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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: I’m Cultured…Watch Me Down These Oysters



I stifled the first yawn as I felt it push its way up from the pits of my belly. After a quick dart around to see if no one noticed, I held up the program of events to cover my face. No, I wasn’t bored; the library was just a little too cold. No, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was sitting with my sister, watching two middle-aged white women playing the harp.

Yes. You know the harp? That instrument that pops up in the Bible as the thing that helped David win the heart of King Saul (As He Then Was) So, I listened as the harpists strummed tune after tune praying that I’d be able to comfortably mask the barrage of yawns I felt building up in quick succession. It was so bad that during the intermission, one lady behind me asked me if it was my first time of experiencing harp music. I chuckled and responded that it was – I mean, I wasn’t ooh-ing and ah-ing at the symphony and the chords that were permeating through the room. I wondered what gave me away as an uncultured pleb? My yawns or my skin. Either way, I decided to explore the idea of what made a person cultured.

Because we’ve been so thoroughly colonized in our brains (forget what you think about Nigeria being an independent republic) our indices of culture are mostly stuff like foreign food, music and wine. See how I referred to myself as an uncultured pleb just because I have very little interest in what inspired Pachelbel to compose the Canon in D Minor. There’s also that thing about drinking at room temperature (forget that room temperature varies from climate to climate). We see someone putting a bottle of red wine in the fridge in 35 to 40 degrees Nigeria…watch us lift our noses in snobbery. “What an uncultured lad!”
How many times do we tilt our heads up in appreciation for the rhythmic sounds of the GanGan, Gourds or Conga? How many Talking Drum classes do we send our kids to?

In discussing this topic with the ever-reliable Mo, we tried to dissect the difference between being cultured and having an acquired taste. Does the fact that you like Wasabi and Sushi mean you’re cultured or do you just like Sushi because you’ve learned that your Wall Street colleagues like this really nice Sushi bar and team bonding is always most effective over dinner?

Atoke CheeriosAcquired taste is very important. Like my love for champagne: when did I start drinking champagne? It’s not like it’s sweet or anything. But as I started attending events where the thing was served all the time, I somehow got in with program. Yeah, hold that flute this way. Fingers crooked at the right angles along the stem. Yes that it! Breeding shows. (Or several YouTube lessons).

Another popular index of being cultured is the ability to tell the difference between wines (or cask ales). Can you comfortably tell the difference between the glasses that are used to serve different drinks?

And herein lies my issue with neo-colonialism. How is my ability to spot a Rembrandt a mile away a true test of culture when a French man is not hailed for being able to tell the difference between Opa and Moin Moin? There’s a subtle conditioning of the mind that an appreciation of certain foreign things makes you cultured. Remember when we talked about being able to speak multiple languages and how Italian and French were sexy but an ability to speak Igbo, Ijaw and Tiv were not deemed hot? {Click here if you missed it} Surely if I’m able to identify the history of the Bini carvings, that should earn me some stripes on the Culture scale!

I believe that your experiences and areas of exposure form the basis of the things you like, and are well versed in. However, when you don’t really like Oysters, and you know they make you sick to the belly… why oh why must you continue to insist “Oh, we should go to this really nice Oyster place”. Really? Folashade? REALLY? This is where one crosses the line from being cultured to being pretentious.

At a wine tasting event a few years ago, I walked from table to table, raising my glass to sniff. I couldn’t tell you what the difference was, but in films, that’s how they do it. Raise your glass, twirl it slightly, sniff a little, have a stupid look on your face that says “not quite there but ah! It will do”. Between Lagos, Ogbomosho and Ilorin, dearly beloved, where would I have learned the difference between a 1977 Richebourg and a Penfolds Cabernet Shiraz? (Y’all know I Googled this right?)

