Home Education How a company in Sierra Leone translating the pandemic as seen in the Mail & Guardian

How a company in Sierra Leone translating the pandemic as seen in the Mail & Guardian

by Frañkvin Bob McEwen
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Vickie Remoe Marketing Company is one of the companies in Sierra Leone that have been very active in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. They started releasing PSA’s on how to prevent and stay clear of the virus 2 weeks before the first index case was recorded in Sierra Leone.

Wass Yu Han, Kip Tu Yusef, Hand Shaking Alternatives, Ow Bra Spida Ton Chief, Tranga Yase Make Koni Rabbit No Grap Egen, and Ow Bra Layon Loss Im Os are the PSAs’ the company has released to help sensitize citizens of the country on how to fight the pandemic.

All these PSAs’ were done in the local dialect Krio to help communicate the message to each and every citizen whether literate or not.

Mororo moros. Corolla virus. Coro. These are the aliases that the deadly novel coronavirus goes by in West Africa. As the virus pummels Europe and the United States, governments here are scrambling to prevent an outbreak by enforcing lockdowns and ramping up public health campaigns.

But getting the message across to people who don’t speak or understand English — more than half the population in some areas — is hard. Explaining to them that the virus makes no distinction between poor and rich is not straightforward.

Prevention measures come in terms so foreign that there are no literal translations for them in many local languages. But to save the lives of millions, finding the words to communicate the seriousness of the pandemic is crucial.

It’s why Vickie Remoe, a publicist in Sierra Leone, got to work the minute neighbouring Ghana and Nigeria announced index cases of the virus. Remoe, the founder of marketing company VR & C, knew the virus would soon knock at Sierra Leone’s doors. So when the country’s first case was announced on March 31, she and her team had created fliers and radio dramas urging people to Was yu an, Dey na os and Kip tu yusef. In the widely-spoken Krio language, these translate to wash your hands, stay at home and keep to yourself.

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