You No Sabi?

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


One Response to “You No Sabi?”

  1. too true!

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