Actually, it doesn’t hold water for anyone to say that speaking local languages leads to poor performance in examination or the promotion of speaking good English language in the country can attract foreign investors. I want to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with our education system that needs to be fixed. Let us not deny this fact. During the days of Common Entrance, O and A Levels systems, Gambians were performing far better than today. The performance in that era cannot be compared to what we are witnessing today.
Pastor Forbes wants to tell us that countries like Angola, Muzambique and Cap Verde have good foreign investors because they speak good English. No! These countries have Portuguese as their official language. How many percent of citizens in these countries speak English? Therefore, speaking good English is not a yardstick Pastor to measure a country’s progress or development. It goes beyond that!
Since language spells out one’s identity, any attempt to abandon our local languages is tantamount to killing our identities. Is that what Pastor Forbes want?
As a matter of fact, English is just a medium of communication. Period! If our children find it difficult to communicate in English, why can’t we look into ways and means of changing our official language to our local ones. The first English speaking people have no alphabet, they developed it themselves. Many countries in the world today are trying to develop their own language that symbolises their identity. In fact, in some countries even if the official language is English or Arabic, they use their home language for lectures.
Pastor Forbes’ statement that only three countries in Africa speak Mandinka is misleading, baseless and unfounded. I don’t expect the venerable religious leader to be taught that 12 countries in West Africa, including Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Liberia, Senegal and the Gambia, speak Mandinka, although there are differences of dialects. How can he deliberately state that Mandinka is spoken in only three countries? Pastor, I hope you don’t have a skeleton in your cupboard? Remember that most Gambians hold you in high esteem but a shift in your tone is putting a dent on your reputation. You have left us wondering whether you are a tribalist with an sinister agenda to neutralise the majority tribe. In our efforts to declare a national language, we should look at a language that is spoken nationwide by majority of Gambians. Is there any other language that can compete with Mandinka in the Gambia? I expect a quick answer from Pastor Forbes.