The "Akwaaba" Brouhaha, The Ga Chief Is Wrong
“The Akwaaba is a certain ethnic language and where the airport is situated belongs to a certain tribe, so what we all need to know is that where the airport is situated now is for the Ga Dangme people…" (La Mantse, Nii Kpobi Tettey Tsuru III)
What a shame, what a shame.What is next, the removal of Kotoka's name? The Airport belongs to the people of Ghana and the resouces used to build that Airport came from the sweat of farmers and miners. This is the more reason why I have my own apprehension when the same people talk about uniting Africa. The same people in the forum talking about removing the "AKWAABA" sign are the loudest when it comes to Africa uniting.How can we unite Africa when we can't even accept each other in our own country? Is removing the "Akwaaba" sign going to solve even one problem facing the Ga youth? Will it bring employment to the thousands of Ga youths roaming the streets of Accra without jibs?The Twi language is even posted at Washingto D.C, USA drivers licence offices and recognized as a Ghanaian language. You want to remove the Akwaaba sign and replace it with Welcome, OH! GHANAIANS. I have travelled through some Airports including Frankfurt in Germany where one is greeted with German language and Amsterdam Airport where Dutch is the welcome language. This La chief will rather have a welcome sign(English)at the airport instead of a Ghanaian language due to bigotry. How many people even speak the Ga language? If the La Mantse want to promote Ga language which is becoming extinct, all support should be given to him but you don't have to remove "AKWAABA" sign to promote Ga language.
I continue to believe that, Ghanaians are physically independent but we are still mentally enslaved due to bigotry.Let this chief set up a foundation and raise funds to help all People in Accra in education and job training to ease the hardships Ghanaian youths are facing instead of this cheap bigotry propaganda.
For those who have a problem in accepting a common language for all Ghanaians , hold off your guns, this is not an article advocating for the government to pass any legislation making Twi the official language of Ghana. No legislation or government interference is needed in what language the people of Ghana ought to conduct their business or social interactions in. The importance of a language or a dominant language emerges in society where there are many tribes with different languages and the driving force behind one language dominating others in one country evolve through the commercial viability of that language, and that is what we are seeing in Ghana at the moment. In essence, commerce is the driving force that determines what language ought to be learnt and treasure. We have 79 languages in Ghana.Nine languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: Akan, Dagaare/Wale, Dagbani, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema. However, two dialects of Akan, Twi and Fante,although not government-sponsored, are also widely-spoken in Ghana. About fifty percent Ghanaians are born with Twi being a mother's tongue but more than 70% of Ghanaians speak a variety of the Twi language and most commercial activities and cultural events are conducted in Twi, one might ask, WHY IS THAT SO? My simple answer is that, though English language is the official language in the country, most market women, farmers, fishermen who are the driving force behind our commerce can hardly utter a word in English and since Twi which is easier to learn and the Twi speaking people dominate our commercial activities, one can easily envisage why Twi language has become dominant in Ghana.
As people, our prosopography are the same except the languages spoken by different tribes but our Neolithic ancestors had the same lifestyle eking out a living as hunters and farmers in a communial life and supposedly had consanguineous clans as their basic social settings but as society develops and expands due to migration, we interact with other people with different languages and a common medium of communication has to emerge and that is what we are seeing in Ghana with Twi exerting its dominance and no law can stop it or accelerate it. Let's take Accra for instance. In the 70's, the Ga language was heard everywhere in the city and those people who moved to Accra earlier on learnt the Ga language but now the situation is different. One can hardly hear Ga in Accra until you go to Bukom, Chorkor, Ashiaman and the few Ga enclaves left in the city. Late migrants to Accra now don't learn the Ga language anymore but rather the Twi language because commercial activities are conducted in Twi and English rather than Ga.
