The Guardian

The absolute beginners' guide to Pidgin | Kobby Graham

The launch of BBC Pidgin on the World Service is recognition that our English is not ‘broken’, but beautiful. Here’s what you need to know about it
‘Fela Kuti once sang, ‘I no be gentleman at all o’, using Pidgin to underline his defiance against being ‘civilised’.’ Photograph: David Corio/Getty Images

The launch of BBC Pidgin will come as a bit of a shock to many African parents and headmasters, and will leave many others confused as to why the world’s foremost exponent of the Queen’s English, the BBC World Service, is investing in what is often called “broken English”.

But Pidgin is so much more. It is the widely spoken (and wildly inventive) lingua franca of much of west and central, using Pidgin to underline his defiance against being “civilized”. Today, the language is a cultural force, driving everything from the lyrics of music to movies emerging from Nigeria’s Nollywood, now the world’s second-largest film industry.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian7 min read
Can Planting Billions Of Trees Save The Planet?
When Clare Dubois’s car skidded on an icy road in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a tree prevented her vehicle tumbling into a ravine. It was, she says, a sign. Humanity is nearing a precipice. Trees can stop us going over the edge. This calling was so stro
The Guardian9 min read
Don't Give Up! How To Stay Healthy, Happy And Combative In Impossible Political Times
Walk the dog, let go with a cry, head to the gym or have sex. Leading campaigners on how to look after yourself before heading back into the fray
The Guardian3 min read
Nuclear Weapons: Experts Alarmed By New Pentagon 'War-fighting' Doctrine
US joint chiefs of staff posted then removed paper that suggests nuclear weapons could ‘create conditions for decisive results’