Archive for the ‘BLACK EDUCATION’ Category


September 10, 2009


Daily Independent (Lagos)

Nigeria: Lawmakers Applauded Over Use of Yoruba Language for Plenary
Akinwunmi King
9 February 2009

Lagoos — Lagos State lawmakers have been lauded for adopting the use of Yoruba language as an alternative means of conducting legislative business on the floor of the House.

Speaking to Daily Independent on the development, National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Gani Adams described the development as the revival of a lost heritage. “What the Lagos State House of Assembly has done today is the reclamation of what the entire Yoruba race has lost. The cooperation of Yoruba that has been lost, has now been recovered by the Lagos House. What the House did today, will in a way promote our own activities as a socio-cultural group. They have been able to liberate the cause of the Yoruba race,” Adams said.

He noted that any race that looses touch of its language is at the verge of extinction.

According to him, language can help someone to where he is coming from and where he is going, “if you don’t attach importance to your language, there is no way you can know where you are coming from and if you don’t know where you are coming from, there is no way you can know where you are going. Language can be used to achieve a lot of things. “For instance, China, which is one of the fastest developing countries in the world, make do with their language and that is why they are where they are today,” he added.

Ambassador Segun Olusola also maintained that Yoruba have in the past lost their cultural heritage.

According to him, “the House has actually decided to use our language every Thursday and I believe that very soon, they would probably make it twice in a week. I really want to commend them for this.”

Relevant Links
West Africa
Legal Affairs
Harrison Adeniyi, a lecturer at the Department of Linguistics, Lagos State University, also expressed delight with the way the day’s plenary session went. Adeniyi, who was one of the teachers that taught the lawmakers the rudiments of Yoruba language during the 2-day workshop, explained that the lawmakers were very quick in grasping all they were taught. “They applied most of the things that we taught them during the workshop and this really gladdened by heart. So, I would want other Houses of Assembly that are yet to emulate this development to know that as long as we major on the use of English language, we are still under the yoke of imperialism.

“We must go back to the root because majority of the people we are legislating for don’t even understand our usual medium of communication. The reason why lawmakers are deliberating is for the interest of the grassroots, and there is no way their yearnings can be met if we continue at all times to deliberate in a language they don’t understand, so the earlier the better for us,” said Adeniyi.


August 22, 2009


D.o.B.C. Death of Black Colleges?
Posted on 19 August 2009 by aka Tito

Once a beacon of hope for thousands of Black students denied access to higher education by predominantly White institutions, historically Black colleges and universities have educated generations of Black scientists, doctors, lawyers, educators and social activists. But today, these institutions face serious challenges. Questions of relevance have reached a fever pitch as today’s Black colleges work to address declining enrollment, low graduation rates and financial instability. Despite the challenges, however, HBCUs for many Black students – and others – remain the last best hope of succeeding in the higher education arena. As the age-old debate for and against Black colleges rages on, Diverse has identified five threats facing HBCUs and five opportunities that could define their futures.

Prolonged Recession, Funding and Development Issues: When traditionally White institutions catch a cold, HBCUs catch pneumonia. Such is the case with the contagious economic virus that all of higher education is exposed to. HBCUs, like many others in the higher education sector, rely on student tuition dollars, government programs, corporate donations and foundation giving to sustain their institutions. All of these are unreliable revenue sources that point to the need for a stable income source typically found in a sustainable endowment.

The peril of weak endowments and low alumni giving is consequential in the economic environment. HBCU endowment information is hard to come by. Just five schools responded to the National Association of College and University Business Officers Endowment Survey. For those that responded, the average endowment market value was $244.7 million, compared with an average of $521.9 million for all non-Black institutions. The proposed sale of portions of Fisk University’s prized art collection donated by Georgia O’Keefe to raise much-needed cash and the proposal by the Georgia state Legislature to merge financially troubled Savannah State and Armstrong Atlantic State Universities to cut costs illustrate the financial volatility impacting many Black colleges.

Getting Them and Keeping Them: HBCUs provide a supportive environment where Black students thrive, but a 2006 Ed Sector report showed that just 37.9 percent of Black students attending HBCUs earn an undergraduate degree within six years, 4 percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for Black students and 7 points lower than the overall graduation rates of predominantely White institutions. The graduation disparity could be a lot worse given the economic and educational disadvantages that often accompany these students, the vast majority of whom qualify for federal Pell Grants. But in a society that is becoming less tolerant of excuses, HBCUs will have to undertake some creative means of addressing the retention problem.

New Competition: For-profit institutions have become destination institutions for many Black and Hispanic students. A disproportionate percentage of degrees from proprietary colleges go to Black and Hispanic graduates. In this year’s Diverse Top 100, the University of Phoenix “online campus” overtook Florida A&M and Howard universities as the No. 1 producer of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-Americans. While Black students earned 8.9 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the United States in 2005, they accounted for 15 percent of the degrees conferred by proprietary institutions, according to data in the National Center for Education Statistics report, “Postsecondary Institutions in the United States.”

Conservative Ethos/Constricting Campus Culture: Many news accounts have portrayed HBCUs as conservative, traditional institutions that are led by well-intentioned disciplinarians. While the accuracy of such accounts may be dubious, they raise warning points. The value of thoughtful reviews of HBCU campus climates and environments for faculty and students cannot be underestimated. Wholesome and welcoming environments at HBCUs were the stock of legends and huge selling points in attracting students and faculty. Today, many Black institutions continue to impose conservative policies that have long since lost their appeal, such as setting curfews, meddling in student media and limiting support for faculty research and expression.

Fear of Impending Doom: Black institutions on the brink of closure, such as Morris Brown, and those facing accreditation woes, such as Paul Quinn, continue to make headlines. As one account after another emerges, the fear of self-fulfilling prophecies usurps reality. But only a relatively small number of these schools have suffered irreparable damage. While some have had negative encounters with accreditation agencies, the vast majority have survived and often thrived. Unfortunately, these incidents can serve to erode enrollment and morale while also giving opponents ammunition to question HBCUs relevance in this so-called ‘post-racial’ era.


Safe Place: At the 20th-anniversary luncheon of this publication in 2004, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole challenged a large gathering of Black educators to seriously consider how difficult it would be today to build a network of over 100 colleges dedicated to primarily educating African-American students. Everyone conceded that it would be nearly impossible. HBCUs provide refuge for Black students to define their place and identity in American society. Instead of being vehicles for diversity as “underrepresented minorities” at majority schools, Black students are simply students at HBCUs. These schools serve as sources of pride and affirmation for thousands of alumni, friends and supporters from around the world. At a time when the threat of marginalization looms large in the psyche of many African-Americans, these schools are strategically positioned to become the focal point of the African-American community in many new and important ways.

Decoders of Disparities: HBCUs have the propensity to lead higher education in disparity research. Research that documents racial and ethnic health disparities can play a key role in understanding and eliminating such disparities. The major funding organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, have struggled for decades in trying to get at the root causes of racial disparities. A key player could and should be HBCUs. Take the qualified teacher disparity that is closely tied to the achievement gap: Even a cursory review of the statistics indicates that HBCUs are the nation’s premier institutions for graduating Black teachers. Yet these programs continue to be underfunded at the state and federal level.

Specialty Programs: HBCUs can be the pipeline for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and teacher education, considering they already do the bulk of the work. While composing about 3 percent of the nation’s 3,688 institutions of higher learning, the 103 HBCUs annually produce 23 percent of African-American bachelor’s degree and 13 percent of all master’s degree recipients, according to recent statistics. Spelman and Bennett colleges produce over half of the nation’s Black women who go on to earn doctorates in all science fields; Xavier University ranks No. 1 nationally in sending African-Americans to medical school. HBCUs that develop specialty programs can cement their place in the higher education arena by becoming the go-to institutions for in-demand talent.

Access: HBCUs can expand educational access and opportunity to underserved populations, particularly Hispanics. Additionally, HBCUs should tap into the market of students who start out at community colleges. HBCUs, which disproportionately serve students from low-income communities of color, can provide greater access to other underserved students in the Hispanic community. St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, founded in 1898 by the Episcopal Church as a sewing school for Black girls, has evolved into a comprehensive public community college with a for-credit enrollment exceeding 10,000. Hispanics make up the largest ethnic group on campus, and St. Philip’s, part of the Alamo Community Colleges District, is now the only college to be federally designated as both a historically Black college and a Hispanic-serving institution. The missions of Black colleges must evolve to serve a larger population of students.

Global Influence: HBCU students and faculty continue to carry the torch of academic excellence to other countries, building linkages throughout the African Diaspora and expanding the global impact of Black institutions. Florida A&M University President James Ammons signed an agreement with a Canadian organization that will allow FAMU students to intern in Cairo, Egypt. Howard University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders served communities in Kenya and Brazil this year. Spelman students helped to build a library for the 10,000 Girls program in Senegal.

Courtesy of




July 24, 2009






updated 9:44 a.m. PT, Sun., July 12, 2009
CAPE COAST, Ghana – For a new president, there inevitably comes that moment: the first time he hears a foreign crowd hoarsely chanting his name, or sees thousands of well-wishers surging forward, or realizes youngsters are running pell-mell beside his motorcade, desperate for a glimpse of his face.

For Barack Obama, the moment came here — in the teeming streets near a West African castle where traders once shipped human chattel to a life of toil in the New World.

After a week of difficult summitry in Russia and Italy, trying to get balky allies to follow his lead, the outpouring Obama was treated to in Ghana can only be called rapturous — from Africans overjoyed at the visit of America’s first black president to a country south of the Sahara.

As he toured Europe and Africa, conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats sought major changes to the health care overhaul House leaders are working on — and in so doing, forced a delay. At a news conference in Italy, Obama sought to downplay that, repeating his call for action by the August recess, but it was clear his top agenda item had hit a speed bump.

Meantime, though Obama bragged to the allies about House passage of a cap-and-trade bill, the coalition on global warming was fragile, and the measure’s fate in the Senate remains uncertain.

But the start of Obama’s latest foreign trip was a hard diplomatic slog, too.

In Moscow, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to negotiate a new nuclear arms accord to replace START I, which expires in December. However, he left Moscow with disputes over missile defense, Russia’s neighbor Georgia and Moscow’s treatment of dissidents unresolved.

In L’Aquila, Italy, the G-8 Summit ended on a similarly inconclusive note, as developing nations balked at G-8 calls to halve greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.

Which must have made the Ghanaian effusion all the sweeter.

‘I have the blood of Africa’
It began in the capital, Accra, where parliament treated him to a cheering welcome, heralded by a merry trombone-blast fanfare. “I have the blood of Africa within me,” Obama declared, before predicting a new African dawn if the continent can throw off its history of coups and corruption.

But the White House had purposely not scheduled any large, outdoor events in the capital, so the reception there was subdued. Aides said Obama wanted the focus on his message, not him. They also wanted no repeat of President Bill Clinton’s open-air speech in 1998 — after which he was nearly trampled by a jubilant throng.

In Cape Coast, a 40-minute helicopter ride from Accra, any such qualms were swept away.

In this one-time headquarters of Britain’s Gold Coast slave trade, Obama’s likeness was everywhere on placards and billboards. Thousands jammed his motorcade route from the muddy soccer field where he landed to Cape Coast Castle — waving, cheering, chanting, the women ululating, children climbing trees and clambering atop boxes for a better view. They wore T-shirts bearing his likeness, and his campaign motto “Yes We Can.”

His wife, Michelle, the great-great-granddaughter of slaves, was in the armored SUV beside him. His daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, were along for the ride, also marveling at the sight.

As the motorcade pulled up at the castle, drummers kept up an insistent beat, and a PA announcer blared, “Let us welcome His Excellency, President Barack Obama!”

‘Door of No Return’
Inside the whitewashed fortress, the first family got a tour of the oven-like brick dungeons where slaves were crammed as they awaited their fate. The Obamas walked through the “Door of No Return” — the gateway through which thousands passed to ships bound for America — and paused in contemplation, arms around each others backs.

Afterward, the president called the castle “a place of profound sadness.” He told reporters it put him in mind of Buchenwald, the German concentration camp he saw last month — evidence of “the capacity of human beings for great evil.”

Yet he also found it inspiring, and hoped Malia and Sasha would grasp its import. “It is here where the journey of much of the African-American experience began,” he said.

Back in Accra, after a quick hotel stop for a change of clothes, Obama took part in a final airport send-off, complete with drumming and twirling dancers in colorful tribal garb.

