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« on: November 15, 2008, 04:31:59 PM »

The death of Yoruba language?
By Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
“Kilo happen? Ma worry. Mo understand. Kosi problem. Mo sorry gan. Ma expect me. Ke e nice day” – (a GSM conversation)
Surely this is not Yoruba that this man is speaking? Definitely not! Yet everyday Yoruba speaking people are killing Yoruba like this. Is this the new (English) pidgin for Yorubaland, joining other sections of the country, who have spespamed in killing their own Nigerian language by using mainly “pidgin” in the name of “communicating” with other groups? Oyinbo culture has brought Nigerian culture to its knees in so many ways – now a foreign language seeks to kill our own God-given languages, using Nigerians as the executioners! Eewo!
That English, the ready-made weapon of British-American cultural imperialism, is not just trying to destroy African languages, but is attacking all other languages worldwide, I agree. Ojoogbon Akinwunmi Isola, the newly-appointed Chair of Oyo State Arts and Culture Board, related to me during a discussion with Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa, the problem the French are having with English. He stated that the French government had recently warned all French broadcasters to stop polluting French with English, as is now popular in general French conversation, or face dismissal. But I doubt whether the French would think of slaughtering their language to the extent that Yorubas daily have begun to do.
The greatest tragedy in Yorubaland today however regarding language is the dominating trend to speak only English to their children, making it their first language, then sending them to private nursery school, who only teach in English and causing Yoruba children to value English above all other languages! (After all their WAEC will not be in Yoruba, one highly-educated Yoruba man told me!) And see the result! In effect,that child has become an Oyinbo child and no longer a Yoruba child.What are the grim onsequences of this disturbing trend? The first problem that will result is a change in that child’s behavior with respect to discipline and respect for his parents and others.. The English-speaking child will never become great in creativity nor in leadership in the Nigerian context; he or she can never become the President of Nigeria for example. Is it possible to have a Nigerian President who cannot speak his Mother-Tongue effectively? These English-speaking children will rudely use English to disrespect all and sundry (after all English does not have pronouns of respect for anybody). Hear them saying “Shut up Daddy! – Give me back my candy!” in an authoritative way. And hear this one told by Oloogbon Ishola – an semi-literate (in English)) parent says to his child, “Say hello to Daddy”. The child replies “Ye ‘llo Daddy”. Olodumare! Yoruba children now do not know proper Yoruba and even as a result of this mixture do not know the real Yoruba words for “ma worry”, “check result” etc.. Ask them or some of their parents and they will tell you they don’t know the original Yoruba for the popular phrases that many literate and non-literate leaders and followers commonly use throughout Yorubaland.
As a Black-American, who has come back to her Yoruba roots these past 26 years in Nigeria, I want to break down in tears over this “iyonu”! How can Yorubas kill their own language? What sort of curse is this? Obviously the curse of european-american imperialism/colonialism/slavery! As a result I have declared “War Against Destroying Our Nigerian Languages” from today. And it must start from Yorubaland. Are not the Yorubas the “wisest and the greatest”? As everything good seems to start from Yorubaland in Nigeria, “let it be so”.
I am appealing to all full-blooded Yoruba, as of today to consciously seek not to mix English with their Yoruba. Yoruba leaders must slowly speak, watching their tongues, not to include any English words inside their Yoruba. It has gotten to a state where such leaders cannot avoid mixing English as they speak Yoruba and their every sentence includes whole English phrases! The late Yoruba leader, Oloye Bola Ige was a pure Yoruba language speaker and other Yoruba leaders should follow his example. This is a “War Against English words entering Yoruba”!
All clubs and organisations in Yorubaland should hold bi-annual and annual Yoruba Speaking Competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”, with heavy monetary prizes (N20,000 plus) to get Yorubas to consciously practice speaking Yoruba without any English mixture. Yoruba broadcasters are guilty of promoting this deadly trend. Yoruba stations must have quarterly courses in Correct Yoruba Speaking for they are one of the biggest offenders of mixing heavily English into Yoruba. In schools Yoruba teachers must stress the importance of not mixing Yoruba. All private schools in Yorubaland must be required to have classes in Yoruba language from nursery through secondary school levels. There is a “famous” private school in Lagos, owned by Lebanese (or is it Syrians), which does not teach Yoruba on the secondary school level, as required by law. Law enforcement is necessary with frequent unannounced inspections on this crucial issue. And any student who fails to pass Yoruba in Yorubaland must not be allowed to graduate!
