Phoney foné!


This is actually an old post I wrote in 2008 but I had to reproduce it after watching beauty vlogger Omabelle’s video which she titled “I hate my accent” (see video in post). In her video in which she tells people who criticise her Igbo-Nigerian accent to “free her” and I could not agree more. Why do we love all things foreign but are quick to look down on our own? We love American and British accents but when someone speaks with a Nigerian accent we are quick to label it as “razz”, we even prefer Italian or other foreign accents to our local ones.

Now don’t get me wrong I believe we should speak the english language clearly and properly as poor grammar is not to be excused. However, I also believe we should be proud of who we are. We should not be quick to adopt foreign accents or treat people who speak foné as if they are superior in some way and then look down on our own . I have a niece (who was raised in Aba) who was made fun of by other choir members because she had an Igbo accent, she eventually left the choir.   I have added a few things to the original post to bring up to date….Please read on:

When I call my friends and family in the US I often yab them about their Americanized call back messages. I am like “ abeg Nkiru I no hear dis ya message o.” Of course when they speak to me they speak the same way they have always spoken…they speak like Nigerians, but once they are at work they switch on their twang and before you blink its “gonna, wanna “.

Just the other day I was speaking to a friend who works in the U.S.  embassy about why a colleague of hers spoke with an American accent and this was her reply “ you know we work with Americans all day even I have started speaking like them unconsciously” Nne I hear you! Unconsciously? Nah! Its a choice. While I agree you may adapt your speech slightly when speaking to people it usually goes back to its default setting.

Let me give you an example my 8 year old daughter who has lived in the UK for about 8 months speaks with a British accent in school but once she gets home she speaks “Nigerian”. Another example Opemipo, I met her decades ago in the UK, she moved to London when she was 18 and had lived there for almost 20 years yet her accent was as Nigerian as the day she left home. According to her “ I left Nigeria as a fully formed woman, I think its a bit silly for me to now be talking like people who were born here”.  Another example is my Aunty Meg…This is a lady that has lived in an almost exclusively white area in Ohio, USA for the last 20 years and has worked for the state with mostly whites for over  30yrs but the woman still her her normal Nigerian accent with an Igbo flavour. I mean she speaks the same way with everyone one so its not even a matter of her speaking Nigerian with Nigerian and blowing foné with Americans.  While she has a few American sounding words her accent is Nigerian and when she speaks to her co-workers they all understand her clearly.

I am not saying you cannot blow foné oh! I mean it’s a free world and to be fair anyone can speak how they want, but its annoying when you do it with your hommies…I mean why blow foné with your sister or your folks back home and why criticise local accents? Also if you must blow the foné , do it well! it can be a bit confusing hearing someone speak foné and its not flowing, especially when the foné is heavily mixed with Edo, Igbo or other indigenous accents.

Now if you live in America or England and speak like your people its all good as there is nothing wrong with acting like the Romans when in Rome. However, it is a bit annoying when you find someone who after spending 4 years (or less) studying abroad returns home and years later is still speaking like they were born and bred in the States, or someone who was born in the UK lived there till the “ripe” young age of 5 moves back to Nigeria and 28 years later still speaks with a full british accent.

Anyway,  I do not blame anyone na we for Nigeria dey treat them like gold. My friend who lived in the states for decades says that once she goes into an office and  turns on her Texas twang it literally opens doors for her,  ” Oh Madam have you come from overseas? Please come in” meanwhile she may have been met with hostility had she spoken with her Nigerian accent.

At the end of the day you can speak how you choose but please be less critical of others.



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  1. Chi, I’m afraid this one is a touchè subject. There are different reasons why people who live abroad try to speak ponè especially in a professional setting, nothing wrong with speaking with our 9ja accent but if you’ve been embarrassed a few times by people who can’t understand what you are saying because of your pronunciations and keep saying “sorry” you will quickly adjust. My only problem though is when people speak fonè when speaking to fellow 9ja like that’s just silly and frankly hilarious. The worst is people born and brought up in 9ja, who finally get visa and travel to non English countries for a month and all of a sudden when they return they wont allow us hear word with their bad English disguised as ponè???

    1. My sister! its the people in the last category you mentioned that confuse me. lol!I totally understand why some people may alter the way they speak so they can be understood as I find myself doing that sometimes…but how I go see naija person wey sabi me well begin form. lol! thanks for your comment Bree.

  2. I have never had a problem with whatever accent people choose to use, however it is the fact that people have made themselves believe that one is superior to the other that is worrisome. We all need to know that our accents does not change who we are

  3. Well said Chioma though I’m ok with everyone’s accent no matter where they adopt it from. It’s the ones that I can’t hear a word of what they are saying or use is for was in a British or American accent I have a problem with lol. It’s all good though ?

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