Dear Nii Kpakpo,
A lot of things are said in the savannah that is so run of the mill that they have become part of the system. As usual in any society we first thing you learn are the greetings.
DESPA: (always reminds me of the radio and tv station owning magnate)
This is the equivalent of good morning in the savannah. The response to any form of greetings is ‘naa’! Even when they do not hear what you said, whether in English or whatever language, the response is still the same.
this is the greeting for good afternoon Kpakpo. Like I said, the response is still the same. But the interesting thing is that whenever I want to spell out this particular greeting, my mind goes straight to a very common practice that we did in high school (and still do of course, as adults).
Guess what? Just replace the ‘rey’ with ‘pey’.
Yeah! ANTIPEY! See that broad smile on your face.
This is the greeting for evening. And still the response is the same.
Kpakpo, you know in my native kroboland ‘na’ means cow and so imagine me a krobo city slicker getting into the savannah as a JJC (Johnny Just Come) and to whatever I greeted in whatever language I heard the response ‘naa’.
Can u imagine what I felt like? Did it mean that everybody in the savannah was calling me a cow?
Well I didn’t look and still don’t look physically like a cow so I didn’t even mind one bit.
This is a saying in the savannah that has more or less become a harbinger of trouble. The natives usually say this to a perceived ‘outsider’ especially when they do not agree to something you are saying and they won’t back down on their stand. Quite a few southerners have heard this saying and if you are wise, you just drop whatever you are saying or doing and walk away.
This is the equivalent of the English ‘how are you’ in dagbani. This is the one thing most southerners know and ask especially our hiplife artistes when they mount the stage with a large savannah audience whether in the savannah or in settlements in the south.
IT WILL ENTER YOU: (my favorite)
Nii Kpakpo the first time I heard this I was quite taken aback. The grammar just doesn’t jell with the context in which it is used. Wait till you hear the full story.
So I realized that the lifestyle of the savannah demanded that I get very comfy loafers which almost everybody wears here. So I walked into a shop and I saw a pair that I really liked but it was a smaller size than my size 12 (46 American), yes I have big feet.
But the shop attendant asks me to try it out and says ‘oh boss! It will enter you!’
Kpakpo you should have seen the look on my face. I asked what she said and she repeated ‘I said it will enter you’. I just died.
Thinking it was just a onetime thing, I was surprised to hear it from a colleague at work when some shirts were brought to the office and I was supposed to try one out. Apparently it is not only shoes that can ‘enter you’ but anything else that you have to wear.
Kpakpo as usual my dysfunctional mind is working in overdrive and I’m thinking if a (wo)man walks into a pharmacy to buy a condom, would the attendant say ‘it will enter you’?
Size really matters aloe? Well! Never mind!
IT IS RIGHT HERE/JUST HERE: (reference to distance)
Kpakpo as for this one, as an old friend of mine will say, it is ‘better felt than telt’, that is to say that you have to experience it yourself.
When I first got to the savannah I usually walked everywhere I went. But I got a taste of savannah walking when I had to go chase some money with your sister way back in 2001 when she was here on national service. Kpakpo, we were told not to take a cab or anything but walk since the national service secretariat ‘is right here’.
We ended up walking for 2 hours!
The savannah people always have a way of judging distances by bicycle and motorbike rides and for them short distances are ones that you can reach on motorbikes in less than 20mins.
Nii Kpakpo, trust me, after it happened several times after I relocated to the savannah, now when they tell me ‘it is right here’ when I ask for directions, the first thing I do is to find the nearest passing cab and jump in and have the cabbie drive me to my destination.
No long tin!
Well Nii Kpakpo, these are some of the most notable sayings in the savannah and I’m sure when you come up here we sure will keep our ears alert to hear them.
Till next time anyemi.
Your ‘entering’ cousin in law,