Click for related content
Obama heralds Africa’s ‘moment of promise’
Obama visit highlights Africa’s lack of stability
Obama’s visit to fort a ‘full-circle experience’

“Every day with its success, Ghana sends a simple message to the world, that democracy can thrive in Africa,” Obama declared. “Great days lie ahead for this nation. The future is on Ghana’s side.”

Even President John Atta Mills, the unsentimental lawyer who took power in January, was ecstatic.

“There is not a single Ghanaian who is not excited by your visit,” he enthused. “The good Lord has heard our prayers, and you have come.”

Heady stuff for a young American president just six months on the job.


Search term
Explore the BBC
BBC News Updated every minute of every day One-Minute World News

News Front Page





Middle East

South Asia




Science & Environment



Also in the news

Video and Audio


Have Your Say

In Pictures

Country Profiles

Special Reports

Related BBC sites


On This Day

Editors’ Blog

BBC World Service

Great Lakes
Portuguese Africa
Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 07:50 UK
E-mail this to a friend Printable version

African view: Shipshape for Obama?

In our series of weekly viewpoints from African journalists, Elizabeth Ohene, a former government minister in Ghana and former BBC journalist, looks forward to US President Barack Obama’s visit to her country:

We in Ghana are going to have our “Obama Moment” later this week.

Forget that talk about Ghana being the second country in Africa President Obama is visiting. We know better.

Ghana is a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy

Barack Obama’s spokesperson

Africa texts Obama before visit
Africans welcome Obama
That Egypt stopover does not count as a trip to Africa. He did not go there with his wife; he is coming here with Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.

And he will be going to Cape Coast, which has been given a well-deserved makeover.

He did not sleep in Cairo and it was obvious he was using the city only as a backdrop to make a speech to the Arab world.

True, he is making a big speech here in our parliament aimed at Africa, but this is different.

He is coming to Ghana because, to borrow the words of his spokesperson: “Ghana is a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy.”

Their words, not mine.

Jealous pride

We are the envy of the whole continent and as for our cousins the Nigerians, this is the ultimate humiliation.

I suspect the president will be begging people this week to demonstrate against his government

Obama snubs Nigeria?
They will never be able to live this one down.

Then there is Kenya and I ought to tread gently for there might be some raw emotions here, since there are blood claims.

So we sympathise with our Kenyan brothers and sisters, but as the White House sees it, Kenya, like Nigeria simply doesn’t make the good governance grade.

The trip to Ghana is intentional. It is worth quoting The White House on Ghana again:

“An extraordinarily close election, decided ultimately by about 40,000 votes, the country remained peaceful, power was transferred peacefully, and they continue to pursue a development agenda and bolster the rule of law.”

The Americans probably are aware many in Africa have wondered aloud that a sitting government could not find 40,000 votes to stay in power.

With such enthusiastic endorsement, it is not surprising that the government here is over the moon and is milking the Obama magic for all it is worth.

The promotions by the Ministry of Information and the Office of the President seek to portray the new Ghana government as being on the same wavelength as the new United States government, both led incidentally by law professors.

Big party

It is a bit tricky trying to liken the charismatic and erudite 47-year-old wordsmith world leader Mr Obama to the halting 64-year-old John Atta Mills, taunted as “dull” by his mentor, ex-President Jerry Rawlings.

The Clintons were given a huge welcome 11 years ago
We have consequently run into some very odd incidents.

This past week, there was the strange case of the president asking, or maybe, ordering the police to allow a street demonstration by a group that wanted to protest against a litany of things.

The police had gone to court and got an injunction to prevent the demonstration on the grounds, among others, that the police were so busy with the planned Obama visit they would not have the manpower to handle a demonstration.

Nobody here imagines that President Atta Mills intervened so dramatically to ask that a court order be put aside and the group be allowed to protest because he is dying for people to protest against him.

But imagine this: Here is Mr Obama, daily criticising the Iranian government for not allowing its citizens to demonstrate; and here is Ghana, the “admirable example of a thriving democracy” refusing to allow peaceful demonstrations… Obviously that would not do.

Fluffing lines

I suspect therefore that not only will the president be begging people this week to demonstrate against his government; there will be a lull in the frantic denunciations of the former government.

No former officials will be stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving the country and no former minister’s car will be seized by state security officers on the streets of Accra.

My bet is there will be no such drama any more until Mr Obama has been and gone.

I have been trying to dream up the most outrageous thing I could get away with in this thriving democracy during Obama week.

But the truth is all Ghanaians are really chuffed about the visit and if only the Americans would let us, we would put on such a welcome show, the world would be astounded.

After all, this is the country in 1998 that gave Bill Clinton the largest crowd in his life, but then that was in the pre-9/11 world and these days they do not allow American presidents to be exposed to such crowds.

All the same, we guarantee to make the trip memorable for the Obamas.

At the moment, if we have any anxieties it has to be a collective fear that our president will falter in pronouncing President Obama’s name.

He seems to fluff his lines on the big occasions, and there is a wicked rumour making the rounds that President Atta Mills has been practising the name of his host, “Bama Obarack, Marack Omaba, President Omarack”…

We are all willing him on to get it right on the day.


If you would like to comment on this column, send us your views using the post form below.

I am a Zimbabwean and boy am I so jealous of Ghana right now. Imagine Obama visiting us. Wow lucky them. but I guess we asked for that didn’t we us Zimbabweans. I cant last remember when we had a President of USA visiting Zimbabwe or a British one come to that. Hopefully in the near future when everything is ironed out neatly we might get a chance to see them here. Otherwise I guess I have to glue my self to the TV and watch BBC, Sky and CNN displaying Obama in Ghana. ps at least some jealousy is eased as I comfort myself and say he is visiting the home of our First First Lady Sally Mugabe . Our cousins welcome him for me.
Michelle, Harare

Ms Ohene I have and will always admire your journalistic prowess. But, as succinctly though as you written this article – there one thing I would like to know? is there any bitterness running between you and the current administration of Mr Atta Mills? You are a former Government Minister – right? Thus, portraying Mr Mills as wanting to appear democratic before Mr Obama’s arrival is a step in the wrong direction, I beg to disagree with you but democracy, as the powers that be will want to see, is at play in Ghana,
Muctaru Stevens, Berlin, Germany

Ghana is Kwame Nkrumah country for us Indians. Reading about the welcome Ghanaians are going to extend to President Barak Obama of USA I am excited and happy. I want to read the full text of his speech to Ghanaians. Going by the address he gave at the Russian New Economic School graduation convocation, Pres. Obama will surely make himself an unforgettable president of America and Ghanaians are deservedly lucky to hear him him speak. Thanks.
M Krishnamachary, Mumbai, India

I don’t see how Nigerians can be upset at this.

The mere fact that the author felt the need to refer to Nigeria shows that Ghanaians do recognize that their country is less powerful and important than Nigeria. Just let them have their moment….it won’t last for long
Rabah, London

I do love Obama , but he should go to these countries in trouble to real understand what is going on. The are DR Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Angola, Zimbabwe, Kenya… Kib, london UK

President Obama is welcome in Africa. But whereas he’s praising Ghana, there are some Countries on the continent which are key to the USA Strategic interest on many issues such as terrorism, HIV/Aids, environment, and provision of key natural resources. These are part and parcel of good global governance! He would have considered visiting at least five countries spearheading the above US interest in Africa and beyond. Thanks,
Dukundane Emmanuel, Kigali, Rwanda

LOL, this is hilarious. Talk about pride. I don’t blame the Ghanaians though. If Obama and co were coming to Nigeria, we wouldn’t hear the end of it. Shoot, MJ’s news coverage wouldn’t even come close!!! So Ghanaians, be prideful that he chose you!!! Means you must be doing something right!

I am proud to be associated with Ghanaians or living in the country call call Ghana, i have been in Ghana since 1996 and i think that Ghana is one of the best country on the continent and they really deserve a great president visit, life is not all about wealth but peace, love respect for your fello man and that is why i have decided to stay in Ghana, i stay in Lagos for just six months, i decided never to go back. I might likely experience Obama convoy passing infront of me going to cape coast, what a moment that i will never forget, if he don’t go by chapel, Ghanaians deserve this moment of my favorite Leader in the world, the GREAT OBAMA
PRINCE FALLAH, liberian refugee in ghana

I have faith in this man. President Obama’s visit to Ghana has made a lot of people happy. Hopefully he will have some positive economic offers that encouraged fairer trade between Ghana and the USA… If he opens this door in Ghana he will see that the majority of them have a hard working and entrepreneurial character, not too distant from the Americans, moreover they may name that day after him. I’m waiting to see what developments take place after he’s left as the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I’m expecting too much am I?
Paul Otchere, London, England

Ghana, Africa is taking pride in hosting the first black President and family of the United States of America through you! We are behind you in prayer and well wishes.
Akiror Harriet Ariko, Kampala, Uganda

You can think what you like Elizabeth, Obama’s first Presidential visit to Africa was Egypt and we are justifiably proud of that. To say this country is nothing more than a gateway to the Middle East is actually quite insulting. We participate in the majority of sporting and political African nation events and consider ourselves fully integrated into Africa in that respect.
Khalid Jamal, Cairo, Egypt

I like the commentary it sounds familiar and the blogs all seem so similar. Is this a developing nation scenario where we clean and prepare for the leaders of the developed states. The same sentiments were echoed in Trinidad and Tobago for the visit of the Fifth Summit of the Americas and particularly the presence of President Obama.
Antoinette Matthews, St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago

Will the visit bring the much anticipated boost in Ghana’s flagging “ecomony”, or should say economy? Mills’ government should get it right and not fluff it.
Samuel Gyamfi, Bracknell, UK

Here at home, nobody thinks this is other than a stunt calculated to extend influence to counter China’s. The president faces a growing backlash in the USA due to the lingering recession and what many see as high-handed meddling with the Constitution. Let’s pray this cynical influence-peddling visit does not leave the hangover that his election did.
Pat, Carthage, USA

Obama’s visit to Ghana is NOT in any way Humiliation to Nigeria or any other africa nations…..OBAMA is Not JESUS CHRIST simply a president who chosed and decided to visit Ghana and may decide to Visit Nigeria some day. He can not visit all Africa nations same day same moment, Ghana is down to inferiority complex that makes them to see themselves as Brazil of Africa When Nigeria had beaten the real Brazil in a major football competition.
marcel eze, abidjan

My dear writer, we should concentrate more on what unites us than wasting time an energy on trying to whip up sentiments. What does it matter if Obama visit Ghana or Nigeria, better still Togo. We are supposed to be united rather than making claims or utterances that will not engender oneness. A black man is a black man, that should be our ethos. No place in the whole wide world that do not have its problems; we cannot deny the problems of democracy and corruption in Nigeria but all these are surmountable. Our prayers should be how both Ghana and Nigeria or any African country should develop together. When Ghana had its problems in the late 70s they ran to Nigeria. It will be easier and feasible for Ghana to help Nigeria or Nigeria help Ghana, for a non-African country to help. I don’t care if is USA, UK or what have you; they are all after their interests. Please wake up!
Moses Akinmuyiwa, Birmingham, UK

Moses Akinmuyiwa, Birmingham, UK – Your comments are meaningful to Africans. You all have made my DAY.
Ahmed Shaibu, London

Ghana wan an obvious choice for President Obama. Numerous African countries have had elections where the opposition won outright but never got seated. Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe to name a few. Ghana is one bright exception. Thank You Mr. President for sending a strong message to African despots.
Tariku I, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Bravo Ghana, if all africans can do like ghana them there will be no problems like nigeria, kenya and others i wish am in ghana to welcome my humble african bro. African leaders should try and emulate ghana of there good governace so that the continent can enjoy its wonderful resources.
halima jatta, banjul the gambia

I am a Liberian, and very happy for the visit of US President Barrack Obama to Ghana. And i hope that the President will make another visit to Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa’s super power. All of the blood shells that took place in Liberia, Nigeria was the first African countries that arrived. Especially, in 2003 when we (Liberian) were dying in blood shells, Nigeria was the only and first African countries that came to our aid. So in this light, I will like for President Barrack Obama to pay a special visit to Nigeria. And i also want him to come to Liberia.
Sekou S Sheriff, Monrovia, Liberia

I really am disappointed at our Nigerian brothers for crying foul about Obama’s visit to Ghana……The secret simply is…good governance, respect for human rights hospitality and above all the home and origin of African Americans…that’s what we are
Nana Tutu Yeboah, Accra

