Some days ago I stopped at a large neighborhood shop to get some groceries and as I walked along the aisles, I heard a lady speak unmistakable South-South Nigerian pidgin. She spoke it so comfortably and with such finesse that I was enthralled. I made sure I located the lady behind the voice, made small talk with her and I was right; she grew up in Benin, hence her ‘korekt pidgin’ accent. I grew up in the Southern part of Nigeria and pidgin English was not permitted in our home. I tried to learn it when I was much older but I felt that it didn’t really stick, especially because of the way people laughed at my concerted attempts to put it together. However, I heard it spoken quite frequently so sometimes, in my off guard moments, I could slip in a phrase or two amidst conversation and my boss would laugh and call me a ‘Bendel Girl’. Truth is that with or without my permission, I had become somewhat defined by my environment, so my manner of speech and accent had defined me as a Bendel girl. Same way a man that has the ‘sh’ sound for ‘ch’ would be identified as being of a certain extraction as would one that may speak betraying the ‘H’ factor.
Our accents and speech reflect to some extent who we are by reason of where we have been. Now I am not talking about the accents we make up, and I know people do that, and have to actively keep the act up. It is possible to act out and make one up, like the one we put up when we have that high powered presentation to make to foreign clients whom we cannot afford to have confused, or the one you are forced to use when you have spoken slowly and clearly in your best Nigerian English accent and you still get a series of ‘Pardon me’ responses in quick succession.
I’m talking of the accent we have when our guard is down: you at your most comfortable moment as that is what truly reflects who we are. Same way I could tell that lady had some core South-South influence by her pidgin, our ‘accent’ should also reflect what manner of people we are. I am reminded that who we are will always show and that the life of Christ will ooze out of the believer. He doesn’t even need to be checking it, no pretense, and no acting. Even amidst normal conversations of life, without meaning to sound churchy and with no conscious effort, his accent gives him away, just as my Bendelness often betrays me via my expressions. When you walk in the Spirit, you don’t have to be trying to sound spiritual, you are that! You are like Christ and your opinions and speech are tainted with the accent of the kingdom. Honestly, what does your accent say about you? Does it reveal one who has been with Jesus ? What is the undertone of my most comfortable conversation? This has nothing to do with my polished Twitter persona or the well managed front I may put up in a Christian gathering. When I am most comfortable, what accent do I speak with?
There is a kingdom and a kingdom language that those who belong to the kingdom speak. It is an outflowing of the inward spirit. People around you begin to be more circumspect around you. So perhaps I have the accent of an indigene of a ‘no-nonsense, aggressive tribe’. As soon as people hear my accent, they immediately choose to be of their best behavior. You know what? I may not even be as powerful as they reckon but that identity shields me. Having the identity of the kingdom is like that. We may not be grown lions yet, we may yet be cubs but we have the roar of the lion. When people see us, they hear the accent and immediately classify us as lions. We are out there feeling ‘I’m not all that’ but what we think about us matters not. What matters is that as soon as we identify with the kingdom by our accent, there is a certain expectation of us. By the new covenant, we have put on Christ, so when we roar what we call a baby roar, it is a giant roar the enemy hears.
You cannot hide your true accent, at your most vulnerable moment it will show, just like a colleague lost her made up accent in anger one day. She didn’t even realize she had lapsed to her original accent. Who shows up when someone hits your car and you are really upset? Does that accent represent the kingdom? Or when your direct reports are really slow and you need to address their lapses. What accent shows up when you are really upset with your domestic staff or that driver that is constantly on your nerves? Our true identify reflects through us at the moment we least realize. Is it consistent with who we should be? We must ensure that we are true to ourselves and the kingdom to which we claim allegiance, especially with our accents.
Have a lovely day.