Thursday 21 September 2023


ugwokeh nnaemeka

The first time I got to know that there are so many African that speak excellent #English, but write very bad one was when I was a corps member serving in Jos, Plateau State.
After our CDS meeting on a certain Thursday, I decided to attend evening mass at St. Theresa's Catholic Church. As soon as I came out from the church when the mass was over, my phone rang and it was my mum who was calling. I shifted to answer the call. After the call, a certain beautiful and curvy lady approached me.
"I heard you speaking Igbo. Which state are you from?" she enquired
"I am from Enugu," I answered.
After discussing with her, I got to know that her name was Chioma, she was from Imo State and she was born and brought up Jos. I also discovered that she was a third-year undergraduate of the University of Jos and her father was working in one of the federal parastatals in the state. She was excited to meet a brilliant Igbo corps member.
Then, my place of primary assignment was in Government Secondary School, Kabong where I was teaching mathematics.
Motivated by my quest to change my place of primary assignment to a better one through her father's influence, I caved in to her green-light to be very close friends. We exchanged phone numbers and the following day, she called and informed me that she would be alone  in one of her mother's shops very close to the church and begged me to come over.
After the close of business that day, I went to see her. After having a discussion with her, I request her to introduce me to her father. We agreed that I would visit them the following Sunday.
Chioma's command of English language was mesmerizing. In addition to that, she possessed oratory prowess. Her magnitude of oratory strength can make anybody who came to the shop not to leave without buying a palpable thing.
She successfully explained how I would get to her father's house from where I was living. It was a very long explanation and I was certain that I wouldn't regurgitate the names of junctions and streets she mentioned, since I was new in the state.
For that reason, I brought out a paper from my file and told her to help me in writing how I would locate the place. She spent over 30 minutes in writing the direction and when I read it, it was nonsense. I couldn't make any meaning from it.
She couldn't spell any word correctly. Even her sentences could be likened to those written by primary two pupils.
By and large, she couldn't express herself in written English language, but her command of spoken English was gargantuan.
Some years back, I was entangled in a police case that precipitated going to Area F police station, Ikeja, Lagos to resolve it. At the police station, I wrote a statement. I meet a lady who came as a witness in another case.
She spoke good English, but when she was given a sheet of paper to write a statement, she couldn't write.
"I thought that I would just come and talk. I am not prepared to write anything," she said.
A certain policewoman was called to write a statement for her.
Why is it so?
Why is it that so many people, especially ladies, who speak very good English are found wanting in written English.
Conversely, some people can write good English, but they are very bad speakers.
What's your take on this?

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