Monday, 02 March 2015 23:13 Published in Society

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I feel like an alien when I go home, and it’s heart-breaking. Before my grandmother passed away, communicating with her was near impossible. There was a basic level of understanding between us, through use of emphatic gesturing and my parents and cousins acting as intermediaries. But those tender moments, those truly powerful moments that you can only get when you spend quality time one-on-one with somebody, I missed out on with my grandmother. Why? She couldn’t speak English. And I couldn’t speak her language, Twi...

Saturday, 20 December 2014 00:00 Published in Music

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Not so long ago I would have stressed the importance of African artistes incorporating the English language into their music if they wanted it to break into international markets. I soon realised the flaw in my logic when I looked at my own taste in music and realised that, as an English and Swahili-speaking Kenyan, I still love kwaito music from South Africa, which is normally sung in Tsotsitaal or Zulu – this despite me having absolutely no idea what was being said! The lack of comprehension doesn’t stop me from listening to kwaito. (Although not strictly kwaito), how many of you have heard ‘Khona’ by Mafikizolo? Now, hand on heart, how many of you (non-Zulu speakers) actually understand what it’s about?

Exactly. And it almost doesn’t matter…