Thursday, August 9, 2007

The African language

A good friend is not amused by the fact that African language is not included in most appliance that we buy and asked me to post this on my blog. This is a fact that most of us have ignored.

What is that ? Is there really an African language? I doubt.

It was only yesterday that I finally realised that there may be nothing like an African language. Have you bought some sort of appliance or tool or machine that has some sort of user guideline, instructions or safety guides? Do you realise the languages into which these rule or guides are interpreted. Do you see any African language there? Why is this so? The answer is simple. Wait I tell you what I say yesterday.

I bought a UPS (Uninterrupted Power System something like that). This garget is very vital in our homes and small offices because it protects other electrical appliances such as fridges, computer, TVs, radios etc that we use at homes and offices. That is what I bought. The appliance was wrapped well from the manufacturer (not African country; I doubt).Included in the wrapper was a well written user safety guide. Well written in the sense that the pages were in the following languages; English, French, Japanese,Maryar,Chinese,Norsk,Deutsch,portugues,Svenska,Ukrane,Italiano,Bahasa Indonesia,Nederlands,Cesky,Espanol,Polski,Turkce,and the last one I could not know. Twelve languages in total and nothing, absolutely nothing from Africa. Nearly all of these are from Europe and Asia.


Three possible answers;

1. Africans don’t have a language.
2. Safety is not necessary for African
3. This item was not meant for Africans.

I can’t believe this! They are selling to use things whose safety is not in our language (African language). Why not even put Swahili which is widely spoken in African.

Oh mama Africa for how long will you be exploited and abused.


luke said...

I've often thought one of the reasons we do not get user safety guides of electronics, common appliances and such written in African languages is because of the many local dialects spoken in our 54 member state continent, not all are recognised officially as being international languages by whatever sanctioning body that looks into that

That said, the same is not true of Kiswahili-Microsoft has now made its software available in Kiswahili and its currently used in our schools; Google have made a part of their search engine portal for Kenya in both English and Swahili. Following the example of these two giants i would say its not unreasonable to expect that its time other manufacturers followed suite and make bi-lingual products&their instructions for East Africa

Waititu Warima said...

I think the problem goes alot deeper than product labels. The mzungu manufacturers of the products we use cannot respect our language - even a commonly used language like Swahili or Zulu - because these wazungus don't respect us. And how can they respect us, or our languages when we ourselves don't even respect ourselves??

The white countries see Africa and its inhabitants as nothing but a continent/people good for exploiting.
Every type of exploitation from Agricultural exploitation to mineral exploitation. But even after these exploits, the white people decided that it wasn't enough. They then used the gun to force their names,languages and religion down Africans' throats. Hey, did you ever wonder why all baptism "christian" names are in the English language? Even in Kenya today, only European names are considered "christian". That's why you haven't met anyone whose baptism name is Oluoch or Ndegwa or Mutua. Our names just aren't "christian" enough for their God.

The sad thing is, the African has no love for himself.No love for his identity or his culture. That is why today, even in have all these young people who are ashamed to use their cultural names or speak their cultural language. Instead they foolishly think that its cool to be called by their jungu names and to only speak English, because in their neocolonized minds...deep down inside they hate who they are, and where they're from. It's not only the Kenyans in Nairobi, but more so the Kenyans here in Stato. Few Kenyans embrace their identity...most are lost in the trying to become black Americans. That's why you'll bump into a Kenyan here in Stato who spent all their growing years in Huruma or Buru, but when you talk to them in Swa, they'll respond ati "I don't understand that language". What foolishness!

It's until we become proud of who we are....I mean really proud. Proud enough to love ourselves, our ways, our beliefs and our cultures, will the mzungu respect us enough to recognize our languages. Only then will the mzungu see Africa as more than a zoo of wild animals and see Africans as real people.

Sue said...

Its good Waititu you are proud of your culture and use your African names while in the US. Its unfortunate the way Jungu names are considered as first names for Baptism yet our traditional names also have good meanings, we don't have evil names. I also argue with people about Jungu weddings, that when you finish the traditional one we do a Church wedding which was brought by Jungu's. If you don't people say you have eloped Who says traditional ones are evil, what if there were prayers to accompany the paying of dowry etc....

