I have never associated sexual acts with any local Ghanaian language. Sex for me has always been synonymous with the English language. I have never questioned why. I have never even been conscious of this fact till I read a post here titled “Fucking Ghana into me”. Since then, I have been doing some soul-searching. I have been trying to understand what prevents me from associating anything sexual with my local language which is Ga. After all, I spend more than half of my time trying to convince myself and everyone else that I am a Ga through and through.
Perhaps, sex to me is synonymous with English because I think in English. Even though I am a born and bred Ghanaian (forget the numerous 2 week camps, workshops and vacations outside), English is the language I grew up with. My parents mostly spoke English to me. My relatives followed the same trend. My childhood days were spent at school where vernacular was strictly forbidden. My friends were from school and we spoke English. It was only after I was older that I learnt Ga. Therefore, I think in English. My desires, needs and cravings are better expressed in English. It is the language that I unconsciously use at all times. So I guess it should be of no surprise that anything sexually related should be expressed in English. It should therefore not be an earth shattering revelation to me that my demands, responses, questions, exclamations and comments with regards to sex should be in English. After all, I think in English.
This association of sex with English could also be because my earliest exposures to sex were in the English language. Not just the act itself but the names of the various sexual organs too. I knew penis, I knew vagina but I sure as heck did not know d)l) and toto. Besides I could always check the English dictionary and find such words. Even if I found a Ga dictionary, how was I going to read it? I still can’t read Ga to save my life.
Most importantly, I realize that my inability and reluctance to associate sex with any local language is as a result of my socialization. A good girl did not say toto or gbemi. She didn’t even know it. After all, good kids covered their eyes whenever the characters on T.V started kissing. Never mind that some of us kept peeking through our open fingers.
It is interesting how traditionally sexual words have somewhat of a negative connotation. These words are taboo and among young people, there is a stigma attached to them. Perhaps, this is a mechanism put in place to discourage young people from engaging in sexual activities. Therefore, words like gbemi and k)ti are utterly forbidden in public. My early memories of such words are of them being quietly uttered or shouted as insults by “bad” boys and girls. They are shrouded in so much mystery that they are ultimately taboo words. The stigma attached to these words ensures that the mere thought of a sexual word is accompanied by feelings of disgust, shame and guilt. Etwe and s)) make me feel the need to see a Catholic Priest for confession regardless of the fact that I am not and have never been Catholic. In English however, I can say dick and pussy just fine. I don’t feel the need to purge myself of abominable thoughts. After all, fuck is just a word and the act in itself a pleasurable one. In English, this is a comfortable thought. For me, after years of having been conditioned to view sexual matters in Ga as issues to be discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors, English allows me to freely express my sexuality.
I guess years and years of this socialization has automatically tuned my mind towards English with regards to sexual words and acts. This in itself is not a problem. I do not think that the choice of language affects my sexual life in anyway. Besides, I bet the kind of dirty talking my grandparents did in Ga years ago is the same as a German couple would do in Germany now and my best friend would be doing in English now. 🙂
Yet years of perceiving anything sexually related as a mystery that happens only behind closed doors with sexual words being taboo has left me with undeserved shame at the mere thought of any such word in Ga. This for me is the problem. That this Ghanaian girl, born and bred under the blazing Accra sun should feel guilty for thinking of sex in Ga is ridiculous. That this Accra girl whose earliest memories are of eating kenkey together with family in the same bowl cannot say toto without performing what Wanlov the Kubolor calls the ‘African blush’ (head sideways, looking down) in his song ‘Rapipi Jay’ is absurd. That this socialization has made my indigenous language the evil one is sad. Most importantly, that consequently, I have resorted to expressing my desires and feelings in English leaves me with feelings of regret.
Now, I’m not saying that every Ghanaian equates sex with English. On the contrary, most Ghanaians express their sexualities better with their various traditional languages. To say I admire such people is an understatement. I have found myself in awe whenever I hear people say toto in public without any hint of embarrassment or discomfort. Now, I find myself wondering when I would get to that point of fully expressing myself in Ga without the mortification I feel at present. Who knows, I might one day speak Ga during sex. Now, that’s a very future one day.
What language do you express yourself in sexually? Do you ever fuck in your indigenous language? If not why not?