Michael Iluma, a senior studying International Relations and Acting at the University of Southern California, who hails from Abuja, Nigeria, provided two pieces of folklore for this collection.
The interview was run, within his bedroom, on West 30th Street in the outskirts of the University of Southern California campus.
Folk Performance: “So, It’s like you’ve grown wings, oshe” (a Nigerian Saying)
Folk Type: Folk-Speech.
“What about Nigerian parents, man they’re always saying the wildest things.” – Stanley Kalu
STORY: truuueeee. So, like, another thing too, is like when you’re at home and let’s say that you’re not being very—I guess whether you’ve been misbehaving at home and your mom or your dad will be like “Oh, so it’s like you’ve grown wings, oshe” which is like “oh, you think you can fly” or you’re like above what they’re trying to tell you or ask you to do. And then, like, what they end up saying is “ohhh, we’ll chop those wings.” Which is like, we’re gonna bring you down to our level which is a way of reminding you that they are your parents.
Background Information: The statement historically refers to poultry. Historically, Nigeria is an agrarian nation and, as such, many common sayings refer back to farming. Often times, a growing chicken will flap their wings and become aggressive. To counteract this, Nigerians will often clip the wings of their chickens.
Michael enjoys this statement because, as apart of the Nigerian Diaspora, he is currently displaced. The reenactment of statements of this sort remind him of home and provide an initial common, vernacular ground between himself and other members of the Nigerian Diaspora.
Context of performance: Michael performed this act, as many Nigerian children do, in an accent-heavy impression of his father. The Father, in Nigerian culture, is often the disciplinarian.
Thoughts: Nigeria, like most places around the world, is a culture that not only accepts, but also actively encourages beating children as a form of disciplinary action. My initial thought, despite the Abrahamic religious link that legitimizes such an action, is whether this attitude is derived from an agrarian perspective. If you beat an animal and it behaves, or in the case of poultry cut off it’s wings, then perhaps it’ll be the same for children.