Mutahi Ngunyi, a well known Kenyan writer and political scientist once told me: ‘Gacaca – he calls me that: ‘In Nairobi if you try to pull that fake American or British accent of yours, people will think you are a joke; they do it better than you; they’ve seen guys like you before, they will see them after you leave; speak the franglais man; you can’t believe how sexy you’ll come across if you pretend that you don’t know English…’
He took me out, I tried it: ‘Allo.. eum bof, excuse moi, i speak.. eu.. small english, nice to meet eh..’, and Bam! Girls be like: ‘tell me more!!’ Mutahi Ngunyi is specialized in chaos actually. That’s right, he is a political scientist whose expertise is in creating chaos! President Kibaki used it a number of times at a fee. I tried his chaos to my advantage and for free; verdict: Ngunyi is a man who knows what time it is!
I am writing this because I spent the day seeing people, laughing on the Service Mag’s Tell Us Complains, about french spelling mistakes. I also watched in awe as people laughed at a really sublime Miss Rwanda contestant, because she couldn’t speak french. Ok enough with laughing at people who wrongly spell or write the language of the oppressor. FYI: these languages, just like your religions, your titles, even you first names where given to you to erase your own identity, history and self-respect.
We Rwandans don’t care! Besides, the person who writes incorrect french, or English, is fluent in another language – the one in which he raises his children, conducts his business; The one that matters the most to him and his people. Making mistakes in a foreign language is the virtue and excelling in it the vice.
Here is what great men had to say about it:
– ‘…The European elite undertook to manufacture a native elite. They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of Western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth. After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, whitewashed. These walking lies had nothing left to say to their brothers…’ -Jean Paul Sartre with a loaded agenda, yet prefacing Wrecked of Earth by Franz Fannon
– “The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience.” -Chinua Achebe, Morning Yet On Creation Day: Essays
I know what I am talking about, because I speak eight languages, namely: Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Lingala, Luganda, Kiswahili, English, French and Portugese. I understand Spanish and Italian. I am not great in any of them, but I am able to communicate and make friends with quiet a lot of human beings.
I never spend much time spell-checking my articles because my intention isn’t to be a great English writer – in fact that would be an insult to me and my blog. I aim to be a respectable Rwandan, with thoughts that advance the interest of Rwandans. I wish I could do that in Kinyarwanda exclusively, but my audience requires English. So far they seem to get it, even with the poor grammar. Over time, I aspire to make more mistakes in English and less in Kinyarwanda..
There is a saying that Goes, if you speak many languages you are a polyglot, two: you are a bilingual and one, an American. Go ahead Rwandans, Africans: abuse it at wish!!!
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