LONDON CHRONICLES (9): PIDGIN ENGLISH & POSTGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP

He has come to find that every Anglophone African country, especially in sub Saharan Africa has its own form of Pidgin English. His experience since coming to London has been such that, with the African Pidgin English speakers, once one could speak any of the variants, the other variants are and can be easily understood, hence he seamlessly flows with Ghanian, Cameroonian, Sierra Leonean, Liberian as well as other pidgin English speaking scholars from other parts of Africa, without getting any word or sentence lost in translation. It was said back in the day that Anglophone African teams at the football World Cup easily played around their English-understanding European teams by communicating in “pidgin”, unfortunately it would require more than fluency in pidgin to better teams from Western Europe and South America with pedigree, without the distraction of unpaid bonuses to begin to impact football impressively, and not the coitus interruptus that bedevils African teams that manage to qualify for the mundial, when it matters most.

NIGERIAN SCHOLARS AT 2016 CHEVENING-UK ORIENTATION PROGRAMME.
NIGERIAN SCHOLARS AT 2016 CHEVENING-UK ORIENTATION PROGRAMME.

Fellow Nigerian scholars, on the few occasion he encounters them, have accused him of not associating with them, and though he apologized he was not apologetic, seeing that he hadn’t come all the way to the UK to become Nigerian in word and deed for the short period he’d be there for academic pursuits. His intention and concern, besides the academic, was of an anthropological nature and kind, and he didn’t want to be like the many Nigerians he’d encountered, who though have lived almost all their lives, or like him had come for a particular reason to the UK, only to pass through without allowing the UK pass through them. His non-association with fellow Nigerians in the main however did not stop him from making observations about Nigerians doing postgraduate studies in the UK, from which he has been able to make certain deductions, even though not necessarily supported by accurate figures as one would find with works of research guided by statistical methodology and parameters. The very first stereotype (held by southern Nigerians mostly) to fall before his crude research for instance, is that of northern Nigerians, mainly of Hausa and Fulani origin as being largely uneducated and illiterates, which is to some extent true when you consider the larger population, and not necessarily the effort geared into reversing the trend, especially by the top strata of northern Nigerian society. The notion by southerners that northern folk don’t like education, also fall flat in the face of evidence he himself had witnessed on more than one occasion..

To start with, three of his Nigerian coursemates are females from the North, and Muslims, also all married, of which two are from polygamous homes shattering the stereotypes of northern Nigerians especially their Muslims, apart from not encouraging education, don’t favour female education, or their wives getting educated. Though the opposite situation is such that affect the not-well-to-dos or lower classes of northern Nigerian Muslims in the so called “core north” comprising mainly of the northeast and northwest (excluding the north-central or middle-belt as people in that region were formerly known), enough for the current Emir of Kano (in Nigeria’s northwest) and former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governor Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, to advice wealthy northerners in the habit of building mosques allover the place to consider building schools to educate, most importantly girls in and from northern Nigeria. Other Nigerians from the south in his school are mostly of mixed Nigerian and British parentage who done at least undergraduate in the UK, then his category who’d come from Nigeria to the UK for postgraduate studies. Also when he went for his TB test in Nigeria preparatory to traveling to the UK, most of those on the queue were northern Nigerian girls adorned in Hijab and other cultural/religious garb associated mainly with northern Nigeria, as they also prepared to travel abroad for undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere in the developed west.