My Ghanaian friend, I am a Nigerian and don’t envy Ghana even if President Obama and his disciples visit your country everyday. President Obama is just another American president looking after American interests. In this case, it is your newly acquired oil shores. Your comments justifies my views about Ghanaians. Let me add that Ghana is the same size as Lagos Nigeria if not smaller. Good luck with your thriving democracy and good governance. I am happy that you are basking on something that is already in Africa.
Simms, Umuahia, Nigeria

SO sorry to see that the fact of choosing Ghana is a source of debate. Wherever Obama visits in Africa, he’s a guest of the whole continent. It is high time we stopped thinking as Ghanaians, Nigerians, Senegalese, Kenyans etc. We have to believe and work hard to bring African Unity into reality. Still, let us all congratulate Ghana for the efforts made to implement true democracy and let us hope this example will be followed by the remaining African countries. Ghana, welcome President Obama as a guest of mother Africa, and let him and his family remember that even if we are poor, we know how to treat our guests. Thanks
Alphousseyni DIAMANKA, Dakar, Sénégal

As we all aware that water always flows following a specific course of its current, the fact that Ghana has demonstrated undisputable state of good governance and democracy throughout the African Continent is a yard stick which has set a precedent in determining the tour of the high profile World leader of this century.
Lucas Phillip Kiswizah, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

He’s just going there because there are US oil interests there. Enough said.
Michelle, Dallas, TX

Never thought a political piece could be so funny! Thank you, my day is made.
Kholofelo, Johannesburg, South Africa

Whom the Lord love He chastise. Obama’s refusal to visit Nigeria at this time is a clear body language, demonstrating his love for Nigeria. He say it best when he said nothing at all. It is now left for Nigeria to return Obama’s love by amending her ways.
King, London, England

Ghana deserves all the accolades and time in the political limelight. Obama is not naive to Africa’s inadequacies. Kenya failed big time to think big and reap from what she deserved. Their primitive politics is so repellent to forward-looking leaders like Obama. Ghana may not be perfect but it is the effort and intention that counts. Nigerians may be smarting from sour grapes but Obama knows the deceptive cord running deep inside. Congrats Ghana and please bask in the sunshine responsible.
Taabu, Eldoret, Kenya

A mere 40,000 votes unseated an African government!? Wow, a lesson in good governance to all African countries who must choose the rule of law going forward. It took a month plus, to reconcile a huge gap in Zims elections to a 0-0 draw last May, and that for a country that boasts a literacy rate of 90%. Ghana is the cradle for African democracy and its a shame some dictators refer to the legendary Kwame Nkrumah as their inspiration. Obama must use this opportunity to lash out at such leaders, Zim & Kenya included.
Gadama N, Bulawayo, Zim

I am certainly failing to understand why all the fuss about the President Obama’s visit to Ghana. What do people in Ghana and Africa stand to benefit apart from disrupting their businesses? Nothing and this trip will not change Ghanaians lives in any way. Observing and respecting democratic institutions in Ghana has not in anyway been influenced by President Obama.
Esperança, Luanda

Give Mr Mills a break. Mr Obama probably cant pronounce a number of Ghanaian names. And why couldn’t he come to Zambia? Our political tolerance is truly remarkable in my view. And our peacefulness is legend.
Rose Phiri, Lusaka, Zambia

it is indeed great news that Obama has chosen Ghana as one of the first countries in Africa to visit. the euphoria in the small West African country is so high i suspect Friday might be an unofficial holiday. my only problem is that major businesses will be closed for 48hrs because of Obama’s visit and this is going to make a lot of business people lose money running into millions. Is Obama really taking us forward?
Selase Attah, Accra

Aw pulezzzz!!! Whether Obama comes or not, Nigeria is still the giant of Africa. It is okay for Obama to encourage Ghana’s democracy. In spite of our current woes we still have a profound influence across Africa. Imagine what happens when we work through our problems….the whole world will come to our door steps.
Ono Vu, Abuja-Nigeria

To be sincere, I admired the true democracy in the Republic of Ghana. I live in Ghana for four years consecutive and not a day I was humiliated by any law implementers. Even though some of our Liberian friends once complained of human right abuse but I believe that Ghana being a law abided state, you are only trouble if you trouble the law and that’s what make the nation what she is. Ghana, you deserve all the world class leaders visit always.
Tamba Kpakima, Monrovia, Liberia

Right on! Absolutely like it is. I haven’t read such a cool opinion in a long time, haven’t laughed so righteously on ‘Bama Obarack’…
Andy Zimmermann, Berlin Germany

Ghana is a leader in Africa whether people like it or not. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence. Ghana has been holding credible elections. Corruption not rampant. No xenophobia attacks on fellow Africans. Ghana is indeed a BLACK Star. There could be no better country for Obama and family to visit than Ghana. Make us (Africans) proud our dear brothers and sisters in Ghana. If for any reasons you wont host him (Obama), could you recommend MALAWI – The Warm Heart of Africa as an alternative destination. Viva Ghana, Viva Africa.
Sam Gonthako Nganjo, Blantyre, MALAWI

What’s the talk about Obama’s visit to Ghana being a humiliation on Nigerians and Kenyans? His visit to Egypt to douse the fire of religious fiasco should be considered a political obligation, and that to Ghana; a start point of political tour. That doesn’t imply that he’s not going to be elsewhere in Africa for the same purpose for which he’s in Ghana. After all Ghana hasn’t the best political culture and practise in Africa-good governance grade or not, is all a front. Therefore, the amiable president has his reasons for starting with her. So, no noise.
Solomon A Akande, Lagos, Nigeria

It is a shame really that the first American Black President will not be visiting Nigeria,(the self-acclaimed giant of Africa) but Ghana, on his first African tour. I hope it is a big lesson to the Nigerian leaders that democracy can truly work in Africa with total commitment and will of the leaders and the citizens alike.


June 17, 2009

Blacks are in fact the true jews of the bible watch ! part 1


May 16, 2009


Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Abuja, culture experts canvass preservation of mother tongues
From Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja

THE threat is real. In fact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) sounded the warning late last year that “more than 50 per cent of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world may disappear.”

The risk is so high that “less than a quarter of those languages are currently used in schools and in cyberspace, and most are used only sporadically.”

The situation is compounded by the fact that “thousands of languages – though mastered by those populations for whom it is the daily means of expression – are absent from education systems, the media, publishing and the public domain in general.”

And with Nigeria having more than 250 indigenous languages, the casualty might be on the high side. But culture agencies across the country, and by extension, in the continent of Africa are not taking the threat lightly.

Last week in Abuja, the preservation and promotion of the indigenous languages was the focus of the one-day yearly public lecture organised by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC).

The event brought together culture icons from across the continent, among them, the Director, Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS), Cape Town, South Africa, Prof. Kwesi Kwaa Prah; the Emir of Gwandu and Chairman, Kebbi State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Muhammadu Iliyasu Bashar, who was represented by the Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja; Prof. Yakub Yusuf and the Executive Secretary National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. J.B. Yusuf. Others were Director General, National Orientation Agency, Alhaji Idi Farouk, directors of culture under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as secondary school students within the Abuja metropolis.

With African Languages, African Development and African Unity as theme, the guest lecturer, Prof. Prah, blamed African woes partly on leaders, who abandoned their cultural heritage for foreign ways of life without realising the impact of their actions on national development and integration.

Deliberating extensively on African development, he noted that such could only be achieved when both material and non-material needs of individuals and groups had been adequately put in place. He said

Still on development, Prah regretted that long after independence, all that Africa has got to show for the lofty ideals and over-charged euphoria that greeted the end to colonial rule is disillusionment and sentiments.

“For the very early period, we appeared to be making credible headway. But it didn’t take long, in most cases, not more than a decade or a decade and a half for disillusionment and sentiments of being lost in the woods to begin to overtake us,” Prah remarked.

Not even the early post-colonial elites were exonerated from Prah’s hammer on the misfortune that befell African cultural heritage.

According to him, this group of people adopted the modernisation school that was fundamentally functionalist in approach and tended to see development within ‘sealed’ social system and structures.

He said they also regarded traditional values, institutions and beliefs as constraining factors in their developmental endeavours.

On the impact of cultural on development, the Professor of Culture stressed that every society, which develops, does so on the basis of its cultural heritage and its ability to adopt new inputs from outside into its own culture.

He expressed dismay that too often Africans have likened culture to mean old practices, especially the display type such as traditional dancing, music and singing.

Regardless of this belief, the guest lecturer said that it is only culture that distinguishes man and raises him above other animals. “Humans learn and create culture as a social heritage, which is transferred from generation to generation as material and non-material products of the human genius,” he noted, adding: “Thus, much as we make culture, culture makes and defines us both as individuals and as members of groups, its assemblage of ideals, values and patterns of institutionalised behaviouir, socialised symbols and shared meanings underscore the centrality of language.”

In conclusion, he advised that if Africa must move forward, there is the need to roll back the unhelpful consequences of the colonial heritage, reclaim their cultural belongings and histories and with these in hand, confidently move ahead.

While stressing that not everything about African culture deserves to be saved, preserved or utilised in the quest for modernity, he suggested that a selective attitude to both artifacts and values should be adhered to.

“The idea of reclaim is that we must retrieve what is vital, living and timeless in our cultural and value system and construct or reconstruct them as a basis for our advancement. Our languages are our primary instruments, without them, we cannot move forward”, he warned.

Earlier in his address, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Senator Bello Jibrin Gada, reiterated the urgent need to save indigenous languages from the impact of colonisation and globalisation.

Noting that the survival of African language is endangered, he warned that Africans should not watch helplessly while their languages are fast being substituted with foreign ones.

He also shared the belief that Africans quest for development is closely related to the survival of their linguistic diversities.

“We often complain of, and yearn for solutions to our declining educational standards. We have failed to realize that the foundation of our problems in the educational sector lies in the absence of the use of our mother tongue for instruction in schools.”

If other countries of the world, especially the Asian tigers have advanced scientifically and technologically with the use of their local languages, the minister said same could be possible in Africa.

Commending CBAAC for its initiative, Gada assured of his ministry’s support for programmes and activities that tend to promote African cultural heritage.

The Director/Chief Executive Officer, CBAAC, Prof. Tunde Babawale, in his remarks, said though Africa and her people spread all over the world and occupied a place of special importance in the world’s history, they have been responsible for their misfortune in the areas of development and unity.

According to him, inability to attain their desired developmental height could be blamed on their willingness to celebrate the pre-eminence of foreign languages against theirs.

This development, he said, accounted for the communication gap between the rulers and the ruled.

Babawale expressed optimism that the lecture would offer the much needed reflection on the African experience, their shortcomings and laxities as well as address the challenges facing Africans and black people of the world.

“Most indigenous African languages face the threat of extinction. This forum would provide the platform to articulate our concerns and thus, serve as conveyor belts for transmitting our ancestral knowledge system suppressed by several decades of domination by foreign languages.”

Speaking on the possible ways of achieving the mandate of reviving dying cultures, especially as it concerns indigenous languages, Babawale said public awareness was should be the starting point. “I think one of the ways for us to perform the task is for us to raise awareness, let the public know that we are neglecting our languages to our own peril and that there is need for us to encourage our children to speak our own languages if we have to escape from permanent enslavement, and the only way to correct the Eurocentric and America attitude of our people is for us to go into indigenous languages.”

According to the CBAAC boss, any parent that argues that teaching a child indigenous languages affects his or her proficiency in foreign language does not understand that child. His assertion is based on the scientific proof that a child has the ability to pick as many as six languages, and speak them with equal competence.

“That is why when you see a child living in a community where they speak indigenous languages, that child will be able to speak all the languages with equal competence. However, the point to be made there is that you cannot talk of your own development exclusive of your language. Development comes when you have the totality of your cultural experience providing the springboard, and one aspect of your culture that helps to provide that springboard is your language. It is the only way you can communicate your own philosophy of life, the only way you can direct attention to your technology which must tell those friends that they are getting it wrong.”

Other advantages of local languages to a growing child, Prof Babawale said, which is the reason you include the development of his cognitive ability. “If your child cannot speak indigenous language and he lives within your environment, his ability to understand the environment is limited because he speaks English. For instance, it is not everything indigenous to us that have English translation. How do they grasp that without understanding their local languages? So, the point here is for us to raise awareness, to call the people to contribute to the effort directed at preventing these languages from going to extinction. We also call on government to see this as a serious task that must be done.”

Babawale, however, called for collaborative relationship with individuals and institutions in the task of reviving African dying treasures.

In a similar vein, the Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, Prof. Yakub, stressed that African languages are strengthening and as such, he could not understand why most Africans prefer foreign languages. He asked if those people fail to capture the essence of language.

