When I arrived at Kyebi Government Senior School from my birthplace, Asiakwa, it cost me money, and I was anxious to recoup my loss by grabbing as much knowledge as possible. But this gave me the reputation of a “swot”.
Some of my classmates were annoyed that whenever the teacher asked a question, I put up my hand and answered it. Correctly.
So they decided to teach me a lesson. They brought a guy from another school, who was said to have a “great command of big words in English”, to “challenge” me. He began by asking me to tell him the meaning of the following sentence:
“You are inthokthicathed with the ekthubillance of your own febothity!!”
Not having yet been exposed to the lingo of the boxer, Chris Eubank, I said “What?”
And the boy repeated the sentence.
I’d never heard anyone lisp as badly as that, and honestly, I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was trying to say. I said, “I can’t understand you!” He got annoyed and told me:
“You have no thagathity!”
After some research, I got to know that what he’d been trying to recite, in his first salvo of big words, was a quote from the British politicians, Disraeli, which ran as follows: “You are intoxicated [sometimes rendered as inebriated] with the exuberance of your own verbosity!”
And “You have no thagathity”, I found, meant, “You have no sagacity”; i.e. you have no wisdom; i.e. you are a fool!
I’d forgotten all about this – despite the fact that occasionally, I had heard expressions that made me remark: “Tu Bra”! (Bring it forth!) beneath my breath – until last week. I was glancing through some of the postings on a Nigerian internet forum when I came across the following item:
“On the 2014 United Nations International Youths Day held in UNILAG … students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) [had to] arm themselves with writing materials and mobile dictionaries to attend Patrick Obahiagbon’s speech.
“Patrick Obahiagbon aka ‘I-godo-migodo’, was a former member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives [and] is currently the Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.”
Next came an explanation of: “Why I speak Big, Big Grammar” – Hon. Obahiagbon
QUOTE: “Patrick Obahiagbon, who represents Oredo Federal Constituency of Edo State, shot to [the] limelight the moment he arrived [in] the House of Representatives in 2007, with his uncanny knack for jaw-breaking words.
“For reasons he explained exclusively toSaturday Vanguard, the 1983 product of St John Bosco Grammar School, Obiaja, Edo State, swore that he has since cut short on the big, big vocabulary he uses.
“The 1987 Law graduate of University of Benin, who also holds two Master[s] degrees, [explained] that the intention is not to deliberately befuddle or obfuscate them”.
Excerpts: “Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist.
The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in a portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it.
“The cosmic force would not allow me to do that. But, you see if you ask homo sapients who have interfaced with me for close to twenty years now, they would tell you that I no longer speak high-sounding language.
I have reduced it radically…. I am trying and I will continue to try, to ensure that my language, or my idiolect, is as limpid and as diaphanous as possible.
“But, let me say that I am an omnivorous reader and I put my nose on the grinding stone to read for more than 7 hours a day, when most innocent men are sleeping, and night marauders are doing their business. ….And like I always tell people, the dictionary for me is not a reference point; the dictionary is a vade mecum, a constant companion.
I spend, on the average, not less than an hour a day referencing the dictionary, for the past twenty to twenty-five years. So don’t be maniacally bewildered if I speak most times, from what I draw while reading. But, really, the intention is not to deliberately befuddle or obfuscate my presentations on the floor.
“I was a student Union activist all my years in the University of Benin. Little wonder, as soon as I left the University and finished my Youth Service, I dabbled into the aqua of political arena.
“I have been in State and National politics effectively from 1999. But it has not been a bed of roses, giving (sic) the miasma, that convoluted phantasmagoria, given the prependalism and all the intrigues in Nigerian politics…Every time I lost an election, I would decide to be more recusant rather than being recumbent.
I decided to be more quixotic rather than being laisser-faire; to challenge my destiny the more, rather than relapsing into a cocoon of levity, or into a cocoon of political narcissism. And I thank the great galaxy of the universe, that… in 1999, my bread was buttered.
“The cosmic afforded me the lacuna to give a vivacious and vibrant representation to my constituency… I am a robot in the hand of God. believe that the hand of God and the cosmic imprimaturs are in my political odyssey. UNQUOTE
What? Seriously? Yes! But that was only an appetiser. It is when we get into an interview published by Punch newspaper that we get the real McCoy::
QUOTE: WAEC Seized My English Result Twice – Patrick Obahiagbon
Punch – Did you write exams in school in these big words?
Honourable – I used such words very-very freely in my exams both at the secondary school and in my university and little wonder I had the misfortune of my English results being seized intermittently in my O’ Levels.
WAEC released my results for the other subjects and withheld my English result. This happened for about three years.
Twice, I passed the University Matriculation Examination but I could not proceed to the University because of my English results that…were not released. [until] …. after the third attempt.
Punch – Why do you always use ‘big grammar’?
Honourable- I am not really consensus ad idem with those who opine that my idiolect is advertently obfuscative…. It’s just that I am in my elements when the colloquy has to do with the pax nigeriana of our dreams and one necessarily needs to fulminate against the alcibiadian modus vivendi of our prebendal political class.
Punch – How do you talk to your wife, children and even your friends?
Honourable – I relate with my family and friends very warmly and in an atmosphere of camaraderie, stripped of my confutational habiliment and gladiatorial homilies.
Punch - Is this the way you proposed to your wife, speaking high tech grammar?
Honourable – Of course, the business of the day when I interfaced with my wife on matters of the heart had to be in plain Caeser’s language and you can decipher why that had to be so. The matter in view did not permit itself of sphinxian conundrum.
Punch – Do you know that many people don’t take you too seriously when you talk because they think you are not communicating?
Honourable – Why will I be perturbed from ensconcing myself in the palatable arms of Morpheus because people have deprived themselves of the cultivation of the regime of the mental magnitude? I read all the farrago of baloneys and vacuous bunkum from pepper soup objurgators. The spirit of animadversion remains their fundamental human right.
It also remains an indubitable fact that I get millions and millions of requests daily from people all over the world requesting for my verbal mentorship which positive cosmopolitan reactions have assisted my equipoise and righteous sense of pachydermatous garb.
I cannot put my nose to the grindstone daily and expect to be understood by those luxuriating in a modus vivendi, verging on pepper-souping, suyaing, [i.e. eating suya or kebab] big Stouting [i.e. imbibing Stout beer from the larger bottles] and isiewulising: [i.e.partaking in an Igbo dish made with a goat’s head]. Has a philosophical wag not once pontificated that things of the spirit are spiritually discerned and that it takes the deep to call the deep?
Punch -Why do you pull your trousers up beyond the waist?
Honourable – Hahahaha….That trousers style is called Yohji Yamamoto. It was my own audacious statement to remonstrate against the pervasive tendency of Nigerian, especially our youths, that took to the practice of putting on trousers exposing their lower anatomical contours. UNQUOTE
(To be continued)