I have discovered that in the Netherlands the word ‘sorry’ is not used in the way we use it in Nigeria. I have even been told several times not to say this word.
Illustratie: Henk van Ruitenbeek
Some months back, I met a Dutch friend at the Forum restaurant. We bought soup together and she took a lid to cover hers. Unfortunately, the lid slipped out of her hand and fell to the ground. I said ‘sorry’ and picked it up for her. She said: ‘Thanks for picking it up for me, but you didn’t need to apologize because it wasn’t your fault.’
On a number of occasions, unpleasant things happened to Dutch people in my presence, or they told some sad stories about things that had happened to them. I always said ‘sorry’, as we usually do in my country. But in return, they always told me: ‘You don’t need to say sorry, you didn’t do anything wrong.’ To me, saying sorry in such situations is just a way of caring, not taking responsibility or apologizing. But I guess Dutch people don’t see it that way.
Ibrahim Jibrila, MSc student of Animal sciences, from Nigeria
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