might own one of those businesses that can only run on Nigerian staff and might want to give you a job but be careful with the elderly British sounding Nigerian woman; she may be seeking marriage – not for her daughter, but…her bejeweled, but nonetheless wrinkly self.
Whereabouts do you live?
This is a question you can choose to answer at your own peril. But there is no need to worry too much because usually you get asked this as the event winds down, when everybody has grouped themselves into little circles based on level of British accent, dressing and pedigree (real or imagined/faked).
However, based on your attire and previous answers, be warned that what follows next is likely to be one of the following statements:
‘Rents must be expensive.’ – They want to know if you are a bloody tenant incapable of owning your own home in a decent area. In answering, do the needful, according to your hustle.
‘Mortgages are something else these days.’ – The Nigerians that say this are not surprised to hear you own your own home; after all the area you live in is nowhere as posh as Kensington. What they really want to be sure of is that you are a mortgage slave, just like them. Oh look on the bright side…that’s a talking point you both can bond over really loudly on, to oppress all Nigerian tenants within earshot.
If you are one of those Nigerians who plan to attend your village association meetings in Jand or you attend a “Nigerian church” then expect all the foregoing the questions to be asked in pidgin, with a few more extras like:
Your pikin na British?
Note that as much as the child’s skin colour often prompts this gem of an inquiry, it also does not hinder Nigerians’ curiousity; the question always gets asked no matter what the kid looks like.
If you reply and confirm you child is British, expect the obligatory follow-up:
How you take do am?
If you married or coupled up for love, you can now proceed to explain how you ‘made’ a British child, in case the Nigerian asking didn’t study elementary Biology in secondary school.
If, on the other hand you hustled your passport through childbirth then you may as well help your fellow Nigerian; after all, not too long ago you were asking random strangers the same questions, abi?
And then speaking of complexions, you may get a few random ones like:
How did you get your colour? It’s not as if you are half-caste?
Feel free to hand over the name of your bleaching cream, and the address of your stockist, especially if you got asked in church. ‘God loves a cheerful giver,’ remember?
How are you getting home?
If you have made the mistake of twirling the keys to your dinghy flat-share at the event (a habit you picked up from Nigeria where you twirled your hire-purchase car keys at Bacchus and the girls came flocking), then in Jand you can expect the presumptuous cousin-question instead, which is: where are you parked?
This question is a deal-breaker because depending on how you handle it: you could have freeloaders hanging on you for life in Jand, you could bag a shag wife, move a few rungs up the “Nigerian community” social mobility ladder or end up falling into epic disgrace when you are spotted queuing at the bus station. Therefore, my verdict is: answer this at your discretion. No be me carry you come Jand.
Besides, I have a question that needs asking; have you seen my crowbar? Yes, yes…the same one I use to extricate my tongue from my cheek.
See you next week.