Editorial: Yes, Ghanaians must learn to speak French!

November 24, 2021 By 0 Comments

The President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Togbe Tepre Hodo IV, according to a story carried by the Ghanaian Times yesterday, has added his voice to the numerous calls on Ghanaians to learn and speak French.

According to him, this would help regional integration efforts, and also boost trade between Ghana and her neighbours.

Togbe Tepre Hodo, who is Paramount Chief of Anfoega, noted that every educated person from a Francophone country in Africa spoke appreciable English, but most educated Ghanaians did not speak French, which was pathetic.

According to Togbe Tepre Hodo, the need for Ghanaians to speak French was even more relevant, considering the fact that our immediate neighbours were all Francophone.

French is one of the international languages spoken across the globe, but as Tobge Hodo noted, majority of Ghanaians do not know how to use such a language to communicate effectively with our neighbours.

Indeed, when the President of Ivory Coast, Alhassane Ouatarra, visited Ghana about two years ago, he expressed concerns over our inability to speak the French language.

Ouatarra expressed the concern when he realised that ministers who attended his meeting with President Akufo-Addo were rushing to put on their earphones to listen to the interpretation of what he was going to say in French. Our own President – Nana Akufo-Addo – who is fluent in French, has also repeatedly expressed concern over our poor command over the French language.

He promised that the French language would be taught in all government-assisted schools, so that Ghanaians can easily communicate with their French counterparts. The President has actually walked his talk, as French is now taught in all basic schools.

The problem now has to do with the adult population, who do not speak the language. Clearly, the setback is not the doing of Ghanaians, but the way they were brought up by the British colonialists.

Available statistics indicate that only 23% of people living in the United Kingdom speak the French language. Even the ‘high’ figure of 23% has been achieved due to the high number of migrants living on the island. On the contrary, as many as 39% of French nationals speak fluently English. The above stats indicate that the British are not interested in learning other languages apart from theirs, which is considered the number one language spoken on Planet Earth.

The British, who are our colonial masters, seem to have forced this mentality of not learning other languages on us, and, in fact, all the countries they colonised in the world. It is, therefore, not surprising that most British former colonies do not speak French, but their French counterparts speak English fairly well. As Togbe Hodo pointed out, we are surrounded by Francophone counties and cannot, therefore, continue to adopt the old mentality of being proud of the English language alone.

Because Ewe is spoken in both Ghana and Togo, Nzema also spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast, it is easy for Ghanaians to sometimes communicate with their counters from these bordering countries, but these languages are not official means for communication. Therefore, if we are to improve our trade relationship with our Francophone counterparts, we need to start learning the French language.

This is the reason why we think Togbe Hodo has hit the nail right on the head when advised us all to start learning the French language. But may we humbly ask Togbe Hodo whether he himself speaks the French language?