Friday, October 1, 2010

Nigeria at 50: What does Naija mean?

The word Naija aptly captures the variety of emotions I feel for my country, especially as it celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence.

We Nigerians are confident people - proud of our culture and identity, industrious, hard-working, ingenious and great survivors.

Let's face it, we need to be resilient - Nigeria can be extremely frustrating, annoying and inefficient.

But an optimistic outlook on life makes it a place where anything and everything is possible.

No wonder a survey once found that Nigerians are the happiest people in the world - we have a great capacity for laughing at ourselves.

Whether things are going well or whether it seems the world is about to come to an end, "Naija!" -also written 9ja - expresses it all.

It is about the food, the flamboyant dressing, the mannerisms, the boisterous - some say loud - interaction among complete strangers who on meeting immediately feel bonded by their "Naija-ness".

Like your family, you love them and you hate them at the same time.

You love them so much you would die for them, and yet you get so exasperated at the way they drive you up the wall.

And for the young, the word has entered their slang - spreading rapidly through social networking sites and through music.

My Nigerian colleague Peter Okwoche says this is because Naija denotes a new beginning or dawn for Nigeria.

"The word was coined by the country's youth as a way of distancing themselves from the old guard who they blame for Nigeria's woes," he says.

"Nigeria has a bad image abroad but the youth want the world to know that change is happening from inside the country."

And Naija is a word we Nigerians guard jealously.

We are most particular about how its pronunciation.

It must be punchy - both syllables should be emphasised but with a hook for the "Nai" and jab for the "ja".

Then you know you are in with the crowd. You are accepted. You are trusted.


Related story: Pope Benedict XVI congratulates Nigeria at 50

1 comment:

  1. I am a senior employee in the standards organisation of Nigeria and i want to use this medium to let Nigerians know the some of the bad practices taking place in the association, At this point when the country is trying to clear its debris of corruption to make itself seen as a not totally corrupt entity, the management of SON are busy spoiling the image of the country as a way of enriching their pockets. Let me go straight to the issue at hand presently. Outside the illicit boarder activities, there is gross misconduct in payment of workers salary. All this lapses is blamed at the accountant, Mr. Okon because many believe that he usually diverts parts of worker salary to his personal investment. He does not pay workers their complete salary. There was a time when a worker arranged with some group to poise as EFCC only for it to pay off for him. They visited the office of the accountant and were given millions of naira as bribe not to expose the so called Okon, when this became so rampant, Okon was helped out by one of the directors who has friends in the office of EFCC were he was told that they ve not sent anybody to SON's office, this led to the discovery of the staff behind the deal and he has since been sacked. Presently, workers has just been paid 50% of their 2009 productivity allowance after due insistance by the DG, Dr John Akanya. There is also an issue at stake now, the federal Gov announces 53.3% increment for federal workers and SON is jet to pay, They are saying they are not part of it alas, the salary is so discouraging. can you imaging, the monthly take home pay of a graduate after tax, pension and NHIS deduction is less than N50K whereas the accountant uses paper work to polish a very juicy staff salary to the federation and so were able to sideline SON workers from the 53.3% increment, If SON is going to pay, what are they still waiting for, what about the arrears. The DG is fond of giving excuses that he is not aware of what is going on. But i think he is lying because from the onset, he disarmed the workers by dissolving the workers staff union so that he can have no opposition in perpetuating his evil intentions, instead of the accountant paying workers their real salary, he uses the money for his yearly trip to U.S.A with all members of his family. He is so bold in doing this because he met so many financial misappropriations which he thinks he would expose if accosted. I am writing this for the knowledge of the honorable members of House of assembly, Senate, EFCC, ICPC, and the general public to react to the state of affairs in SON so as to salvage the plight of workers and bring about justice to SON in particular and Nigeria in general.
    N.B The name above is not my real name. i have to use that to save my head