Africans are Good at Languages
I have now been in 12 countries in Africa, spent about one year of my life on this continent, and I continue to be in awe with the ability of African people to learn languages.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I was sitting outside an Indian owned supermarket in Kasese, Uganda the other day trying to connect the GPS function of the Verizon BlackBerry Storm when this kid start looking over my shoulder.
“Is that a computer phone?”
“Yes, but technically I think they call it a Smartphone, however your definition in my opinion is more correct.”
He was polite, considerate and generally helpful, not demanding as is generally a cultural problem here. Therefore, we started to have this intelligent conversation about the map and my present location.
He tells me he can speak eight languages, and he is eight years old, I tell him I can speak English, French and Spanish. And generally as is the rule, they want to know if I can speak his language, I have to say no, and I am not going to try, it is hopelessly difficult for me.
I ask test questions, asking him to explain the words in different languages, and I believe him, he can speak many languages.
I have met many people in both East and West Africa who seem to seamless jump between various languages. I can be sitting here speaking English with a person and suddenly the person starts to speak a local language.
I met three girls in the Holy Leap Restaurant the other day, two from Kenya and one from Rwanda. They are studying at the Western Branch of the Kampala International University here in Ishaka, Uganda.
A person has to ask these students,
“What languages do you speak?”
“How do you talk to each other?”
I am quite sure they are jumping from language to language and dialect as they communicate. I am the simpleton in these conversations; I am the person who is unable to communicate. As best I can tell, they are capable of clarifications in many languages, therefore they will sometimes explain to each other in a local language. Rwandan and Kenyan people do not speak the same language, Ruth the Rwanda girl started to speak to me in French because some areas of Rwanda speak French.
The USA seems to have an acceptance that Black People make better Athletes, that somehow their bodies are better. I cannot say I agree with this, I think it has more to do with an accelerated evolution of American Black because the weak died on slave ships, then masters selected stronger blacks to breed with other stronger blacks. I generally do not find stronger Blacks in Africa.
I however do feel that African people are genetically wired to learn languages twice as fast as white races.
There are three South Korean women who are in Ishaka, their husbands are teaching at the school. The wives do not speak English, and I was laughing as Dickens the manager of the restaurant has learned some Korean words.
There is an Asian invasion here in Africa, Chinese, Koreans and maybe Japanese are here investing and gaining economic favor. The Chinese are building roads; I would love to find out if the local road workers start to learn Chinese because of the inability of Chinese to speak English.
I am naturally mechanical; my genetic makeup allows me to learn computer, engineering, construction and maybe mathematical situations easily. I know I have a gift, I also am painfully aware I do not have the gift of languages. Yes, I can speak French and Spanish, however to learn these language was more willpower and little to do with natural ability. I have readers complain about my English writing ability, this is a good example of my lack of natural language ability.
I do not care if I offend people when I speak of differences between races of people; I refuse to be dysfunctional or politically correct at the sacrifice of honesty. I think and believe the understanding of how we are different allows us to also to know how we are the same. Too crazy, there are tons of Non Governmental Organization here trying to culturally change these countries; however in denial there is a cultural difference. (Whacky)
Sometimes readers think I do not like Africans, this is humorous to me, I have come to Africa now five times, and this is a statement of love.
Hmm, I would suspect that many people would say that Barack Obama is better with language than George W. Bush.