City Conversations: The Introduction

As a people we love to talk, there’s no taking that away from the average Nigerian! It’s common enough in the populace and more rampant in some people groups. I will not name names so that it cannot be used against me sometime in the future. So we love the sound of our own voices and this is often seen at public forums when the opportunity to ask questions is presented.

For some it’s like a switch is flipped when they get the microphone, they start to ramble and say any and everything but ask the actual question. Some give their names (first part of the introduction), credentials, throw in a bit of other irrelevant matter and commence their ‘lecture’ rather than ask their question. More often than not, most may not actually want to ask anything, but rather use it as an opportunity to solicit attention. Although what they hope to achieve often beats my imagination since the volume of words spoken has the potential to turn the audience off.

I’ve been in the audience a few times and witnessed these incidents, annoyance is the first reaction elicited from listeners, some eventually get to the question but the essence is often lost in the verbosity demonstrated. Telling everyone about the training you received in geosciences and how it affects your question on payment of income tax in Lagos state is a mystery that leaves most confused. So it has become common practice during audience participation to ask people to simply state their name and get right to their question.

Success to this guideline is on a case by case situation. Often enough though many individuals flout it and the master of ceremony has the dubious honour of controlling flow and time. This is no means an easy feat as those that want to have their say, will and damn the consequences in the process. Masters of ceremonies at corporate events have to be highly skilled in this aspect as verbosity is not quickly spotted until the culprit displays the trait, by which time it’s often too late.

The art of the personal introduction has many faces…in one instance a lady got up and by way of introduction said, ‘my name is Mrs. Ojibijibi,’ made her statement and sat down well pleased. Those with chieftaincy titles will ensure all and sundry know it; in fact you dare not to leave it out if the person in question has a major role in the proceedings. Some with doctorates and other alphabets trailing their names also delight to have them acknowledged publicly.

There have been hilarious incidents of introductions gone wrong; those cases where it is essential that protocol is strictly observed are ‘interesting’ to say the least. More hum drum occasions include, ‘my names are’, ‘my name is mrs’, ‘call me mummy roger,’ ‘i am chief doctor pastor,’ the list goes on. Nigerians love titles, accolade and attention generally, the longer they remain in the limelight with a lot of people taking note the more they like it. We never shy away from it, no matter what the consequences and this makes the Nigerian stand out anywhere on earth.

Pride in achievement is one of the reasons for the five minutes some use to blow their trumpets, after all how else will you know what they have acquired? Although like I’ve stated earlier some of this boasting is often lost because it’s made to the wrong market or audience. For some it is second nature and they do it reflexively no matter the size of the audience. However, proper introduction also includes appearance, pleasantries and other societal protocols, not just a prepared spiel. Have you witnessed any interesting introduction lately?


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