Friday, August 29, 2008

Addressing elders and other miscellaneous musings

Before I leave for the meeting, I ask one of my colleagues to print out the briefing paper for me. As he hands it to me, I notice that one of the names on the list for the team that I am to meet is Nigerian. Getting to the office, the receptionist is chirpily efficient, from her groomed blonde hair, pulled back in a ponytail to the well-manicured nails with which she taps at the terminal in front of her, confirming that I am expected. I enter the meeting venue and we are all introduced, first names only- here my dilemma surfaces- the Nigerian is much older than I am, and in Nigeria I would ordinarily call him Sir, or at least preface his name with the friendly but deferent Oga. In this London office, I grin and call him boldly by his fist name, wincing inwardly, decades of "good home training", casually tossed aside....

I have just finished Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, a humorous but informative tour of US presidential assassination trivia. When a friend offered it to me, I was sceptical but once I started I was hooked. Vowell's humour is grounded by a deep knowledge and intelligence which makes it even more rewarding. I wasn't only laughing when I finished, I was thinking as well...wondering for instance how the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln which fought the Civil War and signed the Emancipation Proclamation morphed into the Republican party of today...

Also on the recently finished list is the Kenya issue of Farafina which I had been meaning to read for a while. It made for great reading and highlighted what great talent there is across the continent....

We sit in the garden after a dinner of delicious salmon and tender lamb chops infused with rosemary and served with a Scotch bonnet pepper jam, a delicious mix of searing heat and sweetness. As we sit, sated, we listen to the wife of a friend, originally from the North of England, but now a true-bred Londoner, talk about going home for her father's funeral. As she talks about the gaping gulfs in attitudes and manners and culture that now exist between her and some of her friends and family members, I am struck by the awareness that estrangement is not just a question of language, or kilometres....

The Olympics have come and gone and for the first time ever I am so busy with work and with meeting up with visiting friends and relatives from Nigeria, in London for the summer that I do not manage to watch any of the events live. Thankfully BBC iplayer means that I can catch up on the breathtaking moments. Funny how in the euphoria over the events the media went quiet on China and human rights.... poor Tibetans

14 comments:

oz omodudu said...

Lol Oga

Uzezi said...

in naija, we just have to put oga or brother or uncle or aunty etc, as long as the other is older. lol@ wincing in ur stomach.

Ms. Catwalq said...

"We sit in the garden after a dinner of delicious salmon and tender lamb chops infused with rosemary and served with a Scotch bonnet pepper jam, a delicious mix of searing heat and sweetness"

all this for fish and the cousin of goat?..

men, the upbringing thing never goes away. I refuse to call my professors by their names and that always gets me teased...even by the professors themselves.
Over here, you will be amazed how many people don't respect themselves and thus cannot encourage others to do the same...but don't worry, you will always be Uncle UK to me

UndaCovaSista said...

Lol @ "In this London office, I grin and call him boldly by his fist name, wincing inwardly, decades of "good home training", casually tossed aside...."
It's not a nice feeling at all

Lolita said...

Re:-In this London office... I completely understand what happened there, but in same circumstances have found it hard to do the same. A nice Mr or Miss/Ms suffices here in the US. Even when otherwise directed it is difficult for me to casually toss aside "good home training", especially if said person is much older than I am.

The Republican Party has just simply been uh mismanaged...!

mueja said...

-.-

Kush said...

I feel your pain my brother. A previous colleague was a Nigerian man in his fifties. My 'get out of jail free card" was calling him "Kowla" like the English would too but Mr Kola when it was just us two...

Talatu-Carmen said...

Ai... on the elder thing. I feel your pain...

On the salmon and lamb, I'm sitting here mouth watering... Your descriptions of food are too much... of course, it helps to be in the middle of Ramadan and obsessed with food, too...

Ekoakete said...

I see where you're coming from but I'm sure he would have been embarrassed if you had started calling him "Oga" or "Sa" :-)

pam said...

bros the way you described that food...

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Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean. I have a janitor in my office here in the US who is much older than me. My coleagues must think I am crazy when I say good evening sir or bow to him

Bradly Jones said...

Thanks for the post. It's like five years of not being in Nigeria has finally made me out-dated for this to be news to me. The change is amazing. Great blog!



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Robin said...

take a goat, and curry it ;)

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