The Twi language dominates our art and culture not because the Twi speaking people are forcing their language on others but as the golden rule states, whoever has the gold rules and in this case, the Twi speaking people have the numbers and a dominance in commerce to expand the influence of their language. In Ghana, you can hardly hear any popular music in any other language apart from Twi and the reason behind this is that, Musicians make music that will sell and that is why you see Musicians who are not even Twi speaking natives making music in Twi. It is not that these Gas, Northerners, Ewes and others making Twi music are abandoning their languages but they are not stupid either to make music in their languages that will not sell and sit on store shelves gathering cobwebs. Making music in Twi or making Twi movies sell, and that is the bottom line.
Our film idustry though at its nascent stages are producing Twi films, albeit most of them badly made without a storyline with actors with names like Christiana Awuni, Edmund Quashie, Nii Saka Brown and others whose names suggest they are not native born Twi speakers but have to learn this language if they want to survive in this industry and make acting as a career. Why are these people not making films with Ewe, Ga or Dagaare/Wale, dialect? The simple fact is that, making any film in Ghana apart from it being in English or Twi will not sell, the same thing applies in radio presentations. Radio, T.V and film studios are set up to make money for its owners and these owners might not even be Twi speaking people but they are not going to commit commercial suicide by broadcasting or making movies in languages that will not sell and it is through these avenues that the Twi language will continue to grow and naturally will become the official language in Ghana without any government making it a law. Human instinct will go into survival mode, and in about fifty years from now, almost every Ghanaian will be speaking the Twi language. The critics and haters who would like to see the "AKWAABA" sign at the Kotoka International Airport pulled down because it is in Twi have to face reality, languages evolve, and Twi language is spreading like an inferno in Ghana and and the spittle of resistance will not extinguish the momentum of the language in vogue now; TWI
It is the Twi language that binds us as Ghanaians in diaspora and makes us different from other Africans who cannot communicate across tribal lines. Nigerians are notorious in this regard in diaspora as not associating with others who are not from the same tribe and the reason is because of language barrier exacerbated by tribalism and ethnocentrism . The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. Our colonial masters can be blamed for our disunity because they made it easier for themselves to assimilate us by teaching us to communicate in English language. "The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The major languages spoken in Nigeria are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba"
Let me divagate a little here and cite the Chinese example. One might ask, why has China adopted a policy to teach English to everybody in the country with an initial policy of teaching the English language from Kindergaten to the University level when the Mandarin language With 1 billion speakers, is the most spoken language in the world.? The answer is commerce.
Despite Mandarin being the most spoken language in the world, China in order to become the dominant economic super power it aims to achieve has to train its own English speakers that can market China products in USA, Britain, Australia and other rich English countries to achieve its aim because the native Mandarin Chinese commerce in terms of capital cannot dwarf the mighty English speaking countries. When China has seen its future in learning English as a fall back on alternative to its own mandarin local language, some sections of Ghanaians are resisting the growth of the Twi language due to tribalism. "English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country." That was the colonial masters mentality, a common language to fascilitate the cultural and linguistic unity without making any effort to teach this language in every boondocks in the countries they occupied.
Look at United States which was also under British rule. Why did the English language become dominant and 'killed' other languages the indigenes brought from countries like France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Italy and other countries and the only language in United States when Italians who settled in New York area, The Germans who settled in the midwest, especially in Missouri. The Swedes and Norwegians who settled in Wisconsin and Minnesota and the French who found the state of Louisianna assimiliated into the larger English colonies and allowed their language to die out through generations?
Most of us are cowards and afraid to say the impending reality on the horizon, which is that, most of the languages in Ghana will become extinct and Twi will become the dominant language with more than 70% of the people speaking it now. Most of us, if not all of us living now might not witness it, but in about hundred years from now, almost 100% of Ghanaians will be speaking the Twi language with the advent of radio, T.V and movie studios doing business in Twi and this is what is going to make Twi the unofficial official language in Ghana without the government intrusion. Commerce accelerate the growth of a language and as long as the Twi speaking people in Ghana dominate commerce, the growth and dominance of the Twi language will continue unabated.