As a freelance copywriter and digital content creator, I do business with different people from different continents. And I can tell you that there is a big difference between negotiating with most Nigerians and ummm… let’s say Canadians. The difference might not be obvious when the deal is being sealed but when it is time for adjustments and corrections, that is when you will see it. Most of my African clients tend to approach me like they have made up their minds that I will not agree to make adjustments to what I have done, like how do they even get to think this way? Anyways, since most of our dealings are online, there is high tendency that they will show their level of urgency through their messages. If you will permit me to demonstrate;
“I don’t like the call to action because it is too informal. I need it changed now.”
The ‘now’ in this sentence is kind of ambiguous in a Nigerian-Nigerian conversation. It can mean that the person does not know the right spelling for the popular Nigerian slang — NAH — which is a word you add to a sentence for whatever reasons you can think of. And it can also mean just a tiny weeny bit of urgency. So using ‘now’ to show urgency is as inconsequential as the crowd that was at Alh. Atiku Abubakar’s rally in Kano.
“Hello Mr. Afegbua, the data visualizations you did for our marketing copy is missing some key indicators. I need it changed now now.”
OK! So as a result of all that I have just explained in the previous ‘now’, the ‘now now’ was invented. Adding this to a feedback connotes one single meaning; ‘YOU HAD BETTER DO THIS IF YOU WANT MORE JOBS!’
“Hello! The instructions said 4k words. What you have here is 100 words short. Please finish it, I need it now now now.”
The quoted feedback above might sound extreme but let’s focus on the ‘now now now’. When an African client uses ‘now now now’ to show urgency, it can only mean one thing; ‘I don’t care what you are doing. I don’t care what you have done and I don’t care what you will do. Meet my needs now.’
Actually, what you just read is supposed to be an introduction to what I want to write about but it ended up taking more words than it took in my head. The Now Now Now Syndrome is a term I coined from my experiences from clients who in their quest to get what they want become blind to what every other person needs. It is a syndrome that you can see everywhere if you look. And if you happen to have grown up in Nigeria with strict parents, my best bet is your parents suffered from the syndrome at one time — no, I am just betting. The Now Now Now Syndrome is evident in people who wants to live their lives without thinking of the consequences of their actions in the nearest future. From the politician who embezzled money meant to build health centers, the Doctor who wouldn’t treat a patient because there is no deposit, the Engineer that will build things with substandard goods to increase profits, the Banker that will give ill advise to a customer to meet a target, down to the woman that fries Akara by the road side who has refused to abandon her fire woods.
This syndrome has eaten deep into our societies and it is killing us, maybe not us but the future. Last week, I was having a discussion with an acquaintance who wanted to buy a car with a Euro 3 fuel grading. I told him the consequences of the amount of toxic waste that car would release into our climate but he laughed and said; ‘It is the car that everyone drives nah.’
His response was sickening but it was the truth. I stay in Lagos, a city with an unofficial population of 20million people and almost all the cars that people drive here are Euro 3 grade level, even as the world is moving past Euro 7 - scrap that, the world is moving towards hybrid cars. The Welfarist system of a Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari is busy spending money on fertilizers for farmers and feeding school children while the Climate Change Bill has constantly been shuttling between the Red chambers and the Presidential Villa for three years. Like, don’t these people know that without minimizing the effects of human activities on the climate, farms will always suffer and even the food will not be there? But no, the Now Now Now Syndrome is there, they need to do things that people will see now now now, so that they can vote for them in coming elections.
All these are symptoms of what will either put us in danger or take us out of danger. The now now now syndrome as a matter of fact is not bad — if used the right way. We can take the syndrome, modify it and channel it into actions that will put others into consideration. We can start caring about how our actions affects others now now now. We can start caring about the dangers that climate change poses for the future now now now. Our politicians can start caring about maternal morbidity in our hospitals now now now. We can take sustainable actions now now now.
A quick question; If I say that the car you are planning to buy tomorrow will contribute to the death of your grandchild in 80 years time, will you buy a better car and prevent his death now now now?
Alright, I am done. Share this, now! now!! now!!!