At a meeting attended by Nigerians from different ethnic groups, the MC—a proudly traditional Igbo man who spoke impeccable English—gladly announced “item 2” on the list of events. It was time to present the kola nuts.
In line with African tradition, he doffed his hat and welcomed the guests again.
Smilingly, he greeted everyone in Ibo, Hausa and Yoruba—the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. Then he paused. His sudden silence and trance-like appearance indicated an unexpressive communication with an immortal being.
‘…The gods neither speak nor understand English language,’ he said in a hoarse voice, shaking his head in supplication, respect and fear.
‘I crave your indulgence,’ he implored every Ibo man and woman at the event, ‘to translate my favourite libations to our brothers and sisters who don’t understand our dialect.’ His face beamed with joy and appreciation.
“Onye wetara ọji wetara ndụ,” he said.
Some obviously educated Ibos at the event echoed, “He who brings kolanuts, brings life.”
“Thank you,” the MC echoed. “Ọ biara be m abigbulam, ya la wa be ya, nkpunkpu a da kwa la ya.”
The hall quickly switched to “silent mode.” Me sef no talk but ears dey ground for long long time.
Please, what’s the best translation for that adage?