• Sanyade Okoli

Weighing our Words

I have a dear cousin who spent much of her growing up years in Southern Africa. Consequently, when she attended my husband and I’s wedding she was lost, bewildered and uncomfortable. She simply could not get over how loud us West Africans were. She found it difficult to handle the animated, fast-paced and high-octane conversations of the Sierra Leoneans and Nigerians. Fast forward a decade or so later, guess who she married?! A Nigerian!! 😀 She lived in Lagos for many years but still managed to maintain her quiet and gentle spirit (and voice). God bless her! 😊 ❤️

I am a through and through West African but I must admit that sometimes when my people speak - especially adults to children or subordinates – there is something that irks. Despite being a common way of speaking, it still grates my nerves. Having said that, for the longest time I had difficulty articulating what exactly about the tone unsettled me. Recently, I finally put my finger on it….

My West African brothers and sisters (I can’t speak for the rest of the continent), please do not be offended by what I am about to say. Salone man say, “Tell friend true noh pwell friend”. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 27:6 puts it this way: Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Permit me to wound you and me today. 😊

You see, the way we speak to people who we think are “below us” can sometimes simply be unkind. Why must we adults speak so harshly to children? Why must we bark or spit the simplest of instructions? Why must we talk down to our support staff? To what end? What is the fruit of these seeds that we sow? Are we prepared to eat the eventual fruit? Please, no vex o! I am not judging you. Let’s just say that this is one blog post that my children are not allowed to read lest they start quoting excerpts at me the next time I am guilty of unnecessarily speaking harshly to them. 😀

For a long time now I have wondered what relationship traditions and cultures have with social and economic development. Maybe when I “grow up” I will take a sabbatical to study the topic. 😊 I think that all too often we do not join the dots between inputs and outputs, actions and outcomes. For example, what is the connection between the way we bring up children and the societies we create? Anyway, that is a whole different discussion.

Back to the original point…. Having finally identified what it was that made me uncomfortable with the tone we sometimes use, I had to spend time considering what a suitable benchmark should be for my speech – not just to those that I think deserve my respect but to everyone around me. Two sets of scriptures came to mind – 1 Corinthians 13 on love and Galatians 5 concerning the fruit of the spirit. The more I reflected on them, the more I felt challenged. If I am to model the words I speak on these scriptures then I must always ask myself the following questions regarding my speech – both tone and content.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Is it patient and kind? Does it come from a place of [anger], jealousy, bitterness or resentment? Is it just or fair? Is it even true? Is it full of hope or despair? Is it long-suffering in nature? After all is said and done, does it reflect the Father’s heart of love?

Galatians 5:22

Does it reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Hmmm… if I am to indeed weigh my words according to those scales, I will say a lot less!

So, enough said! 😀 Lord help us all!


I think you know what to do….. 😉 I am done talking for today. 🤐 😀

Liked this? Then please "help me sell market" by commenting, sharing and/or subscribing for more "weekly-ish" posts. 😊You can also follow me on Instagram @sanyadeokoli where I share "daily-ish" pithy musings. Thank you!! ❤️❤️❤️


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