But here’s something about being pretentious about this culture thing: you will most likely get found out. My friends had a few things to say about this. (Shout out to my TN people – who remain fantastic AT ALL times)

Nothing gets my goat more than someone forming ‘cultured’ only for us to get to dinner and you hold fork like sey you be drummer for rock band

” ‘Cultured’ is truly a nebulous thing. Wearing good suits does not make you cultured. To be honest I also think you have to be rich and well educated

You can be poor and cultured. There are poor aristocrats, who have the name, breeding, and schooling but no more money

To me a cultured person would be one who is well read, well travelled, well spoken with knowledge of the finer things

With travel, new friends, professional networking, one can learn about other cultures and choose to imbibe them; however, one must never lose one’s true self. Because being able to analyse all the poems of John Donne doesn’t make you more cultured than someone who has studied the complete works of Wole Soyinka.

I’ll leave you with the words of my friend, Vee, who has described a cultured person as: a person that shows the ability to appreciate and understand ‘different things/different cultures’. Someone without a closed mind.”

What do you guys think? What are the elements that make up ‘a cultured person’? Here are a few things to set the ball rolling: Palate, clothes, art, etiquette, speech, & books! (And remember, it doesn’t have to be Western – we know how y’all like your Oyinbo)

And don’t forget to share some of your culture gaff stories – yours or other people’s! Who would you say is truly cultured? Would you sit through a classical music concert if you don’t enjoy it?

You guys are the best! Have a fantastic week ahead.

Peace, love & celery stalks.


Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Luminastock

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. miss Pynk

    June 8, 2015 at 11:16 am

    My Very well educated father once mixed his tea at a Chinese restaurant with his chopsticks when he couldn’t find a teaspoon. He is beyond well travelled and half the time seems like he cant be bothered. I inherited some of that particular trait from him.

  2. Scared Homosapien

    June 8, 2015 at 11:23 am

    My office sent me on a training organized by some Spaniards. We were divided into groups and i happened to be the secretary of my group. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, i was asked to present the group’s work. After i was done presenting, the only Spanish woman there said to me ‘you speak very good English. I’m quite impressed.’ It was God that saved that woman that day, she for see ‘uncultured pesin’. Ah, just imagine! Just because you came to my country, makes be an uneducated someborri ba? Uncultured lot!

    • sarah

      June 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I get that a lot “oh, you speak really good English”. The thought that always go through my mind when I hear that sentence, I can’t start to say.

      I once helped a woman out who was struggling to find something on the internet at work and she told me “I did not think you were that clever”. I was speechless. I started to think of the job requirements which stated that one must he educated to degree level. Somethings you hear.

  3. bb

    June 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Truely nice topic

  4. Wana

    June 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Me, personally, I have never gotten the excitement with alcohol or red/ white wine/beer.
    When, I started partying back in the days, i will drink vodka just to get me high so I could dance silly even when it tasted pretty bad. At least, everyone was drinking this bitter thing, why shouldnt I? The annoying thing was how I was allergic to alcohol but will still drink to a stupor whenever I am out. It dawned on me that I never liked alcohol, I actually pretty much hate it. When I see people drinking alcohol of any type, hot wines, flavoured vodka or whatever, I just feel they dont necesssarily enjoy it, they just use it as a pass, I mean the western world taught us that abi?

    The only drink I can contain is champagne because I am not allergic to it and it is not as bitter as the rest but I still hate it. Dont blame, I am only trying to be ‘cultured’.

  5. Toyin

    June 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

    One time, I had a presentation in a seminar in Greece, I had spent the whole month preparing my research and power-point slides. I rehearsed everything over and over and couldn’t wait to be done with the whole thing. For me the ideal way of unwinding after spending four hours talking about International Law and all that BS, would have been to have dinner, maybe a walk by the beach and then go to bed. But no, my professor delightfully announced we had been invited to a wine testing brouhaha. Off we went. At first I was excited about it, but after a glass of wine, I got bored. This guy’s English was terrible. He barely spoke English. I looked around the room and saw non-Greek speakers listening keenly with occasional nods…Me I was bored and tired out of my skin. So I turned to my French Friend and we were on the same mood in regards to the wine testing thing. So we stylishly gave our seats out and left.

