[I don’t’ know…please speak more slowly]
My Luganda has improved a lot. I’m not able to hold a conversation; I’m not even able to understand a full conversation between people near me. Yet, when I look at my vocabulary at week 9 last time, and my vocabulary now-again at week 9-I have improved greatly.
We don’t offer Luganda as a language in American schools. Why should we, when out of the whole world, only people of this region of Uganda use it as their main language? Yet schools in Uganda teach English. By the time a person has finished secondary school, he or she is probably fluent in English. I have been in Uganda for a cumulative time of 18 weeks. I speak enough to be polite-or at least that is what I told myself until last week. It had always been a declaration of mine that I would learn to speak enough to be polite in every place I travel in this world. After many people have been pestering me about my “lack of understanding,” I have come to “understand” that because I am not fluent in Luganda, I am therefore being impolite. Some people find it upsetting that I could be here for “so long” and not pick up such an “easy” language. I’d be willing to bet they aren’t half as upset as I am!
In my defense I can say, “Good morning! How are you? I am fine! Well done, Madam or Sir! You are welcome. Welcome home. Good to be home! My name is Nankya Kristen. Woman, man, children, grandparent/elder. Come, let’s go. You go away. All of you go away. You are my friend. I am cold. I am tired. We move slowly. Drive slow. Good evening. Safe journey. Good bye. Thank you. Yes please.”
Like I said, I thought it was enough to be polite! I guess I will need to be doing flashcards in my spare time. Foreign language comes easily for some—not me though. I recall needing a tutor to get me through high school Spanish. This time, I don’t have a tutor, but I did buy a Luganda phrasebook while in Kampala…
Wish me luck,
Nze Nankya Kristen