I Am In Multiples

I get fascinated by just how complex our local languages are. I am not as multi-lingual as I would like to be (yes, I want to speak many more languages fluently) but there are things that catch my attention about Afrikan languages. These things may be true of other languages but I can only speak of what I know.

A few years ago, I was talking with an acquaintance from America about Kiswahili. She was frustrated because as soon as she understood one word and its meaning she would find out there were at least one other meaning. The bigger challenge was also that many people spoke Kiswahili with a mix of sheng (this word is actually only said by people of a certain age these days). She was so frustrated with the lack of clarity in our language. At first I was offended because how could she be so quick to judge our language then I realised that if I had been raised with only English as my language which is quite straight forward I would be that frustrated. Now that I think about it, the intricacies in the English language are around spellings and not the many meanings. Anyway I digress.

There are complexities in our languages (I am sure non Afrikan languages have them too) that would make others frustrated and in some instances angry; yet that is indeed part of the beauty and gravity of the gift of God in our lives. These complexities filter into sub languages like slang or sheng or lugha ya mtaa depending on where you are from and when you were born.

For instance, Sasa means how are you or now depending on the context and intonation. Tembea could mean walk or visit. Poa means fine or getting cold in reference to food. There are also instances when a word in one language means is something innocent and in the neighbouring village or language group  is a derogatory term. On the other hand, one word had a positive or negative meaning depending on context of use or intonation especially where the languages are very tonal like the Kamba people.

The only way to really understand any language is to learn it. Not just book learning but conversational learning. It is important to understand how to string the words together, how to intone them, how to pause for effect among others. I dare say it would be the same when learning French which has male, female and neutral words.

So what is my point?

There are many sides to each of us and things have different meanings too. Why do I say so? I have been working diligently to be gentle with the teams I lead but have found that being gentle all the time does not work. There are teams who will see my stern side and those I will handle with kid gloves. There are individuals I will call and check on all the time and those who will have to learn to seek information. There are people who will know my happy go lucky cheeky side intimately (yes it is there) and those who will only see glimpses.

So just as my language is God given and unapologetic of making people go through hoops to learn therefore I will be unapologetic of the many facets intricately woven together to make me the special human being I am. This is no excuse to be mean to people and say that is how I am rather it is a call to be true to who I am and how I know our interactions must be. It is a call to make time for the things that matter to me and say no to what is not aligned.

It is a demand of myself to understand that No is a full sentence and does not have to be explained if something is in contravention with my values. I have to be careful to speak my language right that I may be understood therefore I must live my life right to become all God has seen in me and accomplish the task that brought me to this earth.

  • Arise beloved of the Father aware that you are made perfect for His plan
  • Understand no one can make you feel unworthy unless for some reason you already think you are
  • Know that every twist and turn in you is a blessing and design feature not a flaw
  • The many sides of you are a blessing to make you unique and exciting to meet so be still
  • Above all, understand that there is only one of you so be the best version of yourself…unapologetically


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