Thursday, June 11, 2015

Would the Grassroots Dry Up if NGOs Spoke More Organically?

When I first joined the NGO sector, its big words were how I got through long boring meetings --- of which there are plenty. Listing each one that was dropped was my equivalent of doodling. Leverage, value proposition, mainstream, downstream, upscale, thematic areas, interventions (have to be multisectoral), deliverables, paradigms, verticals, attitudinal changes ....

Of course I am now an expert at rolling them off the tongue. In my current workplace where people are far less steeped in NGO culture, they depend on me to come up with just the weighty phrase needed to turn conversations into "citizen platforms for holding officialdom accountable." And, I deliver. Each and every time. After I have redeemed a sentence from the mundanity of "is and was"  and turned it into a venerable entity with "English that fills the mouth," I sit back, nod my head and think, "oh how I deserve my paycheck."

Nonetheless, I can't help imagining the kind of character Chinua Achebe might have constructed out of the likes of me. The modern day versions of the grandiloquent Secretary of the Union.

"The importance of having one of our sons in the vanguard of this march of progress is nothing short of axiomatic," says the Umofian orator, using the kind of English his audience admires, "the kind that fills the mouth like the proverbial dry meat." Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart. 

Things hilariously fell apart on this subject yesterday when it came up on my Facebook wall. I am saving that here for posterity. Click through for the comments. They will 'Change Your Life', I promise, like a true NGO person. 
The following are the crosscutting issues which are being mainstreamed, synchronised, and upscaled across all the three multisectoral interventions

1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha I get you. I have always had huge fights with NGO'S the thing is many of them are lawyers and even those who are not also try to be like them. I thought I was the only one that found those heavy phrases laughable. Great short piece.