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Why don't Yoruba actors learn to speak Igbo?

Discussion in 'AFRICAN MOVIES, TV & WEB SHOWS' started by takestyle, Nov 11, 2008.

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  1. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    (yes, yes, y'all!!! it's time for yet ANOTHER "tribalist" post here on NR!!! Sisi, i greet you!) :)

    a while ago, i was having a conversation with a pretty popular actor of Yoruba origin who has been quite successful in EMG films, and the topic of discussion was pretty much the same as in every conversation about what is wrong with Nollywood: the marketers.

    "These Igbo guys, men.." he hissed. "They're a bunch of illiterates! They don't even like for you to talk to them in English. If you speak English to them, they feel intimidated and feel that you are insulting them. That's why only Kalu and Chinyere get jobs and not Kayode or Funmi."

    "That's interesting," said I. "A lot of Nollywood stars ARE Igbo, aren't they?" After a moment of thought: "What about Desmond Elliott? Is he Igbo?" (I really wanted to know, by the way; at the time, I had no idea where Dessy was from.)

    "He's Yoruba," the actor said. "But I think his mom is Igbo. But anyway, the thing is that he can speak Igbo, so he's able to talk to the marketers and they like him for that."

    "I see..." I said. "But... If you're saying that you need to be able to speak Igbo to communicate with these guys, why don't YOU learn Igbo?"

    The actor looked at me like I was crazy and then burst out laughing. "Good joke, man!"

    But you know... I was only *half*-joking.

    If the marketers prefer that you speak to them in Igbo, why wouldn't you do that if it will advance your career?

    For example, many people--regardless of their ethnic origin--in Lagos learn Yoruba. This happens not just by a process of osmosis, but also because there are certain advantages that come from speaking the language.

    To wit: virtually every taxi driver in Lagos is Yoruba. If you're trying to get a cab, if you speak to the driver in Yoruba, the price you will get is different from the one you'd get if you haggle in English or even pidgin. and mind you: the taxi driver does not actually care if you are Yoruba or not, but simply speaking to him in Yoruba makes him more amenable to you. it is, unofficially, the language of business in that particular trade.

    so... could it be argued that Igbo is unofficially the language of business in the EMG movie trade? and if so, wouldn't participants in that trade be doing themselves a favor by learning it?

    take Mercy Johnson, for instance. this idea came into my mind because of something she said in an interview in What's on Screen magazine.

    I won't get into the fact that the interviewer did not ask her how she came to learn Yoruba, but the point is this: Could Mercy's success in the EMG sector be linked in any way to her willingness to adapt and play with the marketers on their own ground?

    now I know that some people are going to jump up now and say "Why should they have to learn Igbo? Is this the Igbo film industry? It's supposed to be the NIGERIAN film industry!"

    but i will remind you that NANTAP, the National Association of NIGERIAN Theatre Arts Practitioners has long been dominated by Yorubas and Yoruba is the language of business within the organization. in fact, forgive me for not remembering the poster who spoke about attending their meetings and complaining about the fact that they spoke nothing but Yoruba there. the poster was told that Yoruba IS the language they have chosen to be the language of business and if you want to be active in the organization, you better learn it... otherwise, sit there and be jonesing.

    the poster stopped attending meetings.

    anyway... discuss.

    (try to be nice, though!)
     
  2. peculiar

    peculiar Well-Known Member

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    Some interesting points there bros.

    Personally, i blame myself all the time for not knowing even simple, short, Ibo words :( I had quite a few Igbo friends that I could have at least picked it from-the problem is, they never spoke it!!!rolleye: They'd rather speak English, or better/ironically still, YORUBA!!!!(True!) Other tribes do truly make a lot of efforts to learn Yoruba, why not the other way round too??....Anywayz, i no dey talk for or against Nolly actors here ......Just my own personal regret! If anyone is willing to teach a sister, biko, please HELP!!!:redface


    I am out :fing33: but I will be watching this thread carefully!;)
     
    takestyle likes this.
  3. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    peculiar, i have my own theories about why you rarely see Yoruba people learning other languages but since they are mostly based upon anecdotal evidence, it is VERY difficult for me to express these theories without it sounding like i am ATTACKING Yorubas (which is the absolutely last thing i want to do)... so for now, i will keep those theories to myself.
     
