Sunday, 26 August 2018

Rwanda is the number one African country where citizens trust and rely on Police services to enforce law and order and 13th globally, according to the World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum’s 2017/2018 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranks Rwanda above countries like the United Kingdom, which is 19th, United States (22), France (29) and Germany at 38.

The worst performers in Africa are South Africa, at 118, and Nigeria at 123.

Talking to The New Times, the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, attributed the good ranking to consistency and discipline among other things.

“The national police is always striving to be as professional as can be and to achieve that, there is consistent training, we encourage citizen focused policing, we leverage on technology, push service delivery to the limit and, most importantly, there is zero tolerance for crime generally and corruption in particular,” he said.

The Executive Director of Transparency International Rwanda Chapter, Apollinaire Mupinganyi, said that: “We are witnessing good progress and improvement in service delivery in general but more particularly in law enforcement institutions. From our previous reports, it’s obvious that the Rwanda National Police has improved even in terms of perception. For instance, the likelihood of a bribe, which was around 18 per cent in the past years, is now down to 11 per cent”.

According to the World Economic Forum, Rwanda is one of the most competitive countries in Africa thanks to an efficient labour market and political stability.


Credit: The New Times Rwanda

Published in Economy

The BBC World Service’s radio service of English-based Pidgin for West and Central Africa, BBC News Pidgin, is now a year old. And it’s thriving. According to the broadcaster it News Pidgin reaches a weekly audience of 7.5 million people in Nigeria and around the world on radio, online, Facebook and Instagram.

Even though Pidgin hasn’t got the official status of a recognised language anywhere, it’s widely spoken across West Africa. Between three and five million Nigerians use it as their first language, while a further 75 million have it as their second language.

Today, variations of pidgins are used in all spheres of life ranging from political campaigns, television and radio broadcast. They are also taught in some tertiary institutions, used in music and other works of art and even speeches by public officials.

Pidgin refers to what’s known as a trade language that emerged as a mixture of languages to help people who don’t have a common one to communicate with one another. In West Africa these mixes include English and French, on the one hand, and local languages on the other. The mixing has developed into lingua franca of the region.

Pidgin is used differently in different settings. For example, the version spoken in Nigeria is different from the version spoken in Senegal. This is because in one English is the dominant European language while in the other French is dominant.

The BBC’s decision to launch a service in Pidgin should be applauded. Pidgins deserve full recognition because they’re being spoken by a sizeable number of people in West Africa. Governments in the region should take a leaf out of the broadcaster’s book and ensure the different versions are codified and standardised in both their formal and informal uses. They should be granted official status.

The history

Trade and colonisation brought pidgin to West Africa. A range is spoken across West Africa. They include: Nigerian Pidgin, Sierra Leone Pidgin (also known as Krio), Ghanaian pidgin, Senegalese Pidgin and Cameroonian Pidgin.

Some, if not all, of these pidgins have outgrown their status as pidgins. But they are still called pidgin. One of the reasons it that there’s a view that pidgin doesn’t have native speakers. This isn’t true. In West Africa children and adults use pidgins as their first language. These pidgins are now creoles – that is a language that was a pidgin but has become a first language for a new generation of speakers.

In Nigeria for example, Pidgin is viewed as being the language of illiterates even though it’s used by both educated and uneducated people in formal and informal activities. It has featured prominently in culture, from Afrobeat superstar Fela Kuti’s urban dance music to highbrow opera like in Nigerian-born singer Helen Parker-Jayne’s Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera.

An evolving language

The vocabularies of pidgins evolve all the time to meet the communicative needs of their speakers. The BBC Pidgin experiences this fluidity in practise, as its head, Bilkisu Labran, explains:

It keeps changing all the time and it’s expressive as well. Sometimes, if you don’t have a word for something, you can just create an onomatopoeic sound and just express yourself. And it will be appreciated and understood.

Bulk of the lexical items found in these pidgins is from the foreign language spoken locally while the others are from indigenous languages. These pidgins also rely on the tones, pitch, nasality of the indigenous languages for proper pronunciation and use. This means that every sentence an average West African uses in pidgin has a bit of the local language (any of the West African languages) fused into it.

The pidgins also try to maintain the phonetics of the West African languages. For example:

Wetin de hapun?

This is a Nigerian Pidgin way of asking “what is happening?” or “what happened?”. “Wetin’” is a distortion of “what” or “what is”, while “hapun” is spelt as pronounced.

Di moto na tokunbọ.

This means “the car is fairly used”; “the car is second hand” (Nigerian English) or “it is a used car”. The word “tokunbọ” is borrowed from the Yoruba language but used to describe fairly used items in the Nigerian pidgin.

Used for business transactions

Pidgins are viewed positively, negatively or with indifference. Some view them as languages that have helped to bridge the communication gap between them and others. Others view them as inferior languages and believe that those who use them are also inferior. The elites pretend not to have anything to do with them.

But these negative attitudes are changing in West Africa. The pidgins spoken in the region are unique, showing that they have come to stay no matter what some say or feel about them. The pidgins are expanding on daily basis as new lexical items are introduced into them.


Edosa James Edionhon, Lecturer of Linguistics, University of Benin

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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