London Diary – Come On, You Can Speak English!

Jal Paddy,

This new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has ordered one of his players, Antonio Valencia, to learn English. This is eight years after the Ecuador international first arrived in the country.

This whole time, this guy has been playing, living and thriving at Man U with no English. That, my friend, is the kyeyo life for you. The guy first started at Wigan Athletic in 2006, joining from Villarreal before moving to Man U in 2009. According to newspapers here, a not-so-impressed Van Gaal told Valencia to take English lessons with the rest of the squad’s Spanish speakers.

Man U has four new Spanish speakers to their squad this summer, with Argentines Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo, Colombia’s Falcao and Spain’s Herrera also joining the class that is taking English lessons, as is goalkeeper David De Gea.

Mata, the guy Man U got from Chelsea, is the only Spanish player at the club who seems not to be in need of the lessons.

Lucky for these footballers, it turns out Man U has a school system arrangement for its non-English players who now have to learn the language so as to function normally within the team. There is the beginner’s class, intermediate and the nursery class for the really slow fellas.

New Di Maria and Rojo, who it is reported ‘barely speak a word’ of English, will take the beginner’s (P.1) class of ‘A for apple, B for Book, C for Car…’ While Falcao and Herrera are to join De Gea in the intermediate (P3) class of ‘complete the sentence with a question.’ Valencia, the ‘class monitor,’ will be bringing the rear with a one-on-one tuition.

What people find baffling is not why Valencia doesn’t speak English, after all the official language in his native Ecuador is Spanish, but the fact that he still hasn’t picked up on it all this while. The guy should have done better with the sort of money and resources at his disposal.

This problem with English is a common scenario within the kyeyo communities, especially for those who come from non-English speaking areas such as the South America, many parts of India and other parts of Europe. Such nkuba kyeyos come and live comfortably amongst their already established relatives and friends, who, when need arises, act as their mouthpieces and also help them filling out forms.

They go into menial jobs that don’t require much talking and interactions such as office cleaning, factory and kitchen work. A few years later, the guy still cannot construct a word in English. Lucky for us Ugandans, and the other Commonwealth nations, our national language and education system is based on the English system, which somehow makes it easy for us to adapt to the English kyeyo way of life.

Even so, there is a large group of Ugandans who came over straight from their stalls in Owino, the villages and streets of Kampala with no formal education and, therefore, no English. That this person would choose to head over for kyeyo in the UK goes to show how g a character they are. It is these sorts of fellas who take the kind of risks that either makes them millions or throws them into jail, while the rest of us are busy running marathons in the rat race.

Your friend,


Source : The Observer

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