Nowadays, only the brave can listen to certain radio stations. One has to be almost sadistic to inflict such torture on the ears. The strange sounds that come out of presenters’ mouths serve as classic examples of Fake Accent Disorder (FAD), a psychological condition that is troubling the country.
FAD is the inability to speak with one’s native accent. In Nigeria, it is the preference of the voice box for a horrendous imitation of an American accent if you are a radio or television presenter, or a ghastly ‘British’ accent for people who work in education and cooperate executives. The effects on uninfected listeners include: aching ears, hysterical laughter and a state of confusion due to the unintelligibility of the speaker’s words.
This does not concern people who speak in a non-Nigerian accent as a result of a childhood abroad. However, FAD explains why a person returns home speaking in a different accent after a two-week holiday overseas, and why someone who has never left their state speaks phonè (short for phonetics; meaning fake foreign accent). FAD sufferers seem to be under the impression that anyone who doesn’t speak with a foreign accent must be beneath them.
The degree of FAD manifestation varies from person to person. Some individuals speak phonè all the time. In some others, FAD is only observed in public speaking. Yet there are sufferers that are only symptomatic when in the presence of a foreigner, particularly a Caucasian.
All cases of FAD stem from a deadly psychological state called colonial mentality – also referred to as colomentality by the country’s finest ever psychologist, Fela Kuti. Colomentality first hinders an individual’s thinking faculty, creating an inferiority complex, thereby paving the way for the development of FAD. Thus, FAD simply expresses a desire to be regarded as sophisticated and intelligent as the Great White Man.
In most cases, FAD is completely voluntary and can be managed; however, in some individuals, where colomentality is at its most severe, the sufferer has no control. This is most often observed in people who speak with an atrocious and unidentifiable accent in the presence of foreigners.
The people we are trying to imitate all speak with their native accents so what’s wrong with our own pronunciation? Is our accent really that grotesque? Does an American or British person ever change their accent for us? They may slow the speed of their speech but their intonation and pronunciation remain the same. Their accent does not change.
So, flaunt your h-factor. Let h-everyone see how h-exceptional your h-accent h-is. If they don’t understand, repeat yourself and slow down. Take full pride in all the varieties of the Nigerian accent. Speak it everywhere with confidence.