    Frankly, I can’t pretend I like something I don’t. I survived many decades without knowing the origin of whatever grape was used for the wine I drink and how long they were fermented. So I’m good.

    Not to say learning about a new culture is bad, just don’t stress me out.

    And to be honest I have a fair amount of “culture” to survive any occasion.

    • Viv

      June 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      @toyin, it’s “wine tasting” and NOT “wine testing”

    • UGO

      June 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Wine tasting just in case you didn’t notice

    • Toyin

      June 8, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      LMAO. Thanks guy. I didn’t even notice the mistake.

  6. nef

    June 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    The one that irritates the hell out of me is how pretentious Nigerians are. So willing to try all foods foreign but would turn their noses up at any food that is not of their local tribe. Offer a Yoruba babe ‘miyan kuka’ from northern nigeria, she will be forming butta but will go and eat a Chinese meal that she cannot recognise one ingredient that was used to prepare it. smh

    • Emerald

      June 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      What is mayin …? Care to give the recipe? And no, I’m not ‘forming’. Not a Nigerian. Just curious.

  7. Mz Brown

    June 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Pretenders!! because i laugh/guffaw instead of giggling, or im comfy blasting yoruba, im not cultured enough. Its not like i speak yoruba everywhere i go but when i can i sure love to speak it. loved yoruba while growing up and i always exceled in all my exams. I always stood by the pulpit to read the Yoruba bible during bible reading in church and i wanted to be an interpreter but i was deemed too young for that! i know some madass yoruba words and proverbs that when i say them hehehe…your mind will be blown, and my dear prople, some people around me have come to the conclusion that because of that i am Razz..
    its not like their grammar is better than mine or anything, years back my siblings were calling me oxford at a time i had to just tone it down cos friends started calling me ITK. I know about etiquette/manners and all that but ill be damed if i use fork and knife in a restaurant like kfc or if i turn my knife down after eating, if i go wine tasting ill probably just drink all of it…ill not chew with my mouth closed when i remember something i want to gist my bestie about.

    Asides that tho, i love reading, a loooot, and i know more about cultures and other weird things than people around me but i dare not call myself cultured or they will slap me. as far as im here, im a razz “yoroba” ghe.sigh

  8. Jane Public

    June 8, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I actually disagree with this article a bit but i totally agree with your friend Vee. You can be Nigerian and still be “cultured”, but not pretentious. I guess that is the misrepresentation i.e. all cultured Nigerians are pretentious,. I was raised on three continents, and it has shaped me as a person to the point, that I get people say all the time, they can’t place my accent. My Nigerian friends call me a Coconut, but those who had similar backgrounds to me, see me just fine. It is normal to them, because that is their “normal” too. My background helped me fit in with friends and colleagues from different countries, I could relate to their stories, we’ve gone on skiing (the only outdoorsy thing I enjoy) holidays together for example, and I don’t even consider skiing a “cultured” sport, but you get my point. My background meant I know how to. Thank goodness for that too, because Le Boo proposed on a Ski slope. It made me love to travel and when work presented the opportunity, I jumped at it, because for many hours of my life, I spent it on a plane. Best of all, I didn’t feel like a fish out of water with Le Boo’s family. That I am most grateful for. Yes I can tell the difference in wine glasses and types of wine itself, but that’s just because we were raised around alcohol, My father loves it and considers himself a collector, so i learnt from an early age how to tell between this and that. It isn’t anything that makes me “posher” than the next person. Like French and Italian kids who get the occasional sips of wine at dinner at an early age, to introduce them to alcohol, we did too, and none of us are alcoholics. My mum loves dining out, my Dad used to joke that she would finish all of his money in restaurants and her habit introduced us to fine foods. I hate Oysters by the way, does that give me more Nigerian street cred? I can also discuss going to the opera in the same breadth as listening to Dorobucci (which I looooove, you need to see me dancing around the house with my big belly). I feel that being “cultured” and Nigerian gives you an edge over your fellow “cultured” counterparts from other parts of the world, because you have experiences, they would never have, which is a bonus. My friends and I can be a room with our fellow British boarding School friends and speak with “upper crust” accents, the minute they turn their backs, we converse in pidgin. That makes your personality interesting and multi dimensional. My friends tell me i must have a multiple personality disorder because sometimes they can’t tell which Jane they are speaking to. The situation will determine which side of Jane you see. The one that can stop at the street and converse with a roasted corn seller (they tell the best stories and the joy on their face when you don’t talk down to them, like they expect you to, is priceless and I am glad I can and even enjoy it, unlike many of my born and bred Nigerian friends, who can’t even talk to their domestic help with courtesy) and the one that can discuss why you serve some wines with fish, and some with meat.. The term cultured has a snobbish undertone to it, which is the problem. I see it instead as someone that has varied exposure and experiences. I think when you see it like that, it takes away from the “ajebutter” vs “aje pako”, class war that the “cultured” term mostly brings. Oops, I wrote all that. Lol. Amala and Ewedu is just as fabulous as Coq au Vin.

