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« URGENT: Help Haiti!!!! | Main | Victoria, Buea, Tiko: The 2009 Trilogy of Diaries Part 3 »

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


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Small time some craze man go cam cosh de woman.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

Dr Nfah-Abbenyi is right in her views on the need for Africans to use their language for national self consciouness, progress and development. This is where effort, and entrepreneurial ethos for that matter is required to develop, Duala, ngemba, ewondo etc... These are our languages. We must develop and promote them, so that in 100 years time we would be training our engineers 'ngemba', per se.

But to harp that butchered english otherwise referred to as pidgin is our language is null and void, is not a matter to debate.

Pidgin is having a toll on our English. Visit, for instance, and read and feel how the authors struggle to present information in english. Anyone who is conversant with pidgin vernacular will note that the english they write is a mere translation from pidgin.

As employer, we have empirical evidence. we have had difficulties and challenges to recruit and maintain english language writers/journalists. they can't write, even with a bachelors degree in English! they write butchered english: pidgin. you sweat to edit every phrase, every sentence they write. the editor ends up re-writing the whole story. so we don't keep them, we fire them, because we publish in english. this evidence cuts accross many persons, not jus a given employee. when we will start publishing in well structured developed pidgin vernacular we will go look for them, if only they will be able to write 'better' pidgin, then.

Pidgin is like ebonics that African-Americans speak. Can you take it to the next level, as acceptable office or classroom written language? Does it not interfer with the grasp of English by African-Americans? All indications point to the affirmative, that language is another possible barrier why black kids can't compete, even in their poorly funded schools. This link provides more informations addresses the article by Dr Nfah-Abbenyi:

Bob Bristol

The idea here shouldn't be that of categorically denouncing or lobbying for the promotion of Pidgin English. When I endorse the use of this language, I do so, first of all, as a tool to confront a major aspect of Western values ( deconstruction). The applicability of this theory in language validates more points than the literature which it has been used frequently to address. Secondly, it pleases me to challenge the hypocritical nature of the officials who put up these sign posts.

But like I once said, harmonising and standardising the far-fetch varieties of Pidgin or the various dialects of whatever local language we deem as representative remains the only solution. This is if we want to adapt or present a new national identity as far as language is concerned. An example will be an effort to merge the differences that exist between the Mankon, Bafut, Mendankwe, Nkwen and all the other dialects that constitute the Lower Ngenba.

Danny boy

The Entrepreneur,
for once I agree with you! There is no place for pidgin in the(our) classrooms or the modern office! All these feminists should give one a break! So pidgin has become a male construct to keep women down, really? As in,
"Her perspective urges us to re-consider the power of language within global/transnational contexts, to pay attention to “benign messages” and how such language and power are employed in masculist ways."

I think 'masculist' should read 'masculine'! So Pidgin has become masculine, Dr.?

These propagators of pidgin can only be equated to the missionaries who indeed made colonization possible! Teach and re-inforce in them what they need to know. Not the absolute truth, king Leopold is reported to have instructed!! Here today, our supposed academics are going down the same route!
English is not good for you! I used it to have my PhD, but for you, franglais or pidgin is better!
How dishonest and puerile!
Shame on these purveyors of modern day slavery!

Pidgin, not in my house!!!
Happy New Year.

Danny Boy.


The entrepreneur raises some good points but I think the real issue is whether Pidgin English automatically destroys one's English or whether the problem in Cameroon is that of poor pedagogic methods of teaching English in Primary school. I believe Mr. Molua speaks Pidgin fluently and English too. So the problem cannot be about Pidgin but about teaching English in Cameroon. when you have a system where those who go to teachers training schools to teach in primary schools are those who were unable to get 4 papers in O/L, then we shouldn't be surprised at this outcome.

Pidgin (and French for that matter!) is the culprit ONLY when someone was never taught the fundamentals of English in Primary and Secondary school.

