Miss Debby Oluwatimilehin Akinsola is a 25-year-old Nigerian student, who can speak the 11 official languages of South Africa— isiZulu, Setswana, Ndebele, Isixhosa, Sesotho, Tsonga/Xangani, Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Venda and Swati.
Akinsola told newsmen in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday, that she was born in her hometown, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
According to her, “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.”
Akinsola said the turning point in her ability to speak the languages was when her family moved to South Africa in February 2010.
She said: “I had just finished secondary school then. My family stayed in Soweto and the popular language was Zulu. In the shops, barbers shop, markets, 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.”
Akinsola later read Business Management at the University of Pretoria and presently, she is studying professional diploma at the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.
According to her, her fluency in the languages earned her the role of an interpreter at her local church.
Her words: “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.”
Akinsola said she and her senior brother, Samuel, a computer expert, are the only children from their parents.
‘I want to marry a Nigerian’
On her future, Akinsola said she will like to marry a Nigerian to continue with her language and culture.
She added that “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.”