Fon Language of Benin Cove Benin West Africa Monday, September 18, 2006
I personally am entering the French language or Francophone culture, simultaneously below, I am also entering, however not immersing in the Fon Language culture.
There are many levels of entering a culture; very few mean much on the grander levels of continent or country. The differenced do matter between a greater comparative level, however few persons can compare Africa to South America, Asia, India, Europe, North America, Central, etc. All these comparisons are time sensitive, how long did you spend in these areas and how did you live.
I have been both in the Francophone and Anglophone Christian corridor culture along the coast of West Africa from Cote d-Ivoire to Benin, I am turning north into the Francophone that will leave the Christian and move to Indigenous and then Islamic. It is half-Christian here and half Islamic. Not easy to see Indigenous religions and Voodoo think is not big more of a popular for tourist concept. Most person I have met seem to really talk bad of voodoo, if I mention to a Christian, they jump and say bad, very bad… Etc.
ENCARTA Encyclopedia breakdown: (2)
Religious affiliations Indigenous beliefs 52 percent Roman Catholic 21 percent Muslim 20 percent Protestant 4 percent Other 3 percent
To understand a culture I believe you need to speak the language, however best if you do not want to speak the language or for some reason in love with the language. If a person learns a language to be practical, to communicate, do business, to travel, to learn, then there is no zealot-overlaid love of the culture of the language. I would guess that about 90 percent of person leaning either French, Spanish, German are in the zealot type mentality. They wish to be, they want to be French, they want to German, they want to be Spanish, they start dressing, acting, and becoming French, not a great way to observe a culture, however they are becoming the culture, rather with no desire to be their own, more to leave and become another. I am always Midwest USA, Indiana traveling in another culture. I do not just throw away a perfectly functional socialization and adapt another.
I am being socialized now towards the Francophone culture with a local language twist.
I am watching and noticing a repeat of TV5Monde television channel it is becoming the CNN or BBC of the Anglophone world to me. I am only starting, maybe 3 percent Francophone started to be socialized, very difficult in a country or land that does not really speak French as their first language. Fon is the language of the locals; I believe they speak Fon between each other, then some French thingies interspersed and a bunch of language bleeding.
Yesterday, I rented a room from three girls. One spoke French with me, tried a few English words. The other two rather looked at me.
There are maybe five girls, however they are coming and going and I cannot be sure. I wanted to know, - How many white people come to the hotel? - The girl that was the receptionist or Priscilla said something like - 20 Mille -
Or 20,000 she was talking in money or the local currency of Francs, the word - Combien - means how much and normally associate for a person who does not speak French well with money.
I do not speak French well, however am slowly figuring it means how much and I can put the word like - PEOPLE -
So I can say, how many people, or, - Combien Gens? -
This is all difficult and for sure, I do not know what I am doing, I am doing the slow grope of the language.
The owner or Patron was walking up, so they did a pass off to him. I shook hands, not a normal custom, but take it to a higher level of respect, and proceeded. I asked how many people, white people come in one month, he said finally two, and so about 24 white people could stop in Cove, not in my guidebook city Benin.
In the Guidebook or not in the Guidebook is a huge different in the world, if you want to find other tourist to talk with or as they say, white people. I wonder how the Japanese like being called White People; I do not think they care. I feel awkward being labeled white man, I think the French like it, and the others find it interesting.
He explain, - Priscilla speaks good French. - - Angel speaks Fon - - Claire speaks Fon - - Unknown girls name speaks Fon -
I speak maybe a quarter as good of French as Priscilla, I would say my vocabulary is richer, however here is extremely practical, she is going to be able to talk about the TV, Room, Music, anything in a very conversational way, I will be able to spell a word and write a word better. The owner, hmm, what is his name, oops.
Ok well, he can speak good French and Small Small English as they say. The English is annoying and the West Africa culture has a problem with yes or no, they are yes or no, no maybe.
I say, that I speak English, so they speak Small Small English and they think, - Yes, I will speak English. -
But no, I speak Small Small or Petit Petit Francaise.
I speak better French, or it is the dominant language between 95 percent or more of the people I meet. This mean we need to converse in French, and maybe use some English words when I cannot speak in French. We augment the conversation and clarify with English sometimes, worked very well with the owners.
However, in his black and white, yes, no, on, off brain or culture he thought, the man speaks English; therefore, I must try to speak English to help. He continually tried to speak English with me, and his English is terrible, not true, he has a vocabulary, however has never used it.
I have a large French Vocabulary and have been using it a lot, so I am quicker to talk in French, I can think easier. I finally said, IN French, please, talk French it is much easier for me, as I believe my French is much better, I understand big, not small small.
With the owners I can enter the world of Francophone, with the Television, which has been in about 75 percent of my rooms, I can enter the country of France version of Francophone socialization.
A zealot Francophone lover, would go crazy with this, to learn French in Africa is like learning to speak Spanish for a Spain person in Mexico, not a good way to do it, Mexican Spanish is not a good Spanish to learn, to much rolling of the R and not normal for Spanish.
Interesting thought I just expressed, to learn in an objective way about France, figure out who is learning French in Africa, because for sure they probably are not in love with French, that is not true, the Volunteers and the NGOs probably are, however, my too smart, too knowledgeable German friend by the name of Thomas that hung around the Galien Hotel in Lome Togo was a great source of information on West Africa.
On hindsight, I can see I should have spent a few days picking his brain on what is the pros and cons of Africa, how to slice and dice this place. Get the skinny, the insights into what is really happening here and not what everyone is saying is happening on TV, Books, guidebooks or some Francophone Cultural Zealot based mentality.
Note we have subgroups of travelers in Africa I will call the Rasta Zealots and more or less just children, clueless and lost in space, a very dangerous culture though, and mass destruction of culture is happening with the Rasta. Hmm, Rasta versus Christian? Maybe ok for Africa, destruction by Music. Not all cultures should survive in my opinion, some like the culture of Hitler needed to be exterminated and kept shunned, like the Ku Klux Klan, they need shunned and kept on the back burner, sort of hate mongers.
I think maybe that is the word to think Clan, if a person develops a clan zealot mentality or towards cult in nature, it become a protect the groups; socialize the group to destroy other groups.
Ok, fun for me to feel my entry into the Frenchie culture, I will NOT wear a scarf around my neck and start to walk like a girl, or drink wine, and use French food words. I was watching some reporters round table show on TV5Monde or something yesterday, I would have love to learned clearly what they were saying. They were discussing how the Papa or Vatican, the Pope said, or somehow came out explaining how terrorism is related to the Islamic religion.
A French cultural perspective from inside the Francophone world would be interesting. France just got there we are neutral status handle to them on a you are not neutral I think by Al Queda in Algeria or something. I have been laughing for days. Nobody is neutral in with a terrorist, they cause terror, they are indiscriminate, the kill-to-kill, sort of like children with bombs, wanting to be famous. Copycat serial killers with a common thread.