Tag Archives: Nigerian

of pigeons, pidgins, and pop

pigeon-by-scaleagencyAbove is a photo of pigeons originally posted on local photographer scaleagency’s blog entitled “Assignment Photography”. Very interesting.  It reminded me of a shot I took in Pilsen some time ago (see below).  On both, I wonder what the birds must be thinking, and what they would utter at that moment, if given the chance.  My theory is that they are much brighter than we give them credit for (and I do not agree with the whole “rats-with-wings theory [Michael]).  For more from scaleagency (Paul Muhammad), click here.

Another thing that interests me is language (more specifically, Linguistics [the sources of languages]).  One group of anomalies I love is the band of pidgins that exists out there (see, this rant is related… kind of).  Pidgins are languages that are broken down, impure, and/or simplified versions of their parent tongue (like street style versus runway fashion).  An example is Nigerian Pidgin, which contains bits of English, Yoruba, and Portuguese among other languages.   An example of the Pidgin is:

The babe dey do nyanga or the girl is playing hard to get

…or, you could simply listen to almost any Fela Kuti track.

Ironically, according to Wikipedia, “The origin of the word pidgin is uncertain. The first time pidgin appeared in print was in 1850, [but] there are many sources from which the word may be derived. For example:

  • A Chinese mispronunciation of the English word business.
  • The Portuguese word ocupação (business).
  • The Hebrew word pidjom (barter).
  • A Yayo word pidians, which means people.
  • English pigeon, a bird sometimes used for carrying brief written messages, especially in times prior to modern telecommunications”

To me, such languages express the living quality of languages… Their ability to grow with the people who use them.  But, they also reflect the history of a community; they carry bits of language left like scars, or testaments, from every intersection of divergent cultures.

contemplating pigeon

NOTE: To explain Pidgins another way, I’ll break down what I call the Pidgin of Pop: Malta.  Malta is a dark brown malt beverage, like stout, but it tastes sort of like molasses and is non- alcoholic.   What’s compelling to me about malta is it is popular throughout the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, but is also popular in areas of Africa like Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and in the Indian Ocean (even though it started out in Germany).  Each of these seemingly divergent cultures have their own spin on the soda:

Many Latin Americans serve Malta with condensed or evaporated milk while Africans often serve it with ice (unlike beer).

Either way, it’s delicious (and a hard-core part of multiple cultures).


Sonari is Mixed


This is an interview I conducted for Vocalo.org some time ago, in which a Black man (NPR’s Sonari Rhodes Glinton) concedes he is “mixed”: Half African and Half African-American.  At first listen, the categorization sounds almost comical, but consider his viewpoint: one major factor in Ethnicity is culture… and no one can argue that Africans and African-Americans aren’t culturally distinct.  Above is a picture of dear Sonari (many moons ago):

Listen to a few minutes of his story below:

Sonari is Mixed

On a similar topic, the culture clash (and level of misunderstanding) between Africans and African-Americans has always tripped me out (i.e. Fela Kuti was not swinging on vines).


I discovered a blog recently that a very gracious African set up to address pervasive, negative stereotypes (plus, it’s really funny):


here’s a taste:

from “The Name Debacle”

Posted July 2, 2008 by stuffafricanshate

“Damn,” one of them said after hearing one of the names.

Behind me was a family dressed in traditional Nigerian garb that were hissing their teeth at what was becoming quite an uncomfortable and condescending situation.

“If that were a white person down there saying Juanita or DaShauna or Fredricka and laughing, black people would walk out in offense,” said one Nigerian woman behind me.

“Well, maybe he should have used an American name,” said another.


I had to Zack Morris (step outside of) the situation and analyze what was happening.

Here on darkjive, there’s an earlier post in which Steve Walsh and I talk about the ad below, and why it “ruffles my feathers” (as opposed to “shakes my tailfeather” [okay. that was just silly]). Then, a Nigerian puts his two cents in.