The Yoruba Press must be commended for indeed holding the banner high and not polluting Yoruba with English, especially Alaroye.Alalaye, Ajoro, Iroyin Yoruba, Akede must also continue the struggle to save Yoruba language. More effort however must be made to eliminate “pasito”, professor ,”dokita” words as most of them have genuine Yoruba words that can be enlisted and popularised among their readers. Aworerin must be resurrected by Alaroye, for use in all schools in Yorubaland as it was in the ’50s to inculcate love of Yoruba language among children. Yoruba departments in Nigerian and foreign universities must start churning out more research on modernising Yoruba for technical, scientific and other vocabulary and making it available through special courses for the media and the general Yoruba public.
Tiwantiwa(,created by Sister Molara Wood in London,must be commended for keeping the purity of the Yoruba Language intact.More Yoruba websites are needed on the worldwide web.
Yoruba writers must begin to write and publish bilingual publications.For any publication they publish in English, its Yoruba equivalent must be done. In the same book (Yoruba-from the front, turn upside down, English from the back) is one way to do it or in a title simultaneously released. More books, magazines, other publications like club histories, year books must be published in Yoruba. (Do you know that Alaroye sells many more copies than English newspapers in Yorubaland?) For example why is a prominent Yoruba Club issuing their history in English? If they must have English, then it must be a bilingual edition, in Yoruba from the back. Who but Yoruba should promote publications in Yoruba? We must stop promoting a foreign language over our own God-given language.
Yoruba music too, has been assaulted by Yoruba artists, unknowingly killing Yoruba language. The mixture of English has reached a new high in Fuji. Yoruba Gospel has started mixing English inside Yoruba songs within Yoruba cassettes, adding along side complete English songs! Olodumare! Such artists must be warned – no more killing of the language in this manner. If it is English you want then put that on an English cassette. Do not replace our God-given Yoruba in a Yoruba music cassette!
Yoruba movie practitioners are perhaps the biggest offenders and must take up this challenge to save Yoruba language. English mixing should absolutely be banned in all Yoruba films. I have not researched the topic but I suspect that Hausa, is probably the most unpolluted language in Nigeria, and in all their films that I have seen there is no English there at all.
The beauty of the Yoruba language must be showcased by having more Yoruba Cultural Festivals to be held by all clubs and organisations in Yorubaland annually. Odua’s People Congress and other enforcers of law and order in Yorubaland must be in the vanguard, not only by stressing among its members that Yoruba should not be polluted but by holding bi-Annual Yoruba Speaking competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”. They must lead the way in correct Yoruba speaking and have literacy classes for all their members to learn to read in Yoruba and encourage them to speak Yoruba in the home to their children: Yoruba must become again the first language of Yorubas at home and abroad.
All legislatures in Yorubaland should switch to using Yoruba as the first language of communication for their deliberations. If English has to be listed at all it can be the second language of communication!
Finally a private, Yoruba school system must be set up. These schools will teach all subjects in Yoruba from nursery up to the university eventually. If it must be like a “mushroom school”, starting with nursery school first and adding class by class this must be done. This Yoruba Academy can be supported extensively by Yorubas abroad, eventually having board houses were Yoruba children from abroad can join their counterparts here, including all “classes of children, street children etc.) This Yoruba Academy will inculcate Yoruba culture into our children also. With the help of our Yoruba scholars we can build on Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa’s successful “Mother-tongue Education” project at University of Ife in the 60s. Afterall, even UNESCO has proven that Mother-tongue Education is the best for all children.
Let Yoruba Language not die! God has given the Yoruba race a language to be proud of, anywhere in the world (there are at least 60 million or more Yoruba speakers throughout the world). Let’s not destroy it with our own mouths! Let us pass it on in its richness to our children, daily in our home. Let us proudly speak it daily, read it daily, champion it daily. Yorubas cannot remain great without our language. And let us be in the vanguard of saving all Nigerian/African languages.
Biu, Ogoni, Urhorbo, Igede, Ogoja, Ebira, Idoma, Efik, Tiv, Langale, Tangale,Ikwerre,Kagona, Kutep, Oron, Legdo, Bubiaro, Esan, Afima, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Edo, Ikenne, Joba, Gwari, Ibo, Igala, Hausa, speakers are you listening?
*Mrs Olade is the Chief Librarian of African Heritage Research Library, Adeyipo Village via Ibadan.

