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November 18, 2018

Learn A Language, It Helps

I have started a new column in this very paper called Valentine on Call. For once I am answering relationship questions, not just sex questions as I do on Fridays.

The column is aimed at a younger demographic, say 17 to 24, but can I just say the issues surrounding sex and our hearts seem to remain the same throughout our lives.

Sex may seem like a mindless activity for the most part but how we have it, who we have it with and under what circumstances are all influenced by who we think we are in the world, how we actually fit in it and how much personal power we believe we possess.

Anyway, I digress. I have been receiving these questions and can I just say, the way they are written is awful and the language is absolutely horrendous.

1. Recently i slpt with a chic.1 thing that i knew is that she was not a vagin.wrkup next mrnng bedcovers with blood!i am afraid!i don even know what 2 tell her!what might be her prblm?ID no display please. Based on her own story i knewed she was not a vargin.she cnfsd 2 me that once she hd a boy friend.i did not cmmnt anythng cnsrng the blood coz i am cnfsd on how i should face her.

2. hi.my chic n I had not seen each other for almost 2 mths.wen she came to my ples,she dint wanna av sex saying she needs to rethink bout her sex life.av complained to her for not doing one or two while we mek luv before.wot could be her problem?

Now I get that when people are writing on social media, they are more than informal and they don’t care about spelling, fine. However these are people in need of help with something very personal, shouldn’t articulation of their problem be paramount? Isn’t the nomenclature of feelings and emotions a skill worth cultivating, if only so that one can name and express their feelings?

I notice that my family who grew up in Nyeri and Nyahururu and were educated there, have a very easy time speaking their minds in Kikuyu and even shrubbing through their English but you understand them… like we all did with Wangari Maathai. Is this an urban phenomenon where Nairobi kids do not learn any language well enough to express themselves? A bit of Swahili, a smattering of several mother-tongues with a bit of English for good measure?

If so, it does not bode well for Nairobi as a city. If we cannot name our feelings and thoughts, we cannot articulate them. Wishing, feeling and thinking are the beginning of creation, and just like God, we create through our words. Our families, our businesses, our very lives are made manifest through our words. Without them, we are ineffectual. Lack of language and lack of a decent personal lexicon leaves us prone to feeling misunderstood and vulnerable to violence, the oldest human language.

Pick a language, learn to play with it and in it… it will change your life.

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