English and the Rio effect
I REMEMBER reading in one edition of The Sunday News Magazines some years ago, that a local model was on the verge of great things, but had hit a pothole.
She could not speak a stitch of English and yet she possessed an Ordinary level certificate!
I was tempted then to hitch a lift to rural Plumtree to investigate before I had a serious rethink. What’s so spectacular about the English language after all?
In fact, the people at Heads Modelling Agency had their priorities right. Why deny Julie an opportunity of a lifetime just because she could not khuluma isikhiwa?
Beauty first, then communicate later, which is exactly what happened and to cap it all, the tall rural beauty actually made very good progress.
With apologies to all English language teachers, I will be the first to admit that English is as foreign to all of us. As we say in SiNdebele, “Sabuya ngesikepe!”
Zimbabweans try too hard to even outdo the English. Have you heard what they say about our spoken skills? They say we speak English better than the English themselves!
But if truth be told, our pronunciation is not what my late English teacher Makamure would be proud of.
Not when we have radio presenters saying theirs is the best “stayshen in the khantry!” and the Mighty Warriors are representing us at the “Rio Twenty Sikisteen Olympics.”
Why are we so fussy about pronunciation, spelling grammar, pronouns, nouns, conjugating the verb and all that jazz?
Life would still go on even if we massacred the Queen’s language here and there.
Go to any European country and you will discover that you are unlikely to be shot by firing squad if you decapitated the English language. As long as you can get the message across, it’s fine.
Just to show you that there is no stranger language than English, swallow the following for size. These are signs that have been found around Africa;
In a restaurant in Zambia: “Open seven days a week and weekends.”
On the grounds of a private school in South Africa: “No trespassing without permission.”
On a window of a Nigerian shop: “Why go elsewhere to be cheated when you can come here?
On a poster in Ghana: “Are you an adult who cannot read? If so, we can help.” (Don’t ask me but I am trying hard not to laugh.)
In a hotel in Mozambique: “Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9.00 AM and 11.00AM daily.”
On a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “Take note: when this sign is submerged, the river is impassable.”
In a Zimbabwean restaurant: “Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.”
A sign seen on a hand dryer in a Lesotho public toilet: “Risk of electric shock. Do not activate with wet hands.”
In a maternity ward of a clinic in Tanzania: “No children allowed!”
In a cemetery in Uganda: “Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their graves.”
In a Malawi hotel: “It is forbidden to steal towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing, please don’t read this notice.”
A sign posted in an Algerian tourist camping park: “It is strictly forbidden on our camping site that people of different sex, for instance a man and woman, live together in one tent unless they are married to each other for that purpose.”
In a Namibian nightclub: “Ladies are not allowed to have children in the bar.”
And you thought Julie the beauty queen had a big problem with English, did you?
Switching over to the Rio 2016 Olympics, we are so excited that the Mighty Warriors made it to the grand stage of global sports.
Never mind that they were mauled 6-1 by the world’s second best women’s soccer team.
I noticed that we have some really negative countrymen out there who are just plain nasty. Perhaps they are jealous that those girls are in Brazil and they are not.
If the presence of the Mighty Warriors at the Rio Olympics does not move you, then we could explore the possibility that you are made of stone.
The Mighty Warriors