“As you know, language is essential, bedrock on which culture is built and progressively handed to the future.” He hoped that Africans will be able to express themselves as well as document their achievements in indigenous languages in future. This, he said, can only be possible when efforts are made at preserving them through their frequent usage.

“It is instrumental to our unity. A stranger, who understands your language is loved and adopted into the community.”

Calling for public policy on the preservation of indigenous languages, the V.C, said it would enable Nigerians forge ahead in enforcing the use and preservation of local languages, especially in schools.

Even the student participants were not left out in the quest to revive their mother tongue. While regretting the inability of most of them to speak indigenous languages, they also blamed political leaders and the affluence in the society for sending their children abroad for various reasons, who often return to intimidate them with foreign accents.

“We also want to speak like them, we feel inferior when they come back from overseas and speak foreign accents. So, we try to imitate them by also speaking foreign languages and imitating foreign accents”, said one of the students.

Others believed that though they missed earlier in life, having indigenous language teachers could do the expected magic of educating them on various Nigerian languages.

Guests were entertained with cultural dances and drama presentations that attempted to highlight the importance of local languages in national development and unity.

© 2003 – 2009 @ Guardian Newspapers Limited (All Rights Reserved).


May 15, 2009

originally from

Are African languages important?


African languages like Swahili, Yoruba and Somali are now available to read on the internet based encyclopaedia, Wikipedia.

The website aims to give every single person an encyclopaedia in their own language no matter how rare and features everything from recipes to biographies.

But Wikipedia is dominated by articles written in English for which there are over one million entries. Compare that to African languages where there are just a handful of entries.

Swahili is the most widely spoken African language available in text on the net, but in general the presence of African languages is dismal compared to languages spoken in the West.

How important is it to be able to read, write and speak an African language? Is English now the most important language in the world? Should people in the developing world still be taught local languages and are they useful for everyday life?

In my personal opinion I believe that there is no language that is better than others. And because some languages do not have a written form that does not mean that is not a legitimate language. On the contrary, this what it is prove of legitimacy. That these languages has being around and survive for a long time and their are here to stay. Is the English language the most important in the world today? Hell NO. Not because a certain particular group of people are trying to make the English language a global language, this does not make it any better or the most important language on this world. This is like saying that whites are better than blacks. Why should all indigenous languages on earth being taken off from this planet? And then replaced by the English language? Is not this a form of genocide too?.
Nathaniel Robinson, San Diego, California

Should this question be asked, I really would like to know why this question should arise. Looking at it most countries in europe and Asia don’t speak English and majority of African countries speak English and are better at it than most European and Asian countries. If I should really comment on this question I think it boils down to the level of education in a particular country. About 90% of African education is thought in English it is very difficult to find an African country that doesn’t speak English which could be traced to the colonial era. Moreover it is assumed that if you cant speak English you are not educated therefore the issue of translating the Encyclopedia and most articles into African languages to me is a let down. This is so because only an educated person can read, write and speak any language including English. The same educated persons are computer literate and make use of the internet in any language he or she understands, mind you, depending on their ability to speak and understand! So tell me what difference does it make translating articles to African languages?
Eke Alexander, Sweden.

Language easily brings about acceptance and appreciation which earns one an advantage. The more languages one speaks, reads or writes the better and more advantage he or she would have in this global village of ours. As a Gambian I can go to Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone and use the local languages like Wollof, Creole, Mandinka, Pularr, Krio in addition to my English and little French to survive. One becomes happier when he or she knows you can talk to him or her in his or her mother tongue. Let’s embrace our African languages and work adopting some of them like Swahili, as our official language.
Betsney Gomes, Gambia

Language is an integral part of our history and culture. The different African languages show how diverse we are as a people. Retaining our different languages and cultures gives us the feeling that we have not completely lost our identity to colonialism and the slave trade.
Oyin Oyatoye, Nigeria

I fail to understand what your question aims to achieve, apart from patronising Africans. I dare you to pose the same question to the English.
S. K. Omar,

In my personal opinion is that I believe that all languages are important. Just because some languages do not have a written form that does not mean that is not a legitimate language. In the contrary,that proves it’s legitimacy. Those languages have being around and survived for a long time and their are here to stay. Is English the most important language in the world today? Hell NO!! Just because a certain particular group of people are trying to make the English language a global language, this does not make it the any better or the most important language on this world. This is like saying that whites are better than blacks. Why shouldn’t all indigenous languages on Earth be taken taken as seriously as the English language? Eradicating them would be a form of genocide!

Nathaniel Robinson, San Diego, California

Language is one of the factors that helps to create a sense of strong cultural identity and a sense of belonging to a society. In the current debate and strong search for answers on the causes of our economic under-development, the contribution or the lack of it of language should be one of the areas for exploration. I have always maintain that the use of one’s language enhances the development and articulation of ideas specially for economic development. The rapid education and economic rise in the Far Eastern and Indian sub-continent there is a strong evident that one’s own language can contribute in development. As a Fula or Fulani one of the most widespread tribe in West Africa, the development of our language or any other language in West Africa as a recognised language of communication would make a big impact to our economic development. Unlike Asian leaders our African leaders are busy enriching themselves rather than re-addressing the ills of colonialism that belittle the continent. In some African societies such as the Francophone countries, the desire to behave and talk like their ex-colonial masters has overshadowed their pride in themselves and their cultures so much so that, they speak and behave like French. A big shame on us all as Africans. Let us all start searching within ourselves and start rediscovering our cultures, heritage and values and be proud of them.
Musa Bah, UK

For me life will never be complete without language in the written or spoken form. Anyone who cherishes his language be it African or otherwise must be able to read, speak and write such language. Whether English is the most important language in the world depends on the situation and circumstance in which it is viewed. I think local languages should be taught to people as the society cannot function very well without its language. Language is the people.
Isidore Nwachukwu, Linkoping, Sweden.

Variety is the spice of life as they say. I think it is very important to allow African languages to be sustained and developed. In the English speaking West, we are guilty of expecting everyone else to do the work. Jamaican Tusiwe wavivu, tuanze kujifunza lugha nyingine.
Stephen Gamble, Glasgow, UK

African languages are important because the social, political and economic development of the vast majority of the people of Africa depend on the proper and systematic use of their indigenous languages. Moreover, failure or refusal to use African languages in many domains adversely affects the African’s human and people’s rights in general. These include their right to quality education, to good health, to fair trial, to economic justice, to access to information, to freedom of expression, etc.
Professor Lazarus Miti, South Africa

I think African languages are for Africans while Western languages are for everybody. If you are to work in France you have to know French but a French man can work in Africa without knowing an African language
Hankie Uluko Lilongwe, Malawi

Language is a part of man’s national identity. As a British / Nigerian I am very proud of my African heritage and express myself in Yoruba with pride. My children are British born and speak English as a first language but are equally fluent in Yoruba.
Adewale Adebanjo, London, UK

Of the four languages I am very familiar with, Yoruba, English, French and Dutch. Only the African language (Yoruba) does not discriminate between genders. Same word for expressions for male and female, unlike English for example, she, he . Who should then teach who gender equality?
A Olalekan, South Africa

English in my opinion is the most widely spoken language in the world, but the most important language for me is that with which I can speak to my mother, my father, my grand-parents without having to bother if I was making the right sense. This language is Igbo. You can have your own view, but mine is mine.
Chidi Nwamadi, Toulouse, France

I look language as a dress to thought. One can decide which dress to wear at what time. In this world of globalisation, undoubtedly every body is forced to learn international common Languages like English, French etc., for better survival. Irrespective of its present day importance, any Language that is alive with the people is always precious to us. Each generation has a duty to ensure the maintenance, improvement and pass on it to the next generation
Manasalekhini, Congo

Are African languages important? Are European languages important? Are Americas languages important? Are Asian languages important? Are Australia\New Zealand languages important?
Lloyds, Kitwe, Zambia

I believe that every language is important, no matter how many people use it. In the sense that each language represents a whole new world to discover. Just because English is the most spoken language of world it doesn’t mean that it is the most important one. People in the developing world should continue to learn their local languages because if they don’t they will lose their culture and identities. These languages are useful for their everyday life just like Portuguese is useful for my everyday life. People should learn other languages too besides their own, but they should never let their mother language die.
Márcia Cordeiro Guerreiro, Lisbon, Portugal

African languages are very important because not everybody can speak all this foreign languages. It’s our mother tongue, do you know that there are people who can express themselves better in African language, than English and the rest western languages. An example is the Pigeon English widely spoken in Nigeria one can see that most people that speak Pigeon English are not really graduate. Lastly English itself is the mother tongue of the UK people so that is why they have that development, so we African should be allowed to speak our mother tongue
Dayo Objurgate, Abuja, Nigeria

The other day we were travelling to our home town and group people were distributing magazines written in our dialect it was shared among us,could you believe me that some folks found them very difficult to read out the massages despite the language was compulsory in school. It’s easier to speak but hard to read and write.
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria

When broadcasting news on radio in Africa (FM or SW), local languages are an essential element for credibility. Languages also bring a sentiment of “ownership” for the concerned audiences.
Darcy Christen, Lausanne, Switzerland

The question should be “How important are the African languages?” Because a language is a mean of communication for any particular community, therefore African languages are the key for African success in everything! Specially with the failed European colonisation of Africa, where only 10% of the population speaks and understand correctly languages spoken by white people. I was a teacher in my country Guinea-Bissau, and I remember when I asked a question to my student in Portuguese it take them forever to give the answer, but when I asked the same question in Creole, I got the answer in fraction of second! That’s the evidence that,they are not dumb, but they do have problems mastering European languages. I strongly believe we in Africa should do everything possible to teach our people in our own language. It will be easier for them to learn anything and to master it to they best. And at the same time, we still can learn the “White peoples”languages so we can be able to communicate!I know it’s possible, because I speak five African languages and five European languages!
Manuel Gomes, New York, USA

For centuries the Berber language or Tamazight has been neglected by the Moroccan government and its speakers. Tamazight is an oral language and has never had an official script. But now things are changing and people dare to speak and write in their mother tongue, and I hope the three Tamazight languages of Morocco will have an official status in the constitution.
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco

I teach English to speakers of other languages and believe very strongly in doing so radically. What does teaching English radically mean? To me, it means honouring my student’s native languages (and cultures) in the classroom and creating an atmosphere in which they know and can tangibly feel that their languages and cultures are valued and respected. As an English teacher, it’s of utmost importance to me that I emphasise my love of languages and my belief that no one language is superior to another. I tell my students that there are many English, and that standard English has historically been and is indeed still a language of power politics in the world, and therefore it is becoming increasingly important to speak through it and add it to one’s basket of languages. Because it is a language of power politics does not mean standard English is superior. Upon learning to speak Swahili, for example, I was able to express many feelings and emotions that I had been previously unable to express using standard English. All languages are beautiful and important. I find the question of the importance of African languages highly offensive and limited.
Sedia Macha, Greensboro, North Carolina

We are Africans and those languages are ours! it doesn’t matter how useful they are or how many people do use them, they are ours and we can’t afford letting them go! We are used to them and we live in them. They are very important to us. Anyone can join us and learn them to harmonise the world. Mloyi, Dar es salaam, Tanzania Our languages are us.I am African because of my language.It connects me with my culture. Much as I need to learn English for universal communication, I still need my African language to keep my roots.
Mutuna Chanda, Lusaka, Zambia

Languages are an integral part of man, as He communicates with it. Also, African languages should be encouraged to spread because you cannot extricate man from his medium of communication. It is the best way to express our feelings.
Ashipa James Olashupo, Abuja, Nigeria

A typical African is proud of his language. African languages should be taught in school in order to enhance the culture in Africa. Our cultures are dying because many Africans cannot express themselves in their mother tongue. “What a shame!” The highest tool of communication is your mother tongue before the so-called English.
Eric Mbumbouh, Bamenda, Cameroon

Language is a link to identity, and therefore very important to the group it’s specific to, it’s what sets you apart as different people. As much as we need to keep our African languages alive, it’s still important to have a language that connects us all as part of one world.
Velma Kiome, Nairobi, Kenya

I’m from the masena tribe in Mozambique. Despite the fact that i struggle to speak the masena language i strive to master it as it represents who I am and gives me an identity which I am proud of. Yes to me my language is important irrespective of what others think . One simple reason why it’s important is if I want to learn more of my cultural history and background then i would speak to my elders in my language. And elders are an important aspect of our African communities
Matata, Mozambique

Language is a link to identity, and therefore very important to the group it’s specific to, it’s what sets you apart as a different people. As much as we need to keep our African languages alive, it’s still important to have a language that connects us all as part of one world. English has proliferated because of the historical positioning of the English speakers.

