One of the things that I am constantly thinking about when I hang around a bunch of Nigerians is “GOD, these people LOVE to hear themselves talk!” or “OMG, shut up already!” Of course that is a totally bitchy and culturally condescending thing to say, and with all cultural issues I encounter I always want to examine why these things happen or why they are the way they are because I feel it helps me to be more understanding and tolerant and usually helps with my irritation levels.
I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks trying to come up with some reasons that whenever a microphone seems to be near, everyone and their mother feels the need to use it and offer their opinions for hours after everyone is done listening and ready to move on.
After some serious thinking I’ve come up with my answer. It may not be the right answer necessarily, but it makes me satisfied and helps me to be more understanding.
Nigeria is place full of rigid social customs and a very corrupt government. People are not allowed to freely speak out (for the most part) due to strict social norms about decorum. “Free and fair elections” are not really present here. Once a government is in power there is no system for checks and balances nor a system for feedback on how the government is doing. All of these conditions I believe set up an atmosphere where people are rarely allowed to speak their opinions and have anyone listen to them. So when they are offered an opportunity to speak and be heard, they are dying to utilize it. So it doesn’t matter if everyone has sat for hours and hours and are tired of whatever program is running, people won’t be done until they’ve had their turn at the mic and had their opportunity to speak their minds.
So I am trying harder to be sensitive to this, and to always remember how lucky I am that I can speak my mind whenever I want in a variety of different venues, vote for whomever I want on regularly scheduled intervals, and basically know that my government is at least partially held accountable to the people and aren’t totally corrupt.