    • Viv

      June 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      @Jane Public “yawn”. You forgot to include your CV. “Double yawn”

    • Jane Public

      June 8, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      You could just have scrolled away you know. Is Bella paying you to read comments? You know the phrase if you want to hid something from Africans, put it in a book. No offence

    • abeni

      June 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Thats just mean haba

    • Blackbeauty

      June 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Very long comment, but I enjoyed reading it.

    • Jane Public

      June 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm


    • vIv

      June 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Non taken. I did read the whoooollleeeee thing. Like I said earlier “yawn”

    • Jagbajantis

      June 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Speaking with an upper crust accent when you are with well-heeled folk has nothing to do with you being cultured. I think you are missing the point a tad bit.

      If you as a Nigerian can hold a conversation (in whatever accent you have – even if it is East London Cockney, Scouse, Yorkshire accent, or Lekki-British) with upper crust folk, and blend right in because you are well versed in a wide variety of similar interests (not all, but quite a few), then you are seen to be cultured. Having or forming their accent does not have anything to do with it. It is being able to blend in with them, and blend in as well with the man on the street that makes one cultured.

      Going on skiing trips or having the knowledge of the arts to tell a Picasso from a Rembrandt, or a Mozart symphony from that of Johann Strauss is not being cultured in itself, unless you also know what an Igbo Ukwu bronze pot is; or can point out Nok terraculture

    • TA

      June 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      That is being ‘cultured’ in my books. Treating a roasted corn seller the way you would a bank CEO.

    • CashQueen

      June 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      @Jane public, paragraphs would go a a long way in making your comment top notch.

    • aurora

      June 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

      I agree with you Jane. Atoke made being ‘cultured’ a bad thing or a pretentious thing. While I haven’t gone skiing, I am very adventurous, and the kind of friend you’ll invite to go skiing and in the same breath, invite to go to ikogosi or olumo rock. I’d eat amala and ewedu with my hand and attempt woefully to use chopsticks to eat Asian food. I actually like sushi but can’t stand oysters. Like I said, im adventurous and would try almost everything once.
      I fully integrate into whatever environment im in and I love that about me. As for alcohol, I love my champagne almost the same way I love my Orijin, just depends on my mood and environment. I learnt how to hold the wine glass as eagerly as I learnt to use fork and knife to eat. I don’t know the names of wine glasses but if I decided to learn because of this article, I don’t think that makes me pretentious.