Danny boy

just read your beautiful prose above, written in the Queen's Language!! Could you reconsruct this in pidgin for the benefit of our feminists and nationalists?
Deconstructing what, Bob? You want to re-invent the wheel in Pidgin? Have always known you, from your postings as forthright!
You need not pander to these "new age educationists". However, should you come up with a pidgin version of Microsoft, I will doff my hat to you!
Happy New Year and Happy trying.

Bob Bristol

Danny Boy,

In language studies, the scale weighs more on those who think that ideas such as " Standard English" and "Perfect Bilingualism" are a pie in the sky. I'm one of such. With this, we have to recognise "our own". That is, that which we are good at. This may be Pidgin or "Cameroon English"; the latter may share up to 95% of similarities with "Standard English". But it MUST be recognised as just an approximation.

However still, the instrumental motives for learning a language should push anyone who aspire to function within a more broader scope than just Cameroon, to know that English is the "Key".

Bob Bristol

In language studies, the scale weighs more on those who think that ideas such as " Standard English" and "Perfect Bilingualism" are a pie in the sky. I'm one of such. With this, we have to recognise "our own". That is, that which we are good at. This may be Pidgin or "Cameroon English"; the latter may share up to 95% of similarities with "Standard English". But it MUST be recognised as just an approximation.

However still, the instrumental motives for learning a language should push anyone who aspire to function within a more broader scope than just Cameroon, to know that English is the "Key".

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

Yes, pidgin - the butchered version of the English Language destroys the pidgin we speak and write!

The University of Buea has abundant evidence.
For the senate of the University to recommend to its higher management board: The University council that a policy against pidgin be instituted, it wasn't some remnants of colonists shoving the queens language down the throats of Africans.

There is abundant evidence that the quality of english Cameroonians speak or write is influenced by pidgin. Examination scripts at the Universities are enough evidence: Some teachers have testified in policy circles: Out of 1300 undergraduate scripts, over a 1000 are loaded with bad english translated from butchered english. Out of 50 postdraduate scripts, over 45 could be observed to be loaded with pidgin, 10 doctoral scripts about 6 would have hotch potch of english phrases coined together to make a point!

The University authorities aren't crazy. they have enough statistical evidence that has influenced their policy.

If you think its not pidgin that's influencing the Cameroon type of english, listen to the Francophones who come to Buea and learn english in 6 weeks! They speak and write better than 60% of folks who have undergone anglosaxon education for 14 years! why? Is it Ngemba or Hausa or Duala that's influencing anglophone kids from writing better english.

Please, do not confuse the West African creole in Siera Leone and Liberia with pidgin. It is observed that the further these variants are from the English Language, the less it interfers with writen and spoken english. Cameroon's version is too close to English, no doubt anglophones think in pidgin and write in english!


The Entrepreneur,

You are very correct about the standard of English at UB, but I am afraid that the UB authorities have completely missed the boat in terms of solutions. Instead of banning the use of Pidgin (which will only lead to the "bad" English on campus which you so well describe, they should be figuring an effective instructional method or model to eliminate the inteference of pidgin, Ngemba or French from the english spoken by university students. Of course, nobody in the department of Education can be bothered so we will continue to look for feel-good solutions that resolve nothing. Close to 2 decades since the banning of Pidgin at UB, what do the statistics show? That the ban has had its desired effect? Of course not!!!

Again, if English was taught the way it is supposed to in primary or secondary school, Anglophone kids will speak perfect English along with any other language that they speak out of school. That is where the solution lies, not through knee-jerk reactions to a real problem.

By the way, Anglophone kids who did not grow in the sous-quartiers in Francophone Cameroon but who went on to study French at the university of Yaounde, generally speak and write French better than Francophones. Note also that although there is no official "pidgin" French in Cameroon, the French spoken in Francophone Cameroon is a bastardized version (in fact, a creole) which the average French man has lots of difficulty to understand. of course, to the untrained ear of a typical Anglophone what he or she is listening to is "Real" French. Far from it!!!

