These languejs of ours

Wrote an essay for Jalada, a writers’ collective I’m part of, in the bonus edition of The Language Issue. This piece has been rolling around my head for a few years now.

How far?

That phrase made me fall in love with pidgin right there in the backseat of a taxi in sweltering Lagos as I listened to an exchange between the cabbie and a mallam, a security guard.

I’d heard it before but it wasn’t until then that I realized the power in reassigning meaning. It called to mind radical feminist and writer, Audre Lorde’s belief that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Here was a challenge. Here was, in fact, a clever subversion of the Queen’s English.

Nigeria, like many other West African nations, managed to mutate what would become a bitter and crucial component of colonial rule to create a veritable new language. Remoulding the language until it rolled off their tongues to their taste.

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