Yet another observation he’d made was the fact that most northerners in the UK don’t work there, coming around mostly on vacation if not for schooling or business. He’d come across two policemen in London, both of southern Nigeria origin, a Yoruba and an Igbo. While several other Nigerians can be found in several other fields of endeavour as porters, transport workers, menial labourers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, including as politicians in parliament, up to the upper echelons of the British political system like Member of Parliament, Chuka Umunna 3nignbmps-chuck-umunna1-427x700 (of Nigerian Igbo ancestry), but these rarely include northerners of Hausa and Fulani origin, whose elite send their children to some of the best tertiary institutions outside Nigeria, only to have them return after obtaining requisite qualifications, to plum positions in parastatals and government agencies in Nigeria amongst others, seeing that positions they fill by Nigeria’s quota system and federal character principles favour and satisfy the few applicants from the north, compared to same spaces for the majority of their southern Nigerian counterparts in their large number, educated either within Nigeria or outside of it, of which only a few get lucky to fill, or even rise to the pinnacle because of their age at entry, due to the number of years spent acquiring degrees upon degrees to get a position their northern counterpart attain sometimes with just the first degree. A major reason why those from the south, studied abroad, elect to remain there to hustle, even to the extent of becoming the first Black Female President of the Harvard Law Review, like Imelme A. Umana 211644_1292422-jpg-800x533_q95_crop-smart_upscale (of Nigerian parentage) than return to the uncertainty that Nigeria presents in terms of availability of job spaces, amongst other considerations.

Though the majority of northern elite and wealthy can send their children to the best schools abroad, the same cannot be said of those outside of those circles. In fact, the education gap between the north and south, despite efforts at bridging it by several states and federal government, notwithstanding the genuineness of purpose, have continued to widen, and that in spite of the shedding of the advantage by the south, with the growing army of touts (Agbèrò, for instance in the local parlance for bus conductors in Lagos and Nigeria’s southwest, known for educational advancement), and their likes, who are mainly school dropouts, and those who have lost faith in education as a means to breakthrough, choosing to either go into business (as with males in southeastern Nigeria) or learning a trade, or turning their hubbies into money making ventures by acting, singing and engaging in other activities in Nigeria’s burgeoning entertainment sector, with or without adequate or requisite education. The presence of more universities, public and private in the south, which most insular northerners are quite reluctant to want to attend (though southerners easily throng northern schools to avoid the stiff competition in the south), means that the education gap between the two regions won’t be easily bridged even in the remotest of the future, as the continued insistence of the leaders of thought, of the politico-culturo-religious institutions in the north, in refusing to separate the mosque from state, elevating Islamic teachings and knowledge over western education, especially for the “talakawas” or masses (while their own wards get the best education, from the best schools from allover the globe), also adds to the educational problems of the north, leading to situations where more often than not, disenchanted northern youths without opportunities that education provides the children of the elite, find themselves willing tools at the hands of Islamic Fundamentalists, becoming canon fodder for terrorist groups like Boko Haram, and Maitatsine before it, amongst others, whose goal is the establishment of an Islamic State in Nigeria, where the strictest form of Shari’a is practiced and western education outlawed.

As far as postgraduate education by Nigerians in the UK is concerned, the sizeable population of Nigerian scholars in universities include those sponsored by their wealthy or middle class parents (of which quite a number are northerners) some self-sponsoring (hustling southerners), others on scholarship by state and federal governments in and of Nigeria, of which a few are on merit while the majority make the list based on considerations relating to political patronage (the reason why this set of scholars always have difficulty with the payment of their fees in the unfortunate event where government changes hands at state or federal government level, and the new lords of the manor have new political affiliations to pander to and patronize); also Nigerian government parastatals and agencies like the Petroleum Trust Development Fund, PTDF offer scholarships skewered in favour of those from oil exploration communities for instance, but again with the list inclusive of those who hadn’t by merit made the list. UK Government Scholarships like “Chevening”, Commonwealth Scholarships, amongst other international scholarships, make up the last (but not least) contributors of scholars to British postgraduate schools, catering to and for scholars mainly from Africa and Asia, and other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly under The Queens’ dominion) and outside of it, of which countries like Nigeria, Kenya and India make up the bulk of postgraduate students under such scholarships. He had become a beneficiary of one of such, after a grueling selection process that took several months to complete.

‘kovich

PICTURE CREDIT:
https://mobile.twitter.com/kiky_fabz
http://www.africanevents.com
http://www.thecrimson.com

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