To conclude; my recommendation is simple. Get the faculty of education to team up with linguists, sociologists, etc. - to come up with a real solution to the problem of pidgin in Cameroon. The UB senate, with all the good intentions in the world is not qualified to make long lasting and impactful decisions on matters of language.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

That Cameroon's local languages must be developed, into international recognition is a must...I will be glad to read the handbook of a BMW car in 'bulu' or 'Bassa'!

Cameroonians must learn to put their money where their mouth is...and develop their languages into products used daily like in East Africa; mobile phones, bank cards, newspapers, billboards and posters:

Even the BBC (

Deutche Welle have KiSwahili news: (,,4582401,00.html)

It is not enough for some academics to exploit the situation, to get published materials for their promotion, to write here and there about the importance of pidgin, to continue enhancing the destruction of our people's aptitude from a plantation styled survival language at the expense of real African languages.

The church may have translated the bible, but many christains are shuning it: the iliterates e.g. in Muea parish cannot read it, the educated ones find it read, but these are persons who 'supposedly' speak fluent pidgin!

For national consciousness, progress and development; Pidgin is not an escape for the undeveloped local languages...If colonists refused us from speaking our language, because they couldn't eavesdrop on our plots, its no excuse today, in the 21st century, not to develop these languages.

The scientific effort of our linguists should be employed to take e.g. 'ngemba' to the next level, not recycling LaPiro's mantra...

See the beauty of an African language in Uganda:

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

Its banned in UB...the standards have not improved..because the Ban is stubbornly not respected! FYI, University of Buea has students who could be termed students of 'Unversity of Molyko' they spend 98% of their time with people nigerians will refer to as 'elaiji': uncultured villagers...

.....So, the ban can not be effective, if the people they want to assist to write better english to compete and get better jobs stubbornly refused to be assisted....

...the harvest is what you get....try recruiting a Cameroonian anglophone university graduate to write for your website...and see the outcome!

Nji Ze

Let that woman go and sleep she has nothing to say ''pidgin should be avoided'' Who is she to sugestion that?, did she know how pidgin came to existance.What benefit has her commonwealth brouth to our nation, Cameroon is not England it is normal if we don't speak English like the British.Tell that lady her campagne will be of no effect because it is irrelavant.


I think we have established the UB students are generally unable to speak correct English. And you have repeated that enough.

The question then is whether this is solely the result of the ubiquity of Pidgin English in Anglophone Cameroon or the poor English language teaching standards in the country - or both.

And the other question is whether banning Pidgin at UB is the best answer or a better option than using instruction to remedy the situation. The ban has failed, how about trying something else?

This is the essence of my argument; improve the English language standards in the country and the Pidgin problem will be dramatically reduced and even relegated to the background. So where exactly do you disagree with me???

BTW, the issue of the need for a written indigenous language for Cameroon like Swahili is an entirely different discussion which should not obscure the focus of this discussion which is on Pidgin English.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

where I disagree with you is that pidgin influences english, point.

I know You are lucky to speak good pidgin, good english and better french than francophones, possibly you can 'compartmentalise'. Not all english speaking Cameroonians can! Many do not know when to draw the line between pidgin and english. Pidgin strays into their english. A surgical operation will require dropping pidgin..

Encourage more local languages, shun pidgin and the english expression improves in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya etc.

In these countries, they speak their local languages. Kids are well taught their local languages which have little interference with english. And though they speak english with heavy accent, yet they use the right words and correct positioning....On the contrary, an anglophone Cameroonian with a seemingly lighter better accent but native speakers of english out of Cameroon find it difficult to understand him in one sentence. Even his english too is butchered, words strewn all over the place.... Remember: sorry, come again please, beg your pardon.....

Pidgin is the culprit....We falsely believe its a soft and easy option to communicate, but its costly in its outcomes..........

My recommendation: Ban pidgin (with jail terms like for gums in Singapore), promote African dialects, teach english as it has been taught. If english were poorly taught, how then do francophones learn english in 6 weeks in Buea and speak better than anglophones. Perhaps its psycological: their victim bagage, laziness, certificate oriented......etc.


How I wish I could speak French or was able to survive long enough at the University of Yaounde to master French! I am an advocate of theory that the more languages we know,the better.