  4. peculiar

    peculiar Well-Known Member

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    I would've really loved to hear/read some of those theories of yours, bros. I can't speak for others, who your theories may/may not apply to. But i personally never made up my mind NOT TO learn Ibo or another language. I guess it depends what and where ones upbringing was like. I have some YORUBA family friends who grew up in the North and can speak Hausa more than even yoruba. If they grew up in the East, Ibo would've prolly been THAT language, for them. Now, if that was my family that grew up in the North or East-it would've also been us that can speak "the other" language fluently.

    Growing up as a yoruba babe in the South, where mostly only yorubas are your family friends at home and in school-and where the occasional Hausa/Igbo families don't even speak the language-(I am sorry, but it is very true-and we can choose to swing that way, and blame our Igbo parents for not speaking to/teaching their kids their language-but let's not go there!!! ;) )-where do you start from?

    And oh! Should I talk about my secondary school where in my time, a Nigerian language was compulsory as one of the core subjects and where everyone typically went for the one they were most sure of an "A" in.......and trust me-we had plenty Igbo girls in my school flooding the Yoruba classes simply because they spoke and could write that more fluently than their own language. They even had to create YORUBA L2 which was slightly easier for the non-yoruba folks and the yoruba folks who were not as good......

    And though secondary school was a perfect mix of different tribes and the place where it would have(for me) been perfect to learn-I dont think I heard any of my Igbo friends speak to each other, much less me, in Ibo, the entire 6years I was there!-so for me, the opportunity was never there! Well...except I had forced them to speak/and or teach me!:1087:

    Ok....i think i have been ranting......I still want to learn sha.......even if it's just few words/phrases/sentences! No excuses! :( It's horrible to be able to speak moderately in French and not another language from my own country!!!:alien
     
  5. bluestocking

    bluestocking Well-Known Member

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    Probably because they were afraid they were going to be taunted and called names like 'omo nna', 'omo ajeokuta ma mu omi' 'nna ke ije' and so on. I know that's why i never spoke igbo as a kid in primary school and early secondary school. It was only when i changed schools to one that had many igbo people and learnt igbo as a subject in secondary school did i start appreciating the language.
     
  6. peculiar

    peculiar Well-Known Member

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    Ehen!!! :impYou are one of them! Always speaking yoruba to somebody!!!:smilies23

    :knuckPecs
    Blue
     
  7. bluestocking

    bluestocking Well-Known Member

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    But if i speak igbo to you, will you understand?
     
  8. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the good input, peculiar... and thanks for calling me to the carpet for my statement that it is "rare" to see Yoruba people learning other Nigerian languages. that was a hasty generalization on my part, and it is obviously an inaccurate one... especially since i personally know several Yoruba people who speak other languages.

    still i would maintain that it is rare compared to the proportion of, say, Igbo people who learn other languages.

    the reason for this, though, is simple... and it is tied in to the bolded part of your post above.

    i want to get into it, but i don't want to derail the post before others get the chance to weigh in first... i WILL come back to that point, though: basically, it has a lot to do with the different ways in which Igbos and Yorubas view their respective cultures, and the degree of reverence they show for them.

    we'll talk about that (if you want to).
     
  9. Papino

    Papino Well-Known Member

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    TS,i wonder why you are economical with facts in an informative thread like this.Much as i understand your retraints,people see issues from varied perspectives and reading about your point of view can widen an otherwise limited knowledge of the subject of this thread.
    I can speak Hausa,Igbo and casual Yoruba.I miss not speaking Yoruba fluently like my sisters who learnt it from freinds while growing up in Kano.For me,i was shipped to the East at a point and my sisters continued living in Kano.Their experience is in direct variance with the testimony of Peculiar who had Igbo freinds that would rather speak Yoruba.In this case as i have noted,Yoruba's would most likely speak the language without minding if people around also speak or and understand them.From a positive perspective,one is compelled to either learn it or leave it.My sisters learned it and enjoy speaking it eventhough they NEVER lived in the Yoruba states.
    This thread would either highlight on the strong yoruba culture and the passivity of the Igbo person as per language/culture or tow the line of ethnic gallantry.In that case,we would have denied ourselves an oppurtunity to positively advertise our minds on this important aspect of Nigerian nation-state.
     
