Out and Travel


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This morning, I had a discussion with my sister and it was about languages. I had fallen in love with the French language since my primary school days and it was something I spoke well even until after secondary school.

But I bet my village opened my mouth and took it away when they realized there was no one to speak with. I also had to download an app called ‘Duolingo’ to assist me and also learn Spanish and German. For where?

This discussion reminded me of something.

Do you know I didn’t know how to speak the Igbo language? But an experience taught me a lesson. There was a course in my department that involved speaking one’s native language. So, we were supposed to go to the front of the class and present something about our town (or so) in our native languages. I remember we had a Yoruba lady in class but a majority were Igbo’s from all eastern states.

The lecturer in charge of this course was known for always having a straight face that you’ll wonder if smiling was a sin in her place. But she was a very nice person.

It was my turn. My heart beat so fast and loud that I could hear it. I walked down from where I was seated and faced my classmates. I stared hard at them and they started laughing. I had my way of being silly and my very close friends knew that.

The lecturer looked at me and asked in Igbo ‘What are you waiting for?’.

I replied ‘Nothing ma’

I didn’t want to get her angry so I started. I knew I spoke Igbo at first but whatever followed I couldn’t tell. She looked at me and asked in Igbo ‘You are from Nnewi, right?’

I replied ‘Yes, ma’

She already heard me say something in my dialect. This also sold me out when I was with a friend and she screamed ‘Ah, Nnewi people. Ndi ogunu’.

My lecturer asked me if my parents were from Nnewi as well. I said yes. She asked again if I lived with them. I said yes.

She sparked! ‘You should be ashamed of yourself. You are the first Nnewi person I’m seeing that’s not representing well. You live with your parents and you can’t speak Igbo. In fact, go to your seat. I will give you a D’.

‘Blood of Jesus’ I screamed in my mind.

Ha! On top Igbo language again?

Everything in me wanted to tell her I grew up in Lagos but that was no excuse. I felt bad. This time it was no longer funny.

I watched as my classmates especially the ones from Ebonyi state were crushing, smashing, chewing and delivering their dialect like their lives depended on it.

Well, indirectly it did.

We were about 6 of us from Nnewi in my class but I remember Gloria smashed hers. Efiko! I wanted to scream ‘Come and put your tongue in my mouth. I need to redo this presentation’.

But all man to himself.

I got back to my hostel that day and made a vow to learn the language. If Gbenga who lived in my hostel was learning fast, why can’t I?

Luckily, I had two legendary flatmates from Imo state and Oh My God, they did a good job. At a point, I started learning the Imo state dialect. It was so much fun and I laughed hard each time they spoke in their dialect. Dora was amazing.

I also frequented my village and paid attention to those little kids who didn’t know how to speak English. I heard them and practiced. In a year, I gained my grounds. But the D was still there and I wished I could change it.

I’m still a work in progress though because saying proverbs in Igbo is like putting me in a war front. I also find it a little hard to have conversations with older people. You have to struggle to hear them first before you understand what they said. Praying in Igbo is even another case. Going to church in the village is like another sleep time for me.

But, I will not lie, learning a language is very exciting.

Igbo amaka.

Please learn a language today. It may not be a lecturer scoring you D. For a door to open, it may depend on just a line or conversation held in a particular language.

PS: Adaeze has a hangout for those who want to learn French. It is a beautiful thing. You can contact her and find out how to join her community.

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Hey She-boss! I am Joy (Ollie) and I am glad to have you here. I am a God lover who is dedicated to inspiring young creative women and living a fulfilled life. I hope you find my posts useful and don't forget to subscribe for more awesomeness! Thank you for reading!!!❤️

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