  9. JayD

    June 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Hmm….cultured! I remember I once dated a well educated lagos girl, Two Masters degrees, American Uni educated, affluent parents. I am just from a middle class home, but you know how Europe brings everyone down to almost same level.
    Well on a good day, I speak pretty darn good English. But since I grew up and went to uni in Awka, I do like hanging out with my Igbo boys, isi-ewu, eating ofe onugbu and all that. Anyway, this my extremely cultured lagos babe heard the way I turned on my igbo-laced English, mixing igbo words in the middle of my sentences, so as to relate with some of the less educated igbo brothers I met in this London African restaurant. The babe said if he had heard me talking like this before I asked her out, she would not have dated me. I just smiled and calmly
    filed that into my archives of warning signs.
    I am well travelled and well educated, but I love my Nigerian culture, traditional music & food, more than any other culture in the world. And I like the women who appreciate that too. That’s been cultured.
    Your friend Vee got the definition right,

    • intheoverseas

      June 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Oh my days! love when a guy can mix cool well bred and local igbo when it gets down to it. Are you married? Please say no and I will instantly propose :p

    • JayD

      June 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      @intheoverseas Sorry dear, I have been happily married now for nwatikiri six months lol. I wish Atoke posted this article at least 6months ago. Your proposal would have been highly considered.

    • TA

      June 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      @ JayD, please stay true to yourself . And..intheoverseas asked you a question. Please answer. 🙂

    • Intheoverseas

      June 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you for having my back TA. Darn JayD you should have waited for me :p Ok if you have a brother with the same type of swag biko holler at a sister lol!

    • ladypam

      June 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      so what happened between the two of you eventually

    • J

      June 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Did you marry her? How did it end? Hope not badly??? Aproko things, slow day at work….

    • JayD

      June 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      @J and @ladypam. No I didn’t marry her. Eventually I realised the pretentiousness wasn’t something I could deal with. Her parents turned out to be quite snobbish as well, after I met them. So I moved on and found myself a lady who was natural and unaffected. And the funny thing is that she was endeared to me because she saw I could interact with aristocrats and literati as well as I can intermingle with uneducated old folks and naija brothers on the street hustle.

  10. le coco

    June 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    id like to think im cultured. i particularly enjoy learning about other cultures, both western and African. but what irks me is how we(Africans) hv this notion that western people are more cultured. if we get into the true definition of the term ‘cultured’, then people like the italians, greek, french and americans etc would be the least cultured people.. do they bother to learn about anything other than themselves nd their immediate surroundings? no!! i wont be so friendly if a fellow african tells me that i am not cultured simply because i refuse to eat sushi, caviar, and oysters.. mba!! its just not for me… would we do the same to an american hu refuses to eat moin moin?
    oh!! the worst for me r those pretentious people hu go to art galleries pretending like they understand those modern art thingy’s LOLS.. abeg splashing paint on a blank canvas, and not having any control as to wear the paint lands is not something i understand or even enjoy . but i will never claim to understand it, neither would i hold my champagne flute snobbishly nd try and interpret the paint splatter to a group of people.. LOVELY ARTICLE ATOKE( AS USUAL)

  11. le coco

    June 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    @mz brown .. i kinda love you ryt now.. haha…. ask nigerians why speaking their own language is local.. abeg.. pretenders.. if you really wnt t c a razz person, watch them at a fastfood restaurant.. why oh why must people be eating pizza, burgers, nd kfc with a fork nd a knife, abeg.. my dear do you… nd all those who will be blowing unnecessary grammar all in the name of “cultured” cn go nd sit down

    • Mz brown

      June 8, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      lmaooo the part about art appreciation got me laughing so loud im getting daggers from my colleagues! Unless a nigerian actually goes to school to study it, can someone please explain to me how we suddenly understand messages a drawing is trying to pass accross or what a particular stroke of color at a particular angle mean? As long as it looks good on my wall its just fine! But thats just me.
      and oh! Amala and gbegiri too..hated it, then schooled in ibadan and i suddenly want to have it everyday.. now when i order it rather than chinese like some of my fellow colleagues i have added one more uncultured wing to my feather. im really tired of nigerians trying to be what we are not.

    • Mz brown

      June 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      when i mean school, maybe wikipidea or whatever form of research you must have done and practiced over time also!

