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Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon May 13 12:08:43 EDT 2019

*I'm Flattered Ghana Considering French As 2nd Language – Ambassador   *

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The French ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Anne Sophie AVÉ, has said she is
flattered by President Nana Akufo-Addo’s consideration of French as a
second language for Ghana.

In March this year, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional
Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said the decision by the
anglophone West African country to use French as a second language was a
major concern of the government of Ghana, in line with national priorities.

She reiterated plans by the Ghanaian government to include the promotion of
the learning of French in basic schools and across all other levels of
learning, as part of a general reform of Ghana’s education sector.

Addressing the opening session of the 2019 La Francophonie week in the
Ghanaian capital, Accra, themed: “Say it in French...please”, Ms Botchwey,
at the time, said Ghana signed the Linguistic Pact with La Francophonie for
improved technical support and capacity building for the teaching and
learning of French in 2018.

A move, which, she said, marked the start of a historical process, aimed at
improving regional integration through the development of the French
language across the country.

“We believe that the extensive teaching and learning of French will inure
to the benefit of Ghana as we are bordered by three Francophone countries;
namely, Togo, Burkina Faso and La Cote d’Ivoire”, the Foreign Affairs
Minister stressed.

She intimated that prioritising the French language in Ghana has become
even more necessary now so as to further enhance relations for better
cooperation at all levels with the country’s Francophone partners.

According to her, the government’s strong participation in this year’s
Francophonie week celebrations also lends credence to the continued desire
of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for Ghana to become a full Member
of La Francophonie, since becoming an Associate Member in 2006.

She recalled President Akufo-Addo’s bold commitment at the last Summit of
the La Francophonie held in Erevan, Armenia, in October 2018 to the

“To that end, the President has appointed a Senior Presidential Staffer and
French scholar, Dr Stephen Adawen Syme, as the Focal Person for the
coordination of La Francophonie activities in Ghana to ensure a seamless
transition”, Ms Botchwey told the gathering.

Speaking on *Accra FM* Thursday, 9 May 2019 about the move, the French
ambassador said: “[Nana Akufo-Addo] is the president, so, he can make the
policy he wants. I can only say I’m flattered and I think it’s great, and I
can help. If he had made Spanish a second language, there’s not much France
could do about it, so, at least, we’ll just accompany this policy and try
and help as much as we can, sharing this national treasure that is French.”

According to AVÉ, Ghanaians should view the president’s initiative as a way
of putting them on a higher pedestal since the majority of countries in the
West African sub-region are French-speaking countries.

“In France, English is highly recommended, so, it is not completely
compulsory, but if you don’t speak English, it will be hard to get a job,
if you do not have a second language”, she said, adding: “I don’t think the
Ghanaian should look at it as one more compulsory or constraint or
something that they have to. He’s just bringing you on a tray an asset, a
plus that will make you an even stronger country in the sub-region – that
is the majority of the people in the sub-region are speaking French.

The ambassador also stated that the Ghanaian can only learn to speak French
when they feel the need to learn to speak it.

“The more French you listen to, through television, through the radio, the
more interested you are, and then you feel like it. You don’t teach
something that people don’t want to learn, so, if they want to, they need
to feel the need for it.

“That’s why I’m trying hopelessly to learn some Twi”, the French ambassador
said, adding: “Well, my Twi is awful. I want to learn to add that to my
curriculum, I’m trying because I want to be respectful to the people, to be
able to say a few words in Twi, so, it’s definitely the need of it that
motivates you.”

Concerning her acclimatisation to Ghana, Ms AVÉ said her preferred Ghanaian
dish is plantain and palava sauce.

“I love Ghanaian dishes but I must say I’m very keen on palava sauce. It’s
all about palava sauce and plantain. If you want to make me happy, ask my
friend, she’s Ghanaian, she’s fantastic and she makes the most amazing
dishes. She can cook French and she cooks Ghanaian but I love your stews
but I think I really, I could die for palava sauce”, she told host Nana


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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