The Traveling Language |Ojo Aderemi

Traveling was part of my many interests growing up, I wanted to travel beyond Nigeria.

While I was at Okeho, I came across my half brother’s english exercise textbook. It featured comprehension passages about Mr Bako’s journey around Nigeria.

I traveled the country with my mother from frequently visiting my father at his new postings. We traveled to different places in the North Central: Benue, Kogi, Plateau. And the East: Abia, Imo. There were names of places I have been to and only heard them on NTA later. However, I visited those places as a child. In fact, I visited Benue before visiting Lagos.
I started traveling in company of teachers to represent the school. Later as a teenager, I traveled to the South-South, chiefly to visit my sister who is married to an Itshekiri man. I wrote briefly about the roads. The roads that conveyed both Nigerian and Biafran troops during the Civil War.

learned Idoma quite fast. Tiv too. We called it Tivi. I had an argument with my primary school teacher about. He insisted it pronounced Tiv. Tivi! He had to open a text book to show me the spelling. The native speakers call it Tivi.

I learned Ibo, Hausa, although I never left the preliminaries. My nieces and nephew tried to teach me Itshekiri. I only learnt greetings. In other languages, I learned greetings and insults.

Language is a setting. A system. A system that evolved for thousands of years. So you must be naturally placed to learn it.

Today, I have forgotten most of the languages I learned. I wish I stayed longer in those places, I could be fluent in many Nigerian languages. I have the brain. I am not sure I can learn how to speak other languages anymore like I would have in the past. I know the histories of many tribes and ethnic groups in Nigeria. But I wish to, additionally, know the language.

I wish to learn Arabic. I have marginal knowledge of Arab Classics and might major in Arabic and Middle Eastern History if I am opportuned. I also want to travel Africa. West Africa first. Then North Africa, Europe, Middle East, East Africa and later Southern Africa.

I will like to meet certain world leaders like A. Merkel, Joko Widodo, V. Putin, El Sisi, Paul Kagame, ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu.

An older friend once told me that the reason for this whole Nigerianist mindset (and its accompanying intellectual abilities) is because I have been afforded the opportunity to travel by my parents. A bit rare for young people.

If you have the time. Please travel. Far away from this huge smoke. This smoldering political debris. Breath fresh air and decide if you want to come back. I will come back. I believe it is my responsibility.

Ojo, Aderemi

[Article from June 22, 2020]


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