Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Naija Grammar

by Jonas Dogara
Today yarn go start like say na English class. Abeg no vex. I know say you no been like that your English Language teacher for secondary school. Try no extend the hatred reach my side. But if you no fit hold yourself and you still dey provoke, then just take the annoyance read wetin I write finish and drop comment about how I make you vex!

We be country of people wey sabi yarn. And if we manage sabi one or two big word dem, then the yarning dey even sweet pass. Normally, the way people dey yarn no dey worry me. But e get two things wey we dey yarn all the time for this country wey dey worry me. Dem dey worry me because we done bend dem from wetin oyibo say dem be to wetin we feel say dem suppose be.  Forgive me for the plenty grammar wey you go soon read, but I need to quote wetin dey for book so we fit see the real meanings.

Empower (Oxford World English Dictionary)
[with object and infinitive]
give (someone) the authority or power to do something:
                members are empowered to audit the accounts of limited companies
[with object]
make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights:
                movements to empower the poor

carry along (Longman Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs)
1.    to carry something with one (synonym carry about)
2.    to cause (someone) to share one’s feelings, opinions, etc.
3.    to encourage (someone), as to keep trying.

A few years ago, just some months after Amaechi become governor of Rivers State, I been dey one joint dey do joint things and gist with my guy. As e dey always be with boys talk, the gist come enter government matter. The guy say Odili (a former governor) better pass Amaechi. So I ask am why e talk so. The answer e gimme na simple one.

‘Odili been dey carry people along. Amaechi no dey do like that.’ Na wetin e yarn.

I look my guy with shock. ‘Just that?’

‘Yes o! The guy no wan empower people.’ E continue. Then e go on to explain wetin e dey talk about.

As e explain am, for Naija ‘empowerment’ and ‘carry along’ get different meaning o from the ones wey I copy from dictionary. When we talk say we want our government to empower us, we mean say we want dem to dash us money. When we say we want dem to carry us along, we mean say we want them show us where we go dey thief our own money as dem dey thief their own! When the guy finish the explanation, I no know where to begin address am from. So, maybe the meaning of ‘carry along’ no too far from wetin oyibo talk. Dem say na ‘to cause someone to share one’s feelings, opinions, etc.’ I dey suspect say we interprete ‘etc.’ to mean ‘loot’.

Just like the other guy wey I recommend ‘government slap’ for last week, na wetin been dey my mind for this guy too! No part of wetin the guy explain to me get anything to do with to good government and leadership. The only thing wey matter be say extra money dey enter people pocket.

During Odili time, our state turn to playground for every young man wey wan become Rambo. Our politicians wey say dem must win election or siddon for political seat for second term, buy weapons give these young men. And dem turn Port Harcourt and the towns and villages wey surround am to battle grounds. Small boys go just enter one backyard, dem flog dem 24 strokes, cut their body with blade, rub some white chalk put inside, give dem coloured kaikai to drink, give dem gun to carry and dem done turn gang member/cultist. Na so wetin we dey call militancy now for the Niger Delta start. Where the thing change from fight for political power to fight for the progress of the Niger Delta na tori for another day. But the thing be say, people been no know peace that time. When Amaechi come, things change. Most of that nonsense stop. This no be endorsement for Amaechi. Na wetin happen be that.

So e dey turn my belle say some people still think say Odili time been better pass, because him ‘empower’ dem and ‘carry dem along’. Na serious matter wey suppose make us begin think well well. So if  money dey enter person pocket, e no matter if bullets dey fly pass him head, eh?

‘So you for like make e carry you along, and then you go hide inside house dey drink this drink because you no want somebody to come shoot you, abi?’ I ask am and e no fit answer me.

The sad thing be say, no be only that my friend dey think like that. Na very common way to think for Naija. And trust our sharp politicians. Dem be part of us, so dem understand how we dey think. Dem know who to ‘empower’ and who to ‘carry along’ and things go dey move well for dem. Dem go come up with one ‘Youth Empowerment’ or ‘Women Empowerment’ scheme and people go begin jump and clap hand. Some people go gain small because pepper go rest for their side. For others, contracts, wey dey benefit only the contractor and the politician, go reach their hand and dem done carry dem along be dat. But for us, as people and as communities, nothing dey happen.

We need to live in peace, make money and live well o. But for these things to happen, our infrastructure, economy, and security need to improve. And those things na government work. We need to ask government to do government work wey be to provide the correct environment, so that ordinary citizens fit do the citizen work, wey be to work hard, start business and to create jobs.  That na empowerment. And when government dey do this government work, make dem dey yarn with the citizens, so we too fit put mouth, and we fit tell dem the way those things go work well for us and we fit understand each other. That na to carry us along.

The change, wey we dey look for, dey for our hand.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter


  1. Empowerment when ppl no understand be say una entitlement for state development na im dem take dey bribe una!

    1. For our country we dey always manage to turn everything upside down. These na just two expressions o. Plenty more dey!