Le Français et Moi

“Cooked food is not sold for goats”


Wait. WHAT? If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what this means and what it has got do with what I have to write. Well, it has nothing to do with what I have to write and I have absolutely no idea what it means. It just looked interesting and I was hoping to throw you off. However if you’re really interested (I mean, why shouldn’t you be), it is a Kiyuku proverb.

I recently started taking French lessons, as I have absolutely nothing better to do. No disrespect whatsoever to the language or its speakers, I like French. Well, sort of. I mean it sounds kind of cool when I hear it being spoken fluently. However, I was not born in the French-Speaking part of Africa and I am no language-learning machine. I’m really learning French to improve my chances of actually getting a job someday. Part of my whole International Lawyer saves the world plan. I’ll probably go off to learn Spanish as well at some point. It’s sort of sad because I started ‘learning’ French in primary school and it was pretty much a compulsory subject for the most part of my secondary education.  However, it’s sort of difficult to learn a language when you’re studying nine or more other subjects and you have some mean looking teachers breathing down on your neck to excel in their own subjects. Failure is never an option in such a case.

The French teachers I had really did not make it easy as well. In my first year of secondary school, my first true encounter with Le Français was through Monsieur Eziaku. Monsieur Eziaku wore his trousers up to his neck and walked like he had a stick up his butt for some reason. Now these characteristics didn’t necessarily make him a bad teacher but it’s really hard to focus when your teacher looks sort of clownish. Plus, Monsieur Eziaku really thought he was better than everyone else, probably because he ‘spoke’ French. (Talk about Douche Bag 101) Well, he didn’t last long and no one really knows what became of him. He was soon replaced by Sister Hilda (I went to a Catholic school) aka Ma Sœur Hilda, which we were made to call her. It seemed Ma Sœur was more interested in marching my classmates and I to the barber to shave off the little hair we had left on our small heads and teaching us how to sing the ‘Prayer before Meals’ in French, than actually teaching us the language. Monsieur Frank came next and his was truly a special case. He suffered from some form of chronic laziness. He would give us full marks for having complete notes because he was too lazy to give us tests. No one was really complaining to be honest. However, the simple task of grading our scanty French notes seemed to pose a problem to Monsieur Frank. He would sit at the desk and lament every ten minutes; “Am tayad… I cannot go on”. It’s really hard to stay motivated when your teacher is lazier than you are.  There was Monsieur Addae from Ghana who really was a self-hater and enjoyed referring to us as ‘monkeys’. It was a bit ironic considering his looks but he didn’t last long anyway. Madame Tunbosu soon replaced him. She wasn’t that bad once you got past all the body scratching that was going on. It was distracting and quite irritating to say the least. However, it was with Madame Tunbosu that I realised that French was not the language for me. This was after I had received my grades for a Continuous Assessment Test. It was at that very moment I knew what it truly meant to fail. Image

All the tears I shed would not take away the fact that I was a failure. It was also then that I knew I had to drop French as a subject once it was time to do so. Luckily, I had one year left of French as a compulsory subject. My last and probably most entertaining teacher was Monsieur Kidjo from Togo. He really was a good teacher but he was all over the place. You just never knew what he was up to. He was quite tall and intimidating and frankly, it was hard to approach him. The only way he knew to convey information was by shouting. He was also rather paranoid and always felt we were making fun of him, probably because he spoke little English. Basically, he was insecure and tried to make up for his insecurities through his loud and exaggerated actions. I wasn’t really bothered by him because I knew that year was the end. I was going to be free.

So, what happens when you have such teachers? French gets side lined. It becomes an opportunity cost of some sort. You can afford to fail this one. These are just some of the problems with the educational system in Nigeria but that is a topic for another day. Well, I have decided to finally learn French. I am hoping this is going to be a more successful journey. I don’t have nine other subjects to deal with and there are no teachers threatening me. But first, I just have to stop trying to figure out who my current cross-eyed French teacher is looking at, all the time. Oui, je vais conquérir!


Till I do… Love and regular blog posts,