The inability to compartmentalize languages is an indicator that the basics of the primary and secondary languages have not been mastered. That is the plight of English in Cameroon. Unlike you, I put the blame on the classroom and not on any other language, be it Pidgin or Lingala.

Take some time out to listen to the online news on the crtv website and you will quickly realize that most Anglophone journalists are simply reading or speaking a francophonized version of English which is usually a word-for-word translation of French. Ex: "Mr xxx is nominated chief of service in the direction of General Affairs"; "The minister promised to build new roads in all enclaved areas." The only reason this happens is the poor mastery of English words and rules.

Now regarding your claim that Francophones who do the 6-week language course at UB end up speaking English better that Anglophones, could it be that this happens precisely because they are taught using "English as a second language" techniques, while the Anglophone, whose primary language is actually Pidgin and not English, is not taught English on the mistaken assumption that English is his primary language? You seem therefore to be making my case that the problem is with instructional strategies in our schools...

Anyway, I will give you the last word on this discussion. Interesting and instructive discussion!

Ma Mary

I don't know. Personally, I got as much pidgin immersion as anybody. However, my English instruction was excellent from elementary school right through form five and as a result I do not have the problem people are talking about. I am also more sympathetic to pidgin.

What is the cause of the difficulty? I see two issues, with different remedies--

Remedy is a serious program to teach the teacher, a serious continuous education program for the teachers, to improve their own language skills as well as their teaching techniques.

When I was growing up, people from Buea were mocked as "I was" for their propensity to speak standard English, and were generally regarded as dull and officious stuffed shirts. It was not a cool image. That mockery generally came from Kumba, which was the ground zero of innovation in pidgin. Kumbaness was cool. Bueaness was not. Victoria was not very different from Buea, but there was maritime, caribbean air to the place which made it cool. Bamenda was not playing that game.

Something of that attitude persists. Standard English is not "in". Pidgin is closer to the bone. People still stick out, appear officious and overly serious when they use impeccable standard English. Relaxing into standard English is a cultural barrier that cannot be scaled with the use of a sledge hammer. Officious people with glasses low on their noses cannot successfully no-no-no the important language, pidgin out of existence. If you want to make people speak more standard English, to be more comfortable with the language, you have to employ some tricks.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

You are assuming (too much) that transmission is the problem. And where is the role of the learner in all of this? What if you have 'unwilling' learners like matured 'anglophone' cameroonian students. How do u teach them anything? Have u ever tried teaching them anything? what was the outcome?


Molua, keep are revealing yourself to be what most people on this forum already take you for: a self-hating individual with a lot of angst.
Please keep posting!

Ma Mary

The children don't want to learn? Kill them and deliver new ones who want to learn.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

...Products abound, you read them here in diverse forms, their response, cowards with strange names, growing up spending 99% of their childhood with 'elaijis', so they end up too lazy to learn a thing..., walking, talking, smiling, coughing, spitting, running, reading, eating, speaking, writing, the uncultured villagers, infected by the same virus colonialists sought to clean and civilize...the natives.....

And Lord of Pidgin? Read more:

dango tumma

THE writer is right about the (ongoing
project) the project of colonialism, assimilation, conquerism, theft and busmanism conjoured by ahijo and biya paul with their wretched white french french. who advised them that the only way to completely eradicate, southern cameroons 8 million anglosaxon cultured african is to
1. eradicate their history, name change of town and cities, VIctoroa to limbe
2. high jack the education dept from southern cameroons control to yaounde and
cook it to jingoism that good for a slave,
3. eradicate pidgin as a identity language of 8 million southern cameroonians
and replace with french.
remember all signs in southern cameroons are placed in french not even english, soo who is this agents deceiveing to conjour commonwealth. they doesnt belongs to the common wealth, we southern cameroonians are the common wealth and they are francophonie.
thats the sense the author is conveying, ie pidgin doesnt destry any ones english.
it had never and will never in nigeria, sierra leone ghana etc, only when its high jack by a french cameroun power whose main aim is to replaced it with french.

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