Wasn’t sure whether to title this book review or poetry review but its all semantics. *smiles*
I’m super dupa excited that we were able to host a total of three guests reviewing their favorite Afrolit through out the black history month but as Uncle B said, black history ought to be celebrated every day. This was just to open up the plethora of literature that remarkable people our color have written, from across the continent and Globe. I do hope you are able to indulge.
As I conclude this series, one of the matters that kept resounding throughout this black history month to me was our traditional languages. I was super excited when I saw that Kitara Nation had a poetry series out on speaking vernacular.
If we communicate on a regular basis, you will notice that I prefer to have most of the communication with Luganda phrases here and there and most find this odd.
Growing up, I’d always been taught to believe that English was the language of the civilized and boy oh boy, how I wanted to be one of the civilized! I decided to embrace this, and it stuck. What made it easier for me was that my parents spoke to us in English and we never had to go to the village to interact with our grandparents, because well, they had already gone to be with the Lord.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard stereotypes about people who speak vernacular and how the Ugandan society perceives them. It’s such a hurtful sight. It is this very stereotype that made me realize that we have succumb to believing in the notion that everything related to our African traditions is archaic and so we have chosen to lean towards the safer and more acceptable option. Modernity with a culture that is polluted by profanity and immorality.
We forget that our identity will always be rooted in Africa.
Its no wonder that people who try so hard to imitate the western accent always throw in an ‘R’ where there’s supposed to be an ‘L’ and the reverse. This is evidence that within us, our true identity will never be shadowed by the façade we try to put up.
‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’
Less talk let’s get into the review.
But before we get into that, let’s not forget what Elnathan John told us in Becoming Nigerian.
Never, ever explain satire!
No Speaking Vernacular; A performance poem by Kagayi Ngobi
These poem seek to portray the miserable state of our education system, imposing punitive, demeaning and crude punishments to children for making the slightest utterances of vernacular. It’s a sad state of affairs I must say!
The irony is that the teachers themselves, do what is commonly referred to as direct translation of phrases from vernacular to English, but still emphasize that the students will become nothing without English.
You speak vernacular
You are a villager
You are a commoner
You are embarrassing
Excerpt from Don’t Speak Vernacular, Kagayi Ngobi
Don’t Love me in English, Bridget Ankunda
This is a compilation of poems, centered around the theme of sexual harassment of girls around the streets of Kampala and in public taxis, pain and heartbreak, the essence of cultural oriented relationships and a tinge of Biblical prose.
I loved this because it put perspective to some of the pertinent issues in society that we tend to shy away from talking about. The shamelessness of men staring at girls, drooling with desire to the nitty gritties of the miserable state of affairs of the service delivery in our country.
You compared my smile
To a mid-summer rain
Me, who only knows about
- Mud staining white clothes
- Wind stealing iron sheets
- Boda boda men tripling prices
- Vendors sliding in black market mud
- Susu from city trenches remixing oxygen
- Kampala collectively struggling to think, breathe, to survive floods
How was I supposed to know?
The rain you meant was a dance
Of two lovers; droplets hitting skin
And skin saying thank you?
Kale if you had compared me to the last seat of
The last taxi
In the old park
At ten pm
On a cold Monday night,
I would’ve understood you.
Did you have to love me with a cliché?
Did you have to love me in English?
Excerpt from Don’t Love me in English, Bridget Ankunda
I’d love you all to get more in touch with your skin, your traditions, your Africanicity and love it. Don’t try so hard to portray and be who you are not.
In the words of Oscar Wilde; BE YOURSELF, EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKEN!
Cheers and I wish you a happy new month!