By: Idowu Odeyemi
Copycatting is an endemic feature of an African who lives in Africa. And when you engage yourself with this African style of inauthenticity, let it be the western style that you will copy. Forget the west humiliated us with colonialism and some of them said “Africans cannot think” and forget that that means we don’t have our own pre-existing ways of doing things before they discovered Africa. (Discovered! As if we were water in the heart of a desert. But that’s what their academics say and some African Historians, too. Can people who discovered themselves be rediscovered again? Glory, Glory the west!)
So, here is your guideline towards achieving authenticity as an African after saved yourself from the humiliation of colonialism and derogatory remarks from the west:
1. Don’t wear beads: Wearing beads on your neck or around your wrist is diabolical and it could immediately give you off as a witch/wizard to your neighbors. And when a child dies in the street, you surely don’t want to be the prime suspect. So, Baba, dead that idea. Na ment!
2. Don’t wear a native dress (i.e Bùbá and Ṣọ́rọ́/Ìró): Even though you work in the Ministry of Culture, when going to office in the morning wear suit and a tie alongside a fine shirt and an ironed skirt/pants. Your job is not to preserve your traditional culture and maintain its heritage. Who are you to do that by the way? Minister of Culture abi Ooni of Ife? You will only be depicting Africans as primitives if you wear African styled clothes to work. (Hopefully you get job sef. Who employs someone that wears Ankara to work? Well, you fit work for Palace.)
3. Don’t believe/worship ancestral gods: Because they are black and whiteness is the measurement we use for judging righteousness. Also, a white god passes judgment in the afterlife. Vindictive punishments await your soul if you do not accept whiteness as holy and black as evil. Your family members have already acquired charms to destroy your life from those gods; Jesus, now, is your only rescue. Go to church more than you go to work. Jesus fed 5000 people, how many is your body? Just one na.
4. Don’t protest against ill government: Protesting against a government or grotesque governance policies means only one thing to your neighbours: you do not have work to do. You should be hustling to buy that petrol you bought 145 naira yesterday 200 naira tomorrow. Day-to-day inflation is endemic to the sectors government controls. And even when the police kill your brother, you should never join the protest against police brutality because the wicked president might order the bodies of protesters to be fed bullets. Remember, you have drunk the elixir of life, and you won’t die again. Let the people that want to die go and join the protest.
5. Don’t order pounded yam at a restaurant: You will be labelled as ‘uncivilized’ by your own people and I know you don’t want to sound like a paleolithic human in a public space like a restaurant. God forbid you use your hand to eat while wearing a fine shirt and a tie.
6. Don’t speak Yoruba: Or any African language for that matter to your newborn babies; they will not be intellectually inclined. Fluent English is a paradigm for intelligence and your mother’s tongue is a vernacular. So don’t push your children to understand the African language. Speak English to them. Let them pronounce t by briefly seizing air from their vocal tract when the tip of their tongue presses against the tooth ridge; you will even be subconsciously preparing them for an English proficiency test. Speaking your mother’s tongue means you are uneducated.
7. In Africa, imitation is the only means for survival: So, when you get to a job interview, imitation will get you the job. Dress, walk and talk like Leonardo DiCapiro in The Wolf of Wall Street. Even if your content is watery, just act western. That’s all, my gee. Africans don’t love deception, they just want to be sure they are hiring a white man in a black body.
8. Do not sing afrobeat: If you want to make money with music, don’t try writing or singing songs about oppression and bad government policies. Fela don already work for that area. Sing your Afrobeat and mix it with some hip-hop or pop gibberish. Don’t bore me with the nepotism of Buhari or the Lekki Massacre. I just want to Gbese! I just want to Shaye! Problem no dey finish.
I am glad you read through this entire guide for being an African living in Africa, and I know you are happy you’ve done six out of the eight; you’ve basically fulfilled an African dream. You’re wonderful.
Idowu Odeyemi is an iroko tree with a dark sense of humor. Google me, I have poems and essays out there. I tweet with @OdeyemiIdowu2.