Language is key for any nation to develop. Facts show that countries with significant development around the world use their own languages. Africa tormented by colonial rule followed by civil war never had neither the chance or time to build its language foundation. Although African countries do not have a written language our mother tongue is a mode of communication .Eritrea and Ethiopia serve as best examples. They use a language based on what is known as Geez, which was the basis of its long lost civilisation. Not until Ethiopia/Eritrea changed the language from Geez to Amharic influenced by outsiders, that the nation began its decline as a result of poor change over of Ethiopian numerals. It is the only known language that uses its own set of characters, grammar, mathematical formula, and yet its 8 step vowels hold the key to today’s 8 bit digital encoding technique!
Gedion, Charlotte, USA

I would like to participate in this programme because our mother tongues are important. It is the cornerstone of one’s identity and to forsake that is tantamount to having no regard for one’s identity.
Kwame Osei, Nottm, England

A people without their own language are lost. Yes English is widely spoken but that surely should be an additional language. By this I mean as a Ghanaian I can’t think why I should only speak English. Humans have been given the brain to learn and this is what Africans must do. African language is important to us so we should learn to communicate in English but never ever forget who we are. Are you going to ask the Chinese, Japanese or the Russian whether their language is important somehow I don’t think so, why then the African.
Kwesi, London

I’m glad to say that we live in a diverse world. African languages have as much validity as any other language, including English. Let our differences thrive!
Gwilym Davies, Wrexham

While it is true that in the grand scheme of languages, Kinyarwanda may be spoken by no more than 20 million people world wide(counting our neighbours who can understand & perhaps speak our national language); it is the language understood by everyone in my country. Whether you were educated in French, English, Spanish or in whatever western language, on this small piece of God’s earth called Rwanda, everything is done in Kinyarwanda. In this context, English may be as obscure a language as any other.
Florida Kabasinga, Nyamata, Rwanda

To speak African languages is just as important as our identity. To read and write them is gaining grounds; thank God. This trend will never fall. Right now, my grand mother is in USA just to teach my young cousins the ‘bangwa’ dialect.
Tendem Paul, Cameroon

Learning “in” African languages, and not just learning them, is now more important than ever. Without “popular” education, you cannot have the adequate number of qualified human resources in a country, which is a condition to economic development and thus prosperity. An enlightened citizenry is also necessary in order for the government to better communicate with its people, enhancing in the process the political stability and even survival of the country. Democracy is such a complex issue that it requires educated people. This being the case, my argument has always been that popular education cannot be achieved relying on a foreign language with which one doesn’t have any link other than the fact that it was imposed on you. Take the example of simple computer software like word processor or the Internet. A tutor is not needed to learn word processor so long as you understand the language in which the computer converses with its users. It suffices to put the cursor on an icon for it to tell you what it will do. This gives a natural advantage to the European child or any child learning in his own language over the African child who must depend on a foreign language. This allows this child to start using computers from a very young age and starts enjoying the great benefits of electronic communications early. The African child has to wait longer to have a good knowledge of the language before doing likewise.
Issaka Souaré, Montreal, Canada

My mother tongue Kinyarwanda is most comfortable language in my mouth. I now speak it on the phone since I am away from my home country. I can’t miss listening to Kirundi and Kinyarwanda program on BBC every day at 17:30 GMT and the same on VOA at 05:00 GMT, reading news over the net in my language is the best moment, so I can say that African languages are very important.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Cameroon

African languages are very important because it is our identity. English may be more important to learn and speak but African languages are more important as it differentiates us from other nations. It doesn’t matter if the languages are on net but they play a very important role in the AFRICAN SOCIETY. Long live African Languages!. Rhodah
Rhodah Mashavave, Germany

All languages are equally important. Local languages need to be taught in developing countries as well. African languages are indeed a base for identity. Following the colonisation of most African countries by the white man it is imperative to exhibit togetherness via African languages. When the whole of Europe is playing the EU symphony, we as Africans must also try to be proud of our languages.
Vincent Kwanza, Zambia

I can not speak or understand my language, sad it feels but, I am still learning it.
Jamal, London, UK

Local language is a kind of repository of what is important to a culture or society. That’s why it is vital they survive. One of the sad things is that the internet has become so English dominated – it is an ideal place for smaller local languages to make their voices heard. I am learning Esperanto. I do not think it is right that one language dominates all others. English is the language of our oppressors (the Romans, the Anglos and the Saxons) but it is the language that reflects our culture, values and expectations. English has only become the most important language because it has been allowed to be.
Hlz, Glasgow, Scotland

People living in the African nation must acknowledge the importance of their languages. We need to preserve our heritage and values as it’s our root and identity. Teaching of the language should be a priority to the Government from Primary to University level not only in Africa but in African communities all over the world.
Tunde Onibode, Lagos Nigeria

In Cameroon we have almost 300 different languages beside English and French which are our official language. I am proud to able to read and write both English and French. I don’t deem it necessary to learn to learn or know any other language because they cant help me in any way.
Aaron Anye, Johannesburg

As a British Ghanaian you rarely here of many other languages other than the most dominant ones. It would be a benefit to the nation to understand more dynamics of other languages. Many Brits think that Africans all speak the same language or think that the tongue is a series of vocal clicks and noises. i think its also sad that in many places like Ghana, English is still considered to be the first language, if this was imposed on a western country, the people would be in uproar.
Kofi Ahiekpor, United Kingdom

Africa is the continent that has most been deprived of its own identity through Europeans. During colonialism, local languages were branded primitive and retrogressive and consequently discouraged from being taught in schools. Particularly under the French system of direct rule, local languages were destroyed leading to a first generation of African elites who sold out themselves to European cultures and values. However, some languages like Swahili, Lingala, Yuroba and Hausa have asserted themselves and need to be encouraged. Through them Africa will at least be able to maintain some of its cultural heritage and identity, and gain some of the self-confidence it needs to move forwards.
Musa, Frankfurt

African languages are very important in many ways. It is clear that teaching in local languages usually convey clearer messages and understanding than foreign languages. As language gives a link to culture and social life , indigenous language would continue to be very important. We can still learn foreign language in order to help us in linking with outside world. We should not forget that language is also people’s identity and window to their tradition.
Adigun Olosun, Ostbevern, Germany

Languages just confuse people after all we are all Africans!!!
Gady Mwamba Museka, Lusaka, Zambia

With over 2,000 languages in Africa, it is very important to speak, read and write in our African languages. Everything can be taken away, but not our languages. Our culture and identity lie in them. Most Ugandans who have finished school remember the punishments for speaking what would be called “vernacular” at school. Though this was helpful because for most jobs now, ability to write and speak English is a requirement. However, most of us who have learned other language(s) find it very difficult to express what we want to communicate in a foreign language. Today, the language policy in Uganda advocates for teaching in local languages in the first four years of primary education as well as adult basic education. Though it would take years for people to appreciate speaking, writing and reading their mother tongue due to the present employment situation in Africa it’s highly unlikely but it is still worth a try.
Prossy Nannyombi, Entebbe, Uganda.

One must learn to move with their own foot before driving a car or anything that can move fast. An African without an African language is like an amputated man who depends only on a wheelchair or a car to move
M. Chille, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

It is significant to be able to read and write in African Languages. If you are born in Africa, the language is your mother tongue and is your foundation. To learn to speak and write in English should come secondly.
Taiwo, London

Most Europeans are born speaking their native languages but still have to learn languages for at least 12 years at school to be able to communicate effectively in these languages. Most Africans have the disadvantage of having to compete with the rest of the world in a foreign language.
Mourice Akuku, Aac

Learning African Languages is still very important for two main reasons. It is a language which they should identify themselves with, by which I mean that these languages are part of their Identity. In some countries these languages are official working languages of the respective countries, the one I know is the Ethiopian Amharic which is the official language of the country. It is an ancient well developed language which has got its own alphabets. Therefore learning African local languages should be a must not a choice .
Abakoster, Dubai

Imagine as a Westerner marrying a rural Ethiopian lady, illiterate, and with not one word in common. She is even still unable to communicate in the language spoken in the capital, Addis Ababa. Three years on her English is sufficient for all our needs, thank God. What has bothered us most is the gross lack of basic vocabulary found in both English/Oromo dictionaries which I’ve bought. So far the internet has been of no value. I’ve been partly untruthful in the above and on reflection knew toko, lama (one, two) in her language on the day of our marriage.
Yusuf Tahir, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Language is an essential part of any culture. It has a huge social impact on people. Hence, it is important that Africans develop their local languages. In the contemporary world, it has become a rewarding advantage to be bi-lingual. As much as English has become probably the most important world language so should an African’s language be to them. Native languages should be taught and learnt in schools. It should be compulsory.
Bernard Oniwe, Columbia, SC, USA

Are African languages important? Of course, it like English which are spoken in the world , so they are to be taught in all African schools like others languages that are taught in the school. And it is a must for African children to speak and write their own languages before they start English. A good example is Swahili in Kenya were students must take Swahili as compulsory or mandatory. And thanks.
Gabriel Miabek, Charlotte, NC, in USA.

Wow! what a racist discussion topic! and such a convenient one for such a large medium controlled by the bourgeois class of a colonial/imperial power to choose. should this even be a topic of discussion?
Anonymous A, New York

Any language is important, including African languages. I get so upset that nowadays American schools just focus on Spanish, and very few in French. People need to look beyond the European languages. I would love to learn Zulu.
Megan De Perro, Niagara

Seeing as there are roughly 7,000 languages, of which about 30% are African I find it highly unlikely any source such as Wikipedia thinks it can give “every single person” their own encyclopaedia. Saying that, if any language, African or not, is important for communicating with another culture, it should be taught. On the other hand, countries that only teach the indigenous language(s), regardless of their usefulness in the world, are condemning themselves to obscurity and possible extinction. Most of the Africans that I grew up with speak at least 2 or 3 languages, . I find this very admirable.
Jeff Requadt, Tucson, USA

In the East and part of Central Africa, Swahili is a relevant and unifying language for all people of the region, it gives every speaker the feeling of affiliation without questioning religion, ethnicity or colour. The language gives the feeling of a nation transcending political boundaries. But in places like Nigeria where there are many dialects African language has evolved to become the threshold of hatred among different ethnic groups which has created isolation . The good news is that a new “African” language with English vocabulary is emerging and we have high hopes that Pidgin English continues to grow into a properly recognised West African language.
James Ololo, Brussels, Belgium

African languages should be taught in schools because it’s one part of the culture that can be preserved. African parents should make it a point to teach the language to the kids regardless of where they are born.
Ouborr Kutando, Ghana

Not long ago Latin and Greek were very important languages. The key to importance of a particular language is economic and civil development. I believe that major African Languages especially that of tribes(nations) with strong economic potential will be very important in the near future. I believe that United Nation Headquarters will relocate from New York to Abuja Nigeria this century. US influence will greatly diminish while that of China, India, Nigeria and South Africa will increase. As soon as economic development of key African countries is attained, people will scramble to write and read African languages.
Steve Dibia, New Orleans, USA

It depends on what they are going to be for. If for communication across tribal/national frontiers, then they are utterly useless -and obviously so. If for the preservation of some cultural heritage, then we probably need them – though I’m not sure how we can educate the rest of the world about, say, aspects of Tanzanian or South African culture in Swahili, when it’s not the world’s lingua franca. I speak Ibibio, and only use it to communicate with my family; it doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose at the moment.
Akpan, United Kingdom

I prefer Swahili to other languages, but that doesn’t mean i hate English or other tongues. I feel every ones language should be given its importance. the majority of people in developing countries don’t speak English. So its best if they start with A,B and then C. so I believe its the best idea to put our languages first ,especially in our countries.
Eva, Arusha, Tanzania.

