South Sudan adopts the English language - Taban Lo Liyong says Juba Arabic should be the lingua franca
Quotes of the Day
"English will make us different and modern. From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English." - Edward Mokole at Ministry of Higher Education, South Sudan, October 2011Source: Report from BBC News Online - www.bbc.co.uk
"With English we can become one nation. We can iron out our tribal differences and communicate with the rest of the world." - Rehan Abdelnebi, News Director at South Sudan Radio, October 2011
By Rosie Goldsmith
Saturday, 08 October 2011; 12:01. Full copy:
South Sudan adopts the language of Shakespeare- - -
The young nation of South Sudan has chosen English as its official language but after decades of civil war, the widespread learning of English presents a big challenge for a country brought up speaking a form of Arabic.
I knew there might be problems as soon as I arrived at Juba International airport - and was asked to fill in my own visa form, as the immigration officer could not write English.
The colourful banners and billboards hung out to celebrate South Sudan's independence back in July, and still adorning the streets now, are all in English. As are the names of the new hotels, shops and restaurants.
After decades of Arabisation and Islamisation by the Khartoum government, the predominantly Christian and African south has opted for English as its official language.
At the Ministry of Higher Education, Edward Mokole, told me: "English will make us different and modern. From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English."
This was "a good decision for South Sudan", he added forcefully, rather playing down the fact that there are very few fluent English speakers in the country.
As a devastated country of remote villages and mainly dirt roads, with no industry, banks or landlines, with erratic electricity and connectivity, where 85% of people are illiterate and the education system is shattered, South Sudan does not just have very little English, but very little written language at all.
I visited schools without textbooks.
The head of English at Juba University had no books in his office, let alone electricity or a computer.
I saw no bookshops.
For the new rulers, who fought with the Sudan People's Liberation Army, learning English is a new struggle.
"With English," the news director of South Sudan Radio, Rehan Abdelnebi, told me haltingly, "we can become one nation. We can iron out our tribal differences and communicate with the rest of the world."
But peace is still fragile.
The whole of Sudan is riddled with conflicts. About 150 different languages are spoken in the South and there are thousands of guns out there, as well as a quarter of a million former guerrillas being demobilised and disarmed.
There are soldiers everywhere in Juba.
But there are also traders from Uganda and Kenya, as well as about two million returnees from the north, refugees and thousands of Westerners seeking fortunes or bringing aid.
I met the new British Council director in his office - in the grounds of a notorious nightclub (the club had free office space, and in Juba you take what you get).
After 65 years operating in Sudan, the council appointed Tony Calderbank to oversee the spread of English in the new nation.
Wherever Tony went, I saw people approach him, desperate for courses, books, teachers and grants.
"English has become a tool for development," Tony told me, "and, even if the British in Sudan are sometimes seen as colonial overlords, the English language is respected."
Brigadier-General Awur Malual had asked the British Council to teach his soldiers.
The general had grown up speaking his tribal tongue Bor and Juba Arabic, a colloquial form of Arabic, but can now speak remarkably good English.
When I asked him how he had learned it, he told me: "By picking up books in the bush when I was fighting. I read some things about that man Shakespeare."
"What about Dickens or Jane Austen?" I asked. He scratched his head and said: "I don't know them."
I promised to send the general some Dickens.
During my time in Juba, several people asked me for books - a dictionary of law and biographies of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama - black leaders who, for them, inspire hope.
Already, I have put copies of Shakespeare's Cymbeline in the post.
Next year, as part of the 2012 Olympics arts programme, the South Sudanese Kwoto Theatre Company is to perform this tale of love, death and war in Juba Arabic at the Globe theatre in London.
Thirty-six other Shakespeare plays in 36 other languages will also be staged.
As we swatted flies down by the Nile, I asked Kwoto's director, Derik Alfred why he was swimming against the tide - why not Shakespeare in English?
"We must still celebrate our own language," he told me mischievously, "but first of all we have to translate Cymbeline from English into Juba Arabic!"
News from Sudan Radio Service - www.sudanradio.org:
Writer And Academician Says Juba Arabic Should Be The Lingua Franca In S. Sudan- - -
Friday, 07 October 2011—(Juba, S. Sudan) —Renowned South Sudanese writer and academic, Professor Taban Lo Liyong, says Juba Arabic should be the lingua franca in South Sudan, and not Khartoum Arabic.
Professor Lo Liyong says Juba Arabic is an African language that is easy to learn and is a uniting cultural factor.
[Prof Taban Lo Liyong]: “It is graphic as well as being dramatic, so it can be used for creating laughter. Then what we need to do is to infuse and inject into it with philosophical words, serious terminologies, and serious technical words, technical concepts that is what we need.”
Prof Taban Said Juba Arabic already has a dictionary which is written using the Roman alphabet. He said it the responsibility of linguists to develop Juba Arabic grammar.
He also said that South Sudanese women should adopt the Shilluk Lou sheet wrapper as the national dress for South Sudan
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Cymbeline the play by William Shakespeare
Cymbeline play script - text
Read more at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online.
This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009. The portrait is known as the 'Chandos portrait' [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobbe_portrait ] after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. The portrait is oil on canvas, feigned oval, 21 3/4 in. x 17 1/4 in. (552 mm x 438 mm), Given by Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere, 1856, on display in Room 4 at the National Portrait Gallery, London, England, United Kingdom. Read more at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online.
Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, being responsible for some of English literature's most iconic novels and characters. Read more at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online.
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. Read more at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online.
Olympic Games in London 2012
The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the four-year Cultural Olympiad, taking place from 21 June to 9 September 2012.
Complementing the sport events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Festival will be the biggest party the UK has ever seen, with a huge range of events from leading artists from all over the world. Click here to read more.
- - -
NOTE FROM SUDAN WATCH EDITOR
Since last November, this site Sudan Watch has had a Twitter page @sudanwatch http://twitter.com/#!/sudanwatch still under construction. A few moments ago I noticed a message (see copy of tweet below) and, for the record, have retweeted it. Not sure what to reply, except to say that my Blogger Profile can be found here or in the sidebar of this page. It's a long story as to why I've not posted here since July or developed the Twitter page. Maybe more on this at a later date. This site, created in August 2004, receives many visitors from Africa. At certain times of day the majority of visitors are in Sudan. I am not aware of this site being inaccessible from Khartoum. Longstanding followers of this site know that I am a friend of Sudan and South Sudan, not a foe. If you are in Khartoum and encounter problems accessing this site, please do let me know. Thanks.
alyatsudan Alya Al-Mahdi
@sudanwatch: who are you and y is your website inaccessible from Khartoum?
26 July 2011