Tag: Fanti


YƐN ARA YƐ KASA NI: LEARNING TWI, FANTI, ITALIAN AND ENGLISH

I was speaking about languages the other day, and it was interesting to see how people approach language and the reason behind it. I said I speak four languages. Truth! But I can read and write only two of them – English and Italian. I can speak and understand Fanti and Twi, but there’s so much work to be done around them because I don’t understand all things – i.e. proverbs.
My knowledge of these languages has been subject to needs and circumstances beyond my control for the most part.

Take English for example, I learnt it because I needed it for university. When I got accepted to study in England, that was a necessary move. When it comes to Italian, I had to learn it because my parents moved me to Italy when I was 8 years old. I had to go to school and live there (against my will lol) so I had to learn it. Before the age of 9, Twi was the only language I spoke fluently. I started learning and understanding Fanti properly when I started living with my dad (he’s Fanti, he refuses to speak Twi lol). I’d speak to him in Twi and he’d respond in Fanti! Some people argue that Fanti and Twi are the same, but they are not, although they are both Akan languages. I often think about them as Spanish and Italian: they both come from Latin, but have evolved differently. If one speaks Italian, one can kinda figure out some Spanish and be alright.

I think from the age of 10 or 11, in my household we spoke all four languages interchangeably (I had a little English going because my parents spoke it to my sisters and I sometimes).

In all this learning, credit goes to my parents for making sure I did not lose our native language. I have friends whose parents chose to speak only Italian or English to them. Some parents were tapping into their children’s knowledge to learn the language themselves – i.e. Italian. I believe the intention was great, but the result not so much because some friends ended up losing the ability to speak and/or understand our native languages.

I definitely want to work more on my Akan – Twi in particular. There are concepts that can never be translated into a Western language, because Western philosophy and ontology are different from Akan ways of being; and I think, because language is the medium through which concepts and ideas are formed, one can never understand a culture fully, unless one knows the language. I think Twi sounds fun and hilarious, Fanti sounds sweet, maybe that’s why some Takoradi boys got girls for days but anyway I digress.

Interesting fact: I don’t know how to count numbers in Twi. I’m learning now.

By Benjamina E. Dadzie

Ghanaian Music: M3NSA – Fanti Love Song

M3nsa, the other half of the duo FOKN BOIS has released the video of his new song Fanti Love Song from his critically acclaimed album No1 Mango Street. The song itself is a delightful surprise, as M3nsa shows that not only can he spit bars but he can sing as well and very well at that.

The fanti spoken over laid back hip hop and guitar chords works really well, and M3nsa’s mellow voice adds a touch of sensuality to the song. The simple and straight to the point lyrics makes Fanti Love Song very easy to sing along to, so makesure to add this to the playlist in your car.  So a massive two thumps up to M3nsa! Well done!

Check the video out!

By Yaa Nyarko

Ghanaian Culture: No Vernacular…

KFCHow would you feel if you walked into KFC one day to order a chicken wrap only to be told they will serve anything but chicken?! Or you go on an aeroplane to fly to your dream holiday destination, only for the pilot to announce the aeroplane will not fly but taxi all the way to its final destination?! I will tell you how I would feel – I would feel conned, disgusted and disappointed. KFC without chicken and a plane that cannot fly?! Chicken is the core essence of KFC and so is flying for an aeroplane.

It’s the same sort of feeling of disbelief and disappointment I get when I come across a Ghanaian who has lived in Ghana all their life and yet speaks better English than any Ghanaian language. I have two nephews and a niece just like that. Speaking to them the other day, I realised they speak fluent English but struggle to hold a conversation in Fanti or Ga. Their knowledge or Fanti or Ga – which is their mother tongue – is only rudimentary. It does not go past “How are you”, “I’m fine” and “my name is”… Shocking huh? And they’re not the only Ghanaian kids living in Ghana who speak better English than their supposed mother tongue. There are many like my nephews and niece and this is deeply worrying.

A couple of generations down the road we will have a society that cannot speak its own language but can we blame these kids? They speak English when they are at school and when they are at home. All the literature they read is in English and all their favourite TV characters speak English too: Ben 10 speaks no Fanti or Ga and neither does Hannah Montana! The only time they get to speak Fanti is when their maternal grandmother visits or Ga when their paternal grandmother comes around and they also get a few hours of local language lessons a week at school and that’s about it.

Tom_and_JerryWe cannot pretend this problem just crept up on us out of the darkness, we should have seen it coming. I remember in primary school we had a sign on the chalkboard which read “No Vernacular”. Anyone caught speaking Fanti during school hours were punished, but I was lucky not to end up like my nephews and niece. Unlike them, I had a safe haven. I could go home and speak Fanti all I like. These kids on the other hand have no one to speak Fanti or Ga with on a regular basis, so uncle is going to do his bit to help them. Next time I speak to them on the phone, I will be speaking Fanti and nothing else but now let’s address this problem in a wider sense. Those in charge of drawing up the Ghanaian school curriculum have to take another look at the system. Local language lessons should be given more teaching hours or we can be brave and start teaching a subject – I would suggest History – in local languages. It makes much sense to teach the history of a society in its own language. It gives a better understanding.

Now let’s take a look at the TV stations in Ghana. Do not scrap Ben 10 or Tom & Jerry or Hannah Montana but work some magic with it. It would be nice to hear some of these characters speak Fanti or Ga or Ewe or Twi or Hausa, it can be done. I’ve seen Scooby Doo speak fluent Hindi.

Finally, I have a few words for Ghanaian parents. Please do not speak English to your kids at home. It will not make them any clever than the kids who speak Fanti or Ga or Ewe or Hausa at home.

Funny… I just tried counting 1 to 20 in Fanti and I am ashamed to say I’m stuck at 10! And I would think there would be a load of people reading this who cannot count from 1 to 20 in any Ghanaian language. It’ s a disgrace! We need to do better.

By Maclean Arthur