How I learnt the Hausa Language
When I travelled to the north for the first time, I was fascinated by the dressing, culture, language and lifestyle of the people there. I realised that There’s a division of northerners from the northeast, north-west and north central and they all have different languages and ethnicities scattered amongst them. The indigenous Hausas were the Kastinawas, the Kanawas, some part of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and very few other places and each of these places have their own variation of the Hausa language.
These were factors that prompted me to make a decision with the determination to learn the language. The friendly nature of the people in this community made it very easy for me to pick out words from their conversation. I had one of the locals take me, classes, every evening and sat with the ladies while watching them have interesting conversations most of which I did not know the meaning to. I learnt to read their gestures and reactions to certain statements.
I started learning with numbers in tens and picked some words from these conversations which I would later ask my tutor to translate for me, that was how I learnt that the word Aboki used to refer to this people actually meant friend. I so much wanted to fit in with people and would go into the market to speak my very rusty Hausa words to the traders who would laugh and reply me in English. I learnt not to be discouraged as this response from them was their way of being fascinated and being appreciative of my zeal towards learning their language.
The word Jara became my way of asking for an addition to whatever I bought, I also learnt yayi and akwai to tell the bus conductor I have gotten to my destination and would like to drop.
I later discovered that I could understand the words but couldn’t reciprocate the words easily but continued to speak the language as I could. At this stage, I did not know the implications of what my knowledge of the language would be. Not until I returned home and everybody treated me like a celebrity and I felt very much fulfilled, I got questions like “how were you able to learn Hausa within this short period? Can you teach me it to me? Are you Hausa? Also learning Hausa helped improve my intonation of English and created for me a knack for learning other languages, even those I thought I was very terrible at and had given up on.
The advantages of being multilingual as a tourist is quite immeasurable, this doesn’t mean that you have to be very fluent, even as little as that for basic conversations would help you have a better travel experience while communicating with the people of the community. For me I had no fears when travelling to the northern part of the country as I know I can easily communicate with the Hausa people, it helped to ease my visit to various areas of that region. Hausa then became my third language from Yoruba and English and prompted me to learn Nupe, Ebira, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Igbo. Although most of them are far from perfect, they are enough for me to create an impression.