Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Nigerian Oga's

I don’t have any Nigerian friends not because I don’t like them, but seeing I am not Nigerian and I can’t speak Ibo or Yoruba, I guess there was no need to try and make friends with them.

The closest I have come to Nigerian’s is when I lived in the London Borough of Southwark and there weren’t many of them.  Of the immigrants, it was the Pakistani’s and the Bengal’s who dominated.

A good portion of the white community, were not amused by this arrangement that, anybody who was not white was bound to suffer some form of racial attack.

The Pakistani’s and Bengal’s were the obvious targets with the Chinese coming in a close third. Blacks were given a wide berth until the Oga’s moved in.

Oga was easy to spot. He wore rich and colourful robes and Mama Oga wore a hairstyle that resembled the Birds Nest, the Chinese Olympic stadium in Beijing.

If Oga dressed down into jeans and a casual shirt, you would still know that he was Nigerian because of the tribal scars on his face. And if Oga didn’t have tribal scars on his face you could still tell he was Nigerian because whenever he spoke, it was like a fierce row had broken out.

It was 1986 then – I think, and I was standing outside Elephant and Castle tube station. Across the road, were three Oga’s and going by the fever pitch noise they were making, it looked like they were having a row, a row which was in danger of boiling into a melee.

Naturally, a crowd gathered and with an impending melee seemingly about to break out, I crossed the road not only get a good vantage point, but to be in the thick of the action.

As the row continued, three police cars pulled up and cops were all over the place slapping handcuffs onto the bewildered Oga’s and whisking them away.

A few days later in the local paper, a story appeared under the headline: “Nigerian’s arrested.” It went on: “An elderly white woman called police because three black men with raised voices were about to start fighting in the streets in broad daylight… and that it took the intervention of a local Nigerian councillor to convince the police they were not having a row, but that was the way Nigerian’s spoke – with full gusto”.

Recently I travelled to Abuja. Abuja so I found out is quite similar to Kampala except that one would think that the whole city is angry with each other. Every corner you turn, there are raised voices but like the London scenario, there was no impending row. It’s just the way Oga spoke. Oga wants the world to know he is around. Oga wants it known that he is the boss, the Oga of all Nigerian’s.

During my sojourn I frequented a small pub for drinks which aptly, was named Abuja and the funny thing about it, when Oga was whispering romantic things to Mama Oga, they were unable to keep their voices down so I got to hear everything. And when Oga spoke on the phone – he didn’t discreetly speak into the phone. He ‘ferociously’ bellowed into it.

Since my return from Abuja, I have trouble keeping my voice down. Am always bellowing and it becomes an issue especially when traffic police think I am agitated and ask me to calm down. Oga can be that infectious.

By the way, the Abuja I travelled to, be not Abuja in Nigeria, but a small pub called Abuja right here in our Kansanga where Oga’s voice can be heard as far away as Ggaba. 


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