Gervais Mbarga

“People love diversity!”

Gervais Mbarga is a native of Cameroon, a country where, as in Canada, English and French are the two official languages. However, his mother tongue is Ewondo, one of the 240 national languages spoken in that African country.

Mr. Mbarga believes that every language provides a view of the world. “When I was a journalist in Africa, I sometimes could not find an English or a French equivalent to what I would have said in my mother tongue,” he said. He gives the example of the word “elik,” which refers
both to material heritage and to genetic identity, lineage, kinship, place of birth. “It’s almost untranslatable.” In his opinion, this illustrates the richness of languages. “People love diversity,” he continued. “If everyone spoke just one language, I think we’d get bored quickly and would want to invent another one.”

After working in Africa and Europe, Mr. Mbarga decided to immigrate to Canada. For the past two years, this doctor of sociology has been teaching in New Brunswick. “What interested me, basically, was the fact that I can speak French and be in a bilingual environment. It’s a bit like being in Cameroon.”