Nigerian parents. Photo credit: Hyenna House

10 Incredibly Confusing Instructions By Nigerian Parents.

Nigerian Parents Are First Class Drill Sergeants.

Ah Nigerian parents, don’t you just love them? Growing up under the roof of Nigerian parents can be daunting, let me tell you. Do you remember all the instructions they bark out every 5 minutes? A typical Nigerian parent is a bona fide drill sergeant, the only difference is that with a drill sergeant, you understand exactly what the instruction is, but with Nigerian parents, that instruction is mixed with innuendos, sarcasms, ironies, positive and of course negative vibes. Interestingly, what they really mean is contained within that set of instruction(s) and you are supposed to somehow decipher it. Because of that, I have come up with 10 of the most common confusing instructions and sayings by Nigerian parents. See below:

1. “Go and read your books” – Probably why most Nigerians end up being writers and blow big grammar right? Most definitely why I’m a writer and not a scientist or a mathematician. My parents kept telling me to read my books at every turn, and at every turn I responded by picking up a novel. Pacesetters, Mills and Boon and Enid Blyton became my companion. Since they never specified which book we should read, I and millions of other Nigerian kids picked up any book. Had they said ” Go and pick up your maths book” for example, I would be a mathematician today.

Nigerian parents. Photo credit: Naija.com

2. “If I hear peem, you are in trouble” – Normally, this comes during or immediately after a whooping session. Basically, this instruction calls for you to be quiet and take your beating quietly. In other words, no matter how painful the beating, you must not scream or shout…..seriously. Shouting or screaming out in pain increases the ass whooping.

3. “My friend keep quiet when I’m talking to you” – This is the first of a series of double barreled instructions (the second is just below) They would normally say this when they are not interested in your excuses. In other words, don’t talk when I’m talking…. even if they’ve just asked you a question. But why ‘my friend’ though? This is your dad (or mum) scolding you and he’s saying ‘my friend?’ Isn’t that confusing? But when you actually consider it, they are hardly going to say “my son keep quiet” would they?. Somehow that doesn’t carry the same level of seriousness or flow.

4. “Am I not talking to you?” – Now picture this, you are being scolded by one of your parents, and he’s just told you to keep quiet(number 3 instruction) and you duly comply. Then he says this . . .”am I not talking to you?” How do you respond to that? Do you actually respond and comply with instruction 3 or try to say something thereby violating instruction 3? If you know the answer please let me know.

5. “Don’t join bad gang” – For some reason, it seems Nigerian parents already know who these bad gangs are and where they are based. The question is, if they do, why not just come out and say it. Once, my dad told me to avoid a certain boy. Why? Because he’s in a bad gang. And why did my dad think he was a member of a gang? Because he saw a music cassette in his back pocket. True story. It is normally said when you are about to depart the house for a long time.

Nigerian Parents and their confusing instructions. Photo credit: Gist Vibes
Nigerian Parents and their confusing instructions. Photo credit: Gist Vibes

6. “Remember the son of whom you are” – What are the chances you’ll forget that? I mean, it’s not like there’s a family about to adopt you or somehow your surname will vanish or you develop amnesia. How can I forget the son of whom I am? Nigerian parents are also gurus in playing the emotional card. Like #5, this is also normally said when you are about to depart the house for a long time e.g boarding school, overseas travel etc.

7. “When you finish school…”  – A get-out clause for every Nigerian parent. Whatever you want can and will be given to you when you finish school. Bear in mind, ‘school’ to a Nigerian parent is anything from kindergarten to double PhD. Even when you are doing your doctorate, you are still in school as far as they are concerned. If you are still lucky to live under your parent’s roof during your university years and still require certain favours, they’ll still promise to do it when you finish school and if you argue they’ll remind you that you’ve not done your masters, knowing fully well that after your masters, chances are you’ll be on your feet and won’t require their help so much.

8. “In this house you gonna become a Doctor or Lawyer” – Every Nigerian parent wants their kids to either be doctors or lawyers. Why those two professions though? Believe it or not, I was a talented football player. In my teenage years I was first choice goalkeeper for a non-league Hungarian outfit and I dare say I WAS GOOOOD. My dad saw differently though, football is for dropouts he’d say. Doctor or lawyer it had to be, even though he was a soldier, his sister was a Banker, and so was his brother. If every Nigerian child followed this instruction, Nigeria would have more Doctors and Lawyers per capita than any other country in the world. Nowadays whenever we are chanced to sit and watch the English premiership and we see some of the Nigerian multi millionaire footballers, I think to myself…. that could have been me. I think he knows it too.

9. “Are you hungry? Oya go and make your food. Am I your Slave?” – This is so confusing. If you are hungry, and someone asks if you are hungry, you would say yes wouldn’t you? But that won’t fly with  Nigerian parents, especially if you catch them in a bad mood. They would simply tell you to go and make your own food. And it won’t end there, they will follow it up with “what kind of nonsense is that? I didn’t come to this life to come and suffer for any child o.”

10. “Put it on my head” – When they decide to be sarcastic. You ask a very simple question and they respond with sarcasm, only you don’t know its sarcasm and it ends up confusing the hell out you. “Dad, where should I put your tool box?” ” Put it on my head.” Seriously?

Its funny now when I think about it, but trust me, it wasn’t funny then. These were some straight up confusing instructions by our Naija parents. No matter what you think about them though, we are greater people today because we grew up under their roofs. Nigerian parents don’t suffer fools and if there’s one thing they are skilled at, it is bringing up respectable, studious and God-fearing members of the society. This post is dedicated to all Nigerian parents out there. Keep doing what you are doing, but try and refine those instructions though. Love you all.

Do you relate with this? Let me know your thoughts about Nigerian parents in the comments section below.

Kole Obasa

2 thoughts on “10 Incredibly Confusing Instructions By Nigerian Parents.

  1. This is so true, it’s a reminder of years gone by. Thank God for our parents though any where you are you always “remember the child of whom you are”.
    For me that keeps me grounded even when am far away from home

I'll love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think about this article.