Abeg, totori yo sef
Edwin Eriata Oribhabor
There’s hardly a day that goes by without somebody pleading for something, somewhere. It is vital for the soft-landing of any request. No matter the reason behind it or the style in which it is broached, pleading is strategic to any harmonious relationship.
When one says abeg in Naija, one is simply saying, “please” as used in the English language. Drawn from the word beg, it is a polite way of asking for something. For example should one ask for money from another person by saying abeg giv mi kudi or pepe, it is the same as, “please give me some money.” Similarly, in a request for assistance, one could say abeg mek yu help mi fo wetin wi tok, meaning, please help me out with what we discussed.
In Naija totori means tickle or to tickle. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (6th Edition) says to tickle is to move one’s fingers on a sensitive part of somebody’s body in a way that makes the person laugh. Thus to totori anyone is the same as to tickle somebody’s fancy or cause him or her to be amused or pleased by your action. But it is not restricted to “fingarin” or a touching the body of the person.
The dictionary also says that some people are ticklish/sensitive to finger touch rephrased in Naija as: som pipul bodi de kwik de totori dem. If totori is capable of exciting or making one to be pleased, the question now is hu no go laik am? Who wouldn’t want to be pleased, excited or happy by being tickled by a touch of the hand or by a certain development?
The title of this piece, ‘Abeg, totori yo sef” is saying please go ahead to excite or spoil yourself with whatever.
The word totori could also be defined as a state of enthusiasm about an upcoming activity or event. In this context, no totori mi means; don’t excite me or put me in a state of anxiety; especially when the hope of having something or partaking in an event is slim. The same occurs in relationships where one unnecessarily excites or totori his/her partner fo notin. Na im mek dem tok se mek manpikin no de totori anoda pesin tu mosh.
The role of the media in promoting Naija as a language cannot be overemphasized. I addressed this in my paper titled, “The Use of Naija in the Media, Arts and Entertainment in Nigeria” (IFRA-Nigeria’s Conference on Nigeria Pidgin in Ibadan, Nigeria, 2009). The phrase “no bi smol tin” was already in use before Tu-face (Innocent Idibia) one of Nigeria’s finest musicians helped to popularize it in his songs. Similarly, one Francis Achi (The Totori Master), the presenter of Pidgin Sports on Vision FM 92.1 FM Abuja, is taking the word totori to the next level and deserves special recognition in the unique and lively usage of Naija langwej in his sports presentation.
If we must totori, excite or please ourselves daily, it is recommended that we (i.e. residents of Abuja and environs) endeavour to tune in to Pidgin Sports. As the most popular sports programme in the Federal Capital City, plenti plenti big oga dem don blo Naija fo di sho.
After her resignation from the government of Goodluck Jonathan, the former Information and Communication Minister, Mrs. Dora Akunyili was a guest on Pidgin Sports. When asked to speak about the honour she received from NFA’s Supporters Club, her response was: “A de hapi se afta a don liv ofis, Nijiria Futbol Sopotas Klob stil rimemba mi. Na big tin fo mi. Na im bi se, wen a se Nijirians na gud pipul, a de koret bikos if dem no bi gud pipul, dem fo se dis wuman no de ofis egen, wai wi go hono am?”
A follow up to the first question, was: “Wich Naija gem totori yu pass?” She burst into hilarious laughter and said, “na Yekini gol fo USA ’94. Eni taim a rimemba am di tin de blo mai maind”.
On the said Pidgin Sports programme, some personalities had also displayed their ability to speak Naija langwej and in the process totori dem sef like Mr. Isa Ibrahim Bio (former Minister of Sports), Mr. Dino Melaye (Member, House Committee on Sports), Patrick Ekeji (DG, National Sports Commission), Kanu Nwankwo of Super Eagles, Festus Keyamo, Bola Ojo Oba, (former NFF Secretary General), Sani Lulu (former Chairman, NFF), Amos Adamu among others.
Currently, Nigerians use Naija langwej on different programmes as well as in the promotion of various products on radio and television across the country, which testifies to its acceptance. It is Nigeria’s natural official lingua franca.
Mr Oribhabor is a Promoter of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin) and resides in Abuja.