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« Cameroon Government Auctioning Mineral Resources - Part III | Main | Photo: A real free range chicken »

Tuesday, 04 August 2009


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Bob Bristol

We no fit talk about the varieties of Pidgin English for Cameroon weh we no talk about Youth's Pidgin English. This kind of Pidgin English na a conscious attempt for decolonise the English Language. Then e di bi reinvented everyday because na only the "GUYS" must use am.

I wish I could write in undiluted Pidgin English. It's so refreshing.


Bob Bristol, u way u don decide for tif oyibo ei name. Young man, bi proud of who you are u don hear? bob bristol na weti? you comut 1960s British sitcom? quite depressing.
Decolonize English language? as far as I bi concerned, na good thing. Afterall, as post-colonial Africans we share elements of both worlds (Africa and the West). Thus, ei only make sense say wa language is able to fuse these two elements dem.
I bi na strong advocate for Pidgin as a recognized language.

Bob Bristol

UnitedstatesofAfrica, make I tell you today sey my name at least give a clue to my identity, I mean individual identity. Nobody can trace you with that name. But remember you no fit hide all thru.

Ya grand papa no get Oyibo e name?


u wan trace me for seka weti? mak i no laugh
...bob bristol na weti too nor? seriously. Just because you di twist ya tongue for talk like British man no means say you bi British man. Stop di disgrace yaself for here a beg.

FYI, ma grand papa no get oyibo name and I no get oyibo man


His real name is Chicken

Ngumsi Protus

Teacher then your own real name na weti? I be sure say your own name na duck fowl.Man no fit trace you too so no talk about some other man yi origin.


I beg make give wouna the really brokin from Niger. All this wouna wahala no di helep. A bi, this one na style for run away from this topic. This borbor dong try write something wey hi make sense. Make wouna add only wouna contributions and no bi for start coursh one another. My men them, we see arda time.

The herald

"This kind of Pidgin English na a conscious attempt for decolonise the English Language".

Mr Bob Bristol na how we fit decolonise this language when some of we de claim say we no fit talk this pidgin not to tok about our own contry tok?

They think say na some prestige for not know how for tok their own contry tok.

Bob Bristol

The Herald, I've done so much in trying to promote and to harmonise the various varieties of Cameroon Pidgin English. Like I said in my thesis, " it's a language that brings Cameroonians on a horizontal platform where human complexes are minimised to the fullest". So you wouldn't tell me that I can't speak Pidgin very well. The best you can tell me is that I speak a more anglicised variety. But I'll tell you that it depends on my interlocutor.

As a youth, when I decide to spell COME as CAM in Pidgin English, then you should know what I mean by decolonising the English Language. We apply it in all the levels of langauge analyses.


What is correct pidgin and what is the wrong pidgin? if you don't use the language as much you loose it. I cannot for e.g. argue in pidgin anymore without subconsciously going back to English to make a point. I have very limited contact with Cameroonians to speak pidgin with ( not by choice), so does that make me less Cameroonian or less a connoisseur of the language? Buea Boy …born and raised

 Dr Peter Wuteh Vakunta


Ma own pipo dem for Upstation, I tank wona popo for dis long long panapu wey wona dong knack'am for dis Pidgin palava! I agree with Bob Bristol who contends that discourse on varieties of pidgin English in Cameroon should include Youth Pidgin English, or what is commonly called Camfranglais. Find below is an excerpt from an article that I wrote and had published in an online journal titled PANAFRICAN VISIONS

Camfranglais is a hybrid language spoken in the Republic of Cameroon where English, French and over 200 indigenous languages coexist. It consists of a mixture of French, English, Pidgin and borrowings from local languages. Kouega defines Camfranglais as: “a composite language consciously developed by secondary school pupils who have in common a number of linguistic codes, namely French, English and a few widespread indigenous languages” (23). Cameroonian youths tend to use this language as a communication code in order to exclude other members of the community from their discourse. In order words, they use it to exchange ideas in such a way that the information would remain mysterious to people out of their circles. Some examples of Camfranglais expressions that one would hear in the streets and school circles in Cameroon include:
Tu play le damba tous les jours? [Do you play soccer every day?]
Je veux go [I want to leave.]
Il est come [He has come.]
Tout le monde hate me, wey I no know pourquoi [Everyone hates me but I don’t know why.]
J’ai buy l’aff-ci au bateau [I bought this stuff in the market.]
Je vais te see tomorrow [I will see you tomorrow.]
Elle est sortie nayo nayo [She went out very quietly.]
Tu as sleep où hier? [Where did you pass the night yesterday?]
Tu as go à l’école? [Did you go to school?]
Il fia même quoi, massa [What is he really afraid of?]

These examples illustrate that Camfranglais is a hybrid language fashioned out of the blending of English, Pidgin, French, and native tongues. It serves as a commentary on the heteroglossic backdrop against which discourse takes place in Cameroon. The use of terms such as “damba” “see”, “tomorrow”, “pourquoi”, “nayo nayo”., “fia”, “bateau” “aff” and “buy” may make understanding difficult for people who are monolingual speakers of French, English and indigenous languages. It is clear from these examples that the sentence structure of Camfranglais is calqued on the French syntactic structure. Each utterance above contains at least one French, English or indigenous language word like “play”, “go”, “come”, “hate” “know”, “nayo nayo”, etc.This linguistic mixture has been developed by urban youths to talk about daily events that are of interest to them, namely dating, entertainment, sports, money, physical looks and so forth. Camfranglais serves its adolescent speakers as an icon of ‘resistance identity’ (Castells 1997). Cameroonian youths constantly transform this sociolect by manipulating lexical items from various Cameroonian and European languages, in an effort to mark off their identity as a new social group—the modern Cameroonian urban youth—in opposition to other groups such as the older generation, the rural population and the elite. It is a composite language which resembles a Creole in that it results from contact between several languages (Kouega 2003). To render their language incomprehensible to the non-initiate, speakers of Camfranglais use various techniques of word formation such as borrowing from various languages, coinage, elision, affixation, inversion, and reduplication.

Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after the reunification of Francophone Cameroon and Anglophone Southern Cameroons. It became fashionable in the late 1990s, due partially to its use by popular musicians such as Lapiro de Mbanga , Petit Pays and others. Kouega (2003) gives a striking account of the social distribution of Camefranglais:An impressionistic inspection of the profession of fluent Camfranglais speakers outside school premises reveals that they are peddlers, and laborers, hair stylists and barbers, prostitutes and vagabonds, rank and file soldiers and policemen, thieves and prisoners, gamblers and conmen, musicians and comedians, to name just the most popular ones. (513)

The lexical manipulation, phonological truncation, morphological hybridization, hyperbolic and dysphemistic extensions characteristic of Camfranglais reflect the provocative attitude of its speakers and their jocular disrespect of linguistic norms and purity, clearly revealing its function as an anti-language (Halliday 1977). While this lingua franca functions like other slangs all over the world, it is somewhat unique in that it combines elements from French, English, Pidgin and Cameroonian vernacular languages.

In an article titled “Le Camfranglais, Un cousin du Verlan?” (1989)[Camfranglais, Cousin to Verlan?], Michel Lobé Ewané draws striking parallels between Camfranglais and Verlan, a slang language spoken by young people in the French banlieue (suburbs). Verlan was invented as a secret code by French youths, drug users and criminals to communicate freely in front of authority figures (parents and police). What follows is a translation of Ewané’s interesting article:

Among the youths of every generation, there is always a speech code reserved for initiates. Camfranglais was invented by students at the University of Yaoundé about ten years ago as a result of the imposition of bilingual curriculums on them by the State. It first saw the light of day at a time when students came face to face with the reality of a national bilingual education policy which compelled them to take courses in a language in which they were not proficient: French for Anglophone students and English for Francophone students. Camfranglais started as an experiment. Students wanted a mode of communication that would distinguish them from other segments of the population. Camfranglais has come to stay. It has become widespread and deep-rooted.

The scene described below is one of those incidents that occur on a daily basis in the streets of Yaoundé and other cities. It is an account of a traffic accident in which a posh car has just run over a dog. The forces of law and order are interrogating eye-witnesses. Among the people being interrogated, there is a recalcitrant young man who explains in an unusual lingo why he will not testify:

Tu nyai mon pied? C’est les mberés qui ont book. One day j’ai seulement nyé une aff, je n’étais pas inside, on m’a tcha, on m’a put au ngata. On m’a dit soté j’ai moto […] Papa! a no dé fo’dé fo séka sé dans kin’a dog na dog for djintété. Dan kin’a matoa na matoa for djintété. Lep me je broute ma granut nayo yah!”

This strange language is “Camgfranglais” and the story recounted is the subject of a popular play written by the talented Cameroonian playwright Essindi Mindja. Could this be described as linguistic vandalism or banditry? Is it rather an invention akin to the French argot called Verlan? Could this be perceived as the manifestation of cultural creativity conditioned by a linguistic environment in which official languages (English and French) have been taken hostage by indigenous languages?

In any event, Camfranglais, a hybrid language composed of borrowings from French, English, Pidgin and Cameroonian indigenous languages (Duala, Ewondo, Bassa, etc), has become a popular lingua franca amongst high school and college students in Cameroon. The rampant use of this language in academic circles is a great cause for concern for English and French language teachers and professors. According to a certain professor, this language translates not only the rejection by Cameroonian youths of foreign languages imposed on them but also the adoption of a sophisticated mode of expression that is intelligible only to members of a select group.

Camfranglais is a linguistic melting-pot comprising at least four different codes. Its vocabulary, syntax, imagery, accent and pronunciation are constantly being remodeled according to rules formulated on the basis of new findings by members of this restricted circle. The end result has been the birth of a jargon intelligible to high school and college students as well as the rank and file.

The syntactic structure of Camfranglais is calqued on French language syntax. Inside the sentence, some words are replaced by either English words which may be conjugated like in French, or by words borrowed from one of the indigenous languages, namely Duala, Ewondo or Pidgin. Example: “J’ai tcha (pris) le métro et vous knowez (savez qui vient de ‘to know’) qu’il ne run (roule) pas vite. Another example: Je te give (donne, ici, je te payes) huit kolo fap (8500 CFA Francs in Pidgin) . The origin and etymology of Camfranglais words are diverse.

It seems to me that Camfranglais has borrowed a lot from the French Verlan as exemplified in the following sentence: “La nga (ou la meute, c’est-à-dire la nana) dont je t’ai tok (parlé) m’a bondi (m’a snobé).Recourse to the word “bondir” is justified by the impression the speaker wants to create in the mind of the listener. He wants to underscore the idea of being given the cold shoulder by a girl he admires. The image created by this usage may have far-reaching ramifications, especially when it is affiliated with an English language lexicon. For example, “Je suis filingué (attiré) par cette nga” . The word “filingué”, coined from the English “feeling” could also be used in reference to a singer, performer or even a professor that one admires.

Political and economic events in Cameroon have favored the rapid evolution of this language. Neologisms are being created day in day out to replace old words. For example, on account of the economic crisis in Cameroon attributed to the severe austerity measures imposed on the citizens by the International Monetary Fund (MF), it is now common to hear Camfranglais speakers say: “Le Cameroun est fmisé (soumis aux contraintes du FMI).The language has become so popular that renowned musicians are using it as a medium of self-expression. They find the humor, imagination and inventiveness of the anonymous creators of Camfranglais very appealing.Prepositions, concord and the gender of nouns are all muddled up. The context of communication is that of everyday life: friendship, school, love, courtship, parents, dating, leisure…

In sum, Camfranglais is chap(difficult) to understand, chap to tchatcher (speak). It is the lingo of students and the working class distinct from the business language of pacho (papa). Our pretty girls speak it too. There are countless synonyms at the disposal of Camfranglais speakers.The following words refer to “woman”: Wa, Nga, Meute, Gnoxe, (the word ngoxer is often used to mean “make love”, etc.)

PETER W. VAKUNTA, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


Docta Vakunta,

Massa, you dong do some fine fine bollo for dey. me fit tok na ingrish. I no fit tok me french. but i dey comprends all Camfranglais tok. wetti u no add for ya bollo na say dis we tok wey dem call say pidgin get different ting wey oyibo come call say, 'accent' and 'pronunciation'. We no need for 'document'am' for tokk'am fine. any man wey e use e commonsense go sabbi wettin wey e friend dey tok. i fit 'understand' all kind pidgin... i dong stay waitiman kontri for long long time... i no get person for take tok pidgin with'am. but i dey knack pidgin well well. so dat iksqiuz wey we broda dem tok say dem no fit knack pidgin well well na som kind iksquiz dat?? massa wonna moof me dey.

