Tuesday, May 20, 2008

4 languages

i'm in bamenda (all of us from the NW province, actually) for a meeting with the CD. more on that later. just wanted to mention my visit to the mosque today. it’s located in the Hausa Quarter, in Old Town. the mosque is spacious, clean, with some calligraphy here and there. some carpeting up front as well. there was one of those pre-khutba [sermon] lectures. to make up for the sparse/light/terse and untranslated formal khutba, i suppose.

the lecture was great!... in 4 different languages. 4 men up there. 1st, this masri sheikh [egyptian preacher] giving the talk in short bursts of Arabic. 2nd, a Hausa man on his right then translates from Arabic to Hausa. 3rd, a Fulani man on the sheikh’s left translates from Hausa to Fufulde. 4th, a man on the Fulani’s left (another Hausa, i think) translates into pidgin english.

the masri sheikh says a few words, often no more than an incomplete thought, then there’s 3 translations. the fact that i understood the original and the last language (arabic and pidgin, that is) and could thus note any deviations (and there were many) had me smiling from ear to ear. just seeing all 4 men up there and hearing the barrage of interrupted sentences was quite a scene!

not to mention observing how one phrase in Arabic would turn into a discourse in Hausa, then a few sentences in Fufulde and just a couple of words in Pidgin. Lord... i wish someone from back home could’ve been there to witness it. Omar, Alredha, Samer, Salime... anyone! i’d like to know a little more of each of these 4 language before i leave, insha’Allah. even Arabic.

i should mention the lecture’s topic. after all, it wasn’t just a show... i did learn something. raising children was the focus. the sheikh explained the hadith [a saying of the Prophet Muhamamd] about raising children in 3 stages: 1-7 years, 8-14 years and 15-21 years. stage one, you pamper and play with them. stage two, you teach and guide them. stage three, you befriend and council them.

after that they’re on their own... no longer your responsibility in terms of guardianship or accountability for their actions. but, the sheikh added, if you want to seal (ikhtem) your work with them well, you need to make sure they marry early. that's not part of the hadith, though.

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