By Cliffin Nyerere
- Proponents of Sheng as a language want it to be respected, which is ironic since it was conceived from the perversion of Swahili and English.
- The language is limited with regard to courtesy; no wonder sheng speakers are often edgy.
- You can honor a man while still honoring the legends that developed the complex languages available to you.
Language bears culture. The older a language is, the more advanced it is with regard to its primary function: enhancing socialization.
Language also influences a speaker’s personality; thus, a multilingual can have varying personalities (Cheng et al., 2014).
Languages have lives of their own, making them more than just a means of communication.
Despite my African heritage, my main language is English, the only and most reliable means I have of expressing myself clearly and effectively.
English allows me to put across my logic, and through it, my sentimental side can roam freely across social spheres.
According to Kachru (1992), some Pan-Africans scorn writers and speakers of English and other foreign languages, but they overlook the harsh reality that is the scarcity of native literary history due to centuries of colonization and erasure.
So, what about Sheng? Considering its general use, it is a defragmentation of broken/informal Swahili and English, and the users tend to refrain from putting in effort to learn and read Swahili from great writers such as Ken Walibora.
Proponents of Sheng as a language want it to be respected, which is ironic since it was conceived from the perversion of Swahili and English.
Furthermore, the language is relatively very young, as it emerged in 1960s Kenya (Ferrari, 2013).
Hard truth: Sheng is a ghetto language for the poorly educated and confined members of Kenya’s working class.
Kenya is a developing country, and social dysfunction is as prevalent across the top of the country’s caste system.
Therefore, a dysfunctional society predicates Sheng.
There are many gaps to be filled if Sheng is to be used as a positive social tool. The language does not enhance romantics, neither does it strengthen friendship and family bonds.
Sheng is widely used by misogynists so it lacks the tenderness needed for healthy courtship. It blurs the line between persuasive and demeaning.
Socializing in the ghetto reveals Sheng as dysfunctional. You can barely get through a whole conversation without creating tension.
The gaps force Sheng speakers to be more indirect in their communication or, in less tense cases, tacit.
For instance, most times, when Sheng speakers are in a debtee-debtor situation, it does not end well. Being direct comes off aggressive while subtlety implies weakness, thus payment postponement.
The language is limited with regard to courtesy; no wonder sheng speakers are often edgy. Around 2017, a very crude music genre emerged, tagged Gengetone.
According to Kasyoka (2022), most of the music under the genre was misogynistic and materialistic, as the artists used Sheng to spread a wave of negativity and arrogance across the nation.
An example of the negativity of Gengetone was shown when a music group was arrested for their song ‘Tarimbo’, which advocates for rape.
The mass popularity of the music genre amongst Kenyan youth exposed gaps in education and moral instruction, as it even permeated the hedges of academic institutions.
Sheng speakers try hard to pervert Swahili and English, thus the need to encourage scholars to avoid it, especially for the ones whose lives depend on academic excellence.
Mastering an instructional language increases access to opportunities.
People-pleasing is not humility; you should not have to impress people by lowering your literacy level.
You can honor a man while still honoring the legends that developed the complex languages available to you.
Pronounce it how you know it should be pronounced, and avoid spaces that force you to compromise your lingual integrity.
Some urban activists may try to make the case for Sheng as a revolutionary language, but the real revolution starts and ends with the highly advanced and older Swahili language.
It’s triggering for some, bearing respect for educated minds and fluent speakers because of years of degradation under the 8.4.4 education system, but real intellectuals are highly empathetic.
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Pure Swahili can be Kenya’s Russian or Chinese against neo-colonialism and for self-development. Imagine if code, science and philosophy were written in Swahili.