Have you ever thought of learning another language apart from your native homelands lingua? Have you ever traveled out of your homeland/country to study and have to learn a new language? Have you also thought of becoming proficient in a language you learned alongside English? If you have, clap for yourself but if you haven't; take the necessary steps working on either of the questions I asked up there.
Don't you feel like asking me, "How many languages can you speak after all the ranting?" Well, you just did. I speak and write a couple of languages very well. Numbre Uno on the list; English followed by Russian [Ruskie]. I can boldly do conversational French, Kiswahili [this was because I had a Kenyan girlfriend whiles in college] and My local Ghanaian languages are Twi, Ewe, Ga and a little Fante.
While most of my high school mates after graduation where thinking of continuing their education in Ghana, the United Kingdom, Canada or the US; I choose to do something different from everyone. After writing the various standardized exams that needs to be written and still not getting a full-tuition scholarship; I decided to forget entirely about the English speaking countries and head towards Eastern Europe… Now, don’t be surprised to read this.
You might be asking yourself; “Is this guy really serious?” “Has he gotten out of his senses?” “Does he know where he’s heading to?” “What in the heck would a black young man be doing in Eastern Europe where racism is the other of the day?”
I have had my ups and downs whiles schooling in that part of the world. The part where the dark-skinned man is not regarded as a human being. I have a question for you; “Is racism towards dark skin people an outcome of colonization, or a question of class?”
I have always wanted to write about my journey from Accra through Milan- Italy, Moscow –Russia and finally settling in Kharkov & Kiev – Ukraine. Would you believe, I got detained in Malpensa Airport in Milan for 10days because I missed my flight to Moscow and they wouldn't let me go stay in a hotel until my next flight? Yes, that's what you get for been a dark-skinned man, at times.
Aside all the hullabaloos in Milan and Moscow [would share much of this side later], I have deep for Russians [as in the people…] Have you ever encountered a Russian at this part of the world recently? How many of them do you know live in Accra?
Do you know where I can find a Russian restaurant apart in Ghana? Do you know any organization apart from their consulate in Accra? I want to meet-up with them and better my Russian language skills. I think I am loosing in on it. Don't get to practice so; I am beginning to forget most of it. Somebody come to my rescue…
There is something that Russians and Ukrainians can be counted on to do which I think; it's a part of their cultural. Сказать как есть: Say it like it is. Many foreigners especially Africans are shocked by the harsh remarks made by Russians. My psychology teacher in school would at times say things like, "Tы выглядите ужасными сегодня":”You look horrible today.” And my favorite of all incidents was when I was shopping for a new sweater in the Winter of 2005 , and I pointed to the one I wanted to try on at the магазин: shop, and the shop attendant said, “Нет, Вы являетесь слишком долговязыми для этого: No, you’re too lanky for that.” That’s the Russian/Ukrainian version of customer service–no beating around the bush. I took no offense and even had a good laugh, and thanked her for not wasting my time.
I learned to kind of love that harsh manner of talking and expressing (more often imposing) ones ideas; which is never accepted at this part of the world though. The great thing about Russians is that they don’t talk harshly about one another behind each other’s backs. They have some interesting beliefs and they feel it is their responsibility to bring you into the light. Russians are shy to “trash talk” but every once in a while you find an article in one of their newspapers [Правда (Pravda): The Truth].
There’s a famous little poem that describes what this blog post should be all about:
“Умом Россию не понять, Аршином общим не измерить: У ней особенная стать - В Россию можно только верить.”: Which means, in short, "if you want to get to the real Russia, you’ve got to put aside your informative books and start learning about her with your heart".
In a place as vast as Russia, my experience there was so miniscule. But if you spend even just 1 day in Russia and you do it with an open heart, the real Russia comes pouring in but you have to be very careful while doing this though...
Been an African students in Russia means, you live your life in absolutely carefulness. It is more a daily exercise in fear management. I have been attacked, beaten on the streets whiles the Militia's looked on without coming to my aid. I learned to follow the old advice of both Russian and African authorities -- never venture alone into the street.
Find a more information on Russian language Alphabet here.
Photo above is me [on the right] and school-mates from Cote d'Ivoire heading to school during winter. Got my sweater after all.