Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We Language

by Jonas Dogara
‘Country people, na the thing wey dey happen for this we country I wan tell una so. The person una dey hear him voice na Boma Erekosima’

Anybody wey live for inside or around Port Harcourt where dem dey receive Radio Rivers in the 80s and 90s go know wetin I dey talk about. 11 o’clock for morning and half-past 6 for evening na time for news in Pidgin English and the people wey dey nack us the news na Boma Erekosima and Tony Vincent Ijere. This news na the type wey even the old men and women for village wey no go school fit listen to and know wetin dey happen for we country. This language, na the the language wey almost all of us for the country, no matter where we from, whether we go school or we no go, dey understand at least small. This na we language.
Na until I done finish secondary school, enter university and meet some ‘big’ people na him I realise say e get some people wey believe say to speak Pidgin English no good. In fact if you try yarn with dem you go hear ‘I don’t understand you. I don’t speak Pidgin’ for their oyibo accent wey dem learn for Nigeria. E surprise me no be small. Because, the way I been understand am na say the main purpose of language na to talk to somebody make e understand wetin you dey tell am. If e understand wetin you tell am, then everything dey good.  Big oga or big madam no dey inside.

Boma Erekosima and Tony Vincent Ijere na men wey go school well well, their eyes done open and dem dey very good for their work as journalists and broadcasters, yet na Pidgin English dem dey blow! In fact, Boma na one of the first stand up comedians we get for Port Harcourt at a time when most of us no even know wetin stand up comedy be. E dey be MC for most of the events wey government and companies dey organise and e dey get plenty show for radio where e dey show him skill. People Ali Baba, the late Danjuma Mohammed and plenty others done use this language (even though dem go school and sabi speak English well well) to full our belle with laugh for many years too. Sports journalist wey done dey do the work for a long time, Emeka Enyadike dey write football blog for Super Sports now for this language and Mozez Praiz dey host Naija Made (one correct Naija football programme) for Super Sports for this same language too. Plenty other ogbonge Naija people in different areas dey use this language do their thing too. Abeg, if this language no good to speak for somebody wey eye done open, why these correct men wey them eye open well well go dey speak am and everybody like dem?

Also, if you done travel go somewhere wey Naija people no plenty, you go done see say plenty times you and the few Naija people wey you go meet no from the same tribe and una no fit speak each other local language. I from Rivers State and my very good friend from Ogun State and we been dey the same class with a lot of people from different parts of the world. The common thing about we all for the class be say we all dey speak English. So sometimes when the gist done get as e be, the Arabs go begin speak Arabic, Latin Americans go begin speak Spanish, people from the old Soviet Union go begin speak Russian…. Wetin me wey be Ijaw and my Yoruba friend go speak? You tell me.

And by the way, when we begin nack we Pidgin English all the other gist dem dey stop and dem go begin listen to us because e sound like English, smell like English, almost taste like English, yet dem no dey understand am!

I no know if una dey feel the same happiness I dey feel when I meet another Naija man or maybe Ghana man for a faraway place and both of us fit just yarn Pidgin English. Somehow we just know say na our thing. Na we get am. And no matter how things bad, no matter how things spoil, this one go still be our own.

So, I welcome una to my blog. And for my blog na for we language we go dey do am. So those aje butter dem wey their mess no dey smell, people wey too ‘cool’ or too ‘posh’ to nack we language with us, make dem park well!

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