Another extract from my forth coming book, TruNaija

Brand Meaning

Nigerian youths are symbolic in their brand preference and interactions. You can spot them easily in the way they dress, gesture, use cell phones, entertain or be entertained, and their attitude. They try to see symbols, which is meaning, in anything they use. They use these symbols to interpret their world, try to understand their place in it, and mingle. Their body language includes gestures, greetings with hand movement and hugs, use of space and more.

Watch a T-Jane using her mobile phone. It is as if she is caressing the tool. And she is passionate about it especially if it is love talk and the caller is a rich dude. The way she holds the phone, head tilted in a romantic angle, excitement all over her as if the hand set is an extension of her body. The smiles, the stroking of her braided her says a lot. Her body language may well be saying, ‘This is me in action.’ Listen to this phone conversation between a T-Jay and T-Jane

‘Hi Emeka, what’s up.’

“Funke, why have you not been picking my calls? Even my text messages, you are not replying. What’s happening? Have you found another lover? I hope you are still not talking with that Aristo?’

“Emy it is not like that. School has been very stressful, no water, no light and money is short. Our lecturers are piling the pressure with intensive lectures before we begin our semester exams. And we are restricting movements outside the campus because of these bomb blasts. Emy it’s not been easy. Anyway I am coping sha.’

‘Fear-fear. So the fear of bomb blasts is now the beginning of wisdom. In any case, don’t Emy me again, Funke. I’ve noticed that you no longer call me Emeka. It is when you begin your pranks or want something from me, you call me Emy. If I catch you dating another man, na wahala oh.’

Funke tilts her head to another angle giggling. ‘Are you jealous?’

“Of course I am. Just be careful. So what’s up this weekend? The movie, My Teenage Daughter Is Pregnant, Season 2 is being premiered at the Silverbird Galleria on Saturday. If you are keen on going, let me come and pick you from campus by 4pm.’

‘Season 2 is out?’ Funke screams excitedly. ‘Are you serious?’

‘Yes and I want the two of us to go and watch it live with my friends.’

“I will go. I just hope one of these lecturers will not fix an emergency lecture, that time, that day. Any way, just call me before you start coming so I can get ready.’

‘Funke, when we will you ever learn to be ready on time? See you on Saturday at 3pm.’

‘I will. Emy please scratch card for me now. I don’t have credit on my phone. I am low on cash.’

‘So which line do you want?’

‘Etisalat. They have the lowest call rates now.’

‘I thought you were on MTN Super Saver or Family and Friends. They are very economical for spendthrifts like you.’

‘Yes, but I gave that line to my friend Ekaette to use for sometime. She lost her phone yesterday, and there is no money to buy another one. And stop calling me a spendthrift. How many times do I ask you for money? Take your time..oh. You are becoming stingy these days.’

‘I am not stingy Funke. I am only being thrifty. Times are hard and we have to watch how we spend. I have even cut down on the amount of credit I buy every week. I am limiting my calls too. The use of mobile phones has become an expensive habit in Naija. I just hope these network operators will further crash their call rates.’

“Then migrate to Etisalat and enjoy the low call rates there, or to the MTN Super Saver wherein, the more you talk, the less you pay.  Either one will help you.’

“No need for that Funke. I am sticking to my Glo and Airtel lines. Their call rates are okay for me, and I am enjoying their services. They make my day, anytime.”

Bye Emy and don’t forget to send me credit. I need it badly.’

“I will do it right away. Bye Funke. See you on Saturday.’

Funke pulls back the handset from her ear, chuckles, flips the cover back and tucks it tenderly into her handbag. T-Janes prefer hand sets with covers they can flip open and close after use. It excites them and Nokia has made available many variants of this type of device. Taking the phone out of her bag is even more tender and dramatic as if she is bringing out her treasure.

To her, that tool is a symbol of her person, her brand and it shows in the way she brings it out, uses it and put’s back into her bag. Every movement is passionate. And her swag as she moves says it all. She is not done yet. As she walks down the road with the phone in her bag, she connects the ear phone to it and plugs the other end into her ears. It is same way for a T-Jay, except that he is more physical and less tenderly. He handles and uses that handset as if it is a weapon for conquering, for getting results.

(16 November 2011)

Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as, and He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at

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