Archive for April, 2011

You No Sabi?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 11, 2011 by elisabethefuasutherland

I stumbled across an interesting post by Kobby Graham a couple of days ago: “Lying to Ourselves in Someone Else’s Language”. He speaks about the glorious phenomenon that is pidgin English and how it has grown and flourished over the years because we as a people have OWNED it. He also juxtaposes this to the Queen’s English as it is taught in schools. English can be a beautiful language, it’s constructs and cadences fascinate me but it can also be tedious and stiff if taught so, as it is in many a Ghanaian school. There is no flexibility in the language used back home, no room for experimentation, for novelties.

What struck me though, out of Graham’s post was a quote from Nii Ayikwey Parkes, writing for the June 2010 edition of DUST magazine, which if you don’t know, you should check out, but the quote was:

“People [should] stop apologizing for who we are and start to write language the way we speak it…”

Graham states:
“Why do you think our English plays, television programmes and adverts sound so forced… so fake… so pretentious? They rarely reflect the way we really speak, much less how we feel, what we think or what is going on in our life and times.”

Now I am guilty of this forced, fake, pretentiousness too; I have many a time tried to write a scene or a short story telling a Ghanaian story without using the language. It doesn’t even have to be straight pidgin, but we all know there is a very Ghanaian way of setting things out in a sentence, and I realized that I needed to write how we speak and not worry about trifles like grammar and “correct” sentence construction.

We must tell our own stories, and the only way to do that without whittling ourselves down to it is to use our words and our language, whether it be pidgin or Ghanaian English.

Just a couple thoughts.

Read the full post by Kobby Graham at


Study Break

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8, 2011 by elisabethefuasutherland

Well, now I really haven’t posted in a while 🙂

As you might have guessed, school has managed to kept me wrapt in angst as we approach the final six or so weeks of class. I am caught up in work for class as well as the spring concert of a world dance group I am involved, and on top of all that, my latest project: summer arts classes for high-school aged kids in Accra, Ghana.

But I’m taking a mini-vacation from all that for a second or two…

Going back to my obsession with stories, like that old saying: until the lions get an historian, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Who better to instill the values of chronicling in than our young ones? Who better to learn our history, and write it down, and keep it in minds and hearts? Yes, we ourselves, this current generation are largely ignorant of our history before the arrival of the Portuguese and the intricacies of the cultures of our own highly individual tribes. We have lost so much and we continue to lose because we are not telling our stories, we are not writing them down or preserving them in forms that can be looked back upon. What we have are shades of a Western fallacy which we parade as “entertainment”.

I want our children to learn to tell real stories. Their stories.

I laugh when I hear people complain about how Ghanaian music or movies never win awards. Why do you think that is? Think about that for a little, will you?

Just a couple of late-night randoms brought on by my blanking on a paper.

Back to work.