The herald

Hi Bob Bristol,You really missed the point I was trying to decry here.How could I have said that you can't speak pidgin English when what you wrote was in pidgin?In fact I was in line with your point of view,I only went a little further to alert you to the fact that while some of us are trying to decolonise the English language,some of us conciously claim that pidgin English is reserved for the semi or uneducated in our society.This class of people do not only snub at the pidgin English but they equally ignore their mother tongue which of all languages should be their identity.

I have come across an incidence where police invaded a certain residence in which the owner was Purportedly in possession of some marijuana.The victim told his son in the mother tonque to quickly remove the stuff that was kept at one angle of the house.Not fully grappling with what the father said,the son asked the father in pidgin English, "papa say me I go hide that bag for tobacco"? That did it.The man was handcuffed instantly.I really agree to what is commonly said of this class of people;that they are like beasts of no nations.Thanks.



I enjoyed reading your subject and was impressed by your energy and the way you have channeled it to produce so many books for posterity. How you do it beats my imagination. Congratulations and keep up producing. You have immortalized the path you took on your terrestrial journey and it is exceedingly impressive.

Your subject gives me food for thought. I would dare to contribute by stating Compartmentalized lingua franca has been Cameroon in particular, and West Africa in general for over the length of time you intimated in your write-up. I used the word compartmentalized to express the differences that exist in the "Pidgin" spoken by the different areas in Cameroon. For instance, in Douala the pidgin for good morning is "you jalop fine? or you de fo doumoute?" compared to what is spoken in Bamenda. The same salutation in the morning is "good moni; how you wekop or you de for hos?" The people in Nigeria would conveniently communicate with the people of South-West and North-West provinces in pidgin English or Lingua Franca spoken in these areas because it was commercial lingua franca used during the period of colonization and it is used today to vehicle social and commercial interactions. It was also used by everyone in the both areas for other reasons than for commerce. Would people in other provinces of Cameroon speak/understand the same lingua franca spoken in Nigeria and NW and SW provinces in Cameroon? I doubt it.

The creole spoken in Sierra Leon is unique and different. I had a room mate in Baltimore who tried to teach me their creole and I had more time for my classwork than learn his creole. It had no resemblance with our Pidgin English. Mohamed couldn't understand my pidgin and I didn't understand his Creole. I would conclude because of time crunch by using the words "different strokes for different folks" to characterize the lingua franca used in Africa South of the Sahara desert. I traveled in several countries in Sub-Sahara Africa and noticed that different areas have their different lingua franca which is not common to Cameroon or to the African continent.



I found that the people who speak a pidgin closest to former West Cameroonians are the people of former Bendel in Nigeria and Rivers State in Nigeria. What is most striking about those people is that, like West Cameroonians, they speak pidgin most of the time, and use their ethnic languages only some of the time. The Yorubas, Ibos and Hausa speak pidgin less smoothly and easily.
Gahlia, the Krios of Victoria speak a pidgin dialect that is very close to the Sierra Leonean variety, and which anybody who lived in Victoria in the 50s and 60s when they were a significant proportion of the population got a hang of.

Dr. Vakunta

Ma broda,
Many thanks for your insightful comments on this article that has generated much debate on our blog ( I agree with the issue of compartmentalization of pidgin in Africa. As the title of my write-up suggests, whether pidgin is a lingua franca or creole unique to one country or a continental lingo remains a moot point. My wife has a Sierra-Leonian friend here in WISCONSIN who talks with her all the time in pidgin. I will ask her to tell you how she does it. A plus tard!

Gahlia Gwangwa'a

Ma Mblala Pete,

We left out the Haitians population in Haiti. They have a lingua franca which is known as Creole also. It is spoken and understood at all levels of the society (educated, semi-educated and the rest). It is a mixture of traditional languages and French. I have two colleagues at the French Immersion middle school where I teach who speak it during lunch. Frankly speaking, I admire them when they speak. It's melodious and sounds so enticing and welcoming. If I could turn the hands of time, I wouldn't hesitate to do just that so I could go to Haiti and learn Haitian Creole.

I would venture to state that the Lingala spoken in Zaïre is one of the lingua franca considering the population of the speakers.Don't you think so? It is spoken by all levels of the society. There are two more regional languages not spoken by the whole population of Zaïre: Kikongo, and Boukavou. French is their colonial relict used for business and transatlantic interaction and commerce with France. I wish I could speak Lingala also! Time is not favorable at this point in my life. Well, may when I return next time. If next time will ever come and make me conscious of the fact that I was once here.

Wi go tok.


 Dr. Vakunta

Ma Mblala,
You dong knack na tru tru tory so!. Yes, sure thing, the Caribbean Creole is another variety that I shied away from discussing in my article because I deemed it out of continental Africa but considering that Caribbeans are indeed diasporic Africans, it wouldn't hurt including them in this gang of Creoleurs. Patrice Chamoiseau, Eduoard Glissant and Raphael Confiant (all proponents of Eloge de la créolité-In Praise of Creoleness)have written several fictional books in Creole; which ties with my comment in my article that fiction writers are gradually adopting creolized and pidginized forms as media of literary expression.

The bottom-line contention in my article is that we should view Pidgin as a language on its own and not as an appendage of some other language. Lingala is certainly a Creole in Africa, which I forgot to mention. Henry Lopès in his novels CHERCHEURS D'AFRIQUE and more has had recourse to Lingala in his attempt to translate the world view and speech patterns of his people. We should emulate him.
We go tory!

