Letter from Africa: Ghana’s Fondness for Creative Language

Letter from Africa: Ghana’s Fondness for Creative Language

Ghana President John Dramani Mahama (Chatham House/Flickr/Creative Commons)
Ghana President John Dramani Mahama (Chatham House/Flickr/Creative Commons)

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene ponders how creative language and humor help keep people’s spirits up in her homeland. 

(BBC) – Faced with a difficult situation in Ghana, our coping mechanism involves trying to make a joke out of the situation.

Thus, when we have had problems with unreliable electricity supply in the past three years, we have tried to find the funny part of groping in the dark and food going bad in fridges.

We created a word, “dumsor”, to describe the phenomenon. The literal meaning is “off-on” (dum means off; sor means on in the local Twi language).

Recently there was a lot of excitement among the inhabitants of the Ghanaian cyber sphere when “dumsor” made it into Wikipedia and entered the lexicon of social media.

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