By Kabiru Tsakuwa
“Our politics is without bitterness, my husband Dr. Good luck Jonathan and Sambo is a very Good people…”
Dame Patience Good luck Ebele Jonathan. Adamawa, December 21st, 2010
Looking at some countries like China , India , Iran and Japan that have in the course of a few decades developed in the true sense of the term; I could not find any that uses foreign language as a tool for both scientific and cultural research and communication. Many have been using their indigenous languages which enable them to seamlessly attained technological break-through.
Practically speaking therefore, any country desirous of development in all facets of life must deploy its indigenous language or at least thoroughly domesticate the one imposed on it by accident of colonial history as the like of south Africans have try to do.
Whether we like it or not, English had become Nigeria ’s lingua-franca, and ever since, has been spoken by vast majority of Nigerians as a second language. But unlike local languages that come to us naturally and effortlessly; English language had to be learnt though formal tutoring. Because no matter what it remains alien and artificial to us and therefore not suitable for effective cultural, scientific and technological researches.
That was all the more reason why speakers of English as a second language will have to remain learners for life. That was also why even Wole-Soyinka, the celebrated Nigerian Nobel laureate in English literature without fear or contradiction had to constantly update his vocabularies to keep abreast of new trends.
So to me Dame Patience Ebele’s apparent poor grasp of the language’s syntax and grammar or any other person for that matter was not something laughable as to warrant castigation or casting of aspersion in so far as aims and objectives of the speaker are quite understood.
What’s incomprehensible and at the same time lamentable however has been the case of different strokes for the same offence from those who choose to castigate Hajiya Turai throughout the three or so years she served as the nation’s first lady whenever she had cause to speak in English!
Was it because she happens to be another kola-nut chewing Aboki, to borrow from her traducers, which was why she was shown no respite? At least her understanding of the language was by far more matured than that of the current first lady. But why the dead silence as if in the grave-yard, despite the notorious gaffe being committed by dame patience Good-luck in the full glare of our television screens while campaigning for her husband; something that is patently novel in the annals of Nigeria’s political arithmetic.
Equity and fairness dictates that what was good for the goose must also be good for the gander. Those who decide to lampoon Hajiya Turai Yar’adua should accord patience good luck similar treatments on account of her disastrously poor grasp of the language. Otherwise, people will read different meanings into their motives. They will also think and rightly so, that there are more to those barrage of criticisms than meet the eye!
In truth, Dame Patience good luck has every reason to thank God. For had it been that she happens to be from the north, by now so much noise concerning her poor command of white man’s language will have rent the air by no less a people than her own blood brothers. But being of southern Nigerian extraction, she had been spared the sledgehammer by both northern and southern critics and mum’s the word. Pity!