The herald

Hi Dr. Vakunta thanks for the precious time you have taken to enlighten us on this burning issue of our time.It's refreshing when one comes across answers to one's questions on a famous blog like this one( I do not quite understand this time around is your conclusion that pidgin English should be regarded as a language on its own and not as an appendage of some other language.To the best of my knowledge before Africa was colonised there was no such language as pidgin English anywhere in the continent.This language developed as a result of colonialism,the inability of the various ethnic groups to express themselves in their masters' language which principally was the English language,that was simply distorted.You may equally bear with me that we might have had something like pidgin german if the germans were not so unfortunate to be conquered and driven out of the continent,I think that pidgin English will remain appendaged to the English language.What do you think? Thanks.

visi siimbom

ifine make we makam make di we pidgin go for before for sika say i di hellep plenti for dis we contry. for sika say dem no di teach dis talk for schol no mean say make we truwayam. no man no de wey i fit stand ye sepsep for talk say i no fit chakara pidgin. for some we schol dem nom, na only pidgin and camfranglais we some we checher dem di nakam. wo go do how?

Gahlia Gwangwa'a


Dan Tori donc suit so te!

The fourth line of your last posting on Camwread had ...(all proponets of la créolité). I believed you wanted to write proponents. You might want to correct it!

Tu es en grande vitesse! Mon frère tu ne manges pas ton gateau et veux en avoir, ni perdre ton temp pour chasser la nature. Tu penses dont tu écris! Je t'admire sincèrement et dis simplement Wooow, à l'Américain.

A plus!


 Dr. Vakunta

Ma mblala,
Na some man be tok say tory shweet sotai tif man laugh for banda! Yes, so no, mek we must continue for knack dis tory dasso for pidgin. As for da long long crayon franci wey you knack'am say: Tu penses donc tu écris, I go beg mop for Descartes I tok dasso say: Je penses donc je suis! Salute fambru.
We go tory!

 Dr. Vakunta

Dear friends of the blog:
I must say I am deeply humbled by the great interest expressed in the topic of Pidgin English in Cameroon and Africa as whole. As you might know,my interest in pidgin English stems from the abortive attempt by the administrators of the University of Buea to put an end to use of Pidgin on campus,claiming that standard English and Pidgin were mutually corrosive.You may recall that there were billboards on that campus that read:NO PIDGIN ON CAMPUS, PLEASE! I am sure these billboards are still there! I argued then and will continue to argue that mastery of Pidgin is a boon and not a bane. Linguists have proven beyond an iota of doubt that multilingulism is cognitively healthy and enriching. Multilinguals have the ability to glean knowledge from a multitude of sources and use that knowledge in their daily transactions.

I have not stopped at merely advocating the use of English as a language on its own. I have written books in Pidgin: AFRICAN TIME AND PIDGIN VERSES, MAJUNGA TOK: POEMS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH and CAMTOK: POEMS FROM FROM THE CRADLE are a few of my many books you may want to read. Pidgin is not an appendage of Standard English in the sense that it has evolved from the status of a pidgin to a creole. You may be wondering what is the diffrerence between a pidgin and a creole.A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable language that originates seemingly as a nativized pidgin. In other words, a creole is a pidgin that has gained the status of a native tongue. In the Carribbean, creole is not longer regarded as an appendage of French.The term 'Creole' and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kriulo, kriol, krio, kreol, etc. — have been applied to people in different countries and epochs, with rather different meanings. It is a language on its own. In the United States, we have the Louisanian Creoles who speak a creolized version of French called Cajun.

 Gahlia Gwangwa'a

Ma Mblala,

Tory i bigin fo waka Kunyah kunyah leki foning! A dong laf sote ma banja hoti mi o. Ah ah! U dong toss som man we yi bin sabi buk pass buk sop: Descartes. Yi bim tory se yi di memba, dat bi se yi de. Yi no de, no briss go comot we na flom yi. A bin tory se u na man we u di mimba ana u li tory ana u di letam ana di lisa popo. Mi a di salati plenti. A bin salati famblu fo sikase u bin tory se mek a do so. Nobi naso? Rrrrr di jam fo ma contle tory, hawu mia go do? A no ba sami o. Famillo, we di letam se famblu fo sika se Rrrrr yi jam for wi.

Sitop fan. Mek mimbo ana chop pass fo wana mob weiti famblu.

Na mi sep sep; Big Blala fo Legsander, Va Amelika.

Mi nem na Gahlia

 Dr. Vakunta

Ha ha ha!
Ma Bla, cheeh! You sep sep! You dong knack some tory sotai ma tête paplé! How wey you di cry say Rrrrr no dei for Mungaka, mek you sabi say Pppppp no dei for Bamunka, ma own kondre tok sep sep. So no, taim wey ma reme want tok sei: Ma pikin yi name na Peter, yi go dasso tok sei: Ma bikin yi name na Bita. Ha! No be na wandaful?
I di salati you blenti for dis Littoral pidgin wey you dong knack so! Me, I mimba sei you musi moua some.
We go tory abta.


where Dr. UnitedStatesOfAfrica dong go? Dr.V and Dr. G dong chasam away?
Na big big lie say vast difference day between krio and Cameroon pidgin.
I be a Creole leaving in Cameroon and beaucoup difference no day parram.

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Jacobs.

Peter Vakunta, stop bloating in your writings. Do your reserach properly before you write. As a "Ph.D"( holder so you claim) one would expect you to write sense.What you wrote on Pidgin English is entirely not true. Pidgin has been around for 500 years? In the 1400, the first Europeans who criused by the coast of Africa were the portuguese and they left no impact.Apart from giving Cameroon its name of crayfish ( cameroes) those bastards did not settle.They left for Equatorial Guinea where they settled at Fernando Po. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch not the British.During slave trade which language were africans crame from different communities using? Was it pidgin English? If you say yes then you are not a true son of Banso. Before writing a paper like tis consult your superiors for some information. Attaching a Ph.D by your name does not make you knowldgeable. We are in america.People write doctoral theisis for others for a fee.
Get this clear.The coast was not the first point of entry of foreigners to Africa but the desert.Pick up your history books and find out about the Kingdoms of Kanem Bornum under which modern cameroon was part. Read about the Sahara Slave Caravans. The language that sprung up was hausa, an adulterated fulbe (arabic).
Intelligent as you pretend to be to address me as having a myopic ideology of the south, you did not know about the swahili language which is spoken in DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya whose origin has nothing to do with English but Arabic. The ancient Kingdoms of Mali,Ghana had nothing to do with English.
An advice again to you young fellow. Write simply. The Post is a paper for the ordinary man. By trying to emulate Bate Besong, you are not only writing irrelevant material but it does not suit what you intend to convey.I had my Ph.D 28 years ago. I have lived in the US for 33 years. Between you and I who has a myopic ideology of the south? Empty headed fool.


