On the one hand, It is argued by many African scholars and historians that civilization began in Africa, specifically in Egypt. Name it, religion, mathematics, science, astrology, astronomy, mythology, arts and other aspects of human knowledge have been traced to Egypt.
On the other hand, it is a popular view that English language is the language of the colonisers, just as French and Portuguese. Some indigenous African writers have rejected the use of English in their writings because they hold the view that the language is a powerful, if not divisive tool appropriated by the colonial masters to plunder the African cultural identity. But the recent discovery by a UK based Nigerian IT consultant, writer and researcher, Toluwalase Oladimeji that English and pidgin English derived root meanings in the names of Egyptian pharaohs and Gods is a major contribution to the wealth of knowledge about English language.
At his recent homecoming, Oladimeji presented his 2001 literary effort titled, English, the Language of the gods for the first time in Nigeria at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja. He spoke freely about how the research was born and the challenges of making a personal discovery become acceptable to the intellectual community. It was not easy, neither was it funny. From petty jealousy to sheer disregard, some scholars have dismissed his research as just another expression of racial pride.
But Oladimeji is a non-political researcher with a very inquisitive mind. He pored over books, dug into archives and visited the British libraries and museum as well as other reliable sources before he finally decided to document his findings. Oladimeji was very much fascinated by Egyptology and so he devoted his spare time into its holistic study. As he kept studying, his conviction about the root of English language grew firm.
He, a graduate of Fine Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, became interested in the study of Ancient Egypt as an undergraduate. Upon his arrival at the United Kingdom, he dug for relevant information on Egyptian history and drew the parallels in their nomenclature and the official language of his home country.
“It changed the dynamics of our collective education. And there’s a spiritual element to this. I could have put it in a book but I want the information to be freely accessed online,’’ he revealed after an interactive quiz session with the media.
He argued that his discovery is an untold, secret social history with psychological profiling of subjects of Ancient Egypt.
“Encoded messages, in the names in English, convey another level of depth to the previously unclear and arguable. This discovery will prove to be just as startling as is fascinating. It suggests English is the secret code of Ancient Egypt.
“The names of the Pharaohs, the names of their gods are all in spoken or broken English. Takes the names of the Pharaohs-Hatshepsut, Amenophis, Amenotep, in English when translated or rather re-pronounced, we find a description of their personalities or dispositions,’’ the author argued.
The technique used by the author to reach this conclusion includes pronouncing the words in English, association for inter-relative confirmation, grammatical transformation, amongst others. He also adopted the method of cross-referencing persons and people with their history and achievements.
In documenting his research findings, Oladimeji carefully articulated the details in a quick-view format using an alphabetically arranged table. Titled, “Decoded Table”, this aspect has three columns namely Egyptian, English and Description. In the table, examples abound to authenticate Oladimeji’s postulation.
“An understanding of the ancient’s way of thinking is crucial in deciphering the cryptic passages of the papyrus texts. The key to assimilating the ancient’s paradigm is knowing the main preoccupation of his mind. One would have to think spiritually and naturally,’’ he suggested.
His hypotheses are loaded with story within a story, evidence in events and names, steeped in quasi-historical narratives.
“The ancient Egyptian god, Thoth (pronounced thought) was held to be the inventor of writing, the creator of languages, the scribe, the interpreter, adviser of the gods and the representative of the sun god, Re. his responsibility for writing was shared with the goddess Seshat,’’ he said.
Oladimeji believes that his research, when taken seriously will help to revamp academic incursion into the understanding of English language and the place of the black man in history would be reaffirmed.
Some of the content of the paper are adult messages, full of sexual innuendos and humour. His findings took a multi-dimensional turn when he conducted a self-evaluation of the implications of his scholarly effort in the socio-political, economic and religious lives of a people.
Though written over a decade ago, Oladimeji’s English, the language of the gods has been a subject of utmost importance to consolidate existing theories on the root of English language. He considered this public presentation as his holiday treat for Nigerians and a precursor to other discourses arising from the content of his paper.