  12. Blackbeauty

    June 8, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Being cultured to me means, being well-mannered, well-read,well-spoken. It also includes being knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects, an ability to appreciate the arts as well as science. Being open to different cultures, home and abroad, and realising than none is superior to the other. I think it’s a blessing to have many different experiences in life and for this, one should be humble and true to one’s self.

  13. @edDREAMZ

    June 8, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said..
    Making post though….

  14. chifire

    June 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    As for me, I no culture nothing. I have only been to Ghana. I be correct kpako, been to a Chinese restaurant once. Hubby razz pass me, in fact I’m posh in his eyes. When I left secondary school, I stopped eating with knife & fork, in uni I dint even go there, Na only fork I dey use chop. I no sabi from. People see me & feel like I’m up there, one of my customers once told me I’m from money, either from my parents or my husband, (people say dt all d time). I looked at her and shook my head, if only they knew the truth. I just have beauty that meets international standards and that gets me by.

    • Priscy

      June 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Never knew there is beauty that meets international standard….how is it measured biko???

    • FLOW

      June 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      LOOOOL! @ Priscy, abeg help me ask her o, @Chifire, nne please post a picture and bless us with this your “international beauty” biko, it might be contagious.

    • FLOW

      June 8, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      LOOOOL! @ Priscy, abeg help me ask her o, @Chifire, nne please post a picture and bless us with this your “international standard beauty” biko, it might be contagious.

    • Peculiar Okafor

      June 8, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Defined cheek bones, full lips, small hazel/almond shaped eyes, fairly pointed nose, oval/oblong shape.

      Slim curves, nice nails.

      Did it help.

      Please I’m not saying people who don’t look like this aren’t beautiful but there’s a ‘hinternational standars’

    • toyin

      June 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Measured mostly by complexion. lol

  15. Jagbajantis

    June 8, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Nice Atoke on a very important topic (away from the usual tired topics of love, marriage and relationships that many writers prefer to serve on this forum).

    What is being cultured? It is being world savvy and knowledgeable about many worldly interests so that one is able to mix with a wide variety of people from different interests and from other jurisdictions. An English aristocrat was taught French, Latin, how to fight (fencing or with the sword), decorum, table manners, about the arts, music, horse back riding, English history, European history, family history and different types of sports – tennis, croquet, etc

    Well heeled individuals who wanted to mingle with the gentry learnt these too. And that is why the rich and wealthy individuals could easily mingle even if they were from different parts of Europe. Even the new money in America indulged in this interests.,

    From a Nigerian standpoint, being cultured starts with learning all aspects of your own indigenous culture. Learn your language, how to write it, your history, your ethnic dance and song and norm and folklore, and then as the world is a global village, you can pick and choose other interests that will broaden your scope as wide as possible. It could learning how to play golf, or football which is played in many places, learning about popular culture, learn Mandarin, French or Spanish which are the most widely spoken languages after English, read about the Renaissance, Shakespeare, Darwinism, the 2 world wars, how to use tools for basic carpentry, how to start and keep conversation, refinement, about other religions other than yours, different foods, music types, cultural influences, etc.

    What makes one cultured is dynamic, and depends on who is doing the judging.

    My dad tried to make learn how to play the piano and lawn tennis. When we went to the village for Xmas, he would make me attend all the traditional ceremonies in full gear and also interact with my rural peers . I couldnt understand what he was trying to do then – he was trying to make me an all-rounder. A man of my people, but also knowledgeable of the world. A cultured man.

    • Blackbeauty

      June 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      My dad got a piano tutor for us as well, and taught us tennis himself. Sadly, I haven’t touched a keyboard in years.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      June 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      My dad taught us Boxing. Go figure.

