Who Are You By The Way?

I’m always amused by the way Lagosians fight. Wait a minute; do they actually fight? I think they only bragado; bragging without fighting.

If you really want a good entertainment and learn new oratory vocabularies, simply watch out for two men fighting on a Lagos street. Anyway, you won’t search for too long before you discover two literate people, who are likely to be office men in suits and ties, fighting each other over a vehicular accident. I can bet you that the accident would be a minor one in which their cars have only sustained slight dents. And the cause of the accident would be due to a refusal to give each other the right of way.

These men would stand there chest to chest, fuming, panting, raving, and blowing heavy grammars to each other. You would be inclined to wait and watch to see who throws the first punch between the two. Sorry, your waiting could be till eternity because those Mike Tyson punches may never come. But you should get your notepad and pen ready to take some lessons in the art of talking – talking in the most offensive languages under the sun.

Can’t you see? Look at what you have done to my car. Are you blind?”

That’s likely to be the opening line from one of the two educated men. By this “announcement,” you should expect a long queue of cars behind them as they wouldn’t make any attempt to clear off the main road. Every other car must just remain at a standstill. And, expectedly, the crowd must start gathering to watch a street show.

“Look at you. See who is talking, are you not at fault? You must be out of your mind? You just have to pay for my headlamp that you’ve broken; otherwise you will be in hot soup this evening.”

Aha! The stage is set. The second man has responded. 

“Me? Do you know who you are talking to?”

“Who cares?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“You, too, do you know who I am? Stupid man”

“You call me stupid? You call me stupid? I will finish you tonight.”

“Finish who? Who are you self?”


“Yes. You. I say you!”

“Do you know who you are talking to?”

“Who are you by the way? I say who are you?”

Now they are spitting on each other’s face, forehead to forehead, noses touching each other.

One of them raises his fist up. Is he going to land a punch on the other man’s face? Come on, it will never happen. That’s what is called “shakara olooje.” The fist is just going to hang up there. It won’t come down.

“You are a bastard?”

“You are a vagabond. Hit me if you can. I will show you who I am today.”

“You will see. By the time I’m through with you, your wife will not recognize you again. You idiot”

“Do your worst. Show me what you can do with that dirty fist of yours. You are a rogue. Good for nothing man.”

Now the crowd is large. And the vehicular queue is longer.

The onlookers are debating, “Na wa o, these alakowe people like to dey blow grammar too much. Make them beat each other make we see now. Na so, so, shakara dey just they do since; useless people.”

A gentleman walks up to the two warring men and tries to calm them down. “Gentlemen, calm down, calm down. I’m sure we can resolve this issue amicably,” he says.

No blow has come; just curses without fisticuffs. You are disappointed.

After emptying their verbal arsenal, each man finally walks back to his car slowly, examines the extent of the damage done, enters the car, and speeds off the scene. The war has ended. No casualty; only emotional wounds. You then wonder why they had to dissipate so much energy and cause serious inconvenience for the other road users. “Why the hassles?” you ponder.

Hmmm. That’s Lagos for you. It is a city where everyone shows power. It is a city where you must be asked the question, “Who are you by the way?” whenever you have a scuffle with someone.

Let’s forget the street fights. No matter where the argument takes place – office, family meeting, shopping mall, fuel station etc – that question must come from your opponent. It’s like a must question in any Lagos brawl. Next time you and your wife have a little disagreement and you make the mistake of scolding her, don’t be too surprised if she asks you out of annoyance, “Who are you by the way?”

As inappropriate as that question may sound under the circumstances under which it’s frequently posed, it still remains a relevant question that we should each ask ourselves. You must know who you are, and I must know the person I am. Without this, it would be difficult to live a fulfilled life. One would just end up dancing to every drumbeat.

So, let’s face it, who are you by the way? Can you truly answer that question effortlessly? Though the question is often asked to weaken the opponent, it is, indeed, a good poser that any deep thinker should consider. Do you truly know who you are as an individual?

Employment interviews usually start with that same question but posed in a better form such as, “Can we know you?” or “Please tell us about yourself.” Your guess is as good as mine that many candidates find it very difficult to answer this appropriately.

Pause for a minute at this point. Think about that question. Do you have the appropriate answer? I can guess that your mind is quickly rolling out various descriptions like “I am an Accountant by profession. I work with XYZ Company. I have two kids blah…blah…blah…”

You are not alone. That’s the way most of us describe ourselves. And because this pattern of description is quite common, it has unfortunately become the norm. Little wonder why a great number of people find it rather tasking to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They hardly know themselves.

You are not your profession; neither are you your possession. The real YOU is inside of you. You are that PERSON who is happy when certain things happen. YOU are that person who behaves in certain ways. YOU are that person who thinks. YOU are that person who dances to the tunes of certain emotions. YOU are the one talking. YOU are that YOU who holds certain beliefs. That is YOU.


In order to know yourself well, you need to identify how you behave under certain circumstances. Your personality comes out through your feelings and behaviors.

How, then, can you identify yourself properly? Well, experts proffer different suggestions. You may find the Seven Steps for Getting To Know Yourself by Suzanne E. Harrill quite useful. They are simple methods that you can easily master.

My life took a better turn the day I took the courage to look within and critically analyze myself. Wake me up in the middle of the night today and I will be able to tell you about myself without mincing words. I know what drives me. I know what hurts me. I know what I want from life. I know where I am going. And I know where I am coming from.

My approach is somewhat simpler than those recommended by Harrill. All I did was to sit down for about an hour to imagine different scenes of life and identify how I would react in each of the imaginary circumstances. The feelings obtained told me exactly who I am. In addition to this, I took the time to closely and consciously examine how I felt in certain situations that life had brought my way. I observed my thoughts, my reactions, and my wishes in each of those instances to learn a lot about myself; my REAL self. The exercise was so illuminating and it assisted me in reshaping some of my behaviors.

Don’t be surprised if I tell you that many of the people you find around are NOT showing you their REAL selves. Many people make up their behaviors, so don’t copy them. They put up a different personality while outside, but become something totally different when they return home. That is Nollywood in action. Watch them, but don’t act like them.

Make an effort to know yourself intimately. Adjust any area that is not giving you innermost satisfaction and begin to live as REAL YOU from today. Your happiness is assured.  

On a final note, human beings are not static in nature. Our situations and environments change from time to time so I expect you to grow along with time. Your state of affairs will change as you grow. This then means that you need to carry out your self-evaluation exercise periodically. But what could change, basically, are your feelings and approach to certain things; not the principles you live by; because you are who you are.  


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3 thoughts on “Who Are You By The Way?”

  1. Correct Brother human beings are definitely erratic in nature and i think it boils down to the economy of our country with respect to the poverty level of our nation.

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