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Opinions of Thursday, 16 March 2017

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Ghanaians' absurd infatuation with spoken English

By: Adofo, Rockson

To start with, let it be known to all Ghanaians regardless of their status that I, Rockson Adofo, will not stay aloof while an elected Member of Parliament is being needlessly derided by her peers and the public for purely stupid reasons emanating from their overflowing abundance of ignorance.

The MP for Akwatia Constituency in the Eastern region, Hon. Mercy Adu Gyamfi, aka Amma Sey, has recently become the hottest topic of discussion and derision by many a Ghanaian suffering from inferiority complexes.

In Ghana, and for many a Ghanaian, the knowledge of English is a criterion for a man's great learning. Sorry to say, this is complete bollocks and a clear sign of how we denigrate our local languages and ourselves as a people. Once, an English parliamentarian said, some people may learn English, speak English, eat like the English and behave like English people but Englishness belongs to the English people. This goes to tell that no matter how a Black person or a foreigner tries to adopt the English culture and assimilate into their system, you cannot in his opinion become a real English person. Your colour or your certain outward features will still give you away. Yes, you can become a naturalised Englishman or Englishwoman, able to speak more fluently in English with accent better than most of the modern day English youths, you are still not a real English person, Period!

Go to the Whiteman's land, every country speaks their language when they go to their parliament. Israel, Netherlands, Luxembourg and other countries as small as they are, but with perfect knowledge of English even better than Ghanaians, still speak their local but not adopted languages at parliament and other public functions.

The late President Mombutu Sese Seko of Zaire or current Democratic Republic of Congo, upon all his gargantuan thievery, dictatorship and other championed acts which were obviously in violation of their constitution and a raid on the citizens' human rights, could be applauded for introducing one of their local dialects (INGALA) as the country's official language despite the fact that all the Congolese speak French, a foreign language imposed on them by the French Colonial masters same as English was imposed on Ghanaians by the British.

In Ghana, Twi language is predominantly spoken by the majority of the population. Why can't we use that dialect as our official language to be spoken in Parliament as done in other countries?

When Mr Osei Kwame Despite of the Despite Group of Companies started his radio station, Peace FM, with Twi as its main medium of communication to the public, people started laughing at him as being uneducated. However, today, Twi is spoken on almost all the radio and television stations. Additionally, Twi is spoken on all Ghanaian FM stations abroad all because of the farsightedness of Mr Osei Kwame Despite.

In England, America or any advanced Whiteman's country, nobody mocks anyone, especially a foreigner, when he/she makes constructional or grammatical mistakes when speaking their language. This is because, they know it is not their mother tongue but second language hence pointless laughing at them.

Even the modern day English youth make a lot of grammatical mistakes in their spoken English which others may assume to be slangs but that is how they have come to speak their language and who dare you to correct them. They will tell you it does not take a stranger to tell them how to speak their own language.

Why are Ghanaians so conscious about how one speaks English and whether or not one is able to speak the language properly? I find that completely nonsensical when people laugh at others for their inability to speak English or they have made grammatical mistakes when speaking. Instead of concentrate on getting the gist of the person's message, they will rather be attentively waiting for the mistakes the person may make. What a bunch of ignoramuses we are. In Nigeria, they do not care how one speaks English and the amount of mistakes he/she makes but the import of the person's speech is what matters most to them.

Those Ghanaians and members of parliament laughing at Hon. Mercy Adu Gyamfi for being unable to speak good English should bow down their heads in shame. They must be ashamed that until today they have not been able to table a bill for one of our local dialects to become a national language spoken everywhere in the country.

Those who claim to understand English, what good things have they been able to achieve for Ghana? Are not these educated ones speaking English fluently with their heavy Ghanaian accent the same ones that are using their pen to rob Ghana in broad daylight through their numerous acts of corruption? Are they not the corrupt ones in Ghana who are to me good for nothing and who former President Rawlings would call them greedy bastards and babies with sharp teeth?

Chinese are savaging our ecology with their illegal surface mining (galamsey). What are the well-spoken MPs and those Ghanaians laughing at Hon. Mercy Adu Gyamfi doing about it? Those laughing at her are to me hollow-minded individuals.

I shall be back to discuss this topic further and until then, Hon. Mercy Adu Gyamfi has my fullest support whether it's rain or shine.

No one is hated more than he who speaks the truth, said Plato. Therefore, do I care what little-minds may say about this publication meant to get people out of their parochial mindedness as long as I have spoken the truth?