  16. TA

    June 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I happen to enjoy classical music very much but I’m not pretentious or hoity toity. Lol. I do know what being cultured is NOT though. It is not rude, proud, loud or pretentious.
    As for horror stories, well I don’t know if this would qualify as horror or not especially since I do not exactly feel this way anymore. Lol. one time during my Uni days this guy I really fancied stopped by our apartment, while I was flogging my hot eba and okro soup with my bare hands, enjoying my food and smacking my lips then a shadow loomed at the door, it was the hot mixed race guy I had been eyeing seriously. I understood the expression ‘pray for the ground to open up and swallow me’. I was mortified. I just froze. My roommate had left the door of our room ajar and I had been feeling too lazy to get up and shut it. I was having a bad hair day,seated on the floor in my jean shorts, tank top which had been crisscrossed with dribbles of okro soup. You get the picture right? I didn’t even know the dude knew where I lived! I just wanted to lay on the floor and die. He stood there smiling with his cute dimples asking me ‘ so you won’t invite me to join you? I hated him at that moment, I almost flung my okro soup bowl in his face. Lol. First of all, I’m one of those persons that hates eating in public. My self-consciousness in that area is weird I know. Lol 🙂 If I go out by myself or with friends ,I choose a seat that is farthest from public view
    And then again I am not one to eat any Nigerian ‘swallow’ with cutlery. Not like I can’t but I just refuse to. It is an anomaly in my books. Yes, call me bush,crude,unrefined na you sabi o. I will not eat starch,eba,pounded yam semo, wheat amala etc with cutlery. It is meant to be eaten with my clean hands. That is why I will NEVER be caught eating swallow anywhere else except my house (well, in the car too). So you can imagine how I felt then. These days sha, I don’t send so much. If you are a toaster, boyfriend, admirer whatever and you happen to be in my house, I can eat whatever I choose anyhow I choose to.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      June 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      I wholly endorse this comment!

      Nne, eating swallow with cutlery, Hian! That food will not digest well, oh.

    • le coco

      June 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      meeeeehn…. i feel you.. it wont digest well lol.. i cannot.. infact the only excuse i cn permit would be if you had just gotten your nails done.. you know tht acrylic thing is not something one should ingest… but other than that abeg.. even in public eat d swallow with your hand… in my opinion it is only pretentious people that would eat swallow with cutlery.. it falls into the category of eating burger, pizza etc with cutlery

    • Mz Brown

      June 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Im sorry but i can never eat amala+ ewedu+ gbegiri with bare hands because of the slimy nature of the whole meal, how will i scoop and drink d soup biko? but it is eba and d likes i cant eat with cutlery because well, how will i pack the soup on the morsel if not with my hands? does anyone get my drift here?

    • MC

      June 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      I guess it’s all of thing of preference and location.

      Eating pizza or a burger with a knife of fork is perfectly normal…especially in a restaurant. Especially when it’s one of those burgers you can’t possibly hold and get a bite our of without it falling allover the place leaving you looking like a greedy cow
      ….and I’ve been eating eba with a spoon (never quite understood using a fork…the stew and okra just falls through the gaps) for about 15 years now, (acrylic nails was the initial reason) and my eba still taste the same.

    • Rametu

      June 10, 2015 at 12:41 pm


    • toyin

      June 8, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      On this food matter, when I moved to Europe, I was very uncomfortable cooking my Nigerian meals when my flatmates were around. I thought our meals weren’t soooo pleasing in the eyes. A few months later, after eating black pasta my Italian flatmate made, I thought to myself how foolish I was to think Nigerian meals were inferior. Started whipping my goat meat egusi and when they make their silly faces and ask what I was cooking, I offered them. One even went as far as reading about garri and telling me it contains acid. Lol, Well, look at how beautiful I am from eating this acidic food. Next time she tasted my garri and okra soup.

      Meanwhile, can someone also organize a foofoo tasting thingy? We also need to know the different kinds of foofoo out there and why some smell more than others.

    • molarah

      June 8, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Yea right? That would be soooo cool. Cos there’s the cocoyam variety and the casava variety, and its even possible to throw in a yam and plantain variety. We have diversity we’ve refused to explore.

