English as it is spoke


When we first thought about leaving behind the convenience of life at home to explore Africa, our mental picture of our new environment was one of heat, banana trees and mud huts.

Sitting in our local hostelry last night waiting for the brochettes to arrive (never less than an hour), it was clear that most of what we had expected was what we had found. Granted, the cool evening air after an overcast and wet day wasn't up to the usual standard, but bananas line the road and the mud at the moment is thick and slimy. Suddenly, into the peace of the African evening, the hum of mosquitoes was overcome by a familiar sound that definitely wasn't African or even what we expected to find twelve thousand kilometers from home - the Teletubbies!

There on the television in the corner of the courtyard was a bouncing blue blob, coat-hanger sticking out of its head and a square patch on its pyjamas, speaking what sounded vaguely Kinyarwanda. It wasn't, it was Teletubby. There is something vaguely surreal about sitting under a palm tree in the dark watching the Teletubbies.

The Rwandans are desperately trying to learn English. Whether they will pick up much from Dipsy, Tinky Winky and the rest is debatable. For those in doubt, I am one of the old school that thinks children's television has fallen a long way since the Spotty dog and the Wooden Tops. If you don't remember the Wooden Tops, never mind, they will make a come-back one day. If Teletubby catches on in the business world around here, the results could be interesting. "Eh-oh Laa-Laa, bank transfer? Uh-oh!"