African Language are fantastic its makes you feel at home when you speak it. To be taught as a subject could be a big waste of time in school because it can’t take you anywhere.
Daniel Kibaga, Nairobi/Kenya

It is very important that African people are able to read, write and speak in their respective languages. It disgusts me that English has become so dominant in the world. While it remains an important language, there is no reason for other languages to be forgotten and ignored.
Elizabeth , Helena, United States

What would we have to call our own if there was nothing like a mothers tongue to be proud of?
Abubakar Ibrahim, Accra, Ghana

Our language is our identity. If we cannot hold on to it we may as well continue to be seen as slaves of another origin. the two widely spoken languages in the world, French and English are colonial languages and obviously not our identity. and so if not for anything at all, for the purpose of self-belonging and self-ownership it is prudent to project the African language.
Charlz Kwabena Annor, Accra, Ghana

Of course African languages are important. It has taken so long for them to be institutionalised, used at schools and in official government activities. Now African government should do that and teach them at schools. Time has come to incorporate in the curriculum other African languages as compulsory subject that will help in the goal of African Unity and informal people to people interaction. Nkosi I Sikeleli I Africa.
Washoka, Oxford

Yes, it’s absolutely important, it might not get me a job in wall street or for that matter anywhere in the western corporate world. So what, that is not the end of the world. But our language is our identity it is the product of the hard work of our brilliant forefathers.
Mulugeta Ephraim, Debre Markos, Gojjam, Ethiopia

Our languages are the identity and the culture we represent. Courses of African languages should at least be taught in schools so we can successfully build our nations and unite our people. Abdullahi Nur
Abdullahi Nur, Columbus, OH USA

African language as a subject in schools should be made compulsory in areas where such languages are spoken for the first few years of school. In Nigeria Mathematics and English are compulsory up to the last year of High school. Why not Esan language in the Esan speaking areas of Nigeria. Same for all other African languages.
Anthony Okosun, USA

Yes. I am an Edo speaking man and I love it. Although I reside abroad, I still speak my local language with my friends and family members when I call home. It is very important to be able to write, read and speak ones language fluently. It is a part of our cultural heritage and must be preserved. My children are also learning. On the long run, I will send them to Benin City, Nigeria for some years in order to master the language properly. Every African society, Sons and Daughters both home and abroad should do everything possible to preserve our mother tongue. We cannot fold our hands and allow Western influence or English to wipe out our cultural heritage. While English language is good, we must do everything to preserve our local languages. God bless mama Africa.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA


May 15, 2009


Address by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO,
on the occasion of the Dialogue session
on the Role of Monarchs
in the Development of Science and Technology
in Nigeria
UNESCO, 20 March 2007
Your Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife, Olubuse II,
Your Royal Majesty, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano,
Your Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, Agbogidi,
Your Excellency, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi,
Mr President of the General Conference,
Mr Chairman of the Executive Board,
Honourable Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure and honour to welcome you to UNESCO Headquarters for
this special session on the Role of Monarchs in the Development of Science and
Technology in Nigeria.
Let me begin by extending a very warm welcome to our royal guests from Nigeria.
We are privileged to have with us today the traditional rulers of the three most
important kingdoms in the country.
I would also like to welcome and thank our other distinguished participants. Among
us this morning is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Professor
Akinyemi, the Ambassdors of Nigeria to France and UNESCO, as well as the
President of UNESCO’s General Conference and the Chairman of the Executive
Board. Such high-level engagement is testimony to the strength of our cooperation
with Nigeria, and the importance of the subject before us.
DG/2007/027 – Original: English
Your Majesties, UNESCO is greatly honoured by your visit. This Organization
supports and deeply admires the pioneering role that you are playing in Nigeria’s
development. Through your engagement in decision-making at national and local
levels, and your commitment to social cohesion, mutual understanding and cultural
diversity, you are helping to lead Nigeria towards lasting peace and prosperity.
Your recent decision to focus on promoting science and technology is of particular
importance, especially within the context of the recommendations made by the
African Union during its 8th Summit in Addis Ababa in January.
The theme chosen for this Summit was “Science, Technology and Scientific
Research for Development”. This is symbolic of the growing recognition in Africa of
the importance of science and technology to sustainable development and
economic growth. It is also evidence of the commitment that now exists, at the
highest political level, to achieve progress in this area.
The Summit, which I had the honour to attend, has given major new impetus to
efforts to strengthen scientific capacity on the continent. Among the many important
actions taken, was the decision to declare 2007 as the launching year of building
constituencies and champions for science, technology and innovation in Africa.
Your Majesties’ new initiative to promote science and technology in Nigeria is one
of the first answers to this call by the African Union.
Let me say that UNESCO looks forward to collaborating with you closely in this
endeavour. We already have a Special Plan of Cooperation with Nigeria. At the
centre of this is an ambitious programme to reform and revitalize the National
Science and Innovation System. This programme has led to such achievements as:
the creation of a Science and Technology Forum for Parliamentarians; the
establishment of a high-level science governance structure chaired by the President
of Nigeria; as well as the proposal to create a 5 billion US dollar Endowment Fund
for the establishment of a Nigerian National Science Foundation.
I believe that your new initiative can help to build on and expand this progress,
especially in terms of mobilizing Nigeria’s rich cultural and linguistic diversity in
support of the development of science and technology.
DG/2007/027 – Page 2
Your Majesties, I understand that the common theme in your new initiative is to
encourage the use of Nigeria’s main mother tongues in the teaching of science –
namely Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. This is an approach that UNESCO welcomes and
UNESCO attaches great importance to the preservation and development of
mother tongues. As I emphasized in my message on International Mother
Language Day this year, the mother tongue is both part of our identity, and the
means by which we learn about others and the world around us.
Languages, that is, are not only an essential component of human nature and, as
such, a fundamental part of culture and society.
Languages are also of strategic importance to meeting international development
objectives, including the MDGs.
The ability to participate in public life, gain access to education and information, and
engage in dialogue is to a great extent dependent on language skills.
Inasmuch as languages enfold and convey local knowledge and practices, their
protection is also central to the sound management of natural resources and
environmental sustainability.
By promoting science teaching in mother tongues, therefore, you are helping to
preserve Nigeria’s linguistic and cultural diversity, to expand access to scientific
knowledge, and also to draw on indigenous resources. You are above all working to
raise awareness at all levels of society of the importance of science and technology
to national development.
In this regard, I wish to again congratulate Nigeria for having ratified the 2003
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This will
provide invaluable support to your efforts to promote linguistic diversity, and to
integrate traditional knowledge in the building of local innovation systems.
DG/2007/027 – Page 3
Your Majesties,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to turn now to two areas where I believe there could be particularly fruitful
cooperation between UNESCO and Africa’s monarchs in promoting science and
The first concerns the role of science in building peace. The experience of the Cold
War, and more recently our search for peace in the Middle East, shows that
scientific pursuits, such as the exchange of scientific knowledge and education of
young scientists, can be essential in creating links between people, institutions,
societies and cultures. There is great potential to use science, and in particular
collaboration in scientific research, to build bridges between communities and
ethnic groups.
The involvement of monarchs, who are traditionally responsible for peace building,
could significantly strengthen our action in this area. The Abuja Declaration –
adopted last year by the African Regional Conference on the Dialogue among
Civilisations, Cultures and Peoples – already provides direction on how we should
move forward.
The second area where we could cooperate is in strengthening the relationship
between formal and indigenous knowledge systems.
To address this challenge, UNESCO created the Local and Indigenous Knowledge
Systems or LINKS programme. This looks at how scientific and indigenous
knowledge can be brought together in critical fields such as resource management
and sustainable development. It also underlines the important role that traditional
knowledge can play alongside science in the formal education system. This has
become a fundamental issue for science policymakers in many parts of the world.
The LINKS programme further draws attention to the significance of local
knowledge in fulfilling basic needs and achieving international development goals. It
highlights the importance of sustaining traditional knowledge systems – including
traditional languages – to combating poverty, disease and environmental
DG/2007/027 – Page 4
degradation. It also raises awareness of the contribution of women to development,
as holders of a large part of traditional knowledge.
Here again, open and respectful dialogue is crucial. Through their capacity to reach
out to people, traditional rulers can play an invaluable role in fostering mutual
understanding and exchange among scientific and indigenous knowledge holders.
In conclusion, Your Majesties, allow me to express once more my deep
appreciation for your visit. It offers the opportunity to forge new partnerships and
identify fresh areas for cooperation between UNESCO and Nigeria. It is also an
occasion to reflect more broadly on the unique role that Africa’s monarchs can play
in the development of the continent. I hope that your commitment to science and
technology will serve as an inspiration for others. Today’s discussion is certainly the
beginning of a much wider debate. I wish you great success in your work, and look
forward to the outcomes of your deliberations.
Thank you.


May 15, 2009


Fafunwa Foundation Internet Journal of Education
Language Education In Nigeria


Natural language has many unique properties among which is that it plays dual role in most known formal educational systems. Thus it features, on the one hand, as a subject on the school curriculum, and accordingly permits one to talk of Language Education in much the same way that one would talk of Physics Education, Science Education, Economics Education, etc. On the other hand and completely unlike any of the other subjects on the curriculum, it also serves all over the world as the medium of instruction in all subjects, including itself. This latter role of it is fully captured under the title of Language in Education. Thus, Language Education and Language in Education refer to the two distinct roles that natural language plays in Education. Only the former of these two roles will be touched upon in the present discussion.

Early Efforts in Language Education
Formal Western type education was introduced into the country by Christian Missionaries just before the middle of the nineteenth century. For about four decades after that initial date, both the nature and main thrust of Language Education in the country were completely left to those missionaries to decide (Taiwo 1980: 10 – 11; Fafunwa 1974:92). And given the well-known belief of most such missionaries, first, that the African child was best taught in his native language (Hair 1967:6), and, second, that the interests of Christianity would best be served by actually propagating that religion in indigenous languages, it is not at all surprising that the teaching and learning of indigenous languages received much genuine attention in those early days of Western type education in the country.
But not everybody liked or approved of the products of such a system of education. Quite the contrary; members of the then elite were widely of the view that the people turned out under that system of education were not well enough suited to the job market of those days, whose unsatisfied needs were for persons with training in English rather than in the indigenous languages (Taiwo 1980:11). Influenced perhaps only in part by such views, the governments in the country began as from the early 1980’s gradually to intervene in Education of the country with a view to according English a lot more prominence in it. Over time, that policy succeeded so well that interest in language education in the country shifted substantially away from the indigenous languages towards English, the language of the colonial masters. Proof of this was that, first, pupils and their parents gradually formed the opinion, which is regrettably still widely held even today, that it was financially more rewarding to study English than any of the indigenous languages; second, certification became conditional upon passing English; and, finally, the various governments in the country from the colonial times till well past the attainment of political independence in 1960 rarely felt that they had any duty to promote the study of the indigenous languages whereas
they considered themselves obliged to encourage and even enforce the study of English.
Luckily for the indigenous languages, however, the realities of the situation then, as now, were such that the teaching of the indigenous few school children, if any at all, in those days spoke any English before actually entering school. Such children therefore had willy-nilly to be instructed in the medium of their mother-tongues until they had gained enough proficiency in English by their fourth, fifth or even sixth year in school to be able to receive all or most formal instruction in it. But even up to this stage the mother-tongue existed as an optional subject on the curriculum, particularly in the case of those languages like Efik, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba that were lucky enough not only to have been reduced to writing but to also have sufficient reading materials both sacred and secular for use in teaching school children.

The Birth of National Policy on Language Education
Not only have some indigenous languages thus been taught in schools since formal Western type education was first introduced into the country, after the attainment of political independence in 1960, the wisdom of giving English so much importance in Government and Education also began gradually to be questioned. Thus, some people felt, and openly canvassed in Parliament for English to be replaced as official language by one of our indigenous languages some twenty years after independence (Bamgbose 1976:12 – 13). Others who were particularly worried by the problem most people in the country actually have in understanding English and communicating well in it, advised that more effort should be put into the teaching of the major indigenous languages to enable them to serve as an alternative to English as official means of communication in Government and Business (Osaji 1979: 159 quoting the White Paper on the Udoji Report).
The overall effect of suggestions and pressures of this kind was to bring about an important shift in the attitude of the Government, particularly at the Federal level, to the indigenous languages. The shift took, to begin with, the form of an admission by Government of what had long been known to linguists and anthropologists, namely, that a language is simultaneously a vehicle for a people’s culture and a means of maintaining and indefinitely preserving that culture. The implication of this, which Government came to see and appreciate, is that if we are not ultimately to lose our national identity together with our rich indigenous cultures, then we must begin to pay more attention to the teaching of our indigenous languages. In addition to seeing the relationship between language and culture, the Government also came to see the indigenous languages more clearly for what they had all along been, viz, a veritable and practical means of communication, some of which could very easily be harnessed for effecting national integration, a matter of paramount importance for a country still struggling to consolidate its independence.
What with these considerations, made somewhat explicit in Section 1, paragraph 8 of NPE (See below), the Federal Government began from the late 1970’s onward to take official interest in, and make policy pronouncements on the teaching of the indigenous languages, instead of concerning itself solely with English as hitherto. Thus, in an official document first published in 1977, revised in 1981, and titled Federal Republic of Nigeria National Policy on Education (NPE), the Federal Government for the first time laid it down as a policy for the whole country that:
(a) in primary School, which lasts six years, each child must study two languages, namely:
(i) his mother-tongue (if available for study) or an indigenous language of wider communication in his area of domicile, and
(ii) English language;
(b) in Junior Secondary School (JSS), which is of three years’ duration, the child must study three languages, viz:
(i) his mother-tongue (if available for study) or an indigenous language of wider communication in his area of domicile,
(ii) English language, and
(iii) just any one of the three major indigenous language in the country, namely, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, provided the Language chosen is distinct from the child’s mother-tongue;
(c) in Senior Secondary School (SSS), which also lasts three years, the child must study two languages, viz:
(i) an indigenous language, and
(ii) English language.

