Tuesday, September 09, 2008

ADVICE TO BRIGHT EYED YOUNGSTERS AND UPWARDLY MOBILE PROFESSIONALS........

From your neighborhood bi-cultural 'ELDER'...

Odd title. But it fits the mood I am in right now. I have not written a blog entry in a while. It's like I am sitting silent as our world changes by the second. The political landscape has turned into a potential landslide and much to my chagrin, I have not churned out anything sensible. This writer's bloc is taking too long or may be life is truly beginning to take over. That aside, today I was just thinking about so many things and the one that stuck out for me is the fact that I am not fluent in another UN WORKING LANGUAGE.

In this day and age of global convergence, this fact is depressing. I actually tried to learn French but I am sure I have told you that story. F9. JSS 3 WAEC. I remember the whoopings I got from my late french teacher Mr Oyetunji, and Mrs Ojo just because I could not conjugate verbs in French. But my rebellion towards 'another man's' language (except for the English language) started in Primary 5 when I walked to my then headmistress's office with my Yoruba Exam paper filled with Zeros ( badly draw sad smiley faces) and several red markings, crying that I would not place in the top 15 of the class (my apologies for being one of the regular kids who knew their place was definitely not top 5 and never wasted time agonizing over that) and would she consider offering IGBO language so we could choose. I think in that year's end of term exam I may have influenced my friends to leave their exam papers blank in protest. I am not sure who else did but I know my fellow rebel, Enuka left her paper blank, my dad petitioned and the next semester there was an option to be exempted from Yoruba (really only because it was our final year and Yoruba was not offered in common entrance). I would use this form of protest (blank exam paper) later on after several attempts at trying to learn maths. But unfortunately for me, I paid for it later on in life. If not for the Holy Spirit that intervened and softened my dean's heart to my numerical learning challenges. I swear mathematics was like greek. Impossible to learn. But I digress.

My mother speaks Hausa fluently because she grew up in the North until the Civil War sent them packing. We used to marvel at the way she would engage the meat selling mallams at Sabo Market, our may-guard 'Ali the Kasali' (Kasali was a gate-man character from an NTA TV show) or even the Abokis who change dollars. Not one of us cared to learn it because back then we were like, 'whatever, that's the language of the oppressive ethnic group and the corrupt leaders in government, we'ld never need it cos we'ld never go to the north anyways'. So we brushed it aside. Big mistake. When I went along on that Sahara trip, my dumb ass discovered that Hausa is the most widely spoken language in West Africa. All the way into Mali. If someone had told me way back when I was still rocking 'Kotina' that I would go on that expedition, may be I would have made an effort to know more than just counting 1 to 10 in Hausa. Even that I don't even remember. But my new goal while I am still here in Nigeria (as you might recall my deadline is meant to be up this December but I have extended it to a 'yet-to-be-determined' date o. LOL. Please don't ask me why but it has a lot to do with my portion of the National Cake for which I am still mixing the flour and egg) I would try to get working knowledge or the Hausa language, improve my Yoruba and get better at my french.


Which brings us back to UN WORKING LANGUAGES, which include ARABIC, FRENCH, SPANISH, CHINESE/MANDARIN, ENGLISH and RUSSIAN. PORTUGUESE, ITALIAN, FARSI, URDU, SWAHILI are not but these are widely spoken languages in certain regions that having working knowledge of or ability to carry conversations in them can be useful. The BBC is one of a few international organizations that actually lists HAUSA as one of it's major broadcast language. Read more about the Top Ten languages HERE

So that I don't waste your time with gibberish. Let me go straight to my advice. Along with the language of your Father/mother (if you don't have one, for the purpose of driving my point home borrow your favorite neighbor's or friend's. A language that is, but I guess 'renting-a-parent' might work too). If your father/mother speaks only one language, trace your lineage until you hit a foreign language. Except you are from England or you just happen to be able to read this because you are 'exposed' or are one of the many whose ancestors relocated or were forced to the New World, chances are you will hit a Foreign language. Trust me, if you learn it, It could be the JACK POT in your life somewhere down the road. If you are a parent and you have young impressionable children, don't just teach them their own native tongue, teach them 2 more languages. Start them off in an ALL French/Spanish speaking creche or nursery school. Send them to language camp or summer school. If yo are an adult, attend language classes. There won't be any more pressure now that your grades don't depend on it. I think IF grades were not an issue I would KNOW french by now. Today's world is one where if you can't speak more than one language, preferably a UN WORKING LANGUAGE, you are under qualified. It's NO LONGER just enough to speak just IGBO or just YORUBA or your own native tongue. So now that you are armed with this little advice that I have been burdened with get out there and get MULTI-LINGUAL. It's never too late to start. WORD UP!!

Incase I am not convincing enough or you are one of those hard head who said 'pssh..what am I gonna do with a foreign language?" HERE is a list of opportunities you might be preventing yourself from taking advantage of (notice how my field is listed as #1. i'M SCREWED!! Where was google in my freshman year. LOL.)

14 comments:

misspumping said...

pourquoi

Qute4reva said...

Girl, I remember “Kotina” too; is it “Kotina” or was it “Cortina”? Well, who sabi. Interesting, I didn’t know Urdu was a UN working language.

You are right; it’s good to learn another major language other than yours, and in most of our cases English and some native lang. like Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba.

Anyway, if you are serious and really need to learn fast, try the new “Rosetta Stone” software it is really good (I’m sure they must have it in stock in a good Nigerian software store). I got into learning French some time ago myself when I had a big crush on this totally cool French hunk (like the one presently going on with ya and the main man D’banj :) ). I was like, it’s French for me or nothing ☺; anyhoo, try Rosetta Stone, if you are not a quick learner, at least you will be able to say a few sentences within weeks, this is only if you are determined though.

