"No gree for anybody!"

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According to Toyin Falola, "No Gree for Anybody!", HeartOfArts 1/12/2024:

I am writing this piece from Lagos. “No Gree” is what you now hear at every moment, every corner. […]

No Gree for Anybody seems to be a personal avowal to not compromise or concede and to maintain unwavering determination against factors and people that could impede one’s aspirations or thwart the pursuit of one’s desires.

There are plenty of other discussions in textual form: Chimezie Chika, "'No Gree for Anybody', the New Nigerian Catchphrase for Tenacity in 2024"; Chimdiebube Orji, "No gree for anybody! The word for 2024"; Precious Anizobam "'No Gree for Anybody' -Nigerians unanimous mantra for 2024"; …

And also lots of clips on YouTube and plenty of tweets, threads, etc.

The Nigerian police have objected:

We have been informed by our intelligence that this slogan is coming from a revolutionary sector that may cause problem across the country …

Unsurprisingly, there has been some explicit push-back against the police warning — but the reaction to the slogan itself seems mostly positive, for example this (self-described?) official video, whose message seems to be the same as Axelrod's "tit for tat" strategy for social cooperation:

[link] If you give me, I will give you back (I no go gree)
          If you jam me,  I will jam you back (I no go gree)



  1. Chris Button said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 11:21 am

    Presumably it has evolved out of "agree" in Nigerian Pidgin?

  2. Mike H said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 1:10 pm

    @Chris Button — that's what the linked articles seem to suggest

  3. Chris Button said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 2:00 pm

    So I should really give credit to my wife for my comment. She comes from the western/anglophone part of cameroon where they speak the same Pidgin. She instinctively told me that "agree" is where it must be coming from.

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 7:28 pm

    I like the linked piece by Precious Anizobam, just for its demonstration that whatever her L1 may have been as a child she is a perfectly fluent writer in the international Standard English register of cliche-ridden corporate pep-talk jargon. "It’s not just about dreams but about intentional, strategic steps towards success. Each goal becomes a stepping stone on our journey, and in 2024, we’re holding ourselves accountable to turn those dreams into reality." Found poetry, almost.

    I would enjoy reading something in the cliche-ridden corporate-pep-talk-jargon register of Nigerian Pidgin, just as I enjoy BBC news stories written in Pidgin, but I understand the economic incentives to be fluent in the worldwide standardized alternative.

  5. JPL said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 9:07 pm

    "No gri foh ["person"]NP", here an expression from Nigerian Pidgin, is indeed a participant in the West African Creole English continuum, where 'gri' is indeed based on the English lexeme 'agree', but the sense of "gri foh", as opposed to "gri" or "gri wit" (where "gri" is a stative verb with the sense of "be in agreement (with)", e.g., in the context of argumentation), is more like that of the English expressions "go along with", or "give in to", and is used to refer to an addressee's response to coercive pressure to adopt or conform to a course of action that benefits the speaker, and is not necessarily in the best interests of the addressee. So "gri foh" is a dynamic use of this verb, in the same way as the use of the English verb 'agree' in, e.g., "I agreed to do it"; but the pattern with a nominal oblique object, as opposed to an infinitival complement, has no English counterpart. ('foh' in the English creoles often functions like the infinitival complementizer 'to', so this usage is probably extended from that use.)

    A typical established use of "gri foh [person]" would be in the context where a man is trying to win a woman's love (or mainly for sex) by making importunate pleadings or "game-runnings": if the woman gives in, someone might say, disapprovingly, "i gri for am".

    In the political context this idea has an important role in pushing back at, e.g., attempts by government or social convention to give up expectations that rights will be respected or aspirations acknowledged.

  6. JPL said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 9:14 pm

    Correction: Last paragraph: "… conventions to give up …" to "… conventions to make people/citizens give up …".

  7. JPL said,

    January 13, 2024 @ 4:07 pm

    In case it's not evident from context (upon looking at the comment today, it occurred to me that it might not be evident), in the example in the next to last paragraph ("i gri for am"), "i" is a third person singular subj, pronoun, "am" a third person singular obj. pronoun, and "gri" is perfective aspect with past time reference.

  8. Adrian Bailey said,

    January 14, 2024 @ 5:45 am

    People who post unofficial videos often label them "official video" as clickbait.

  9. Nat said,

    January 14, 2024 @ 5:11 pm

    I appreciate that the video celebrating this motto shows the absurdity of taking it too seriously as a universal ethic: e.g. traffic jams that can’t ever be disentangled as no one will gree for long enough to back up their cars! It looks like it would fail Kant’s ethical test of universalizability.

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