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Opinions of Saturday, 21 September 2013

Columnist: Allotey, Henry Kpakpo

Is the Ga language is extinct?

I sat in a minivan popularly called trotro from Tema to Kaneshie in Accra. A few minutes into the journey, the driver’s mate who has been speaking the Ga language with his driver turned to us to collect the lorry fare. ‘Yes’ ‘yes’ he was telling us to bring out our money to pay for the fare. Surprisingly, this driver’s mate who was speaking impeccable Ga with the driver a few minutes ago was now speaking Twi with us the passengers for his fare. Annoyingly too, his twi was the halting type, not pleasing to the ear at all.
When somebody, probably a Ga man shouted at him to stick to the Ga language and spare himself the heartache, a woman with a bleached face told the man to shut up; asking if everybody understands the Ga language and to put an icing on the cake inferred that the man is blind for not recognizing the death of the Ga language! This undoubtedly generated a huge storm in the van but that is not the subject of my article.

I am wondering why anybody will dispute that the Ga language is comatose, almost dead. I have continually asked myself whether there are intellectuals among the Ga people. The Gas have almost become like a people without a leader. No body to speak for them, nobody to defend and preserve their culture. I will strongly prove why the Ga language is extinct or to put it mildly, comatose!

There are over 20 Radio stations in Greater Accra alone and numerous rural ones. Among the over 20 Radio stations in Accra, you have just 10% of it being English language driven, 85% being Twi language driven and the rest being other languages. Surprisingly, Greater Accra being the home of the Gas, we have just a single Radio station that is exclusively Ga language driven. The funny part is this, even with that single Radio Station that broadcasts exclusively in Ga, it was set up by the State and not individuals. Can you imagine and comprehend the disgrace that the Ga land has been subjected to? All the Akan Language driven Radio stations were set up by individual businessmen but the single Ga Radio station was set up by the state! So by inference, there is not a single capable Ga person who can set up a Radio Station exclusively for the Ga people!


The Despite Group of companies own 3 radio stations in Greater Accra and they all broadcast exclusively in Twi. The Multimedia Group also own severally Radio stations in Greater Accra and they all broadcast in either English or Twi. So goes for the others.
So I ask, what is wrong? Why is nobody setting up Radio stations that will broadcast exclusively in the Ga language? Of course, no businessman will put his money where he or she wouldn’t get his returns. These smart businessmen know that the Ga language is dead. If they set up Radio stations that targets only the Ga community, their investment will go down the drain. They know that even the average Ga person will rather speak Twi than speak his own language.
Go to most Ga homes, you will find them listening to Oman FM, Peace FM, Hello FM, Asempa FM or Hot FM. Hardly will you find them listening to Obonu FM or Meridian FM which broadcast’s in Ga. You will see able bodied Ga people pouring praises on Twi speakers like Abeiku Santana, Fiifi Banson, Kwame Sefa Kai etc while their own people who run the show in Ga Radio stations are not even mentioned.
Listening to the morning shows on various radio stations is heartbreaking for the Ga person. A Radio presenter that has a story concerning a Minister or MP will call the person during the show and demand his explanation on the story published. Most of these interactions take place in Twi. If the person does not understand the Twi language so well, he will then be asked to speak English. Once Professor Mike Ocquaye was called on a show and this Ga Professor was speaking halting Twi. What prevented Professor Mike Ocquaye from speaking his own language? If you have come to Greater Accra for the first time, you will think it is an extension of the Ashanti Region. All businesses are conducted in Twi but the most serious of it all is what I am coming into.

Do you know that in some basic schools in Greater Accra the Ga language is no longer taught as a subject? Yes you heard me right; the Ga language is no longer taught as a subject! In place of the Ga language, the Twi language is now being taught as a subject. Ga teachers have now become jobless and are now being replaced by Twi teachers teaching Ga kids Twi! In our own land, our language is no longer being taught our kids. Our kids are now being taught other languages not their own!
My heart bleeds for my people. I shed tears every day for the deplorable state the Gas are in now. In time past, we have all tribes learning the Ga language in our schools. I remember those days when some of us will collect toffees and biscuits as bribes in order to teach our Akan brothers and sisters Ga. But things are different today. It is rather our Akan brothers and Sisters who are now taking bribe from Ga kids to teach them Twi in our own land!
Our destiny is gone! Our pride as Gas is gone! Very soon, very very soon, the Ga language will become like Latin where only the old speaks. Our Youths no longer speak the language. They rather prefer to speak Twi and be accepted than speak Ga and be laughed at.

Who caused this? Why is the Ga language in such a deplorable state? Why are our people not speaking the Ga language? Have Londoners lost their unique assent because London is the capital of Great Britain? Are the Hausas not speaking the Hausa language because Abuja is the capital of Nigeria? Are the Akans in Abidjan not speaking their language because Abidjan is the capital of Cote D’voire? So why is Accra different?

Accra is different because our intellectuals, Chiefs and all who matter are busy chasing the political class for a morsel of bread. They are so interested in the crumbs that fall from the table of politicians to bother about the future match of their people. They live in the affluent part of Accra and are so removed from their people to know what is going on. Our Chiefs are only interested in selling lands and engaging unemployed Ga youths as land guards. Our own Ga Professors are embarrassed to speak the Ga language. How many Ga books are there? If they cannot even set up a single Ga language Radio station, then you know there is no hope for the Ga person!

Will the Ga language survive? I only hope it will!

kpakpogh@yahoo.com
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