© 2003 – 2005 @ Guardian Newspapers Limited (All Rights Reserved).
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 09:58:00 PM »

This is certainly a bold article Yeye Olade (I hope you don’t mind me addressing you this way) . One thing that has greatly impressed me in London where I lived for a long time is that for most Chinese and Indians, their language remains the language of communication at home and this is enforced . Yet their children perform extremely well in schools and always better than most other children. It struck me that if they are able to maintain this abroad ,they must certainly be more aggressive about protecting their culture at home. Unfortunately we have no such custom and it is now considered “progressive” to westernise everything that we do with the result that our children don’t know who they are anymore – and this I submit is responsible for the high level of crime these days .

In traditional Yoruba life it is unthinkable for anyone to be jobless and a thief condemns his/her entire family to be ostracised almost forever.When a thief is caught , the questions go beyond the need to know whose child he/she is , but it must also be found out which town they came from – they are all publicly humiliated so much that they often leave their town to live very far away in new places where they are not known. In traditional Yoruba life if you couldn’t get an easy white collar job you go to the farms or commit yourself to the family crafts (blacksmith , drummer / drum maker, hunter etc.) or a variation of such, but nowadays we see young “graduates” decked up in faded suits and worn shoes searching all over for jobs that do not exist. But things have changed quite horribly these days.I know for certain that in Britain at least, these family crafts are protected from extinction by government patronage , but in our case the intention seems to be to bury them as “heathen” , or “savage” crafts on the persisting instructions of our colonial masters.

Though in these days and especially when juxtaposed with the race to catch up with technology , efforts to recover our culture could certainly be a hard sell , it is still a laudable project . It will take a lot of commitment and also a lot of money which unfortunately is not at a premium these days .in the interim there is a lot that can be achieved through the efficient use of current technology and this is what this website (Yorubaland) is all about. The objective is to gather interested parties from all over the world and make it possible to persuade them to commit into such projects as you have described; and it is my hope that this approach will succeed .

About 20 years ago, I read “The Water House” by Antonio Olinto – and it completely blew me away.
This book, which I consider the Yoruba/Brazilian equivalent of Alex Haley’s “Roots” tells the story of slaves sent to Brazil and then coming back to make their home in Lagos and environs . As a matter of fact the book told me more about Lagos than I ever knew , and it was originally written in Portuguese (Geesi). Therefore, as much as we need to preserve and generate literature in the Yoruba language , it is also essential to be able to issue translations of such books into other languages – especially English , Spanish and Portuguese which are the major languages of Yoruba people in the Diaspora. In our race to preserve our culture at home, we must also not alienate our brothers and sisters abroad ; they also need to share of the gains.

My intelligence report presently shows me that twice as much people visit this web site from Eastern Europe, where there isn’t a lot of Yoruba presence, than from any other country in the world – which shows that we are on a good start. If there is anyone who also wishes to assist in the efforts of taking Yoruba to the front stage in world cultures do contact me as follows :
Olurotimi Ogunjobi , Director
Center for Exposition Of Yoruba Arts And Culture (Yorubaland)
Telephone : 234- 7028777368
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