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Opinions of Saturday, 20 November 2010

Columnist: Avornyo, Bright Selasie Yao

Do not single out Twi as a national language

The 1992 Constitution of the republic of mother Ghana, has prescribed the right to free expression to all. But this right to free expression is pregnant with some amount of responsibilities in all sectors be it political, social, economical and what have you. In Ghana’s media landscape, notorious citizens always abuse the freedom due us because of their parochial interest. The law enforcement bodies do little to call the culprit to book - should you blame them? It is about time we talked this anomaly off in our society and focus on building a Better Ghana, not NDC's Better Ghana, but the Ghanaian Better Ghana for all and sundry devoid of politics.

Yes, over fifty years down the line, when the wicked and selfish colonial masters left us, Africa, particularly Ghana has been deliberating on how to manage its own affairs since the Blackman is capable of managing its own affairs according to the man of the majority, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. True. We have come of age and cannot continue to be under the ambit of the selfish people.

No, I am never a racist, not even before Noah's Flood and never shall I be after the second coming of Jesus Christ. I believe in one family that we are from one person created from clay. The day God, the Osogbolisa, created Adam; God only added Eve and I do not recall he creates any other person after Adam and Eve notoriously ate the Forbidden Apple. What God did thereafter is, he sacked them out of the Garden of Eden and they go into the world to reproduce. This makes you and I to now boast of been a living being. It is, however, due to geographical locations that some are white and others are black and not because the whites were created differently from the blacks.

Even before the Whiteman came to exploit Africa, the Blackman knew God hundred times and prayed to him through smaller gods. It is not the Whiteman, who introduced God to us. But what the Whiteman did is he brought the Holy Bible to us just because he planned to induce us off our meagre resources with the sweet words from the Bible. Wicked!

It is in that era that especially the French Policy of Assimilation for example imposes the French language on our brothers and sisters in Africa who are now speaking French as their official language. The policy denied the folks completely of their culture and failure to comply with the French then were a doom. Those who could not speak and write French were considered as Subjects and were not granted French citizenship.

There is no denial of the fact that we are now independent and therefore we should completely do away with everything about the white especially the language. But I will never as a citizen of Ghana bet my head on this because I first of all know where I am coming from (Ghana, West Africa) and where I am going (Heaven). The debate about which local language should be the official language for Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana, Danquah-Busia’s Ghana, your Ghana, and my mother Ghana is quite interesting. Why should this debate be? Which tribe will give in to the idea that its dialect should be frowned upon by stakeholders?

Which citizen(s) will say make my local language an official language? One of such, who is vociferously advocating for official language is the chairman of the Centre of National Culture in Kumasi, Samuel Adjei, and has unknowingly proposed that Ghana should make Akan its official language. A debate for jaw-jaw people for sure.

Mr. Adjei, I bow to your opinion like a prostrate lizard because you have the right to express yourself. I first of all less agree with your assertion and vehemently disagree with you thousand times, not for choosing Twi but for taking side in the debate.

Permit me to ask apologetically; which research has proven beyond reasonable doubt that you and I's Ghana is yelling for a national language preferably what you are suggesting? Twi of course.

According to the report published on myjoyoline, which indicates that you have lamented (which way?) that Twi should be our official language. Do you know what you are triggering? Is it civil war or unity? (Over my dead body should civil war happen in Ghana) You said “It is an open secret that Akan should be the official language. When you walk on the streets of Wa, you will hear more Akan than Dagaare. The same thing happens in Bolga and Tamale. So why are we not very ready to say Akan is our official language so that it will facilitate the development process,” The fact that the majority of the citizens speak does not qualify it to be endorsed a national language.

Often times, when an anti-Akan is speaking within the gathering of Akans, it becomes a hell. What Akans normally say is "eh what is that, don't come and kill us ooooh" When anti-Akan goes to buy something from a Twi-speaking Ghanaian and unfortunately the person complain that he or she cannot speak Twi, then the seller asks "are you not a Ghanaian?" will be the respond. This is absurd. The respondent asks “is Twi the only language in Ghana?" the Akan shamefully concludes “no, but you see.... so where do you come from?"

