The Grammarian of Africa
PATRICK OBAHIAGBON, the Chief-of-Staff to the Governor of Nigeria’s River State in Nigeria, speaks about his often humorous – and just as often difficult to understand – “big grammar” method of speaking and why he chooses to dress in his rather unique way…
Q: Why do you always speak ‘big grammar’?</b>
A: I am not really consensus ad idem with those who opine that my idiolect is advertently obfuscative. No no no, 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.
Q: How do you talk to your wife, children and even your friends?
A: I relate with my family and friends very warmly and in an atmosphere of camaraderie, stripped of my confutational habiliment and gladiatorial homilies. I am a very peaceful, calm, level-headed and celestially attuned soul personality.
Q: Is this the way you proposed to your wife, speaking high tech grammar?
A: 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.
It’s a long time ago, so I can’t remember the exact words I used. We had a relationship for ten years before we got married. We’re looking at close to 20 years ago. Do you know that many people don’t take you too seriously when you talk because they think you are not communicating
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, goat heading, suyaing, big stouting and isiewulising. 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? We will speak more on this matter of critiques and chichi dodo another day.
Q: How does your family understand your English?
A: My family and friends understand me perfectly just the same way you understand me now though, I must admit that it depends on the issues on the piazza.
Q: How did you start speaking in this manner?
A: It all happened when my father brought me a teaser which stated that good orators had ruled the world and you must have to be a feisty orator if you must rule the world. As an impressionable young man, I alacritously threw myself into the whirligig of improving my usage of words by amassing new words on a daily basis.
Q: Do you pray the same way you speak?
A: God understands all languages, my brother and I pray to God using any word that pops up. May I posit that the key points in prayers are your sincerity, purity of heart, walking within the compass and to what extent are you ready and worthy of receiving the benediction of the cosmic and the cosmic masters because as we say in mysticism- “when the students are ready, the masters would appear.”
Take my words my brother that more than seventy per cent of humanity don’t know how to pray but that is a matter for another day.
Q: By the way, are there other names you call God?
A: God is variously known as Jehovah, Yaweh, The Great Grand Architect of the Universe, The Cosmic Host and several other names known alone to heirophants but which names are so ineffable for me to mention here.
Q: Why do you pull your trousers up beyond the waist?
A: Hahahaha….That trousers style is called Yohji Yamamoto. It was my own audacious statement to remonstrate against the pervasive tendency of Nigerians especially our youths that took to the practice of putting on trousers exposing their lower anatomical contours and I will do it over and over again.
Q: When you speak to Caucasians of English origin, how do they react to you?
A: My friends that are whites simply marvel and sometimes get maniacally bewildered when we engage, most times to my consternation.
Q: Do you look forward to developing your own dictionary?
A: My own dictionary? I have never really given that a thought, but there is a young man in one of our universities who travelled all the way to meet me in Benin. His doctoral thesis is on “Obahiagbonism as a style of language”.
Q: How many dictionaries do you read a day and how often do you read dictionaries?
A: I have read and still do read a vaudeville of dictionaries from Websters to Funk and Wagnalls, from Cambridge to Oxford dictionaries, from Black’s Law Dictionary to Encarta and from Encyclopedia Britannica to Foreignisms, etcetera. I developed my corpus of vocabulary by reading omnivorously. I have also spent nothing less than an hour daily on my dictionary for over twenty years. So, whereas the dictionary for most people is a mere occasional reference point, it is for, me a vade-mecum. It may also interest you to know that there is much to learn from our daily newspapers.
Q: You seem to mix English with other languages…
A: On mixing of languages; that comes with reading omnivorously. You cannot but pick these words here and there if you have an audacious reading culture.
Q: Are any of your children like you?
A: My children are still growing but I petition the celestial choir and cosmic hosts to give them the gift of kissing the hybla bee. – Awareness Times