<<But maybe as a clever student from a higher caste at that young age, I wasn't aware of discrimination if there was any.>>
Probably the teachers' behaviour towards you was special because you were a Bhatia, Brahmin or a Lohana besides being a clever girl. Had you been a Golarana the treatment meted out to you would have been different. Both ways, the discriminatory aspect is evident, the mediocrity and backwardness. From personal experience Golarana students at ESM in Zanzibar were often subjected to ill treatment by teachers as well as fellow students. Even Ithnashri students who were reckoned 'zero' in Gujarati had to incur the wrath of certain teachers. One such teacher was the rotund and bespectacled Master L.T.Mehta who taught us Gujarati in a senior class. While in his nasty mood he would refer to us as 'Sala Golao'. In no way do i blame the poor fellow, for such was their grasp of the language that they literally murdered Gujarati..."maro ma suto che" or "mari baap suti che".
You yourself having taught Gujarati must have come across many such quotes.
<<..."maro ma suto che" or "mari baap suti che" Abdulrazak Fazal makes me laugh.>>
<<One girl, when asked the meaning of the word 'lean' shouted 'Ben, sano [Ben is the Kutchi word for thin and Ben is sister used for a teacher in Gujarati].>>
<<Or they murdered Kiswahili and Kutchi all in one as in;"Matho yangu inna fire kama gariyal jo kanto">>
This Jangbari dialect evolved as a result of the situation then, a total blend of Kutchi Khoja ancestry, the influence of Zanzibar's Waswahili and their Kiswahili and the vernacular of the school being Gujarati. It originated way back from the nineteenth century.
What is remarkable is that in those days the Zanzibar Khoja studied Gujarati in school but spoke Kiswahili at home unlike today when it is vice versa. Today grammatically correct and pure Kiswahili is being taught in schools but the medium of conversation among us is Gujarati/Kutchi.
Miraculously the older Zanzibari generation still contemplates in Kiswahili. You must agree that this is an extraordinary phenomenon. Thinking power is innate; on the other hand a mainlander who could be a graduate in Kiswahili continues thinking in Gujarati/Kutchi despite his mastery over Kiswahili today. It is this fact that makes the older Zanzibari generation and their Jangbari dialect all the more intriguing.
Language passes through generation. It forms a sense of belonging to a particular culture. Living in the west you could easily lose your identity if your language is not strictly adhered to. Zanzibaris have created an identity of their own and would very much like this dialect of theirs to continue. Sadly this is fast disintegrating owing to a number of reasons including migration and getting married to mainlanders.
|Last updated November 2007
|Copyright © Abdulrazak Fazal 2007 - All Rights Reserved