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Opinions of Thursday, 27 November 2014

Columnist: Kwawukume, Andy

My Open Letter To Ewes Who Speak Ewe

By Selorm Kwawukume


I got this from my daughter, Selorm, now teaching in China. Obviously, this is something beyond me, as I believe it is the case for some other parents and someone more resourceful may help. We have made a mess of it already. I therefore want to start the process by sharing it with the whole world. Some may learn a lesson and avert the disaster occurring to them.

Indeed, I've to admit that we made a mess of it, just as many other parents are doing right now. Luckily, her senior sister born in Ghana speaks fluent Ewe because she was four before I took her abroad, and we continued speaking it to her. At the time, she could speak Ga as well, besides good English. When the sister was born, we had an arrangement that the mother spoke Ewe to them and I English but this didn't work out as expected, as I was then freer and spent more time with them. She said Daddy before Mummy! We both should have spoken Ewe to them, since their playground was bilingual anyway, Norwegian and English. Parents who did had their kids muddled language wise for a while and were objects of fun making but by four they were becoming proficient in their native languages and the foreign ones as well. All the same, my own and some of my siblings unhappy experiences as children - learning Ewe first time in northern Ghana (Damongo precisely) – and speaking it, sort of, with a northern Ghana (Hausa) accent (Dzogbedzitorwo – people from the Savanna - as we were called) and the insensitive teasing and the enumerable fights myself and some siblings had with some unwise boys of Anloga (we really whupped them the Hausa-way if too big for one person to handle) weighted a lot in my not emphasising speaking Ewe to her.

At the time she started school, the policy to teach kids their foreign mother tongue in Norway was still in place but we decided she is taught English rather. That was another missed opportunity. She was already speaking English anyway.

I think younger parents should learn some lesson from this mishap. Too many Ewe children overseas - not overlooking children from other ethnic groups - find themselves in this situation, thanks to their parents. It is not uncommon to hear that same situation is happening to Ewe children outside the Volta Region in Ghana. My senior brother was more impressed with the Ewe of Selorm’s senior sister than that of the children of some relations in Tema when I took her home at the age of 6.

Dumsor, dumsor? She’s not aware of, and so does not know that some have lost their patience and, typical of nascent, immature awareness, are resorting to sabotage actions directed at ECG infrastructure which will rather worsen their situation.

Well, the story is hers. Read on please.

C.Y. Andy-K


From: Lebene Selorm < >

To: Cy Andyk

Sent: Sunday, 23 November 2014, 11:44

Subject: My Open Letter to Ewes Who Speak Ewe.

I was not born in Ghana, and I did not learn Ewe as a child, English lessons being seen as a more favourable option for me and my future. There was no emphasis on learning Ewe in my parents' hard-working student-parent-worker lives. However, as the years go by, I grow more and more frustrated at the lack of resources to learn Ewe by oneself. For the past 6 years, I have been scouring the net looking for resources and I really do not know whether to laugh, cry or feel utterly embarrassed.

Many a times I ask Ewe speakers, "why do you Ewe parents love embarrassing your kids in front of friends (to avert their own embarrassment) but no one in the population has made any convincing attempts past 'Kofi kple Ama'?" Some sigh and say "hmm, ah well..." whilst others will drift onto something about "the Akans!" CHE!!!

In August, a revised book I patiently waited 2 years to be released for free finally came to be... the first page entails of indefinite articles and then the second page goes straight to pronouncing words... words that I have no way of knowing how to pronounce! Oh! joy, what logic? Too many resources I have scraped from the corners of the Internet are like this. Any extensive audio I have found is a 1970s missionary audio to train people to "enlighten" the Togo Ewes.

Perhaps, it is because Ewes assume if you are Ewe, you will speak Ewe; if you are Ghanaian, you will possess one of the languages. If not, we just scoff and say, "oh, noooo you should learn it, that's a shame, that's a pity, why do you not speak it???" Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

? ????????????????????Ewe?? Because the resources are lacking, and the resources that exist do not follow any logical pattern that academic (as opposed to quick-fix travel books) textbooks usually follow.

Basic Pronunciation, Alphabet (with English/relevant language comparison), Consonants blablabla, Chapter One: Greeting, Dialogue 1, etc. Audio to help learners know how to say what they are reading.

Yes, you may be able to tell I am greatly frustrated but truly, unless you go to Ghana, there is no way to immerse yourself in the language when you have no teacher. To those who will try to suggest my parents teach me, why, you can also design for me a full syllabus and teach me yourself. (Really, please!)

Is there anyone who knows some linguists or language enthusiasts who would be willing to publish academic style resources online for learning Ewe because it is something I thought time would fix but let me use this example: I was last in Ghana 1997. I went to Alpha Beta school for a short period. Anyway, when the power went out we'd all sigh but then the neighbourhood cheered as it came back on. Perhaps people had the power to cheer every time with positive energy because they believed that with time it would be a thing of the past. That was 1997; does it still happen? If it does, is it a fulfilling feeling? How does one stay positive?

Lovers of Ewe, please help! Many ignorant extended family members come at me with "chingchongchingwa" because I speak Chinese but do not know how silly they look as they mock a language that has a completely different alphabet but yet I learned that tonal language in less than 4 years. Yet, where is the Ewe in my life - am I saying 'water'(echi) or 'I'm tired'(achim)? HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

P.S. Even if I wanted to attempt to write in Ewe, why can I not simply google it, and find a keyboard to use? (without the fear of viruses) HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.