Besides, there is this belief among majorities of Ghanaians and not the Akans that the Akans see themselves or think they are on top of things in this country. Who deceive them by the way? No one is superior in this beloved country, not even the late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah or President John Evans Attah Mills, or you Mr. Adjei Samuel or even me the writer.

If my history reminds me very well, the Ashantis had the ambition of capturing this nation Ghana under their ambit and hence wage war against some regions in quest to defeat them and be the overlords. Somehow they succeeded, but not fully. The Ewes for example, gallantly defeated them on Amedzofe Mountain which the Ashantis could not believe. It therefore do not surprise me when in this 21st century in a glare light day there are still people pushing the unopened gate to open. What do you hope to achieve at the end of the day? Nothing but a mess. If Ghana should adopt one of the local languages to replace the worldwide spoken English, it should not be a one man decision, but the whole countries’ decision which should definitely be a Referendum. Apart from this nothing else should be done because if one should argue with me, I can boldly say that the minority that will take this important decision may not represent MTN’s 99 percent zone interest of the peace loving Ghanaians, who are definitely not ready to buy this segregating idea.

Another school of thought argues that language (Twi) can never be a tool for development and should the referendum be even allowed to be the main decider of the day, selfish influential people in the society may induce others with money which will undermine the truth at the end of the day. The point they have raised and standby is there should not be any discussing on the matter. Laudable idea. I am also not ready to discuss this any longer because I find nothing wrong speaking English and even grappling with it at the university level. When international communities meet, what do they talk about as their main problem? It is language barrier. Are we now adding problems to the existing ones or nipping it in the bud at the wrong side? Most at times I surf of stations after stations especially during news time, when a recorded interview is played and the news anchor refuses to interpret into English. Already some of the electronic media stations broadcast most of their programmes in Twi which in my opinion is unacceptable. Ghana is not for the Akans! It belongs to all of us be it rich or poor. What about if the Gas and the Ewes also come into the argument that their language should be made the national language? Don’t you think that there will be chaos in this country which can only be resolved when we die one after the other except that we do not pass it to our generations to come? No way for Twi in Ghana, your country and my country. For instance, the Ewes may definitely say their language is an international language which is spoken by the neighbouring countries, Togo, Benin and Cote D'voire. Even a part of the Germans also speak the Ewe language and it is in no doubt that a Whiteman teaches Ewe at University of Ghana. Can you believe this? Also, the Ewe alphabet has 29 letters to the extent that it has been captured as the phonetics in dictionary, which to some degree qualifies it enough to be Ghana's national language (no way). This will definitely keel over Ghana down within a twinkle of an eye before a housefly gets cut at a wild-sharpen cutlers into millions of pieces.

Mr. Samuel Agyei, I humbly beseech you to retract your statement before it causes harm that you are unaware of. This is one of the comments your report attracted "when akan speaking people look down on other language speakers and denigrate them, how does one expect those others to feel akanised in using the language. Please, let the status quo be for the sake of equality, mutual respect and unity. Try it and Ghana descends into deep tribal conflict engulfing the whole nation. a dargasti, frafra, dagomba, ewe,etc is culturally and traditionally distinct from akan and can therefore never expect to accept it as an identity. a word to the wise is in the north!!!." Well said.

Again and again, the British government has put in place a measure that if one is to travel its country, one has to write an exam and pass before one is issued a Visa card. The exam is in English and not Twi or Ewe. Consider this Sir. Meanwhile, whiles awaiting the rejoinders and the commendations, let me leave the rest for Manasseh Awuni Azure, the boy from Bongo where Albert Abongo is MP to continue if not my big vuvuzela mouth will not be mine again. God bless Ghana, God bless all of us and not an individual. Amen

Comrade Bright Selasie Yao Avornyo