Nigerians and their “Foreign Accent Syndrome”

This article was written by Nike (Dee Prodigal Daughter), she describes her experience with Nigerians with ‘FUNE’.

Words cannot describe how ashamed I was when she opened her mouth, the accent that proceeded there from was nothing to write home about. This was a Nigerian lady who had only been in the U.S. for 3months!! Do we really know what it sounds like when someone with a THICK Nigerian accent (be it Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa), tries to form American accent? That’s recipe for disaster.

Ok. Let me press pause right there. This article is not about Nigerians that grew up or were born in the U.S. and neither is it about ALL Nigerians that live in the U.S. (I say U.S. a lot because that’s where I’m most familiar.)

This article is about Nigerians with a thick Nigerian accent who feel the need to impress by attempting to switch their Nigerian accent for an American (or British or Whatever) accent. Listen, it just does not work!!! It does not sound good and you end up making a fool of yourself. Either back in Nigeria, or here in the States (or Wherever).

I have to admit that when I initially got into the U.S (as a grown up), I thought it was required of me to speak with an American accent. Well, guess what? They could not understand a freaking word I said!!!! I had to repeat myself over and over and over. You can imagine how tiring that would be. But each time I spoke like myself, natural and all, I was comfortable, at ease and the conversations flowed a lot better than when I tried too hard.

Ok. Pause again. It is only natural, that when you are in the mist of Americans all the time, you’ll pick up some words here and there. You will even sound different sometimes. But it’s not like your entire vocabulary will turn upside down!!

Furthermore, some Nigerian artistes are guilty of this offense. I mean, is it me or are there some certain artistes that just feel the need to “hype” up their persona and English when granting interviews within and most especially outside Nigeria? That’s simply infuriating to watch. It stresses me out and it just does not feel right.

If you are able to pick up the foreign accent and speak it well, then good for you. But if not, it does not make you any less American (or foreign) than you already are.

I remember when I was in Nigeria some months back. The first few days were filled with me sounding American-ish. But 2 weeks into my trip, I was sounding as Nigerian as ever, and proudly so. That I’ve been in America for so long does not mean I must have an accent. And trust me, Nigerians know when you are faking it. They can tell.

In 2011, Nigerian accent was ranked as the 5th Sexiest in the WORLD!!! Think I’m lying? Check it out here http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/life/worlds-sexiest-accents-130333?page=0,1.

I’ve had some of my American friends tell me times without number how much they love my accent. They just love the way it sounds, and how I pronounce the words. So if they compliment us on it, why are we trying so hard to get rid of it? It is exasperating and exhausting to have to sit through a conversation with someone with a “fake” or “forced” accent.

A nice, polished Nigerian accent is a turn on for me big time. That’s why I never get tired of listening to Stella Damasus, Joke Silver, Onyeka Onwenu, Bimbo Akintola, Ramsey Noah, Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) and the likes. When these people speak, I hang on to every word like I’m hanging on to my dear life. It’s just truly beautiful.

But I guess it all comes down to the level of confidence that you have in whom you are and your understanding of what you carry. You are fearfully and wonderfully made; Psalm 139:14 and he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world, 1 John 4:4. You are beautiful, just the way you are, accent or not. Our Nigerian accents should not be a limitation to us, we should embrace it and be proud of it.

What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comment section.

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Ugo is an author at www.gistus.com.

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