Growing up, we called it “ashwreee shwreee”. I guess we were meaning to say the American/British accent was incomprehensible so we mimicked it that way. Yeah, I’m talking about phonetics aka.”phoneh“. It was a big deal and admirable to be seen as the guy from Obodo Oyibo. It represented intelligence *rolls eyes*, superiority *rolls eyes again*, even the speaker is seen as a demi-god *eyes fall off*. I later found out that some Americans would “tian” for Africa (make woeful grammatical errors). Yes, It’s been a cool thing to have an American/British accent. So much that people come back from a two week holiday abroad and have an American accent, even if that place is India. Some just do a Transit stop at Heathrow or JFK airports and boom!-an accent is conceived. While some are being confused about what to really stick to (by mixing British and American accents), I just can’t get past those who put “R” in erverythirng. You see that? You turn on the radio, you hear these resounding “R”s. You go to church and you hear same. Just in case you are in such category, please drop the Rs. It’s so distracting.
I love a person who’s got the real accent, it’s pleasing to hear you speak but once it is fake, it becomes irritating and distracting. When I started working in the media house, I had just graduated from the University and I knew I spoke well but because I wanted to impress, I put up a God-knows-what accent. I did impress alright but there was a senior colleague who told someone who raved about my radio voice that having an accent, doesn’t necessarily make me a good presenter. I thought she was a hater. Later I found out there was more to faking an accent. You got to learn how to pronounce words correctly aka Queen’s English. Not necessarily having a foreign accent. I also remember visiting a radio station. I met some of the presenters, the renowned ones. And we were all chatting in a room, and everyone was just whipping out their American/British accent. Oh Lord, it sounded like a room filled with bees. I had to keep up but got out with a headache. Bottom line, our accents were fake. If this is the requirement for your job, then go do your homework and get perfect at it. Personally, I think it is unnecessary to have that as a criterion.
Now, to our heritage. I know Nigeria right now is not the number one love for her citizens but nothing is as admirable as owning your culture, your heritage, your style. When you ooze originality, people are more drawn to you for being you. They’d love you for it. I think people are beginning to see that there’s nothing to a foreign accent. Some foreigners speak better vernacular language(pidgin English) than some of us who pretend we can’t speak pidgin. Some people fake the American accent so much that when they speak pidgin English, you’d beg them to stop. You know the “why youu dehy talhk tu me nauuu” category. (At this point,I wish I was vlogging so you’d get the perfect mimicry). There’s a perfect example now going on in the Big Brother Naija House. If you watch that show, you already know the housemate I’m talking about. “Oh storp!”
Bottomline, Be Original. Strive to speak English correctly and forget about the accent. If you are deep into this accent delusion, and the real Naija inside you is yearning to come out, but you fear they would see you as fake if you just change. Just start dropping the “R” gradually. From five words per sentence to three words per sentence, then you finally get back your originality. But if you wanna go cold-turkey style, just do it. When they ask, just shout, “MIRACLE!!!”
PS: This article is not for the genuinely foreign accent speakers. Or those who could get something influenced for good with that accent. If it boils down to these options, Knock yourself out.
PS: From my last post, I said I would do a raffle draw for participants. Follow me on Instagram to see how the process went. The raffle draw winner is Miebi. You get to have that lovely Throw pillow. Thanks for participating, guys. More to come. Have a lovely week.
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