The question has logical origins, I suppose. We Nigerians have always had near-maniacal levels of hospitality etched in our culture. I mean, you have a guest coming from far away, guest gets to the house by say, 2am. The first thing you ask is, “Have you eaten?” then proceed to offer him a wide array of “light” food to “manage” with. Like pounded yam and afang soup, correct jollof with heavily peppered snail, or the complete package; fried rice, chicken and salad.
You know, stuff one can “manage” by 2am, for quick digestion.
At some point, the hospitality got a bit weird though. Now it’s used in all kinds of ways :s
You get a call, goes something like this;
“Hello? How you dey? Enh? You had an accident?!! You’ve been in the hospital since yesterday? Oh my God. But have you eaten?”
Because food cures everything. Jilted at the altar by your lover of seven years? Tragic story, but have you eaten? Make sure you eat, you’ll feel better. Should we get you pap and akara?
And of course, you know I have to go there, this random post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t… Nigerian men cannot apologise. Even when they’re obviously wrong, and have had an argument with you spanning three days. When it becomes glaringly clear that he was at fault the whole time, your average Nigerian man will clear his throat, pause awkwardly for a few seconds, then grudgingly ask, “Enh, have you eaten?”
Ladies, sorry to break it to you, but that was your apology. Yeah. Right there. Just take it, and keep praying for patience, not strength. Because if you had strength, you’d have strangled the guy by now.
Same thing with Nigerian parents. You know how you watch Hollywood flicks and you have touching scenes where the parents admit their fault and say sorry to their kids?
It is easier for our friend the camel to pass through the eye of a needle, brethren. You can have a quarrel of epic proportions with your parents. Such a huge fight that you are not on speaking terms with them for weeks, and even your siblings pick sides and only talk to you when Mom and Dad aren’t home. Only for your mom to walk into your room one fine afternoon, pretend to read the blurb of the novel on your table, do the awkward cough, then ask “Have you eaten? There is rice in the kitchen.”
This means that all is well again, and she and her spouse have seen fit to leave your name in the will after all. That thing she said is actually equivalent to the turn up arranged for the prodigal son in ancient times.
And of course, the most annoying one. When a guy is struggling to claw his way out of the friend zone, this is all he will ask you. Breakfast time, lunchtime, dinnertime.
Have you eaten?
Have you eaten?
HAVE YOU EATEN??!!
Until a girl gets irritated and insults the guy and he’s all, “But I was only trying to be caring…”
I liked when it was used to shut down voltrons arguing passionately about something that didn’t concern them in the least on Twitter. After their endless numbered tweets, one calm soul would retweet with, “Yes, but have you eaten?” Meaning; please go quietly away and do things of direct benefit to your existence.
Of course, the “Have you eaten?” question is closely followed by “When will you marry?”
But that’s a post for another day.
In the meantime, it’s already afternoon, and