“Aaah- blo- Deg- Beh- di- di- Woooah!”
Teacher James’ lips vibrated as the guttural syllables exited his mouth flawlessly.
Justine, Rachael, Heidi, and I attempted to repeat:
“Ah- blloh- dayg- bay- dee- dee- whoo.”
Our sloppy pronunciation sounded more like a cross between nasally congested robots and the squealing calls of farm animals. Still, we couldn’t give up.
It was our favorite day of the week: Ewe classes with Teacher James, and we were learning the vowels of the Ewe alphabet. Teacher James is the adorably jolly, round-bellied, gap-toothed Ghanaian man that works with us in Hohoe, teaching literacy classes to the women of Della.
Ewe is both the language and cultural group of the Volta Region in eastern Ghana, where the Della workshop is located. It is also the primary language spoken by the majority of the women employed at Della in Hohoe. Every week, Teacher James comes to Della to tutor our seamstresses in English, and we have watched them studying attentively, practicing tirelessly in an attempt to broaden their education and communicate more effectively with the entire Della team. Their dedication and determination is inspiring.
So inspiring, in fact, that we thought we might reciprocate by learning some Ewe.
Problem is, we are not quite as graceful as the Della ladies… With our strong accents and awkward pronunciation, our weekly classes are more of a comedy show than a language lesson. Nonetheless, we model ourselves after the Della women and keep practicing, encouraged by Teacher James’ toothy grin and kind words.
Until next time…
“Mia dogo!” (We shall meet again)