Dear Professor Dr. Emmanuel Jacobs:
Dr. Vakunta, who had his Ph.D a few months ago, has already written extensively on the emerging anglophone literature and should be applauded for his efforts. Vakunta has successfully written in Pidgin English as well as in impeccable grammar. Its his style of writing and should not be instructed as to how he should write. Who is the "ordinary Man" that he should pay attention to when he is writing? "The style is the man" as it is often said in English literature and "if you can't take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen." This forum should be used for civil discussions, especially on the part of someone like yourself who had a Ph.D 28 years ago. Have you produced a single piece of scholarship that would yield a lively discussion as this one on Pidgin English? Your name only, Emmanuel Jacobs, is a facade that hides your true identity.

Dr Bill F NDI

Hi Emmanuel Jacobs,
I would not drag my Ph.D into a pit latrine as you've just done. And won't waste time going personal which is far from academia. If after 28 years you never learnt that leaving a tree trunk in the river, sea or ocean for a lifetime would never tranform it into a crocodile, then we need to begin all over again. What I believe Mr Ndifor has pointed out in his response to your belittling fight for recognition is for you to direct us to your area of scholarship; be it in pidgin or American/British English. Also remember, Wisdom and intelligence is not a matter of age!


Thank you...

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Danny Boy

Talk of closing ranks, I came across this in the Entrepreneur online page.

August 13, 2009
Book Review: K’cracy, Trees in the Storm by Bill F. Ndi (Published by Langaa Research & Publishing CIG, 2008)
Reviewer: Peter Wuteh Vakunta, Ph.D [University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA]

Is it any wonder that Bill F. Ndi should ridicule Dr. Jacob's posting above? Hear him,"I would not drag my Ph.D into a pit latrine as you've just done. And won't waste time going personal which is far from academia."

Just for the sake of academia, did Dr. Ndi address any of the historical and chronological questions Dr. Jacobs raised in his posting? No!

Following Dr. Jacobs line of observations, I am at odds with this premise, that "Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after the reunification of Francophone Cameroon and Anglophone Southern Cameroons."

Students of the Government Bilingual Secondary School in Yaounde, for example, had been speaking franglais long before re-unification in 1972! They had to or how else were they able to communicate with the locals, mostly women who came to sell their moyondos, bobolos, "pistache" de "egusi", groundnuts etc?
Na combiens, Mami?
Five talle, Ma Pikin.
I would want to suppose that similar manner of speaking had been going on from the moment the English and the French became our colonial masters.
Mungo was a bridge that separated a people politically, but ironically serves till date, as the socio-economic link that unites these people.
My two bits.
Thanks DR. Vakunta.

Danny Boy.

Gahlia Gwangwa'a

Dear Emmanuel Jacobs,

The only person that you remind me of is Professor Adiboloja, a Nigerian "sell-all" who visited the daily market at my hometown twice a month. His language, though uneducated, enticed people to gather around where he stood, advertised and sold his products from Nigeria. He arrogated to himself the title of professor. He lived up to the professor he created to represent him by his words and deeds.

Your writing, posted here, has created a "professora" title that demean the one you supposedly walked away with from, an assumed, institution of learning wherein you you were a rolling stone that gathered no moss. I won't dare to say longevity, or earned recognition with the title of Professor; from the fruits, we know the tree! your performance on the job, your publications, if at all there are some, would cultured you and speaks aloud to the world about you. If yours is a pseudo title it is aberrant to have locus standi among real people whose educational backgrounds, i.e. BA, MA, PhD etc, gave them the culture of civility, exemplary behavior, and courtesy in articulations, verbal or written. If you certainly drank in the fountain of epistemology to attain satiety, you would tame your language and dish out to others what you would consume. If I were in your shoes I would look for a calm place for perpetual hibernation. I wouldn't want to be called Professor and resemble a bat that has been rejected by the animal and plumage worlds. It hides in the day time and only comes out at night to feed self. You need to grow up so as to stop mud slinging on the professor title.

Emmanuel Fru Doh

The “Jacobsean Fallacy.”