  10. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    Papino... in your post above, you have touched on a few points that i want to talk about in more depth later... i am just holding back for now because i don't want to push the discussion in one direction or the other yet.

    for now, i just want to hear what people think.
     
  11. sidney

    sidney Well-Known Member

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    I feel the apathy sometimes displayed by Igbos towards thier culture and language was directly affected by the events leading up to, encomapssing and subsequent, to the Nigerian civil war.

    Before that time, the Igbo language and culture were fully embraced and celebrated even when Igbos lived in other regions of Nigeria. They actually did not "blend" in but craved out their own communities wherever they were. Unfortunately, this very practice made them easy targets when the "program", the systematic killing of Igbos, began which lead to the war.

    In a post civil war Nigeria, the Igbo culture, language and people were relegated to 3rd class citizens consideration. If an Igbo wanted to advance, or even ensure his/her family's saftety, he/she had to assimiliate into the culture and language of the area they lived. Which invariably was elsewhere other than the East, as the advancement of the East was serverly interuppted by the war and its subsequent relagation in Nigerian society after the defeat of Biafra.

    This coupled with the long standing mantra that "the language to speak is the language of the buyer", almost forced our Igbo parents, of the previous generation, to be more discrete about outward display of their culture. Whether it was speaking their language, cultural displays, even naming their children. Becasue in some areas, it could actually prove fatal for all concerned. There was one time, in Nigeria, it was not only less beneficial to be Igbo, it was atimes, dangerous.

    I believe this is the origins of this disconnect.

    Other tribes never suffered a blow to their cultural pride and self asteem. It has taken decades for Igbos to regain the dignity, even arrognace, that they display today.
     
  12. Field Marshal

    Field Marshal ABSOLUTE SUPREME RULER

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    Nice piece as usual!







    :shock @ the Highlighted: Pogrom

    But dis ya Adult Edukashun night school no dey gree u shine well well.:fing04:
     
  13. noone

    noone Guest

    @TakeStyle...I was the poster ...ref ANTP

    @ Sidney, you hit the nail on the head...aftermath of civil war...people avoiding the stigma/danger associated with identifying yourself as Igbo etc

    I don't know why Yoruba actors don't learn to speak Igbo or at least pick up a few words, as I can't speak for them but I do know that, from my own experience, Yorubas are less likely to be multilingual in another Nigerian language than the average Nigerian. Probably because they don't feel the need to speak other people's languages since other people take the trouble to learn theirs or like Abike said...others don't speak their own languages round their Yoruba friends so they don't have the opportunity to learn

    I find that there are different attitudes by different people towards learning other people's languages and I guess Yorubas are not different.
     
  14. noone

    noone Guest

    FM, I been wan tok am say una sure say na Sidney spell that word...em but as me an am no dey tok due to 'abandonment', I say make I keep my mouth shut.
     
  15. sidney

    sidney Well-Known Member

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    I disagree here wholeheartedly, my love, ... Hausas, by far, are the least likely to want or learn another language. And that includes English!

    But that being said, I don't think it is the fact that Yorubas don't learn other languages.. To me it is that fact Igbos have been too willing to... I think that is where the issue lies and for the reasons I had posted.
     
  16. noone

    noone Guest


    [@highlighted...mba! I don't think so...love bears all things and you haven't 'borne' anything]

    You have a point there. To be honest, I didn't even remember the Northeners! But isn't it because they are insulated? I mean Yorubas are more social...however, I do agree with the 'Igbos being more willing...' part. Igbos are more likely to adapt, nay assimilate into other people's culture and lose theirs...

    I remember in secondary school, a lot of Igbos living in Lagos would only speak Yoruba and some will even claim they are Bendel-Yoruba! when asked...it took some of us who came to the school from the East to show enough confidence and speak Igbo and ignore the Okoro...aja okuta...Aba-made taunts before others slowly started copying
     
  17. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    yep, sidney... totally agree with you.

    in this regard, the parallels often made between the Igbos and the Jews become even more apt. apart from the obvious mercantile metaphors, the Igbos--like the Jews--are a reviled race whose members occasionally feel the need to distance themselves from their cultural identity in order to avoid the suspicion and wrath of outsiders.

    but it's interesting... in many Igbo cities, you can barely hear ANYBODY speaking English. like, you'll walk into a business like a bank, or a university or something and they automatically start speaking to you in Igbo! that used to annoy me to no end... what kind of cultural chauvinism is that to assume that everybody who walks through the door speaks Igbo?

    but people explained to me that the reason that people put primacy on the Igbo language is to reclaim it, because people don't speak it enough.

