What is Tambaya?

I’m Nigerian, and we’re known for answering questions with questions, so here’s one back: what most distinguishes humans from animals?

It’s something that, like the most profound things in life, is so unexpectedly simple we might easily miss it. Like you probably missed it just now.

Hint: the answer’s right there in the question. Or more to the point, the answer is the question…

Catch it yet? Okay, here goes: we’re the only ones who ask questions about life.

See, everyday, we wake up, dutifully take our places in the rat race, and zoom! We’re off. All day long, we shuttle from activity to activity with hardly any time to “stand and stare.”

But little by little, as we struggle to get ahead (whatever that means to you), or just to keep our place, our very humanity is threatened in the most simple and most profound way: we stop asking the big questions. “Why?” becomes “How?” and then just “What?” and then loses the question mark altogether before fading into “Whatever.”

This is where I hope “Tambaya” comes in: as a cry of defiance, a rebellion against mindlessness. It’s a delightful word from the Hausa language (the traditional lingua franca of northern Nigeria, where I once spent a unforgettable year), and it means “Question”.

That’s what this blog is about: the big questions. The questions only humans ask.

Welcome. Any questions? 🙂



14 thoughts on “What is Tambaya?

  1. Nice writeup, just what the doctor ordered. I also feel the order of things is gradually drifting towards not asking questions. Crazy routine jobs demand it, greedy visionless, uneducated politicians crave it, and the general populace accept it cos what’s harder than answering a deep life question. And the sad thing is that the evidence is right infront of us- the society that has the most individuals that ask the most intelligent life questions generally prosper than those that do not.


    • Great point there, man, about the link between social prosperity and intelligent questioning! As for “what’s harder than answering a deep life question”, how about identifying one? 🙂


  2. What is Tambaya? [Sic] Hint: the answer’s right there in the question. Or more to the point, the answer is the question…:p

    More power…


  3. Great, like the concept. Pray you won’t drift. As we get older we tend to ask less questions and just accept life as it present itself to us. Basically we will get to understand why when we ask ourselves the question: why do people ask questions? Why are we instinctly curious? Though from a shallow view, the answers are obvious, but yeah wait there is more to it than we see. Great blog doc. I think Africa is in bad shape because we don’t question.


  4. T.H, I have some questions for you while we’re on the topic?
    1) What is the most important thing in life?
    2) Why do bad things happen to good people?
    3) How practicable is unconditional love?


  5. really good! n truly on point, we need the reminder so we can stop being docile n change d victim mentality thats affected us everywhere, in every sphere! keep them coming! me likey


What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s