/Qute

Kpakpando said...

Adaure, truer words have never been spoken! People used to tell me I was doing aseju when I took up spanish and portuguese after college but since I ended up working in the travel industry its proved to be one of my most marketable and transferable skills, right after the art of bullshitting, which is vital in today's society :)

Adaure said...

@ Miss Pumping --- I considered replying in french but that didn't work despite my attempts to find a translation online. So I am gonna reply in Igbo. "Le anya n'elu, guo ihem dere ozo k'obanye gi n'afo" Look above and read what I wrote again and let it enter your stomach (digest it properly) LOL

@Qute4reva--- Urdu/Hindi isn't a UN working language (India is not a BIG BOY just yet). However a large number of people speak the language and you have many multinationals operating in that region of the world. I am not expecting a Nigerian to go and learn Hindi but imagine if you could speak it...how rare and exotic is that. Depending on the jobs you apply for fluency on random languages like that set you apart form the pack.

@Kpakpando---You spek Portuguese? Wow...how easy was that to learn? I agree with you on the Bullshitting part. These days you can also positively quantify that as 'EFX', aka effects or effizy. LOL

simeoneomobaba said...

thank you so much for reminding som1 like me to get on with this language thing.it's always been on my agenda..reli nice post

Chxta said...

Languages to learn: Mandarin, German, Russian and Arabic. With the way the geopolitical landscape is shaping up these languages would become increasingly important.

I got slaughtered a few years back when I suggested on Nairaland that Hausa should be made Nigeria's official language. Some people felt that it's because I spoke it. Others called me a slave.

But I know I'm right...

30+ said...

French - je suis venir apprend.

My weak attempt to say you just gave me another reason to learn that French language once and for all.

Adaure said...

@ 30+ & Simeon -- We are all in the same boat. Sometimes all we need is some one else doing the reality check for us.

@Chxta -- You are right. Some will argue that you are selling out and that there are a thousand and one African languages to learn so why perpetuate the 'colomentalism' by learning the language of the west or the orient. There is some wisdom but in the greater scheme of things it has less to do with sentiments, culture or patriotism and more to do with the REALITY of our Global geopolitical dispensation. The reason the UN Languages are the ones mentioned above is because the countries where those languages originated are the BIG BOYS in the UN. Until an African country, whose leaders insist on speaking and communicating in an indiginous language, rises to that level you can forget about it making the list. However it still doesn't downplay the importance or mean it is inferior. Not at all.

To the Hausa being an official Nigerian language. I think Nigeria has too many issue that this will not go down well. I think is should be 'SUGGESTED and OPTIONAL' and very strong reasons be given to support it. I don't think it should be FORCED or made a requirement. It only makes it more difficult. Look at the example of South Africa during the apartheid era. The children were being force to learn afrikaans, the language of the people in power and the oppressors, instead of their own native tongue or another african language. Naturally that led to a resistance that resulted in the deaths of many children. It's not that knowing Afrikaans is a bad idea, it was just being FORCED. The same would go for the Afrikaaner kids who were not thought Zulu or Xhosa but now wish they knew how. So I think HAUSA should be OPTIONAL. But I support that it be one of the ECOWAS REGIONAL LANGUAGES. That will encourage people to learn how to speak it, again is information about why that is necessary is properly communicated. I think West Africa might be the only region with out one key language and may be Southern Africa. In North AFrica you have Arabic and East Africa Kiswahili. Of course French and English are all over the place.

sokari said...

Adaure@ You are absolutely right on the importance of language especially in a country with over 300. Chaxta's idea about having a national language drawn from one of those 300 has been discussed over the years but no agreement could ever be reached and frankly I cant imagine it ever happening. Which brings us back to English - whatever we might say about it being a foreign language - it is has become the "world" language and it takes you pretty much everywhere so I do think it is essential to learn. On the other hand living in Nigeria one should at least speak one indigenous language. The problem we are seeing is with inter marriage and people working away from their motherlands in metropolis like Lagos, children are not always open to learning their mother / father tongues. In my own extended family there are many children (some with both parents from Kalabari) - who cannot speak Kalabari having grown up in Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja and even PH which is sad. Neither I nor any of my siblings can speak more than a few words and my kids cannot speak either their mother's or father's language having grown up in Europe and the US. And so it goes on and on and one wonders if one day some of the smaller language groups such as Ogoni and Kalabari will die out altogether especially those not written down.

Rita said...

If I had seen this post fifteen years back, probably I would have taken my language classes seriously...now I'm left to ensuring my kids learn a foreign language...thank for this advice.

ababoypart2 said...

Good advice, I also agree with Sokari in full.

Mamarita said...

I would love to learn Arabic, I have a couple of german cds that I listen to at work and I want to go to Egypt to learn Arabic...after which I'll marry my Igbo lover and move to east to live on a huge farmland where nothing shall be spoken but Igbo and lovely lovely French....Mais oui, c'est ma vie en rose :)

(If you are serious about learning French DO NOT GO TO QUEBEC, their french sucks, they've got some fantastic 6 week intensive courses in the "middle of no where" France....bonne chance pour l'avenir)

kulutempa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kulutempa said...

just to correct someone up there (as an ogoni/kalabari mix - who ironically doesn't speak more than a couple of words in either language group as a result of being raised in lagos, then jos): kalabari is a written language; khana (one of the ogoni dialects) is as well. the problem is that there are too few people actually still reading it! my father was writing children's books in khana before he was killed, but never got a chance to complete any to publication - sad. there's hope for these two groups, at least, but people like you and me who give a damn really ought to get more involved in ensuring that more children are growing up speaking and writing the language. of course, that would mean having to learn it first...