    (of course, at this point i rolled my eyes: i went to school with a lot of Aba boys who i can swear i never ONCE heard speak English in six years--even in class!)

    but it turns out that there's a sense of anxiety amongst Igbo intellectuals and even regular folks that the Igbo language and culture are on the decline... both for the post-Biafra reasons sidney laid out, but also because of the business-minded nature of the Igbo people.

    because the Igbos are accustomed to traveling far and wide in the pursuit of money, they tend to learn the languages of the lands they inhabit, while playing down their own language. and they are less likely to teach their foreign-born children their native tongue.

    that's a big reason why there isn't much of an Igbo-language movie industry, too... because to the modern Igbo mentality, it makes more economic sense to produce movies in a language that will appeal to a broad audience than to a narrow one.

    and that, frankly, is why i question all these allegations that the Igbo marketers are driven primarily by tribalism... it doesn't make sense, and most Igbo people don't even think that way: the average Igbo businessman is interested in anybody who is going to make money for him, not in any sense of ethnic kinship. if tomorrow it turns out that Urhobo actors are what is going to sell, i assure you that it is Urhobo movies is all you will see coming out of Nollywood.

    i daresay that the average Yoruba does not think in this way, though... if the Igbos are like the Jews, i'd say the Yoruba are like the French: they take a great pride in their culture and see it as a redeeming force for humanity (in fact, many Yoruba people will tell you that their tongue is "the language of the gods."). and i strongly suspect that a big part of the reason you see a lot of Yoruba actors increasingly flocking toward the
    YMG sector has a lot to do with this pride in the culture much more than the supposed prejudices of Igbo marketers.

    mind you: i am not saying that the Igbo marketers are NOT tribalists: i am sure they are... after all, the vast majority of Nigerians are tribalists to varying degrees. but i'm just saying that if you give an Igbo businessman a choice between tribal loyalty and money, he will pick money in a heartbeat. nobody gets into any business in order to project Igbo culture.

    but i am rambling, of course.
     
  18. sidney

    sidney Well-Known Member

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    But I do luxlove: you!! :586:

    It is more that they do not feel the need to learn any other language. Hausa is the only language that matters. It is, to them, the language of power. Even back during the beginning of the Republic. Ojukwu, Ironsi, Chukwuma Nzeogwu and many, many other Igbo officiers, ALL spoke at least two languages. A combination of Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. While none of the Northern counterparts spoke any other indigenious language other than Hausa.

    Even, some of the top Yourba officers spoke Hausa! Hausa, for many reasons, has been the language of power in Nigeria for many decades.
     
  19. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    ah yes... it WAS you!

    (i thought so, but i wasn't sure and i didn't have the time to search)
     
  20. takestyle

    takestyle Well-Known Member

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    it seems like we're establishing the fact that in Nigeria, various compartments of activity have specific languages that are associated with them...

    so my question is: can we say that Igbo is the unofficial language of the movie business? after all, the business WAS established by Igbo businessmen.

    (i know someone is going to claim that Yorubas started shooting and marketing movies on video before the Igbos, and this is true... but they were unable to turn it into a profitable and sustainable business before the Igbos stepped in*)

    the Yoruba actor i was talking to appeared to be insulted that i should even suggest he speak Igbo, but really... that's the way business works. if you look at Hollywood (which is run largely by Jews), the casual language of Judaism is employed by almost everybody... even those who are not Jews.

    it's not because the Jews will only work with other Jews--that would be a business practice just ASKING for failure--but because people feel more comfortable with you when you speak their language, or at least try to.

    it's the same thing you see today, with so many Hollywood types angling towards new wave religions like Scientology and Kabbalah... it because it helps them get cozier with certain powerful people in the industry who happen to belong to those religions.




    *interestingly enough, an early Igbo producer like Kenneth Nnebue (of Living in Bondage fame) actually started off producing movies in *Yoruba*... which just goes to show you that the Igbo businessman follows the money, not cultural pride
     
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