I thought we were free and moving but we have come far into nothing above a resemblance of progress. My great grandfathers were the one colonised; they are long gone, their blood spilled on the wounded memories of history but why do we have to inherit such a crucible of agony. I am just worried we still have to suffer for what happened 40 days and 40 nights back. What then did the various non-alignment movements carried out by our heroes of democracy achieve?
The white men left our shores; they left us to feed ourselves but we still serve our foods on their plates. We feed ourselves with their spoons and drink our own pap using their cups. They left us with the English Language. Our own policies were made using that language, a language we are yet to get to the full realisation of its meaning.
O dear English Language! Everywhere I go it is there, if I cannot vomit it like my brain is tagged to its price. I am nothing; no one will even see my voice. My life is complicated and I owe the depreciating appreciation to the crown in England. Were it to be simple and fixed, I will just adjust myself to its ABC. But no, what I have encountered so far makes me think that my primary school teacher is an empty vessel who passed polluted farts through my mouth.
The English Language is indeed mad and we are foolish to have danced to its tune for so long. The sounds of an English word are not as the letters appear. Who authored that? Another means to establish superiority of the Whites to the Blacks ‘abi’? In my indigenous language, Yoruba; fufu is fufu, the same way you will find the letters. But in the English Language, Fool is not as it appeared.
If we have to relate to an action in the past, “-ed” is to be added to the lexical item, my teacher in primary school had taught me. But why did I score zero in my English Essay question during my entrance examination into Junior Secondary School. The instruction was to write a composition of 50 words on THE FIGHT I WITNESSED. I had written;
THE FIGHT I WITNESSED
I saw Wale when he entered the class. Bisola told him to keep shut because she was writing names of noise makers. He did not listen. He took auntie’s cane and beated the table. They started fighting and as I was about to call our aunty, he caught me and closed the door.
I thought something must have been wrong with the examiner to have marked the best student in Primary 6 wrong.
I was right in my wrong. After all, Uncle Show never told me English was taught to us according to our level. When I got to secondary school, I had to face the truth that perhaps I had filled the pockets of the proprietor of my Junior Secondary School with dough and had nothing in return.
It was September 21, 2001, my first day in Collins College, Commercial Department. The book-fed English teacher had walked in and asked us to define a NOUN. “Uncle high” we chorused. I learnt later that it’s “Uncle hi” and not “Uncle high”. My limited thinking was that “high” means the hand is raised for the uncle to see.
“You tell us” the uncle said with a feline gesture.
“A noun is the name of any person, animal, places or things.” I confidently reeled off hand.
My colleagues were crazy too. Their thunderous claps left me oblivious of the fact that our teacher’s agape mouth was about to be colonised by flies.
“Which Junior School did you attend?” he asked.
“Bright Moon School” I answered.
“Where is that?” He paraded his ignorance. “Unandi, Bachru state.”
“Oh, that part of the country where their students only worry about knowing Mathematics so as to help them calculate money when they eventually drop out of school for business.” He said with assurance.
Almost everyone in that class gave the same definition as mine and I wondered if it was the value placed on one subject or not in one area that mattered or the fact that education itself has no value to offer. Not even when we cannot be taught in the language we understand.
We were taught that A is for Apple as Kindergartens; B is for Ball, among others. But as we grew up, A could also be for Antelope, Anger, etc. We realised a noun is more than name of persons animals, places or things. We realised that past tense was beyond addition of“-ed”. We have “cook-cooked, brush-brushed but we cannot say, sweep-swept or cut-cutted.”
O dear English, it is enough. I am in a democratic setting, yet you have held me tight to your dynamic madness. You have become torn between British, American and other varieties of English of the world. I am lost that I do not know which I am to embrace.