When driving through the English speaking region of Cameroon, one comes across many billboards with gramatically incorrect messages that have the potential to confuse or even endanger the public. This is the case with some of the billboards put up by the Ministry of Public Health as part of its national AIDS awareness and prevention campaign.
This is a picture of one of such billboards which I found on another blog.
Dear officials of the Ministry of Health,
"The nation needs AIDS-free men and women. Let's protect ourselves!" is not the same as:
The Nation needs AIDS
- free men and women,
Let's protect ourselves!
The first is an appeal for awareness, caution,and restraint, while the second is a clarion call for sexual insouciance and recklessness.
The culprit in this case is neither Pidgin nor French, but a total ignorance of basic rules of syntax which should be taught at primary school level.
This billboard,like many others across the country, reinforces the view that Cameroonian authorities and academics are doing a very poor job in identifying the source of declining English standards in the country, and are busy spending meagre resources chasing the shadow rather than the reality.
Will our English language teachers stand up and be counted??!!