It is true that the internet is an invaluable source for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, yet, regrettably, it lends itself with equal alacrity to abusive and equally destructive use by some. Emmanuel Jacobs’ attack on Peter Vakunta is an example.
It is always exciting for anyone who reads and writes, but especially for those in Literary Theory and Criticism, to encounter constructive reactions to theirs and others’ works. Accordingly, it was with a lot of interest that one followed the exchanges between Vakunta and his readers after his article on Pidgin, until Jacobs’ most vitriolic and personal attack. Such blunders do occur in literary circles from time to time, but they are usually in specialized journals. The implication here is that the true identity of those writing can be verified, and so those in error quickly recant and sometimes even make up. This may not easily be the case over the internet since most people write behind a mask and could not care about being damaging in their actions since they believe nobody can easily identify them. The outcome sometimes is a certain recklessness that is destructive and stifling in many ways.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, even strongly, with another scholar or person’s ideas, but when one’s approach is as destructive as Jacobs’ then one cannot afford to pretend that one is minding one’s business by not reacting. In this light, I think it incumbent on some of us, to react too this blatant and equally misleading precedent on Jacobs’ part. Virtually every art and craft has rules; the ethics of Literary Theory and Criticism decry the negative practice of abandoning ideas and attacking the person instead. Such a fault is referred to as the Fallacy of Argumentum ad Hominem (Attacking the Person) and is not an accepted practice in the field. Jacobs, with a twenty-eight year old Ph.D and the title of Professor, which means he is also a teacher, should have known this by this point in his life as a scholar. Let us examine the fallacious nature of Jacobs’ critique.
Jacobs’ topic sentence is frighteningly revealing: “Peter Vakunta, stop bloating in your writings.” The sentence exposes envy on the part of Jacobs. What in Vakunta’s writing gives the impression of arrogance or haughtiness on his part as claimed by Jacobs’ rebuttal? Is it the expression “some of my many books” by Vakunta in an earlier entry? It was obvious Vakunta had done his research and was putting forward a perspective to be constructively examined by all, only for Jacobs to come across as if Vakunta’s write-up was a personal attack to his erudition. So many people enjoyed Vakunta’s effort and did not only praise the article, but went on to try their hands at writing in pidgin, as varied and conflicting as the brands of pidgin and the different spellings are. This came about as a result of the fluidity of Pidgin rather than any fault of these writers.
Jacobs then urges Vakunta to do his research well only to expose the paucity of his own research by claiming Vakunta is a “son of Banso” whereas Vakunta is from Ndop. The meaning of this is that no work is perfect; there are bound to be some oversights which when being pointed out have to be done in a constructive and mature spirit instead of spitefully. In the same angry vein, Jacobs asks Vakunta to consult his “superiors,” before going on in a most resentful manner to declare that by “attaching a Ph.D by your name does not make you knowledgeable.” One cannot help wondering who Vakunta’s superiors are, because if they are the likes of Jacobs, then that is disturbing as per his display in his insulting rather than dialectical critique of Vakunta’s work. May I seize this opportunity to point out that attaching a genuine Ph.D in front of one’s name does not make the scholar all-knowing, but it is indicative of how much work that person has done in the realm of academics in his or her capacity as a student. The problem with that revered degree is that many people tend to look at those who have acquired it with envy instead of admiration. It should spur whomsoever is interested in the degree to go on and earn his or hers. By the way, a Ph.D is not a sine qua non for scholarship; there are incredibly successful scholars out there without a Ph.D behind their names.
In any case, a Ph.D holder, a true scholar in other words, should be humble because by the time one earns a Ph.D, one should have realized that knowledge is incredibly vast and one’s Ph.D is in a small if not limited aspect of an equally specific field. By attaching a Ph.D to his name, Vakunta certainly was not making claims to omniscience, but following a common practice. In fact, typical of that meekness expected of true scholars, Vakunta expresses how humbled he is by the exchanges his work provoked. Is this “bloating” in one’s work?
And then Jacobs tosses into his cauldron of disparaging insults the very classic accusation of “buying degrees,” which given the corrupt nature of the world today, is very possible. However, it is worthwhile pointing out that with a terminal degree, one might only getting oneself into trouble by such a purchase as one would be required to live up to those credentials in the field and failure will lead to suspicion and subsequent discovery which may lead to a jail term. In any case, to suggest this of Vakunta’s recently earned degree (March 2009) is just nonsense. Vakunta is very proud of his university where he is also teaching, how then can anybody make such an allegation of such a tried scholar from an equally distinguished institution. To tell the truth, Vakunta’s scholarship had long been established even before his earning a Ph.D.
In a condescending manner, Jacobs again tells Vakunta “Get this clear…” before accusing him: “intelligent as you pretend to be by addressing me as having a myopic ideology of the south….” The revelation is then complete. It comes across as though Vakunta had stepped on Jacobs’ toe without realizing it, by qualifying his ideology “myopic,” and so Jacobs loses it and comes all out to denigrate Vakunta’s integrity as a scholar. What is really that incensing in the word “myopic” that completely dislodged Jacobs’ scholarly equilibrium? From this, one can only urge our critiques to respect people’s efforts and disagree like scholars, for it is through these challenges and counter challenges, respectfully executed, that ideas are polished and eventually put in perspective as tested facts.
Then Jacobs instructs Vakunta in the guise of a piece of advice: “An advice again you young fellow. Write simply” (emphasis mine). It is a given that age has nothing to do with academics. There are young men and women out there who are very gifted as we all know; I hope it is not being suggesting that because of their ages they be ignored or treated lightly. I hope not. In the same vein, a writer’s style is his and it comes to him the way speaking comes to a child—naturally—so Jacobs cannot instruct Vakunta to write simply. By accusing Vakunta of imitating Bate Besong because he may at times be difficult to understand, is misleading. Were the fire brand Cameroonian scholar still alive today, he would have pointed out to Jacobs that he (Bate Besong) does not have copyright ownership to obscurantism. It is a writer’s choice to come across the way it pleases him, for which reason some equally, if not more obscure poets than Bate Besong have claimed their audience is specialized. By the way, what is wrong with imitating another writer in so long as one is not plagiarizing? Bate Besong was himself greatly influenced by the late Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo and Professor Wole Soyinka, to name two examples. In fact, Professor Ime Ikiddeh confirms this when he writes in his introduction to Besong’s Volume of poems Polyphemus Detainee & Other Skulls:
Indeed, for good and ill, the major influences on Besong’s work so far, are three of the world’s most ‘difficult’ modern poets: Eliot, Okigbo, and Soyinka. From them, the young poet has learnt the poetic value not only of the well chosen word and phrase but also, in extension, of image, symbol and myth. (2)
So Besong learned from and imitated others, and so there is nothing wrong with Vakunta imitating Besong if that is what Vakunta has been trying to do, which, I am convinced, is far from the truth. This kind of criticism by Jacobs reminds me of school mates who think that because they were doing very well earlier on in life, in secondary school for example, they should remain equally “smart” and successful after secondary school and in real life even. Accordingly, they are suddenly too angry upon finding out later on that classmates whom they considered “dull” earlier on in school are doing better in real life and even in academics at a much higher level. Asong explores this concept in his psychological novel No Way to Die, confirming it a real life phenomenon.
I have gone to some detail in my reaction to this unfortunate exchange between two scholars (if Jacobs’ credentials are true) for one main reason at the very least: to stem the tide of the misuse of otherwise useful blogs like “Up Station Mountain Club.” Many of our young ones are looking up to the likes of Vakunta and Jacobs, but the latter’s acidulous contribution is certainly derailing as it can cause our sprouting critics to think this is the way a critique is written; it is not. Even if Jacobs had any good points, his fallacious arguments have exposed more his, than Vakunta’s credentials to question. At the very list, he has succeeded in drawing more attention to Vakunta’s works as many will now be questioning “Who is this Vakunta and what else has he written?”
Look at the way Danny Boy has brought a very enlightening fact in his contribution as he points out that “Students of the Government Bilingual Secondary School in Yaounde … had been speaking franglais long before re-unification in 1972. He goes on to argue that “They had to or how else were they able to communicate with the locals, mostly women who came to sell their moyondos, bobolos, ‘pistache’ de ‘egusi’, groundnuts etc.” Danny Boy is constructive and argues his points convincingly. In a subsequent rewrite of his paper therefore, Vakunta may agree with Danny Boy, and use his suggestion to make another or to re-enforce an older point, but again Danny Boy is just another mask, at best a pseudonym.
I disagree, however, with Danny Boy’s opening insinuations when he talks of “closing ranks” by suggesting that Dr. Bill F. Ndi responded to Jacobs’ insult of Vakunta because Vakunta had done a review of Ndi’s work. No Danny Boy, anybody can write a review of anyone’s published book, and in this case it is certainly coincidental that this review had been done. Vakunta is a prolific writer who, besides its being his responsibility as a teacher and scholar, enjoys writing reviews and political articles alike, in addition to publishing books. It is not surprising then that Vakunta had done a review of one of my books also, and I have also done a review of one of his works like I have of a number of other Cameroonian writers, the old and the new alike. It will be wrong then to claim that one is reacting thus as a way of “closing ranks.” Teachers, writers, and critics have special roles in society, and to fail in one, is to live with a disappointed conscience. At times there are academic camps, but a true academic will, or should react positively or otherwise to a situation regardless of his relationship with the culprit or the victim.
Accordingly, this reaction of mine is for no other reason other than that I consider it a duty of mine, as a teacher, to educate at all times even as I continue to learn from others. I learned from classes taken in Literary Theory and Criticism, during my days as a student, a point which was later hammered upon by a dear friend and former colleague whom I respect a lot, Professor Linus T. Asong, that as a writer one’s job is done after one has completed a project by having it published. The critics can then do whatever they want with the work; it becomes their business to agree and disagree with each other as they dissect and explore the work. Accordingly, though friends and colleagues, I was the first to review Asong’s The Crown of Thorns in the very early ‘90s when the Cosmos edition was released. In this review, I said whatever I had to say regardless of our relationship. Asong cherished my work because I called things as I saw them and my critique certainly influenced the portraits of some of his later characters. In a similar fashion, when Professor Shadrach Ambanasom wrote a critique of an earlier collection of my poems, he said what he had to say regardless of our academic and social connections. In fact, some of the most insightful critique of a writer’s work is more likely to come from his friends; the poignant and sometimes scathing character notwithstanding.
No, Professor Dr. Jacobs’ approach is simply unethical, wrong in a nutshell, and it must not be encouraged if we are, at all, to educate our communities while making claims to the distinguished scholarly titles in the wake of our names. The public expects to encounter mature critical practices from supposed academic princes and princesses, not disparaging write-ups that fail to make a distinction between a writer’s person and his or her ideas. By writing and attacking personalities, a handshake metamorphoses into something else and the consequences can only be stifling. If anyone doubts this, then all I have to do is point to the rich and spiraling exchanges that were already taken place with regards to Vakunta’s paper; they have all suddenly stopped after Jacobs gave it a different character by attacking Vakunta’s person instead of his ideas. Only small minds enjoy listening to people insult each other; those reading the post may be “ordinary” folks according to Jacobs, which is not true, even then they are not petty as to associate themselves with such worthless wrangling. For scholars to disagree over ideas, therefore, is only natural, but they must not let it become personal else the exercise loses its value and goal—education!

