Emeti could barely contain her excitement as she walked into her office in London. It was her first day on the job as a United Nations staff. Working at the UN has always been her childhood dream. The office was an expansive but shared workspace with three co-workers. The top-notch interior decor and the serene environment was impressive and Emeti knew she would be happy working in the office.
With a warm smile on her face, Emeti greeted her co-workers.
“Good morning everyone, I am glad to be here”
“Bonjour maidmoiselle, comment ca va?” A blonde-haired lady in a skirt suit replied.
“Bueno dias bienvenido” The lady opposite her said.
“Guten morgen, willkommen” The man at the corner of the room replied.
Emeti was lost.
“I, I, speak only English but thank you for the warm wishes” she replied to them and made her way to her table, a shiny mahogany desk with a glass window view of Thames street.
“Pouvez-vous parler francais?” The French lady asked.
Emeti shook her head and wondered if she had come to the wrong place. If none of the workers spoke English, she would have a big communication problem in the office.
“Err…Is there anyone here who speaks English or understands written English?” Emeti anxiously inquired.
There was no reply as they all buried their faces in their laptop screens.
Emeti eyes soon became clouded with tears, the excitement of beginning an international job at the United Nations had died down due to the language barrier and somewhat cold reception she has gotten from her colleagues. She dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief and proceeded to check the tasks scheduled for her on the laptop.
“At least this is written in English language” Emeti sighed as she read the brief on the screen.
Her colleagues were chatting with each other in a different language that sounded like Greek. She felt left out of the conversation and ignored. Six hours quickly passed and Emeti said goodbye to them as they departed one after the other still speaking the weird language.
The next morning, Emeti walked into the office in high spirits, she had resolved never to allow her spirits and mood to be dampened by the language barrier. Her coworkers all arrived at almost the same time. It was a bright morning in London and the sun was up in the sky, signaling the start of the summer season.
“Good morning Emeti” The French lady greeted her.
“Hello, I hope you are fine” The Spanish lady inquired.
“Good to see you today, good morning, I hope you will tell me about Nigeria today,” The German man said with a smile.
Emeti was speechless.
“Yes, we all speak English. We were just playing a prank on you yesterday” the French lady informed with a sly smile.
Emeti replied, “Mbok ndaka ke iso, ka okpokoro mfo ke tie”.
“What language is that?” They asked in fascination.
“Nko mbufo ekenam nte ikanna isem iko mbakara, ami nko nya nam nte nkanna nsem” Emeti replied.
“Is that Zulu or Swahili?” The German man asked.
Emeti did not reply to him. She sat on her swivel chair, leaned back and swirled to the left and the right.
“Come on Emeti, talk to us in English, we’ve got a lot to talk about and do today” Spanish lady cajoled.
“Mbok nyemme mfangha owo ndommo keed ke office ami ndighi mfin mi! Tutu nyong mfin, ami mbighi itang iko mbakara ye mbufo!” Emeti declared.
The bewildered Caucasians returned to their desks and worked in uncomfortable silence while Emeti laughed silently to herself. She has never felt so good in a long time. Her Ibibio language had won her a victory that she was going to savour for as long as it lasted.