NYSC DIARY: [Port Harcourt Girl] Why I need an Oyibo Accent

It’s been over a week since I wrote my last entry, since then a lot of things have changed. I’ve officially settled into my apartment in VGC and I’m gradually adjusting to my environment. My room is okay but a bit smaller than what I have at home. The walls are a shade of green I really don’t care about but I love how it matches the rug. The bathroom tiles are too dark for my liking but then it’s just a bathroom. I love my wardrobe, it’s the best wardrobe I’ve ever had even though it’s still empty.

Everybody here is super nice to me, even the kids love me. My environment is serene but I still feel a bit uncomfortable. The help calls me ‘Aunty’ and I’m thinking, ‘Dude you’re older than me’. Free rides to the gate and beyond is another constant part of life. Sometimes I decline especially when the car windows are tinted, at other times I just hop in without a care in the world.

Having electricity for over 22 hours every day feels strange and needs a lot of getting used to. I constantly have to remind myself that there’s no use in leaving my gadgets permanently plugged to the power source. On Sunday, there was a 1hour power cut. Power cuts never last for more than 10 minutes and the generator always kicks in during those 10 minutes. Sunday’s was different. There was nobody at home to turn on the gen, I’m still a JJC who is yet to figure out all the light switches and so I enjoyed the power cut – something familiar I could finally relate to.

VGC is so Un-Nigerian; from the unusually clean environment to the rows of trees lining the streets to the little kids and their foreign accents – people in VGC are practically not living in the Nigeria I was born into. Where I grew up, children could never ride bikes on the streets except they were street kids with no parent to guide them. I’ve never had electricity for more than 18 hours a day. I don’t have a foreign accent and I was taught to always respect the helps because they make my life easier.

VGC is run on a different set of rules. Bicycles are in vogue – every evening hot moms on bum short and giggly fresh looking kids hit the street for a ride.

One of the rules of living here seems to be ‘never say hello to the help or anyone that looks like them’. Should write some more on this rule but then I hate to sound like someone’s grandma.

You’re probably wondering why my title says ‘ Why I need an oyibo accent’. FAM, everybody here is obsessed with accents. All the kids have one, naturally acquired from their elite schools and holidays abroad. Most adults here also have one they obviously spent years practicing and people tend to treat you better when you wear one.

Been wearing an accent for 4 days now – not sure where I got it from. I think it sounds Brit-American but I’m really not sure. Everybody from the security guard to residents who always give me a ride are falling for it. My accent makes me smile a lot; it’s the best I can do to avoid laughing out loud in the middle of a conversation. They must be thinking ‘ this girl has international exposure’ . Me, I’m just laughing in Ikwerre.

 

Source: Nigerian Bulletin

To share your NYSC experience email nyscdiaries[at]corperwee.com.ng

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