Debby Oluwatimilehin Akinsola: The 25-Yr-Old Nigerian Student Who Speaks 11 South African Languages

Debby Oluwatimilehin Akinsola, 25, is a Nigerian student who can speak the 11 official languages of South Africa.

The languages are, isiZulu, Setswana, Ndebele, Isixhosa, Sesotho, Tsonga/Xangani, Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Venda, and Swati.

Akinsola told newsmen in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sunday that she was born in her hometown, Ibadan, Oyo state.

“At the age of four in 2002, my parents moved to Botswana. There, we stayed in locations, known locally as ‘Metsimotlhabe’ in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

“We were the only Nigerians there and most locals could not speak English. We used hands gesture to interact and communicate. As a child then, I started speaking Setswana, the Botswana language,” she said.

Quick study, fast learner

Akinsola said the turning point in her ability to speak the languages was when her family moved to South Africa in February 2010.

“I had just finished secondary school then. My family stayed in Soweto and the popular language was Zulu.

“In the shops, barbers shop, market, churches and taxi drivers, everybody spoke the Zulu language.

“As I started school there, it took me one year and a few months to learn and speak the 11 languages in South Africa.

“I can also speak and write the Yoruba language fluently,” she said.

Akinsola later read business management at the University of Pretoria and presently, she is studying professional diploma at the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.

Church interpreter

According to Akinsola, her fluency in the languages earned her the role of an interpreter at her local church.

“In our local church in Pretoria, Apostolic Faith Church, I am the interpreter of the General Overseer (GO).

“The GO speaks Zulu and any local language and I interpret in English to the congregation,” she said.

Akinsola said she and her senior brother, Samuel, a computer expert, are the only children from their parents.

On her future, Akinsola said she will like to marry a Nigerian to continue with her language and culture.

“The last time I visited Ibadan was in 2008. My parents are now missionaries based in South Africa. I will like to marry a Nigerian. I want my children to know my language and culture.

“My dream is to become a board member in a firm after getting my professional certificate,” she said.

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