Talk of those who are ashamed of their cultural names and the way Kenyans behave in the US, trying to emulate black Americans. Its such a shame that someone can pretend to have forgotten their language when they go abroad, that is foolishness of the highest order.

I had a boss who would only want to call people with Christian names saying the African name is difficult. Yet we call them in their names however difficult they are.

Waititu Warima said...

You know, I've never quite thought of the wedding thing. It's true that infact who said that church weddings are the legit way to marry? Si akina our gukas married the traditional way and still made it work?
Sue, it's just unbelievable how much stuff we've accepted as "normal", but were brought about by the same people who brutally tortured & killed our grandparents while stealing their land....and yet today we keep their jinas calling them "christian".
It's amazing how much stuff you learn when you start asking questions. The truth is so freeing.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Sue on your blog; it has tons of interesting topics and I truly appreciated reading them. I couldn't help but agree with several comments that some of your readers left, however, I was particularly concerned about one lefy by Waititu. Although she makes several great points, she had to go there and call out Kenyans in the States who lived in Huruma and Buru refusing to speak in Swa. As a Kenyan in the states, who grew up un Buru, I take offense in that comment for the following reasons; just as the mzungu corrupted our minds, we have formed similar stereotypes about each other. For one, (I apologize if this sounds harsh or offends anyone)Buru and Huruma are not quite on the same economical level at least it wasn't 20 years ago. Secondly, what is it about Eastlands that makes it okay for us to be more conversant with Swa than our Lavington and Kileleshwa counterparts?? I have long taken offense in the way that Eastland inhabitants are consindered both in the US and back home. Do we forget that there are slums in Kibera, dagoretti and other parts of Nairobi and it's suburbs? Forgive me for taking this personally, but it is high time we all respected each other. Besides, where you are raised, is not a measure of what you have, should have or your capabilities; truth be told, one is born and raised by their parents/guardians and has no control or choice in the matter. Similarly, we have no choice in the names our parents gave to us; we may be able to change some of this as we get older and have our own families by naming our children wisely. Just for the record, I chose to give my children both Western and African names for reasons that I will explain later (if you are interested to know). however, I would really like to hear someone else's views on this sectioning of Nairobi?? What gives anyone the right to judge others????

Waititu Warima said...

Anonymous, I think you are taking the mention of Buru Buru a little too personaly. Just so you know, I grew up in Buru myself too. Buru Buru phase 1, small number 181 to be precise, karibu na shop ya Mbuguss.

The reason I go into this much detail in telling you where I grew up is so that you don't for a second think ati I'm just ropokaing stuff hiding behind a computer online. Also, I tell you this so that you can see that I'm in no way ashamed of my Buru Buru childhood. To this day, after 12 years in Stato, I still made my best friends in life in that Buru Court...and I wouldn't give up that childhood for any surbubia life in Lavi,Loresho or Kile.

After living all my years in Buru, I'll be goddamned for anyone to tell me that they grew up in the same Buru I grew up in....and now suddenly they can't understand or speak Swa. I repeat that this is complete foolishness of the Kenyans who do this...and I surely hope you're not one of these Black-American wanna-be Kenyans.

Speaking of huruma, I have lots of friends who grew up in even worse conditions than H-town...- ama Huruma...and I only used Buru & Huruma as my examples coz those are the estates I know well, in addition to the rest of Eastlands like Donholm,Umo,Tena,Kariobangi etc.

Annonymous, judging from your comments, I think you're a little too sensitive about your Buru Buru origins. Why I don't know...only you can tell us.

Waititu Warima said...

By the way Annonymous, in your post, you were to tell us why you chose to give your children Western names...I guess you forgot. Please do, as I'm interested to hear your reasons. My wife and I are expecting our first born on August 26th, and we've decided on just African names for the little fella. However, I'm interested to hear-out your reasons for giving your little ones English names.