French and Arabic exist under the policy as language options at both the Junior and Senior Secondary School levels.
No specific prescriptions are made in the policy document under reference for language education at the tertiary level of education, it being felt, presumably, that the choice of subjects at that high level will necessarily be determined by the choices already made at the Primary and Secondary School levels.
Given what was said earlier, it can be seen that the teaching of English in the schools is of course not a new policy initiated by the NPE. Similarly for the teaching of the indigenous languages, or at least the teaching of some of them, as mother tongues. These two types of languages have continuously featured in the country’s schools since the middle of the nineteenth century. As it actually turns out, the only innovation in the NPE as far as language education is concerned is the teaching of the three major indigenous languages as second languages. That had never happened before in the country, at least within the formal school system.

Constitutional Backing for Language Education
The Government as government had and continues to have inherent power to formulate policies regarding all aspects of life in the country, including that of education. But as if to make assurance doubly sure that the Government’s power in this particular matter is placed well beyond doubt or dispute, a brand new subsection was written into that portion of the country’s 1989 constitution dealing with the educational objectives of state policy. The subsection in question, viz: sub-section 19(4), says simply that “Government shall encourage the learning of indigenous languages.” It is providentially cast in such general terms as allows it to be easily read as fully sanctioning everything the Government had done up to that point in time in regard to the teaching of the indigenous languages. Thus, it sanctions the policy requiring the teaching at the Primary and Junior Secondary School levels of the child’s mother tongue or, in the alternative, some indigenous language of wider communication in his place of domicile. There being nothing specifically said there to the contrary, it can also be readily construed as permitting the teaching of the three major indigenous languages as second languages.

Mother Tongue Teaching
The country is believed to have about four hundred distinct indigenous languages. As each of the languages is by definition a mother tongue, in theory they all qualify to be taught as school subjects under the NPE policy on language education in Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. However, because most of them each have such small numbers of speakers, it would not appear at all practical to actually teach them as school subjects. For precisely this reason, according to Brann (1977:47), the former National Language Center, now transformed into the current Language Development Center (LDC) and placed under the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), in 1976 suggested that, in addition to the three major languages, viz: Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, only the following nine of the remaining 387 or so indigenous languages in the country should be allowed to feature in the country’s formal school system: Edo, Fulfulde, Ibibio, Idoma, Igala, Ijo, Kanuri, Nupe, and Tiv.
Technically very sound as that suggestion may actually be, it overlooks or completely ignores the degree of loyalty some of the so called minority groups feel towards their respective languages, as a result of which they appear ready to go to any length to ensure that such languages are formally taught to their children in school. One such group is formed by the Urhobos of Delta State, for whose language commercially printed Primers and Readers have existed for about ten years now. Another group is that of the Ghotuos of Edo State, whose language, according to Elugbe (1991), is currently being reduced to writing preparatory to the production of Primers and Readers for teaching it in Primary School. Some other groups further afield that would appear to fall under this category are the Ebiras of Kogi State, the Gwaris of Niger, Kebbi, and Kaduna States, and the Jukuns and Kuteps of Taraba State. The loyalty that members of these groups feel towards their individual languages, particularly in the case of the Jukuns and Kuteps, is so strong that it appears somewhat unlikely that they would be prepared to give up such languages altogether and adopt another indigenous language of wider communication instead. Accordingly, one would expect that, with time, the number of indigenous languages featuring in the nation’s schools would rise beyond the twelve suggested by the former National Language Center.
Whatever the number of such languages may eventually turn out to be, however, what seems very clear for now is that only very few of them are currently being adequately taught. The three major indigenous languages that have always been taught in the schools since the second half of the nineteenth century belong to this small group. Not only are the three languages fully taught and examined as mother tongues in Primary and Secondary Schools, they have for the past twenty or so years now also been taught and examined as Single Honours subjects at first and higher degree levels, particularly in the case of Yoruba and Hausa. Efik/Ibibio has also long featured as a school subject. It is, together with the three major languages, in the very small class of four indigenous languages examined for several decades now by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), and may by now have started being examined at Certificate and first degree levels as well. Edo and Kanuri are currently taught for some years in Primary School, and are also taught at Certificate level and as part of first degree programme, all in an attempt to increase the number of people that could be employed and deployed to teach the two languages in Primary School. The University of Maiduguri has at least on its books programme for teaching fulfulde at Certificate level preparatory to the teaching of the language in Primary School. Similarly, it would appear, for some of the Rivers State languages taught at the University of Port-Harcourt.
Other than the above mentioned languages and perhaps a few others taught at some of the newer State-owned Colleges of Education, none of the other indigenous languages in the country are regularly taught in the nation’s schools. The reason for the this is two-fold. First, only a few of the languages have enough materials to sustain teaching them as they really ought to be taught at any level. Only Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba can at all be said to satisfy this implied criterion of teaching materials for Primary and Secondary Schools, and to varying degrees for the tertiary level also. Efik/Ibibio would seem to satisfy that same criterion for Primary and Secondary School levels, but not for degree level. The remaining indigenous languages each have a very long way to go yet in this regard, particularly for those of them that are yet to be reduced to writing. Second, and once again, only the three major indigenous languages can actually boast of enough teachers at all levels, this being more so for Yoruba than for the other two languages. While Efik/Ibibio may have teachers fully trained to teach that language at Primary and Secondary school levels, it would not appear to have enough people who could teach it at the tertiary level.

The Teaching of Indigenous Second Languages
The teaching of the three major indigenous languages as second languages is faced with both logistic and conceptual problems. To take the latter first, the National Policy on Education, as indicated earlier, requires each school child at the Junior Secondary School level to study one of those three languages in addition to his mother tongue. However, for practical reasons, as also indicated earlier, many school children cannot actually study their mother tongues but must study an indigenous language of wider communication instead in Primary School as well as at the junior Secondary School. This being the case, suppose the language of wider communication that some such children have to study as their mother tongue or first language (L1) is one of the three major indigenous languages, as could well be the case for children in Bauchi, Plateau, and Kaduna States, for example, where Hausa would appear to serve as a language of wider communication, and in parts of Ondo, Edo, and Kogi States, where Yoruba similarly serves as a language of wider communication. In that event, should such children be required to study yet another major indigenous language as their second language (L2)? This is an important policy question to which different answers have been given by different observers of the scene in the country. Thus, Bamgbose (1977:23), for example, feels that such children, by having indigenous language as their L1 would have satisfied both the letter and the spirit of Section 1, Paragraph 8 of NPE, which says:

In addition to appreciating the importance of language in the educational process, and as a means of preserving the people’s culture, the Government considers it to be in the interest of national unity that each child should be encouraged to learn one of the three major languages other than his own mother-tongue. In this connection, the Government considers the three major languages in Nigeria to be Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba.

Awobuluyi (1966: 17 – 18, 1979: 19; 1991b) on the other hand is of the opinion
that children of the kind in question would only have satisfied the letter but not the spirit
of the above quoted NPE language provision. The spirit of that provision, which derives from the needs of national unity, would seem to Awobuluyi to require each school child in the country to be able to communicate in a major indigenous language native to some major cultural zone in the country other than his own. That being the case, a child who has studied a major indigenous language as his first language has thereby only been exposed to his own major cultural zone, and must therefore study yet another major indigenous language as his second language in order to fulfil the real spirit of the language provision in question.
What these two divergent answers clearly reveal is that a substantial issue of policy requiring urgent clarification remains concerning the teaching of the three major languages as second languages.
Yet another relevant issue of policy which has, however, tentatively unofficially been clarified concerns the one Nigerian language required to be studied as a core subject at the Senior Secondary School level. As NPE regrettably omits to indicate whether the language should be the child’s L1 or his L2, different states in the country initially tended to interpret the language provision concerned differently, to suit their individual purposes or biases. Later, however, the National Council on Education (NCE), the highest policy-making body for Education in the country, ruled that the language must be the child’s L2. But then, as pointed out in Awobuluyi (1991a), that ruling of the NCE’s is certain to prove very injurious to the growth and development of the three major languages, as it would in effect prevent them from being studied as L1 beyond the Junior Secondary School level. Similarly for all the other indigenous languages that qualify to be studied as L1 in the nation’s schools. To avoid this most undesirable consequence, therefore, it has been suggested and also recommended to the Government in (Bamgbose and Akere 1991:3.8) that the single Nigerian language each child must study as a core subject at the Senior Secondary School level should be either his L1 or his L2. An early decision by the Government on this particular recommendation would completely eliminate the uncertainty and confusion that have hitherto both characterised and bedeviled the teaching of the three major indigenous languages as L2 in the country’s secondary schools.
Lack of suitable pedagogical materials in the form of bilingual dictionaries and L2 pupils’ and teachers’ printed and/or tape-recorded texts, and an acute inadequacy of suitable trained L2 teachers for the three major indigenous languages have also constituted a very major problem militating against teaching them as L2 in Secondary Schools throughout the country, so much so that probably no more than ten percent of such schools actually currently teach any of the languages as L2, ten or so years after they should have started being so taught in all Secondary schools. A very noteworthy positive step was recently taken in this connection with the establishment in Aba, Imo State, of the Institute of Nigerian Languages, whose main functions, one gathers, are to train L2 teachers and produce audio-visual materials for teaching the three major indigenous languages. However, the Institute, even after becoming fully operational, will not be able to produce more than a very small percentage of the teachers actually needed for teaching the languages in question as L2 throughout the country. That being the case, it would seem advisable to involve the conventional universities also in the project for training L2 teachers for those languages.

The Teaching of English
English, as indicated much earlier, has for well over a century now continued to enjoy the pride of place in the nation’s educational system. Thus, whereas indigenous languages are rarely given more than three lesson periods a week on the school time-table, English never has less than five periods, and may even be given as many as seven or eight periods particularly in schools that prepare students for the Oral English examination. Avidly patronised by commercial publishers,the language enjoys a profusion of pedagogical materials, and in this respect contrasts sharply with the indigenous languages, the vast majority of which lack enough materials for teaching them as L1 even for a few years in Primary School.
Nevertheless, the teaching of the language in the nation’s schools has its own problems too, just as the teaching of the indigenous languages does, as indicated above. By far the most serious of such problems has to do with the quality of the teachers available for teaching the language. Nearly all such teachers are L2 speakers. Few L2 speakers who were themselves taught by other L2 speakers who, in their turn, had learned the language necessarily imperfectly from other L2 speakers of English in the nation’s schools today have a good enough command of the written and spoken forms of the language, particularly the latter, that they could impart with confidence to their pupils. To make matters worse still, most such teachers have no training in Contractive Linguistics and therefore are unable to understand and consequently devise effective pedagogical strategies for combating the mostly mother-tongue induced kinds of learners’ errors that recur in their pupils’ written and oral performances in the language.
Another problem besetting the teaching of English relates to the books that are available locally in the language. Although the country has come a long way in regard to the production of locally written texts in English, a lot of books particularly for children nevertheless still have to be imported from abroad. And as such books are written and meant for other cultures than ours, one of their glaring shortcomings as books for the nation’s schools is their cultural inappropriateness.
The teaching and examination syllabuses for the language in Primary and Secondary Schools would appear to be over ambitious and therefore inappropriate for those two levels. Thus, primary school children being prepared for the Common Entrance Exam (used for determining admission into Secondary Schools) are expected to be able to tell, for instance, what verb forms, whether singular or plural, the English conjunctions “and” and “as well as” require, a matter which even most adult native speakers of English would not know for certain and would therefore tend to avoid. Similarly, final year students in Secondary Schools are expected in their written English to display mastery and control of various registers, even though their control of the very basics of that language is so shaky that they scarcely can produce two to three grammatically flawless sentences at a time.
While the latter two problems of suitable textual materials and communicatively appropriate syllabuses can perhaps easily be solved with hard work and determination, this is not the case for the unsatisfactory quality of the teachers of English available for the nation’s schools. Ideally, the language ought to be taught in the country by its specially trained native speakers, but given the current down-turn in the country’s economy and the great demand for such teachers in other parts of the world such as the Gulf states that can better afford to pay them, the chances of being able to recruit those teachers in adequate numbers for the nation’s schools are nil. Accordingly, the possibility of effecting appreciable improvement in the quality of the English spoken in the country as a whole would appear very remote indeed.