  17. Frosh♥

    June 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    It always amazes me as to why the standard of being cultured has to be hinged on *foreign* culture like wine tasting and all the other balberdash mentioned above. I live for the day when a french man would want to know the difference between zobo and kunu, tbh they jus dont give a FUX!! Yet we stand around feeling accomplished when we have fit into their mould. Pls dont get me wrong i dont have anything against being well travelled, well schooled, well read etc etc it is a good thing and i feel the world is too beautiful not to be seen but, i just feel that enough of this western culture being the “standard”, while their culture is beautiful and i thoroughly appreciate it, we should learn to celebrate our OWN culture (besides nobody else would especially not the white man!!) and let us define ourselves as “cultured” based on our own “culture”
    @mz brown high five to you!!

    • Peculiar Okafor

      June 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      while we’re on the subject, our ancestors tasted wine abeg, remember those scenes on African Magic epic where elders will drink palm wine from a calabash and say ‘is this Mazi Okoro’s wine, it is good wine not like that of Mazi mbe’. All na wine tasting

    • J

      June 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      ROTFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES OO! Palm wine tasting and testing!!!!

    • Abena

      June 8, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      hahaha,Peculiar dassor…..they had their own form of wine tasting…

  18. ogeAdiro

    June 8, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I’m cultured in the Igbo culture. I can tell the difference between fresh palm wine and overnight.

    • J

      June 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Dear, thats cultured!!!

  19. tunmi

    June 8, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Man I miss palm wine. I do like Pachelbel’s Canon though. I love string instruments, add drums and I am in heaven (Brymo knows this). This cultured thing sha…. Yeah, being open minded is cultured enough for me.

  20. Papacy

    June 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Can we all hold on for a minute and go back to the basics? When I think “cultured” I think of words like please, excuse me, thank you, sorry, knowing which hand the fork and knife should be in, and how to use them at a table. Speaking correct, audible English. Not this yeye British accent I jammed in ds lagos I came to! When I was in camp, the foreign kids will gather together n speak in every accent known to man, and say things like ” u schooled at nottingham yeah? Thought so, could hear a bi ovit in ur accent!” And I ask them, where did u attend secondary skl; naija, primary nko; naija. So in 4 yrs (laced wt occasional vacs) u have a “Nottingham accent?! Chidera! Is it how u used to do? Basics people. Basics. Please I love classical music o, it’s not a “thing”, I just liked the programme on radio nigeria since I was little (does listening to radio nigeria make me cultured or downright weird?) lol.

  21. Weather

    June 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Errr @Papacy, I’m sure you meant American English heavily laden with pressed breath and upturned nose. You could never miss the ‘foneh’ accent. And I agree with you on basics,. Very important.

    • Papacy

      June 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Lol. My dear, I’m not sure it can qualify as an accent per say. Mixture of both and a touch of “tinsel English” and u have it!

  22. lollly

    June 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

    i”ll tink of being cultured as doing things with finesse.
    on the issue of wine tasting…during my last vac in capetown, i signed up for several tours and somehow found out i had also being included in ‘wine tasting’. oh boy, i hated myself, couldnt just tell the difference btw all the red liquids and when i mentioned this to my co-tourists who happened to be oyinbos, they just gave me one funny look like…mehn, she must be from the cave.
    and when it comes with food, just give me eba, amala, ewa…anything other than local delicacies, mbanu. i cant pretend and form “chinese” untop wetin go enter my stomach

  23. Funmilola

    June 9, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Nice article as always Atoke.
    Please can someone tell me where Mz SA went? BN isn’t complete without her.

  24. Beverly

    June 12, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Hahahahahahaha, between Lagos, Ogbomosho and Illorin! But it’s true naa. Some people just pretend to be what they are not. Personally, if I don’t like something, food or music, I let the people know. I nor dey form o, America or not . I was taken to a Mexican restaurant in South Carolina, I didn’t like the food and I told my date so. I nor want purge abeg.

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