Sorry no dey tear shirt – Jite Efemuaye

Sorry no dey tear shirt – Jite Efemuaye

As a fresh undergraduate in Unizik, one of the first GS English courses I had to take was with Dr. Joy Eyisi (now Prof.). The woman took her time to teach many things but the one that had me rolling my eyes was the “it’s wrong to tell someone sorry when what you want to do is empathize. The right thing to say is ‘hard luck’ or ‘what a pity’. So long as you didn’t cause the situation, it’s wrong to say sorry.” (paraphrased)

In my mind then I was just thinking, I’ll fall inside gutter and someone will come and tell me ‘hard luck’? It’s all right.

Be using English to hide your bad belle y'hear?
Be using English to hide your bad belle y’hear?

Now, there are two kinds of sorry: the empathetic sorry and the apologetic sorry.

There’s the sorry you tell someone who is bereaved. The sorry you say when someone trips and falls. The sorry that says, ‘I feel your pain, I understand, I empathize with you.’

Then there’s the ‘I caused you pain/anger, I apologise’ sorry. This is the one I have an issue with. I am one of those people that will not say sorry for the sake of saying sorry. People take an apology as an acceptance of wrongdoing and if I have not offended you, I find it difficult to apologise just like that.

I have this friend who is constantly apologizing. The instant he gets the slightest vibe from you that you’re upset about something, he brings out the sorry gun and fires off ten bursts in different languages. According to him, it is better to just keep the peace and avoid unnecessary tension.

As much as I understand this, sorry no be by force abeg.  I believe it’s wrong to say sorry not because you mean it but because you’re using it to cover it up. I mean, I am more interested in making sure an offence is not repeated than in salving anybody’s ego.

An apology should not just end at the lips. It should come with a firm resolve not to hurt or offend the person in the same way again. When I say I am sorry, I am saying I intend to do my best not to repeat this mistake again. It is like a promise.

But I don’t like wahala at all and sometimes it is just easier to say sorry and have some peace and quiet. And then I have a very expressive face and anyone with half a brain can tell that I am not sorry even though the words are coming out of my mouth.

I said sorry. What do you want? Fried rice?
I said sorry. What do you want? Fried rice?

So I have developed a system I use with strangers especially. When such a situation arises and I say I’m sorry, I’m not apologizing. I’m saying, ‘I’m really sorry for you, na you push me but because you’re older I have to be the one to take the blame. God bless you.’ And everybody is happy.


About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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  1. Gray-Shores

    Lol… This friend of mine sha… Hahaha! On point as usual though. Some people can say “Sorry” for Africa but will keep repeating the same acts they apologize for…#SMH

  2. Maskuraid

    If only people are not fixated on being told sorry all the time. Even office queries expect you to pen apologies you don’t feel. If I’m not sorry, why should a false declaration of such soothe you. If I’m genuinely sorry, my body language and face would show, don’t wait for me to grovel and say it over and over to believe.

  3. funmi

    True talk Jite, especially in marriage. Say sorry but follow up with a strong determination not to repeat the act (so help you God). Cause after a while, d sorry becomes meaningless if you keep repeating d acts. I would rather say sorry only when i know i mean it. Lastly, when we Africans say Sorry, it goes a lot deeper than the English meaning me thinks. But then in Yoruba. The sorry we say when someone falls is – Pele and the sorry we say when we offend someone is – E ma binu (ie don’t be offended). Empathizing takes a whole different form though.


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