ACCENT FEVER…, Don’t Catch It

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So, there i was thinking of the what next to post on my blog, i don’t want to go down the usual line everyone is threading, i want to be my own person, and definitely excel at it. A well-meaning friend recently pointed me towards another blogger and how she’s doing what she’s doing, and though i love her sense of humor, i knew that wasn’t my line. I do not operate a personal diary, NO, I TALK, on any and everything that holds a lesson, has the potential of cracking YOU up a bit, and most importantly, helps YOU become a better YOU. I was beginning to feel like i was stuck, so i took my own advice, the one i gave here…, STUCK? Practical tips to getting out, looked around me and found this to share with you today, so, please do me this favour, stay with me to the end and encourage me with your comments.

I sat down to an Indian drama recently and what i saw gave me the chills. A man you went through thick and thin with SUDDENLY has a problem with the fact that you can’t speak english the british way, not that you can’t speak it at all, he’s just concerned and embarassed about the way you speak it.

Mother-in-law lovingly say to you “these days you need an accent to keep your husband, if you dont, other girls who know how will take him from you”. I definitely would not find that funny. “Since when did accent adoption become one of the must-dos in keeping your man?” I probably would say. Which would you prefer, a woman with great accents or that with great views. I know some will say both but i mean were you to make a choice which would you really prefer, share this with me later in the comment box.

I’m not about to rant on the criteria for a good marriage, at least, that’s not the focus for today.

Back to the drama, i was dazed to see that the accent gig wasn’t just a Nigerian thing, it had gone round the world and was spreading wild like flu. “But what is it with the accent fever that’s caught almost everyone in almost every continent?”, i mused.

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When the Russian-born speaks english, we know; when the Mexican-born speaks english, we know. What then is happening when the Nigerian-born lady or man speaks? Why do we feel this sudden need to measure up, blend and fit in. Why so much clamoring for a foreign accent, throwing in the bin the one we’ve consistently built for years in a bid to do so? Are we suddenly saying people don’t hear or understand us again when we use our very own accent? Especially for those who the farthest they’ve gone out of the country is Seme, Benin Republic, you had better come back with a Benin accent. So many questions you may think but i wish i had an answer to them all.

Funmi Iyanda, a Nigeran television show veteran, when asked to give a few helpful tips on presenting had this to say; “I would need a full semesters course schedule for that l’m afraid. For now, let’s just agree that regarding presenting, can people stop talking in those infernal pseudo American accents? It’s rather sad and utterly crass”. I couldn’t agree with her more.

The saddening part is the way people in this category seem to move back and forth, they are lost on which they want to go for, they move from the American accent to the British (yet to see anyone trying hard to adopt any other accent though), then unconciously back to the Nigerian accent. But i guess we all know that one can only take Akpors out of the bush, you cannot take the bush out of Akpors.

Please note that i see absolutely nothing wrong in picking up new and seemingly exciting accents,  especially for those who settled in entirely new environments. Having lived in a place for a period of time, there is a level of similarity to your immediate environment expected from you. What i’m concerned about is the rationale behind the accent adoption and the message we pass across while at it.

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Let me quickly tell you about one Mr G, he is a Lebanese man who happened to be at my naming ceremony when i was born. On seeing me again seven years ago, he was astounded that the little girl he carried in his arms some two decades ago had grown so much, he encouraged me to keep in touch. Mr G has been in Nigeria even before i was born and still speaks english with a heavy Lebanese accent, i spoke with him a few days ago and i had to strain my hears to pick out some of his words. Mr G most definitely integrated well i believe, or why else would he attend functions he had a choice not to go to? But he maintained his accent. How? You may ask, i believe it was due to a conscious resolution not to feel less of who he is because he can’t speak like a typical Nigerian man.

I really look forward to seeing individuals who do not feel less of who they are because of their accent or heritage, who would love what they are and try not to change that for trivial reasons, who would channel their supposed inadequacies into great feats. I knew a young man (we just lost him to a ghastly motor accident some few days back) who showed me, and everyone who cared to know that you don’t need “big grammars” to make generational impacts, to write your name in the sands of time, to live on in the minds of people. He led an enviable public life, every position he held was an avenue for him to touch lives, to right some wrongs, to institute change, to improve others.

I just felt i had to say that One doesn’t become big or great by the accent they learn, accents can be learnt but not greatness”.

Unconventional as my ramblings may sound, i’m quite sure you think it true, to an extent if not entirely.

What do you think? How can we stop the Accent Fever from spreading? Leave your comments here.

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