Waka pass (pronounced /wækæ pæs/)

Nigerian term, International concept

Few days ago I stumbled upon this post written so eloquently by Emily Friedel.

Emily, I am not trying to swagger jack, I just find myself having to write something similar. That is one of the funny ways the universe works: putting you in similar situations you have just witnessed in the recent past :)

I’ve seen it done on medium, and experienced it myself, and am now giving this PSA:

I am on medium to share my creative writing and fulfil a 366 day challenge I gave myself. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for me to share my stories- as is the case with most others. This is because every single one of these damn stories is my own experience, or that I have witnessed in someone close to me. And I battle my anxiety to hit publish (much like one of my beloved writers on medium whom I look up to.) In fact here is a Monday confession: the reason I often share poems/prose (other than laziness to write very long pieces) is because I find it easier to express myself in parables, rather than a straight-up reflection. Till that day when I have full confidence, this will continue to be the case. Maybe even after (as I do so love poetry.)

Anyway, just like Emily said, when it comes to stories that people are sharing from their hearts, pause and think about your critique before hitting ‘publish.’

Is it an opinion piece that begs for debate? Is it racism or homophobia or abuse that just has to be called out (or something similar?) Then by all means go for it.

Is it someone speaking up about their own brokenness, and reaching out for some strength while engaging in the catharsis of writing on medium?

Well, is it?

Then as long as nothing horrendous or criminal is being done, for the love of decency please be courteous.

Yesterday I wrote about my struggles with my faith, following the death of my father. I clearly stated that I was not trying to debate religion, but rather, openly share this struggle at a very vulnerable stage in my life. Believe it or not this is something that has been weighing heavily on me. Sharing it and getting feedback even from people who themselves are not religious made me realise that so many of us are in this thing we call life together. Together. Understanding my faith or not, these lovely souls got me yesterday. They got me, and I am grateful eternally. And I will have them when they need it. Promise.

In the past I have written about my disdain for the tone policing of everything from: my stand against racism, my choice to practice Christian faith AND be a scientist, and being an African (Nigerian) woman in today’s world.

I am naive in that it still upsets me when people bulldoze my narrative to try and straw man!

Going back to this story I shared yesterday, sigh, so someone decided to take an underhanded jab and question my intellect. This was followed by trying to debate religion, which I clearly stated I would not engage in.

Religion was not the focal point of my story. I am not sure why this individual skipped over my struggle in his need to silence me to prove his point.

DO NOT try to nonsense my intellect and experiences.

This route of very distasteful straw-manning was quite unfortunate.

Also, proving the presence of intellect is something I hate doing. If I claim to be part of the movement trying to dismantle academic elitism, this ‘proving’ is something I need to avoid. My conscience will judge me should I fail in this. I hope not to. Call me out on it if I do. Please.

My Nigerian people have a term for what should have happened here:

Waka pass!

What this means is that if you see something you don’t agree with, believe it or not but you actually do not have to engage with it. This obviously does not apply to horrid behaviour/words/actions that may need to be called out.

This means that in the very least you leave the person not worse off than how you found them.

Na only you waka come?

Or in this context: there must’ve been other people who had the same thoughts you did, but had the common courtesy to waka pass.

You can resist the urge to be an asshole. Just waka pass.

We’re all rooting for you.

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