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Reuben Abati: Do you speak French?


Dr Reuben Abati: Parlez vous Francaise?
I was on my way back from Botswana, after attending a conference organized by the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF). This was sometime in the 90s. On that same trip was Professor Tekena Tamuno, the eminent historian of blessed memory. We boarded an Air Afrique flight from Johannesburg to Abidjan, where we were scheduled to join another flight to Lagos. But Air Afrique at the time had started having problems. Its flights were always delayed, services were poor, and the airline had become so notorious it eventually earned the sobriquet: peut-etre Afrique. Peut-etre in French meaning “perhaps or maybe.” On this particular trip, the airline lived up to its poor reputation.
The flight from Jo’burg to Abidjan was delayed, and we missed our connecting flight to Lagos. Our first instinct was to go to the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan, after the airline had given us hotel accommodation for the night. When Professor Tamuno and I arrived at the embassy, the Ambassador had closed for the day. We left a message. And lo and behold, the following morning, somebody came from the Embassy to look for us. The Ambassador, a gentleman to the core, had received our message and he would like us to stop by at the Embassy before our flight back to Lagos, later in the day. A good diplomat on foreign posting will always look out for the interest of his or her country’s citizens under whatever circumstances. We were impressed. But this is not the point of this article. It is as the title suggests, about French language and the need for Nigeria to take the teaching and the learning of the language more seriously and actively promote this in our educational institutions.
When the emissary from the Embassy arrived at our hotel, …Read More

Source:: PM Newspaper