The Teaching of French and Arabic
Although French and Arabic are elective subjects on the Secondary School Curriculum, both Junior and Senior, the Government is fully aware of the problems that are sure to attend the teaching of both languages in the nation’s schools, seeing that they are foreign languages for which pupils wilt not readily find models to interact with on a daily basis. Accordingly, it has now established two Special language villages, one for Arabic in the north-east of the country, and another for French in the South-West, where students can, over periods ranging from six months to one whole year, experience full immersion in those two languages.
This approach to the teaching of French and Arabic has the unexpected benefit of pointing at or highlighting what would appear to be a fundamental fallacy in the teaching of English, namely, the assumption that the language is a second rather than a foreign language in Nigeria. As long as this assumption continues to hold sway, with the result that English is not seen as a foreign language and taught as such, the very low level of proficiency attained in it by teachers and necessarily by their pupils also will persist in the nation’s school system.

A comparison between the present state of language education in the country and its state, say, at the turn of the last century is certain to show that much progress has been made in the intervening period. The purpose of highlighting the many problems currently besetting particularly the teaching of English and the indigenous languages in the nation’s school system is not to deny that progress, which would be an intellectually dishonest thing to do. Rather it is to lay the basis for further or future progress in that order and at the same time provide a sort of reference point against which to meet or assess such progress.


Awobuluyi, O. 1966. “Towards a National Language,” Ibadan 22-16-18.

Awobuluyi, O. 1979. The New National Policy on Education in Linguistic Perspective. Ilorin, Nigeria: The University of Ilorin Press.

Awobuluyi, O. 1991a. `Curricula and Syllabuses for Nigerian Languages,’ to appear in The Proceedings of the Seminar on the Implementation of the Language Provisions of the National Policy on Education, edited by Bamgbose, A. and F. Akere.

Awobuluyi, O. 1991. `The National Language Question,’ a public lecture delivered under the Faculty of Arts Guest Lecture Series, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.

Bamgbose, A. 1976. `Language in national Integration: Nigeria as a case study,’ read at the 12th West African Languages Congress, University of Ife, Ife, Nigeria, March 15 – 20.

Bamgbose, A. 1977. `Towards an Implementation of Nigeria’s Language Policy in Education,’ in Bamgbose, A. (ed.) Language in Education in Nigeria. Vol. 1, Lagos, Nigeria: The National Language Center, Federal Ministry of Education, pp. 20 – 25.

Bamgbose, A. and F. Akere (eds.) Summary of Recommendations from the Seminar on the Implementation of the Language Provisions of the National Policy on Education, Abuja, Nigeria: Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, Federal Ministry of Education.

Brann, C.M.B. 1977. `Language Planning for Education in Nigeria: Some Demographic, Linguistics and Areal Factors,’ in Bamgbose, A. (ed.) Language in Education in Nigeria, Vol. 1. Lagos, Nigeria: The National Language Center, Federal Ministry of Education, pp. 47 – 61.

Elugbe, B.O. 1991. `The Teaching of Minor (Regional) Nigeria Languages,’ to appear in The Proceedings of the Seminar on the Implementation of the Language Provisions of the National Policy on Education, edited by Bamgbose, A. and F. Akere.

Fafunwa, A.B. 1974. History of Education in Nigeria, London: George Allen & Unwin.

Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1981. National Policy on Education. Revised. Lagos, Nigeria: NERDC Press.

Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1989. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ilorin, Nigeria: Woye Printers & Publishers.

Hair, P.E.H. 1967. The Early Study of Nigeria Languages: Essays and Bibliographies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Osaji, B. 1979. Language Survey in Nigeria. Publication B 13 – 81, International Center for Research on Bilingualism, Quebec, Canada.

Taiwo, C.O. 1980. The Nigeria Education System, Lagos, Nigeria: Thomas Nelson (Nigeria) Limited.


May 15, 2009


Decline of mother tongue in Africa
By Karen C. Aboiralor Lagos
Monday, February 18, 2008 Editorial Index

One of the most significant aspects of any culture is language. This is a combination of sounds and gestures in the facilitation of communication and tells who we are and where we come from. It is a very unique tool for identification and marks a tidy reflection of the multi-cultural dimension which different civilizations have passed through.

Sometimes, one may correctly tell another’s descent from his accent even when he is not speaking in his mother tongue because his phonetic habits inadvertently spill into his use of that language. This highlights the outstanding pedestal which language occupies in our culture. It is our heritage and a mark of our existence. We therefore must do everything we can to make sure that it is eternally preserved for we would be showing gross irreverence to our forebears and offering a great disservice to generations yet unborn if we failed to do so.

In most African homes where both parents hail from different ethnic groups, the common language spoken is a foreign one. Here, the children ought to be taught to speak both tongues which should in fact be an advantage but they rarely ever learn any. As the years go by, it gets more difficult as they receive further education in a foreign language. If at the point of starting their own families they get married to their like or to those who though understand their language come from elsewhere, the situation becomes even more complex.

It will not happen in ten years. Maybe not even fifty. But in another hundred years some tongues may become extinct in Africa. It is easy for someone to whisper somewhere that in that time, none of us would be here to witness it but let us remember that those before us sustained it and that was why we met it. We owe it a duty to our forebears to preserve a good thing we met from birth otherwise our selfish ingratitude may even consume us before our time.

This is not what western civilization taught. Much as it tried to impinge, it still taught us to uphold the tenets of our culture. For example, while the killing of babies in multiple births and such other fetish practices as sacrificing human blood for deities were abolished; our artefacts, seasons, languages and herbs were upheld. A school of thought has tried to blame it

on western civilization but I disagree. This is the collective result of our ineptitude and lack of social consciousness. The blame is entirely ours and we must accept our guilt.
I am an African living in Canada. When I say hello to Canadians on the street, they reply respectfully with a friendly hello and even a smile sometimes. I have never been shunned by any Canadian I greeted on the street. That is because they have been taught to preserve their culture which among other things preaches mutual respect. But what happens when I say hello to fellow Africans on the street? Many a time, they size me up first. Ostensibly to find out whether I belong to the same social stratum or whether I am a parasite.

The women want to be sure that I don’t intend it as a yardstick to get familiar. Some would only reply if they were comfortable with my physical appearance.
It is also not a secret that some of us are ashamed of our ancestry. Another consequence of our inability to preserve our mother tongue is this spiritless life we lead where there is no true bonding because we do not appreciate one another. If we cannot respect our language, it will be impossible to forge mutual respect and cohesion among ourselves. A future consequence will be the loss of our heritage and in effect our dignity as a people.

This thus calls for concerted effort. I agree that some tenets of our culture should be confined to the history books but language is not one of them. I also agree that people do have a right to their own choices. But the option of consuming our mother tongue will be selfish, ungrateful, bitter, unfortunate and expensive. We must all come together to save the situation. I implore that going forward; children are taught at least one traditional African language. Let those who can speak make it a point of duty to teach others while those who cannot, make it a point of duty to learn. A head start in this manner will go a long way in changing the tide in our favour.

One thing to cheer about though; Africans hardly ever show disrespect by speaking in their traditional language while in the company of anyone who does not understand that language. This conduct is exemplary and highly commendable. But I wish they’d transmit that respect to one another.


May 15, 2009


Local Languages: a Cultural Heritage Or Vice?

Daily Champion (Lagos)

April 21, 2005

Okoro Theophilus

THE rate at which the nation’s languages is gradually being subsumed by the influence of western cultures – languages – cannot be quantified. To many parents, they cannot just find a simple reason why they should bequeath to their children the native language – a cultural heritage.

In education, Nigeria has a mother tongue policy which requires that every child be taught in a mother tongue at the pre-primary and during the first three years of primary school. The policy states that where the mother tongue cannot be used, the language of the immediate environment, i.e. the dominant language of the community which the child already speaks is recommended.

In some regions in Nigeria especially the South-South, ‘pidgin’ has acquired a mother tongue status, such that many youths are unable to communicate in the local languages any more. Language experts or educationists in time past had advocated for the usage of Nigerian ‘pidgin’ in teaching especially in this area. This was the thinking of the National Commission for Mass Literacy Adult and Non Formal Education in 1992 which was introduced to produce literacy materials in Nigeria ‘pidgin’ unfortunately the project has since been suspended.

It is not uncommon to find parents teaching or communicating in English with their children without recourse to the necessity of first bequeathing their native languages to them. This imported city practice(s) has spread colossally to different parts of Nigeria, most especially the South East and the South-South areas.

This practise is quite becoming an acceptable norm for majority of the people, though it might not be condemned in its totality. But the parent must ensure that the child as a matter of priority UNDERSTANDS the mother tongue and SPEAKS it, before they (may) decide to change the code and educate him or her on the other. Civilization does not presuppose the abandonment of culture or one’s language, rather it requires an integrative approach in which such local languages are developed via the instrumentalities of communication in our day-to-day existence.

In our society today, thousands of our youth are unable to speak their native languages, and for this group, it is most likely that their lineage(s) will be affected seriously because they cannot bequeath to the generations to come what they don’t know.

That is why many foreigners who are resident on Nigeria and who are not of the English stock, such as Indians, Chinese, French, Japanese etc see the importance of their mother tongues and bequeath them to their children through the process of cultural transmission, before any other language would follow. This observation, shows that our Nigerian parents have got it wrong from the start, either due to ignorance of the wrongs of civilization as it relates to local languages or a clear show of apathy in its communicative uses due to personal ego and pride or put succinctly, of complexes which only a genuine and thorough appraisal of the unquantifiale disastrous consequences it portends for the future of local languages will correct. There is need for re-orientation for both parents and the youths who have ignorantly accepted this practice of speaking only foreign languages as a norm and view the local languages as a vice to be done away with.

The intimacy between a language and people who speak it are inseparable because a language lives only so long as there are people who speak and use it as their mother tongue, and its greatness is only that given to it by the people. That is why classical latin is a dead language because it has not evolved or changed and not used as a language of public communication. Lack of use might have accounted for the death of many local languages in the South-South today and in no distant future the South East will suffer the same fate if the people do not evolve an attitudinal change towards their culture.

A language is important because those who speak it are important politically, economically, culturally. English, French and German are great and important languages because they are the languages of great and important people.

If the native or local languages are not bequeathed to our children, how can the language(s) evolve over time from this present state of complexities to a process of progressive simplification in line with modernization? How can it become the language of great and important people? How can it preserve our cultural heritage? Greek for instance is studied in its classical form because of the great civilization which its literature preserves.

Information and culture are not matters of leisure. They are life and death issues in the world of today. We have to defend the culture of the people, because once the mind is conquered, the body will follow. If we allow the people outside to colonize us mentally, intellectually and culturally, then we are just slaves.

This doesn’t mean that English language is not important, it is an international language, a language of law, commerce, politics, administration, and of education and most importantly our lingua-Franca, hence, must be learnt, but not to be used as a substitute for our local languages. That is why the schools as agents of socialisation offer the opportunity for a child to be educated in English while his or her mental facilities are still alert to language acquisition.

Research and observation have shown that a child is capable of speaking as many as 8 different languages; the onus now is on the parents to minimize these potentialities inherent in the child as it relates to language acquisition. But by refusing to culturally transmit these local (native) languages to their wards at their prime in preference for English alone, it becomes very difficult for these youths to acquire these native languages when they become adolescent. Thus the child is ill-equipped to communicate, using other mediums in a dynamic and multi-lingual environment like ours, hence, preparing the native languages for imminent death.

J. Oswald Sanders once said that “the eyes that look are common, the eyes that see are rare.” It is neither a mark of wisdom nor of greater knowledge and understanding for the parents and the youths to continue this practice. We must begin to see the fate about to befall our local languages. Our youths are fast losing their cultural heritage due to neglect of indigenous languages and if nothing is urgently done to reverse the trend, Nigeria’s cultural heritage and linguistic diversity would be lost and the nations personality subsumed by other cultural influences.

%d bloggers like this: