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Tosin Abiodun: Why Are Nigerians So Rude?



Not quite long ago, I attended a wedding, and as a rule, I usually make sure I eat well before leaving my house to attend any body’s party. So, no matter how enticing the food looks, I am only able to fit drinks and small chops in my already full belly.

At this party, I was struck by the glaring rudeness of the guests. Guests kept ordering the wait staff around, ” Get me pe-pe soup”, “No goat meat”? ,”Why have you not served this table”, ” Why are you people so slow” ” Bring wine”, Bring glass”, Bring cutlery”, ” What is wrong with these sah-vas?”  On and on they went, complaining, gracelessly demanding this and that.

Ordering them around was not the problem, after all they were there to make guests comfortable. However, in all the demanding, no one used the word ‘Please’, which meant there was definitely no hope for any ‘ Thank Yous’.

The other day at the airport, I was scrolling through my phone to kill boredom while waiting for my luggage at the carousel, since the machine had not even been turned on. There was a fellow behind me talking loudly on his phone. Suddenly, I felt my a tap on my shoulder and without missing a beat, or ending his call,

“Sister take down this number for me”.

My head wan scatter. I turned around slowly but my usually sharp mouth didn’t have an immediate response. He called out the number and I numbly thumbed it into my phone.  Yeah. I did.

Another guy on the opposite side of the carousel watching the exchange gave me a sympathetic and amused look, he badly wanted to laugh. I was incredulous, I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  This fellow didn’t even have the courtesy to ask politely for the favour he needed. I just became an instant PA for him. When he was done and asked for the number, I held the phone to show him so he could punch it into his own phone, he nodded and walked away. I didn’t say a word to him. I was fuming but I couldn’t express it.

That was it. True life story brethren, it happened to me. I only became angry at myself after he had left because I was in shock while the whole thing was happening. I felt like I was in a trance the whole time.

The average Nigerian is quite rude and doesn’t even realize it, sometimes even proud of it.  Let me briefly give you 6 examples to show you I am not exaggerating things. Feel free to add your experiences in the comment section.

1) Lack of airplane decorum, especially on international flights. Ever witnessed a full-on fight for overhead luggage space on a Lagos- London flight for example? Usually cringeworthy & disgraceful. Remember the British Airways air hostess that got into trouble for describing Nigerian passengers? She didn’t tell any lies.

2) Looking into another person’s phone or laptop screen and laughing/ making comments about what they are reading when they clearly aren’t showing it to you. Bonus point: Flipping through someone’s photo gallery when they only showed you one photo.

3) Making comments about other people’s weight if you aren’t friends- You’ve probably heard comments like, ‘ You’ve really added o’ or  ‘You look like you’ve lost weight’.  If we aren’t close friends then it’s not a compliment, don’t assume it is.

4) Appearing uninvited to other people’s homes- some will even bring along an extra guest to come and ‘greet you’ at home- Yes it’s rude, know this now.

5) Another example of bad behaviour on flights. Eating your Iru smelling Ofada stew and Ofada rice in an enclosed capsule with 150+ other passengers of other nationalities…because you are Nigerian and you have two heads.  I know you can’t stand oyinbo food, but no matter how you look at it, it is a clear disregard for shared space.

6) General rudeness because you are paying for something. This happens in hotels, restaurants, taxis etc. Once a Nigerian is paying for something they don’t believe they still have to use the words ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’.

Even though there are five basic words to show politeness- Please, Thank you, Sorry, Excuse me and Pardon me, as Nigerians, our true power lies in the ability to make all these nice words sound rude.

Rudeness is a Nigerian thing. It’s probably in the constitution.

Experienced any of the examples I just gave? Please share! Are you rude, or generally discourteous? Please change, thank you. Being polite won’t hurt you. I promise.

Photo Credit: Vadymvdrobot | Dreamstime

Tosin Abiodun is a communications strategist & entrepreneur. In her spare time, she writes advertising copy for small businesses. Follow her on Instagram @trulytosin.