DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you just find it amusing when a fellow countryman struggles to twist their tongue in an effort to speak English with an Ã¢â‚¬ËœaccentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that obviously doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come naturally and sounds so fake, it causes you extreme embarrassment on their behalf? The person might be forgiven for doing this in a one on one conversation but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a totally different story if this is on a public forum such as a meeting, a wedding or over the radio, with so many people listening and passing their own judgements.
Just the other day, I switched off a radio station because one of the presenters was struggling to copy their favourite BBC reporter (I think) and all the words were so distorted, I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make heads or tails of what this person was saying. I was also deeply ashamed of the extent to which this person tried so hard to de-Malawianise himself with disastrous consequences that I simply couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t listen any further, even though this was actually a programme discussing politics and development. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the first time IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d heard this person speak this way and this was not the first radio presenter IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d tuned out either.
See, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have anything against anyone speaking great English; no one does. I also donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have issues with people who, due to the fact that they have lived in a certain country for so long, inevitably speak with an acquired accent which actually comes off naturally.
What I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand is; why some people, clearly having none of the above, still force themselves to come across as something they are not. If theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not trying to be British via their speech, chances are theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be biting themselves to speak like an American, Nigerian or even a South African.
Quite honestly, there is absolutely no problem in making a few pronunciation errors as one speaks in a foreign language with their native accent, as lots of people all over the world do. As long as one uses acceptable grammar and an audible tone, should accents really be an issue? The French, Dutch, Norwegians and, closer to home, South Africans, Nigerians and Tanzanians, to mention a few certainly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think so! So, why is it such a big issue with some Malawians?
Does this not speak volumes of the amount of pride that we, as Malawians, have in our country, our culture and our language; all of which are extremely rich and beautiful? Should we not proudly flaunt our African heritage, complete with the accents that come with it and celebrate the richness of our ethnicity?