Eight weeks in, only three to go. The training clock is finally winding down. Finally projects and being slapped together, friendships are being solidified, and generally malaise has infected everyone, as we all just want to go ahead and move to post already.
I’m in the Southwest part of the country, which happens to be Anglophone. I’ve been studying French for the past eight weeks in hopes that it’ll come in handy at post, but instead I’ve received a nice surprise: I’ll only need French when I travel, which is an endeavor for which I’ll also need a supply of valium. Instead, the everyday language in Nguti is ‘special English’, which frankly is not that different from American English. The cadence is a little off, as is the word order, but adapting isn’t difficult, besides getting over how silly you sound. Instead of saying “Hey, that blue bag is mine”, you’d instead let the person unloading the van know that “My brother, blue bag di mine”. It sounds awesome coming out the mouths of Cameroonians, but coming out of my mouth? It ends up sounding more like mockery.
When I go into the bush, however, I get to use a whole new language. Not too many people there speak Special English, much less Grammar English, which is what we would consider British or American English. Instead they speak a mélange of Portuguese, English, and some local dialects creating what is called Pidgin. Pidgin for me sparks the same feeling that someone experiences when they never fit in, only find out they’re adopted. I feel like I’ve come home to a place I never knew was mine. Pidgin just clicks with me, much in the same way that my Atlanta breeding cause Ebonics to just click. I feel like my heart song is in Pidgin, and now I finally get to express the way I really feel, in a language that is really mine. For example:
You want to say you’re going to travel the world? Psh, simple, just explain that ya go go waka di world.
How am I doing? Oh, skin dey fine.
How’re your kids? Pikin dem, dey be fine.
You single? Well then, ya neva don maret. Ya be kwakanda.
Car full? Belly full? Perhaps it done flop.
My name na Georgia, and I be learn fine for pidgin.