Monday, May 12, 2014

On unwarranted praise

“Flattery is a kind of bad money, to which our vanity gives currency.” 
  – François de La Rochefoucauld
You may have experienced the social farce about which Chuba Ezekwesili wrote:

...Flatterers offer ebullient greetings with the expectation of immediate financial remuneration for their ‘arduous’ task of unabashed adulation. With money, criminals can instantaneously become ‘honorables’. They can also become ‘elders’ in the church and most possibly ‘saints’, if it was permitted. Money in Nigeria also has this wonderful effect of reversing age differences. Suddenly, you can become ‘daddy’ or ‘uncle’ to someone who’s competing with your grandfather’s grey hairs.

And because half my readership comes from outside Nigeria, I’ll drop a few commonly used Nigerian greetings you should be wary…just in case you venture back into Nigeria. These include “We remain loyal”, “My Oga”,”My Chairman”, “Well done Sah”, “Anything for your boys?”, “You too much O!” ,”Happy Weekend” etc.

Flattery’s a unique product because it’s not only exchanged for money, it also takes the place of money in many cases. Like currency, flattery can be ‘exchanged’ for other goods/products such as job opportunities, political appointments and sexual favors. Religious leaders use flattery to placate their congregation and keep them hoping. Politicians use flattery-as well as other expensive and forcefully persuasive resources- to garner the votes of the masses. Nigerian men prolifically use flattery to win the favor of women and vice-versa. And the most amusing of all are the Nigerian policemen who flatter/hustle money from you.

...Nigeria. A country where the bitter truth is anathema and flattery is the cherished medicine. Don’t ‘embarrass’ the President, Minister, Governor, Pastor or authority by being honest. Instead, allow their ineptitude to continue.   Little do those who constantly have an excuse for the ineptitude of authority realize that they are only worsening the performance of those they adulate.

Overall, flattery is not necessarily detrimental and can be invaluable…especially when you’re in a relationship. It just depends on how much of it you decide to take in. Those who fail to control their demand for flattery might end up getting so much of it that they begin to trade in their own coins…and I believe that’s called self-flattery. And to those who love to trade in flattery, remember – your flattery is like cash, the more you dish it out, the less value it holds over time.


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Previously on UpNaira