The Problem With Our First Lady Patience Is Not Her English But Rather Her
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When people talk about Patience Faka Jonathan, the first thing that comes to mind is her English.
The fact that she uses pidgin phrases such as “na you waka come” and “diaris God.” People feel that for a first lady in such a high position such language is inexcusable. But I beg to differ…. I will rather have a leader be authentic than hear an amalgamation of British-Indian-American forced accents that have become the norm in our Nigerian society today.
Because the way you talk, the way you pronounce words, the sophistication or the level of complex words you throw together is not a determinant of how intelligent you are, it has never been. That’s why when Patrick Obahiagbon speaks with his big words so complex that Harvard professor’s orgasm it gets lost in translation. Because Nigerians don’t understand him and at the end of the day he makes no sense at all…he sounds stupid.
I mean just flip through your radio dial and you will be hit with a plethora of grammar from American to British to Indian and sometimes ancient Latin, all this while you are still physically in Nigeria. All because we have somehow come to equate big grammar and sophisticated accents with intelligence.
That’s why I really have no issue with Patience grammar, because the first lady represents 170 million Nigerians and not just the so called sophisticated few. So when she speaks in her mixture of pidgin and English plus a strong accent, more Nigerians will understand and connect with her than a Patrick Obiagbon or an OAP’s fabricated accent. And we connect because it comes from a place of authentic understanding. As long as a person knows what they are talking about we would understand … I personally was taught Math’s, English and Science by teachers with strong accents and faulty grammar. We sometimes would laugh and make fun of them when they made grammatical errors but at the end of the day they made us succeed despite the grammar gap. The grammar was not important, it was what they knew in their heads that was important.
Ironically I think the whole pidgin English distracts from the real problem with Patience.
It was never about what she said or did not say at the #diarisGod conference, but rather the timing. It took her 20 plus days to address the issue but only after considerable international pressure. And when she did address it, she made a show of it.
Time and again she has been absent on critical issues that a first lady could help give a voice to…
Where was she when lawmakers were voting to approve under age marriage?
Where was she when students were killed by boko haram in Yobe?
Where was she when the video of the 5 gang rapists went viral?
Where was she when 4 University students aka the ALUU 4 were mobbed?
The answer frankly is nowhere. The criticism of the first lady is not for things she has said but rather for things she has not said! Plus her absence in selfless but important National issues which is a stark contrast to her political activism disruption in states like Rivers.
At the end of the day Nigerians are not looking for a first lady that wears Vera Wang or Calvin Klein, or one that speaks with American-British-Jamaican English and drops big words left right and center. What Nigerians want is a first lady that cares for her people whether the camera is on or off, a first lady that brings issues to the limelight not one that appears after the lime light has been created by others and then tries to hug the lime light. A first lady that is known not for what she says but for what she does, that’s what we need and that’s what we don’t have….yet….
Written By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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