Emmanuel Fru Doh


Prof.Yakubu, ashia ya!

Rosemary Ekosso

Dr Vakunta,

Ar nover ever meetup you, but time wey ar be go ASTI for Buea, dem be tell me say some guy wey na Vakunta be dey there and yi be di write some yi book.

So ar glad plenty for see say that fever for write book dem still dey you skin. Na ting dat wey man want for see'am. Hol'am trong!

Ar dey so na for Bangkok today. Ar di read the comments dem for dis ya thing yi di sweet me bad! People wey dem cam clean ma room dem surely ting say ar done crase finish. Who get their time?

No mind that yeye man wey yi wan take style cosh you. For ma contry tok (Bakweri)we di call da' one say vex for fowl.

    If fowl vex, yi go do you weti?
      Some people dem di sabi their own fight na for Internet. Even if you go put na tatoo for ya front head say you get the PhD, na case? You tif the PhD na tifam?

      As ar di read dis ya tory so, some ting di pass for ma head say if wey be dey wey man fit fix some one way for write dis pidgin, yi no go overhard for readam like yi hard now. Ar ting na for dat side wey we get to lookam.

      But just for say me ar be like me ya article. No nak skin for that other oversabi Yakubu dem, for tif some person yi sweet expression wey ar seeam for Upstation here.

      God no go gree make dem spoilam.

Efuange Khumbah

O'boy. Prof don catch fire with Dr. If whiteman move me for work then na pigin make'am. Just discover this debate. Keep on I am lov'in it

Yondo Selele

Just saw this article in "Le Jour" in which the Cameroon English Literatue Teachers Association (CAMELTA) states that Pidgin English "kills" English. I would like to get Dr. Vakunta's response to this article posted below
Enseignement : Le pidgin-english « tue» l’anglais
Ecrit par Irène Gaouda
C’est le constat fait par l’Association des enseignants de la langue et de la littérature anglaise du Cameroun, lors de leur 8ème congrès qui s’est ouvert hier à Yaoundé.

Cela fait huit ans que l’Association des professeurs de langue et de littérature anglaise, (Camelta), tient ses congrès annuels à Yaoundé. Huit ans que les 1 800 membres de cette association réfléchissent sur les méthodes adéquates d’enseignement de la langue anglaise dans nos écoles.

Mardi, 18 août prochain, le ministre des Enseignements secondaires, Louis Bapes Bapes a présidé la cérémonie d’ouverture de ce congrès qui se poursuit jusqu’au 25 août 2009, au campus de l’université catholique d’Afrique centrale d’Ekounou à Yaoundé.

Occasion pour le Minsec de rappeler l’importance que revêt la langue anglaise dans la société camerounaise en particulier, et, dans le monde en général. Il s’agissait surtout, pour Louis Bapes Bapes, de rappeler aux membres de la Camelta que «les résolutions des séminaires ne doivent pas moisir dans les tiroirs. On s’imprègne dans les séminaires pour ensuite transmettre son savoir. Quand l’enseignant cesse d’apprendre, il doit aussi cesser d’enseigner». Ceci est d’autant plus vrai que la plupart des enseignants pensent que l’anglais au Cameroun est menacé à cause de la cohabitation avec les autres langues.

