GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – There are few politicians I’m as pleased to listen to as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and it has nothing to do with the value of what he’s saying. He has one of the most delightful accents in the English-speaking world, the one that tops my list (certain soft Irish accents run a close second) as the most melodic: a Ghanaian English accent. He is also, of course, worth listening to because he is an extraordinary statesman and diplomat.
I’ve just read with huge pleasure that not everyone in Ghana thinks they should be speaking what they call BBC English, as the Guardian reports. Fortunately, enough people jig the language somewhere between the BBC and local languages, turning what they speak into music that makes you want to ask them to keep talking. If the Guardian is right, Ghanaian English is becoming more widespread and more accepted.
Check it out for yourself in this 2010 BBC video debate filmed in Geneva, “Will the real Africa please stand up?”, featuring two once-Genevans, Annan and Patina Gappah, Zimbabwe writer who was previously a lawyer in Geneva, who won the Guardian First Book Award in December 2009.
I haven’t heard Gappah speak, but I’ve read her writing and it is another laudable contribution to English as the world lives it.
Long live Africa’s contribution to the richness of English!