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Ofilispeaks: Stop Writing Names Of Noisemakers



noisemakersI got beaten quite a lot in primary school. It was not for punching a girl, or for stealing a class mate’s lunch, or for sleeping during lectures (although I was guilty of that a lot). I got beat simply because I talked, because I expressed myself, and because the person writing names of noise makers was not my friend.

It’s ironic that we spend so much time telling our children to keep quiet, if we knew any better we would tell them to speak up more often, to let their voices be heard. But we stifle their words and their imagination; we see quiet students as the intelligent ones. But you know who changes the world when they grow up? The noise makers – the ones we tell to keep quiet, the ones we beat till their hands go numb – they are the ones who change the world. But we beat their voices out of them in school and then years down the line we ask why our youths are not speaking up!

And where did we get this notion that education was created to be about quiet learning?  Because, it does not fit us…because Nigerians are loud – we speak loudly, and argue loudly, and express ourselves loudly. That’s how we communicate; that’s how we evolved. But instead of embracing our natural cultural history, we instead jump into the British way of doing things. And it should not be that way. The Nigerian educational system, if not all educational systems, should not be about how silent you can be, but rather how loud and expressive you can be. I mean you don’t learn by staring at your books and teachers in silence; you learn by engaging with teachers and students. That is the way the real world is. Now I am not saying that learning in silence is always bad … I’m saying that noise making should be encouraged in school, and not shut down or punished. Apart from stifling learning and the development of intelligence, it kills any form of engagement – so the average Nigerian grows up as an individual seeking to be the best he can be, instead of being part of a collaborative group of people seeking to be the best they can be and offering the best to their community or country!

I mean we spend 12 years telling primary and secondary school students to keep quiet, and then we thrust them into the world and tell them to make a change and speak up against social injustice!  And then we are shocked that they can’t!?!

We have to break the myth that a well-behaved child with good grades is the ideal leader! I mean, look at people like Gani Fawehnmi, Fela Kuti or Pat Utomi – one would be hard pressed to believe that they were amongst the quiet ones in class … in fact chances are they were top noisemakers in school! But look at what they have done for Nigeria by simply speaking up and making noise … let’s stop writing down the names of noise makers!

Illustration courtesy of

This entry is an excerpt from the upcoming book “How Intelligence Kills: A Critical Look At Our Dangerous Addiction To Religion, Intelligence and Respect.”


twitterOfili is an author who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on BB pin: 24de3c8f , Twitter, Facebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on Instagram for more sketches! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book is titled How Intelligence Kills Us and will be coming out in the second quarter of 2013 as soon as possible.

To read his other books for free on your android phone go to

Okechukwu Ofili is a trouble maker, the author of 4 books and speaks at organizations that are tired of hearing the same old stuff and want the truth. He is also the founder of and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter or stalk him on Instagram You can also read his funny books on konga or okadabooks


  1. Soum

    July 8, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Nice article …..So true

    • Sonaya

      July 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      It is not quite true. This article overly generalizes on the subject of noise. What kind of noise exactly? Ofili needs to define his terms. Abi you never hear of the saying: empty gongoni (barrels, containers) make the loudest gbosa?!

    • Intoxyka

      July 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

      I think its relative. In the sense that many smart kids and wise words have been stifled due to the need to look and sound intelligent. The idea is that instead of shutting the child up, you should culture that noise to become ‘constructive’ noise (if ever there was such a thing). Children should be taught to speak up and not cower in fear especially when they are being taken advantage of.

  2. James

    July 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

    There is time for everything. Time to talk and time to be quiet and listen or think.

    • Nollywood REinvented

      July 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      I think I agree with James more, I’m not certain I agree with everything Ofili has said because not everyone that’s talking has something to say. And odds are the quiet ones also turn out great, but they’re quiet about their greatness lol.

      But I think maybe Ofili’s point is that we should be able to have opinions and ideas that are different else we live in monochrome. Which I’d agree with

  3. debutante

    July 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Couldn’t agree more. I am glad Ofili is taking these radical messages to our educators.

  4. 5'5

    July 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Ofilli, I still haven’t met you yet!

  5. Chika

    July 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I love this because when I speak, I only just want to express myself and that is not asking or talking too much.

  6. chizzweightlossdiary

    July 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    hahahhahaha. very great piece.

  7. pynk

    July 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    i agree. Self expression isnt high on our list.

  8. Zero

    July 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Hia…and I used to write names of noisemakers those days o’ Na me be no 1 enforcer back then sha men…had a lot of enemies..’n friends though…loool..but no hard feelings later on..we were only youngsters…

  9. Laminde

    July 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    i absolutely agree there is time for everything. Yeah our parents may have shut us up so many times but as you grow older you begin to see the wisdom in it. Children should be encouraged to speak when and where necessary.

  10. moi

    July 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Lmao!!! @ ‘lets stop writing names of noise makers’

  11. sinquanon

    July 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    While I do get the message you are trying to pass across in this piece, I believe you went about it the wrong way. Since you are focusing primary and secondary schools, may I suggest you go and teach in a class where it is like babel then come back and write this piece. There is a time and place for everything. Time to talk, to think, to listen etc. In schools,the solo activities and group discussions/activities, break times, school clubs and student councils are there for whichever way you want to express yourself.

    Am I saying children should be mute all through lessons? No. I believe more often than not there is a question and answer session at the end of a lesson where students can ask questions. And some teachers encourage you to ask questions while they are teaching, provided you raise your hand up and not just interrupt rudely. Well that’s how it was while I Was in school.

    Perhaps what you should have written is that we should encourage youngsters to think for themselves and be able to express themselves and not swallow everything because it is being fed to them by someone in authority. Not everyone is deigned to be a public speaker. There is the written word and there is the spoken word. The people you have mentioned Pat Utomi and co talk, and they talk sense. They don’t just go about talking for the sake of talking. They don’t swallow shit being fed to them by those in authority. And I think that comes from them being able to think for themselves and being able to express themselves. Not from noise making.

    • jcsgrl

      July 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Gbam I was about to type an epistle when I paused to read comments. You have echoed my sentiments.
      The only thing I could add is perhaps show kids that babble for the sake of babbling how to express themselves better…like channel that babbling to something productive. I teach children’s church and boy do those kids have opinions on everything. Na em I set them up for debate. They debate that day tire com dem beg me say church don finish. I say noo una must talk today since you know gree wetin I dey teach una…lol

    • sinquanon

      July 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Your addition is well on point!

    • slice

      July 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Lol got to say the problem with naija one at least with the sch I attended is they want u quiet at all times. During lesson, after lesson, when the teacher steps out etc. The sound barriers r usually not very strong so small noise in your class will disturb other classes

    • Mejjedi

      July 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm


      I dont think he means that children should be allowed to babble. Of course they will be quieted down for sanity sake. But some people take the “less noise” thing way too seriously. Kids should be allowed to express themselves within themselves during a free period.

    • Intoxyka

      July 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Er, not to discredit you, Sinquanon I think you might have missed the thrust of this piece. If you take a critical look at our nation, a lot of things go wrong because the average Nigerian cannot speak up. And because we cant speak up, our leaders do as they like. A police man will harass you even when you’re right. A young girl is victimized but she cannot speak up. You might wonder where the culture of silence came from; We have been trained to shut up even when we are correct. In more developed nations, the government is accountable to their people because the people can speak up when they see things going wrongly. That is what Okechukwu Ofili is trying to say. Instead of sitting in our seats and criticizing the next person, let us speak up or better still, train the generation coming after us to speak up and be assertive especially when it comes to defending their right or opposing what is clearly wrong. Abi, Ofili, no be so?
      Bella please approve my comment o…..I’ve been commenting too long on this site and I haven’t seen anyone of my comments approved 🙁

    • sinquanon

      July 9, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Intoxyka perhaps you just skimmed through my comment and did not properly read it. First paragraph ‘…….While I do get the message you are trying to pass across in this piece….’, 3rd paragraph – ‘Perhaps what you should have written is that we should encourage youngsters to think for themselves and be able to express themselves and not swallow everything because it is being fed to them by someone in authority. Not everyone is deigned to be a public speaker. There is the written word and there is the spoken word. The people you have mentioned Pat Utomi and co talk, and they talk sense. They don’t just go about talking for the sake of talking. They don’t swallow shit being fed to them by those in authority. And I think that comes from them being able to think for themselves and being able to express themselves. Not from noise making’.

      The main point of the article I believe is to encourage children to think and be able to speak up and not to swallow shit because it’s being fed by an older person or someone in authority. However I still maintain that noise making is way off the mark!

  12. AllforReal

    July 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Ofili speaks for sure. Sounds comic most times, yet embeded with deep wisdom. That’s a good one.

  13. OmoMakun

    July 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Ofili you have come again! You are on point, however I have to say that there should be a balance when it comes to encouraging the young ones to talk. As much as i agree that children should be encouraged to express themsleves , they also need to first understand they need to respectfully do so.I remember growing up, i felt it was always a lost battle arguing with my parents, so I just shut up. To the point where if i accomplished anything, I wouldn’t even bother telling them, my teachers would end up telling them. And then they would ask me why I didn’t tell them and I never really had an answer to that because in my mind i always thought what’s the point?. I pray that I don’t do what my parents did to me, to my children. God help me….

  14. Faith Kel

    July 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm



    July 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I hate when I read an article and I get the impression that the author feels he
    /she has written something profound when it actually isn’t. Yes you pulled us in with the noise making concept but to think that the crux of your article was against noise making and the long-lasing, devastating damage it does to an individual is completely laughable. Children are told to be quiet in class because silence is needed for them to hear and understand what the teacher is saying. In my opinion parents send their children to school primarily to be formally educated so again order is needed in class. I have yet to hear about a school in which children are admonished for talking too much or too loudly during break time. There is a time and place for everything. I’d hope to think that you wouldn’t be equally offended if a mother cautions her child for “making noise” at church. I’m all for freedom of expression etc and I completely disagree that writing names of noise makers in any way affects children making them unable to “speak up and “speak out”. I think thats a ridiculous assertion to make, In my opinion…..

    • slice

      July 9, 2013 at 1:17 am

      I don’t think u quite understand the scenario is painting. Names of noise makers lol r not written when the teacher is doing a lesson but usually after. Teacher is stepping out of the class and tells okon to write down names till she returns

    • Efe G

      July 9, 2013 at 2:30 am

      I think the point of this excerpt is that we need to encourage Nigerian kids to speak up. Yes, there’s a time for everything, but if we keep shutting them up with the whole “I’m your elder” or “wait for your time” stuff that goes on in Nigeria, then I don’t think they will be well equipped to be the change Nigeria so desperately needs…

    • Intoxyka

      July 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

      GBAM! You just hit the nail on the proverbial head!!!

    • sinquanon

      July 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Isn’t ‘Speak Out’ the name of a children’s program back in the 80’s. Don’t remember the whole tune but I can still remember something like ‘Speak up, Speak out for the kids we are’ in the theme tune. lol

  16. kookaburra

    July 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    And to think I was just discussing this ‘Nigerian youths keeping silent’ charade. I’ve thought of it and it’s quite strange that as young, impressionable people we’re told to be silent and then criticized because as adults ‘the youths are too calm,’ for heavens sake that was how we were raised, to not oppose authority. Talking about that child being rude because in this Nigeria any child that tries to correct an adult is automatically disrespectful.
    Although I have to say I don’t agree with noisemakers list being the issue behind our silence, chances are our parents and uncles told us to shut up and listen when we didn’t understand why we should.

  17. justmii

    July 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I get what Ofili was trying to pass across not so much as asking our kids to be quiet but like siquanon pointed out be willing to speak up when necessary. We know or have heard of teachers that don’t like being challenged and our kids are taught to be quiet (that is the right thing to do) because your teacher “knows better than you” right??? Wrong!!!! we teach our kids it is a sign of disrespect when you see your teacher teaching garbage to the entire class of 20-30 kids and you just keep quiet, even in places of worship. Me I no send ooo…my mama mouth big well well and she encouraged us to speak up unless it was with her (he he he) I got kicked out of a church when i tried asking pastor question during sunday school that challenged the nonesense he was preaching….

  18. Dee

    July 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Honestly, I see the point of the article but I don’t think the argument is sound. Firstly, it’s not necessarily noisemakers that change the world; we all know of supposedly quiet people that always speak sense when they deem it fit to speak, and we know noisemakers that just…well, noisemakers. Maybe, it’s just me but I was a chatty kid and did very well in school, very rarely got in trouble and I know very many quiet children who were known dullards. I do think the average Nigerian has problems expressing themselves effectively, I will say more than anything, I think Nigerians have a problem with empty, useless talk- lying, gossip etc. So while we need to teach children to speak up and express themselves, we must also teach that there’s a time for everything- a time to speak up and a time to be silent

  19. Stellamaris

    July 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I undastnd ur pt of view ofili bt d illustratn used 2 justify ds argument isnt totally true,all d same,welldone cus it ws gud of u 2 think of sometin such as dese…we av really suffered cus of d inability 2 express ourselves esp due 2 ds ”age” thing..God hlp us africans

  20. koffie

    July 12, 2013 at 12:05 am

    In my own opinion, noisemakers do not necessarily make positive changes and quiet students aren’t necessarily quiet when they are treated unjustly. The writer of this article raised a good issue but didn’t quite argue it well. I think children should be raised to speak up but guided thru it. The frequent noisemakers sometimes aren’t making sensible noise. My mum taught me to talk n be challenging but she taught me subtlety with it, that way I don’t “get in trouble” for speaking up. I remember gathering my classmates together to challenge the teacher in charge of literary outings cos I hated the tag placed on art students as lazy. We ended up proving ourselves to be useful :D. My point is we should teach children to speak up but think it thru so they make sense and not noise.

  21. larz

    July 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    The main lesson that aspect of my earlier years thought me is to learn when to speak; just cuz u r saying the right doesnt mean u r chosing right channel or tone. Afterall, my teacher never asked me not to speak only I shudnt loudly or at specific times.

  22. Ok o

    July 13, 2013 at 12:16 am

    So true.this doesn’t only happen in school,it also happens at home.I was once punished at the assembly ground cos the class captain just felt my name should be on the noise maker’s list.I couldn’t tell my dad my mum was not telling him the whole story each time I did something wrong,I was not allowed to tell my own side of the story.U can never say anything whenever a neighbor reports you to ur parents even if you didn’t do anything wrong,just because he or she is lying.You can never challenge people older than you cos no matter what you are wrong and they also perfect and right.That is the how the society is being formed in Nigeria.That is what is affecting that country.The president and co are doing the wrong thing and no one or very few can challenge them.God SOS!

  23. Aduku Magaji

    July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Nice and fun to read. I agree that our young people should be let to express themselves. But we should also take care to make sure they don’t blab about useless stuff in an effort “to be expressive”.

  24. Aduku Magaji

    July 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Nicely written Kookaburra

  25. leon

    July 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Amazing Post.many thanks for share… expecting more.

  26. Master P

    July 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    There concept of this article as i understood it was for the Nigerian youth to speak up, however why should we celebrate noise makers when noise is not the solution to our fundamental crisis

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