Hier, ils n’ont pas fini de se plaindre : « La cohabitation de l’anglais et du français diminue le niveau de la plupart des anglophones vivant dans la capitale camerounaise. Régulièrement, on entend des journalistes dire : prolongation, au lieu de dire extra-time en anglais», déclare un inspecteur pédagogique venu de la région du Centre. «Le pidin-english détruit nos élèves. Beaucoup ne peuvent pas aligner deux phrases correctes au cours d’une conversation, parce que trop absorbés par le pidgin», se plaint un enseignant de la région du Sud-Ouest. «Au Nord-Ouest, la plupart des élèves dans les écoles de brousse n’assimilent pas bien les leçons. Dès qu’ils quittent la salle de classe, le patois devient leur seule langue de communication. Comment peut-on évoluer dans des conditions pareilles», s’inquiète une enseignante venue de Bamenda.

La présidente nationale de la Camelta, Dorothy Forbin, reconnaît que pour l’instant, les enseignants de langue anglaise ont du pain sur la planche : «Nous avons des problèmes d’effectifs pléthoriques dans les salles de classe. Le matériel d’apprentissage est insuffisant. Dans les zones reculées, il n’y a pas d’outils d’enseignement des nouvelles technologies d’information et de communication».
Pour les participants, l’Etat doit apporter sa contribution. Car, «jusqu’ici, les plus grands sponsors de l’association demeurent le British Council et l’ambassade des Etats-Unis au Cameroun », a-t-on appris.

Dr Vakunta

Dear Rose Mary:
I take ma own mop I tank your plenti for dis 'motion de soutien' wey you dong send for me. Na some man be knack some long long grammar sei:"He that brings home ant-infested faggots should not complain when he is visited by lizards."(Chinua Achebe). Yas, I gring sei dis palava for 'codify' we own pidgin na di ting wey we musi put we head for dung we do'am. We no musi cosh some man. If some man write yi buk wei you no sabi'am you musi call yi ask'am sei: ma bro or ma sis, dis big big buk weh you knack'am so yi mean sei weti? No bi sei you go dasso carry youa mop begin cosh yi. Na some man be mek sei mek you go sukulu you no lan buk fain? Ma kontri pipo dem di call da kain ting sei na cry for swine!
Rosemary, tank you plenti for da big big buk wei you writ'am sei: THE HOUSE OF FALLING WOMEN. I di read ust now! We go tory abta!


The problem with standardizing Pidgin is very obvious in the exchange between Rosemary Ekosso and Dr. Vakunta which shows that both of their pidgins have regional variations; Rosemary's "sophisticated" Pidgin from the "Coast" with great English influence and Vakunta's , which is straight from the grassfield which seems like a challenge to English and English rules. Interesting indeed...

Dr Vakunta

The article in "Le Jour" accentuates the same fallacies that I have debunked in my previous write-ups on the cohabitation of English, French and indigenous languages in Cameroon and the supposed deleterious effects these languages have on one another: "l’anglais au Cameroun est menacé à cause de la cohabitation avec les autres langues", "Le pidin-english détruit nos élèves" "La cohabitation de l’anglais et du français diminue le niveau de la plupart des anglophones" and so on and so forth.

To blame the inability of some Angophone Cameroonians to have a good command of standard English on Pidgin is tantamount to asserting that Francophones who speak Camfranglais cannot speak/write metropolitan French. My friend and colleague here in the USA, Professor Patrice Nganang, speaks impeccable French but is also adebt at Camfranglais and Pidgin English. He has even written an award-winning novel titled Temps de chien (2001) translated as Dog Days(2001)in a mix of French, Pidgin and native tongues.

Cameroon is not the only country on the African continent where standardized and creolized versions of European languages co-exist. I have discussed some of these cases at length in the discourse above. What we need at this juncture in Cameroon is a dynamic,implementable national language policy that would spell out pedagogical and administrative functions of our multiple languages. As far as I know the language policy inscribed in our constitution and other prescriptive blueprints have been continually flouted with impunity.

Bob Bristol

"To blame the inability of some Angophone Cameroonians to have a good command of standard English on Pidgin is tantamount to asserting that Francophones who speak Camfranglais cannot speak/write metropolitan French" by Dr Vakunta.

Well Doc, I would disagree with you here. In sociolinguistics, interference is part and parcel of every bilingual and multilingual setup. Everything being equal, a child who grows in a monolingual environment has more command or competence in the lone language than another who finds himself in a multilingual setup. I'm not saying Pidgin English doesn't have a place but if it is not standardized and integrated into the Language Policy of Cameroon, then the authorities would always raise eyebrow since it must negatively affect those recognised.

And may I add that Cameroon Pidgin English( like most languages) has evolved drastically. The variety which you are using seems to be dated back in the 70s.

Bob Bristol

Have you ever imagined the linguistic burden on the shoulders of some Cameroonians?

My Mom and Dad do not speak the same L1 ( First Language). That implies if I have to integrate myself with their kin and kindred, I need to learn one of these languages; if I was fortunate to acquire one. However, I grew up in an environment immersed with Pidgin English. Back at home, I got some strange English clauses but I was curious to know more in order to enjoy some TV programs. Upon setting my feet in another environment called school, I was made to understand that English is the touchstone. Not too long, French made its way into the classroom with a very high coefficient. Nobody needed to tell us that mastering it is an obligation. Again, my secondary school excitement was no sooner dispirited by the introduction of Latin. Like infants we were made to repeat elementary phrases and clauses in a ridiculous manner.

Dr Vakunta, do your count. 6 virtually unrelated languages. So if you specialized in the learning of English Language for some instrumental or integrative reasons, do not claim that an exposure to such an environment cannot be a drawback to "competence".


 Dr Vakunta

Dear friends:
Someone in Ngola is listening to our linguistic plea.Please, follow the link below and read what's going on in Yaounde.My apologies to those who can't read French:


Ma brother and sister them i throwey salute for all wuna. I hope say wuna all don catcham. I di do some small research on intercultural communication for we contri and this discussion don helep me tam no dey. thaink wuna plenti

The only one tin wey me i want for talk na say make we use this meeting house na for build teach and learn no bi for make sasmob wey ee no di helep.

I thaink wuna again and thorowey salute.


dr vakunta dat is a dead link boss.

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