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On my way to work,  I saw an elderly black man coming the opposite direction to me. At that particular moment we crossed paths, we both gave a slight nod of recognition and a smile to one another and continued on our way. Now, in some parts of UK (especially London) you don’t make eye contact. That’s just not acceptable to do!  Our social skills of interaction have long gone for most, and has unfortunately been replaced by fear of absolute paranoia.

Anyway, After my encounter with the Old Man, it crossed my mind that whenever I seem to have been the only black face around (in other not so cosmopolitan parts of UK or other parts of the world), and I’ve come across another black face, it’s like meeting another kindred spirit. All it takes is just maintaining that briefest of eye contacts, a slight raise of the head, and you’ve managed to say, “Hey! Hows it going? So you’re also stuck in this part of the world, huh? Hang Tough!! Our time to slip in and take control is nearly upon us!!”, all in a space of 5 seconds.

The Silent Nod is a universally approved signal of acknowledgement, presumably among black people, therefore I can’t talk for everyone else. The Silent nod is as kosher as the ritual of shaking hands. If your meeting male friends within an informal setting, you go through the ritualistic dramatisation of shaking hands. Not much of a handshake the English way, but more hand punches, bounces, and the final snap of the finger. It’s a black thing.

Even where I work, I can count the number of black faces just as I can count the number of stars in Central London at night. Whenever i do see another black face, I’ve been told by close colleagues that I’m as excitable as a dog wagging his tail, to which I would often reply, “Well, every dog must have his day, and today is ‘Woof’ Day!”

However, the silent nod becomes a cacophony of greetings once you meet a fellow Nigerian, especially a Yoruba person, if you just so happen to be the only black face in the vicinity. That happened to me when I was in India, a couple of years ago. There’s a joke that you can find a Nigerian where ever you go in the world, so it was no suprise when I bumped into a Yoruba man in one of the shopping centres in down-town Chennei, South India. The Missus & I were playing ‘Spot the Black Face, excluding the Black Looking South Indians’ when we bumped into my fellow Nigerian. He first fobbed me off with an English name, but you can tell who’s a Nigerian either by their mannerisms or accent. When I asked him in pidgin, “Wetin be your propa name ya papa give you?” , his response was direct:  “Ahh!! Omo! My name be ‘Balogun (I’m not going to reveal his real name, so Balogun will have to do!) I be Niaja boy!! Wetin you dey do for dis place?”, and thus began a noisy exchange of pleasantries, Nigeria style.

Another cultural silent nod that speaks volumes is the ‘Indian Nod‘. The perfected Indian nod can be diplomatic in non-commital ways of answering ‘Yes or No’ answers. I can go on about my experiences of such nods during my time in Sri Lanka and India, but that’s for another blog.

Anyway, on to pictures, and yesterday saw Kurt Welling performing at the Barbican.  Amazing, amazing performance.  Here are shots from the night:

Have a great weekend, people!

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”Hebrews 11.1 

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One thought on “A Beginner’s guide to The Silent Nod (The African Way) & Kurt Elling at the Barbican

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