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Fire Back A Question At The Question

A devastating addition to your verbal combat arsenal. This stuff is lethal, it is deadly, it is bone-crushing, it is soul sucking.

Chidi Afulezi
Chidi Afulezi
4 min read
Fire Back A Question At The Question

If you have had the pleasure of engaging in verbal combat with an African, especially those from the Sub-Saharan part (read black, this is a thing unfortunately), it is like watching King King fight Godzilla. There's drama, flourish, theatrics, special effects, and most importantly...gamesmanship.

gamesmanship gāmz′mən-shĭp″
n. The use of aggressive or dubious tactics, such as psychological intimidation or disruption of concentration, to gain an advantage over one's opponent while still observing the rules in a sport or game.

This gamesmanship is epitomized by the proven and well worn African verbal jiu-ji-tsu set of moves that will advance and protect you in any verbal altercation anywhere anytime, a set of moves known as "Fire Back A Question At The Question." Let me tell you something—this stuff is lethal, it is deadly, it is bone-crushing, it is soul sucking.

For example. You go to the market in Owerri, a major city in Eastern Nigeria to buy a shirt. You approach the vendor.

You: Ok, how much is this shirt, my friend?
The vendor aka Your Friend: Don't you see the price on the shirt? <power move deployed to unnerve opponent>
You: What is your problem? Do I look like I have time for your stupidity this morning? <defensive parry>
Your Friend: Who are you calling stupid? <jab, cross>
You: Is there anyone else here? <shin kick>
Your Friend: Do I look like a fool? Why are you here wasting my time?<double power move, to break and overwhelm defenses>
You: What is this nonsense? Do you know who I am? <block, parry, and then overhead strike>
Your Friend: See me see trouble o? God, my father and creator, did I ask for this wahala this morning? <push kick + side kick>

And so on. If you notice the entire conversation was comprised of sentences punctuated with question marks. Both sides are exhausted within minutes of combat. And these moves, believe it or not, are used a lot in customer service interactions on the continent, which of course makes absolutely no sense and is counter-intuitive and counter-productive as hell. When you call customer service, put on your armor, and get ready for all out verbal Mortal Kombat.

As in, yes o.  

Anyone who has been parented by an African knows how devastating these weapons of vocal destruction are when deployed against you, especially when it is clear you have moral and legal high ground ("Mommy, these clothes you want me to wear to school are high waters and from the 80s and smell like stockfish") but lack the monetary and experiential advantage auto-designated to those older than you:

"What, so now you know more than me, eh? Are you questioning my authority? Are you the one paying the bills in this house? Do you want me to return you back to God?" <body slam, elbow smash, drop kick>

It is the reason Africans are busy collecting all the UFC and MMA titles out there. It's not just their physical prowess. They are questioning and counter questioning those other bobos to submission, I promise you. Watch the pre-fight press conferences, you'll see.

Some folks have even evolved the technique where they don't speak the question back. They "stare" it back. It's a look. A gaze. You are eyeballed intently and fixedly. You don't even have to say anything, just do something or be somewhere and you get the stare. As in...who is this...why am I even...who allowed this riff-raff to be in my vicinity? No, no, I did not say Rwanda. Did I say Rwanda?

No worries, I am here to help you. As a veteran warrior in the art of questioning the questioner, I have seen it all. As an educator, I use it in my sessions, especially when I know traps are being set for me. As a parent, my kids are defenseless, it's like Bruce Lee vs Justin Bieber. As a business partner...ok, let's leave that one for now. As a spouse, I use it sparingly for my own good and well-being.

Are you being canceled? Deploy the technique to cancel the canceler.

I beseech you to please seek to upgrade your argument and debate toolkit with this skill. Trust me. If you need lessons, pop in any Nollywood VHS tape...sorry, go to Netflix and catch any African movie, and begin your fellowship in the "question the questioner" philosophy. You should be certified after a day of immersion.

Some go-to verbal jiu-jit-su moves for your immediate benefit:

  • How can? <defensive jump kick, a way to disorient the opponent's direct attack>
  • Am I not allowed to enjoy myself? <defensive block, when your questionable proclivities are being questioned>
  • For where? <eye poke, but used only if being attacked by an superior opponent>
  • Say who die? Also known as "over my dead body" <knee strike, main goal is to buy you time to collect yourself after a flurry of attack questions>
  • Can you imagine? <belittling double jab, keep opponent at arms length, >
  • Are you mad? <reverse roundhouse attack, to introduce unease and perturbtion. Perturbment. Maybe it's perturbation...whatever. To perturb>
  • Who dash you? <3-4 lead and rear hook combo, disorienting and effective during financial or material thing negotiations>
  • A whole me? <cover and block, classic decoy move to unnerve and deceive attacker>
  • And finally. Do you know who I am? <all out nuclear option, when all else has failed and nothing matters, when you are at the point of no return>

Ok. Now go out there and win win win your verbal spats no matter what.