Nov 19th, 2017, 05:12 PM

Do You Speak ... ?

By Nina Rines
The 'Inspire Africa' club talks AUP through some of the 2000 languages spoken in Africa.

This last Friday, AUP building Passage Landrieu transformed into a whole new world. The Inspire Africa club held an evening event teaching students about some of the 2000 languages spoken in Africa. Following the traditional set up of a speed-dating event, each person would spend five minutes learning some phrases and asking the representative of the language any questions, then rotating to the next. With about 14 languages represented and over 25 attendees, the party was complete with traditional music and food. 

"It is all about fighting the stereotype. So you can see, our event was called "Do You Speak African" with the word "African" crossed out because there is not just one African language. As you’ve seen around here, we have so many. It was really the objective to spread the word to the world, to get people to understand that Africa is a vast continent. We have so many languages, so many cultures, so much richness and we wanted to convey that through this event," said Rokhaya Wade, Vice President of Inspire Africa.

Image Credit: Nina Rines

"I have an entire list of all the languages I learned about," Rémi Mimouni commented. "I learned Dioula, Wolof, Bambara, Hausa, Ewondo, Lingala...". What really was exciting about the speed-dating tables is that each visitor could either ask for specific phrases one would like to learn or learn the popular basics, such as "hello", "What is your name/my name is", etc. While some people learned verbally, others took notes on all they have learned, spelling out the pronunciation as well. African or not, this was the event to be: fun and educational for all. "Some of the African languages use like some French words in their language, so its pretty easy to repeat the sentence, maybe not for the accent right now, but still. I’m ready now to go to Africa!" Rémi added. 

Oluwaseun Ozolua-Osunbade, Nigerian, is a member of 'Inspire Africa' and taught Pidgin as his language, but it didn't deter him from taking advantage of all the other languages available. "I used to speak Hausa when I was little, so it was very nice to go over there and refresh my memory," says he.

"Each African language is completely different, but if you can recognize keywords then it becomes easier. For example, I can’t differentiate between Igbo and Yoruba (two of Nigeria's most spoken languages), but Hausa stands out to me easily."

In addition to the many languages, traditional food was shared with all attendees, including fatayas, (a traditional Senegalese dish consisting of meat wrapped in sheets of thin pastry dough), African plantain fritters and chips (two different forms of fried bananas), and bissap, or hibiscus juice, one of Africa's most popular drinks - and proven to have been popular amongst AUP students, as well. 

From the traditional African music to the original food, to the opportunity to learn more about fellow classmates and this world, the event was a success. Inspire Africa hopes to make it a recurring event, hopefully at least once per semester. If you missed out - do not fret! Stay tuned for more Inspire Africa events this semester for another chance to try some of the famous bissap, and keep your ears open for the next Do You Speak..? event next year!