Posts Tagged ‘SAVE AFRICAN LANGUAGES’

“THE DEATH OF YORUBA LANGUAGE?-YORUBA IS DYING-YORUBAS ARE BUSY MIXING/DESTROYING THE LANGUAGE WITH ENGLISH-AT YORUBA WEDDING CEREMONIES,CHURCHES,PRIVATE SCHOOLS ETC.-STOP KILLING YORUBA LANGUAGE:YORUBA RUNU!

July 3, 2010

FROM speakyoruba.blogspot.com

LEARN YORUBA LANGUAGE-THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE!

Saturday, July 3, 2010
“THE DEATH OF YORUBA LANGUAGE?”-BY YEYE AKILIMALI FUNUA OLADE(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER,2005
((originally first published in the guardian newspaper)

She is the Chief librarian of the African Heritage Research Library,and in this article, makes a case for Yoruba language

THAT English, the ready-made weapon of British-American cultural imperialism, is not just trying to destroy African languages, but is attacking all other languages worldwide, I agree. Ojoogbon Akinwunmi Isola, related to me during a discussion with Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa, the problem the French are having with English. He stated that the French government had recently warned all French broadcasters to stop polluting French with English, as is now popular in general French conversation, or face dismissal.

The greatest tragedy in Yorubaland today, however, regarding language is the dominating trend to speak only English to their children, making it their first language, then sending them to private nursery school, who only teach in English and causing Yoruba children to value English above all other languages! (After all their WAEC will not be in Yoruba, one highly*educated Yoruba man told me!) And see the result! These English-speaking children will rudely use English to disrespect all and sundry (after all English does not have pronouns of respect for anybody). Ask them or some of their parents and they will tell you they don’t know the original Yoruba for the popular phrases that many literate and non-literate leaders and followers commonly use throughout Yorubaland.

As a Black-American, who has come back to her Yoruba roots these past 26 years in Nigeria, I want to break down in tears over this “iyonu”! How can Yorubas kill their own language? What sort of curse is this? Obviously the curse of european-american imperialism/colonialism/slavery! As a result I have declared “War Against Destroying Our Nigerian Languages” from today. And it must start from Yorubaland. Are not the Yorubas the “wisest and the greatest”? As everything good seems to start from Yorubaland in Nigeria, “let it be so”. Full-blooded Yoruba, as of today should consciously seek not to mix English with their Yoruba. Yoruba leaders must slowly speak, watching their tongues, not to include any English word inside their Yoruba.

It has gotten to a state where such leaders cannot avoid mixing English as they speak Yoruba and their every sentence includes whole English phrases! The late Yoruba leader, Oloye Bola Ige was a pure Yoruba language speaker and other Yoruba leaders should follow his example. All clubs and organisations in Yorubaland should hold bi-annual and annual Yoruba Speaking Competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”, with heavy monetary prizes (N20,000 plus) to get Yorubas to consciously practice speaking Yoruba without any English mixture. Yoruba broadcasters are guilty of promoting this deadly trend. In schools, Yoruba teachers must stress the importance of not mixing Yoruba. All private schools in Yorubaland must be required to have classes in Yoruba language from nursery through secondary school levels. And any student who fails to pass Yoruba in Yorubaland must not be allowed to graduate!

The Yoruba press must be commended for indeed holding the banner high and not polluting Yoruba with English. More effort, however, must be made to eliminate “pasito”, “professor”, “dokita” words as most of them have genuine Yoruba words that can be enlisted and popularised among their readers. Yoruba departments in Nigerian and foreign universities must start churning out more research on modernising Yoruba for technical, scientific and other vocabulary and making it available through special courses for the media and the general Yoruba public. Yoruba writers must begin to write and publish bilingual publications. For any publication they publish in English, its Yoruba equivalent must be done. In the same book (Yoruba-from the front, turn upside down, English from the back) is one way to do it or in a title simultaneously released. More books, magazines, other publications like club histories, year books must be published in Yoruba. Yoruba music too, has been assaulted by Yoruba artists, unknowingly killing Yoruba language. The mixture of English has reached a new high in Fuji. Yoruba gospel has started mixing English inside Yoruba songs within Yoruba cassettes, adding along side complete English songs! Olodumare!

Such artists must be warned—no more killing of the language in this manner. If it is English you want then put that on an English cassette. Do not replace our God-given Yoruba in a Yoruba music cassette! Yoruba movie practitioners are perhaps the biggest offenders and must take up this challenge to save Yoruba language. English nixing should absolutely be banned in all Yoruba films. I have not researched the topic but I suspect that Hausa, is probably the most unpolluted language in Nigeria, and in all their films that I have seen no English there at all. The beauty of the Yoruba language must be showcased by having more Yoruba Cultural Festivals to be held by all clubs and organisations in Yorubaland annually.

Odua’s People Congress and other enforcers of law and order in Yorubaland must be in the vanguard, not only by stressing among its members that Yoruba should not be polluted but by holding bi*Annual Yoruba Speaking competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”. They must lead the way in correct Y oruba speaking and have literacy classes for all their members to learn to read in Yoruba and encourag them to speak Yoruba in the home to their children: Yoruba must become again the first language of Yorubas at home and abroad. A private Yoruba school system must be set up. These schools will teach all subjects in Yoruba from nursery up to the university eventually. If it must be like a “mushroom school”, starting with nursery school first and adding class by class this must be done. This Yoruba Academy can be supported extensively by Yorubas abroad, eventually having board houses were Yoruba children from abroad can join their counterparts here, (including all “classes of children, street children etc.) This Yoruba Academy will inculcate Yoruba culture into our children also. With the help of our Yoruba scholars we can build on Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa’s successful “Mother-tongue Education” at University of Ife in the 60s. Afterall, even UNESCO has proven that Mother-tongue Education is the best for all children.

Let Yoruba Language not die! God has given the Yoruba race a language to be proud of, anywhere in the world (there are at least 60 million or more Yoruba speakers throughout the world). Let’s not destroy it with our own mouths! Let us pass it on in its richness to our children, daily in our home. Let us proudly speak it daily, read it daily, champion it daily. Yorubas cannot remain great without our language. And let us be in the vanguard of saving all Nigerian and African languages. Biu, Ogoni, Urhorbo, Igele, Ogoja, Ebira, Idoma, Efik, Tiv, Langale: Tangale, Kagona, Kutep, Oron, Legdo, Bubiaro, Esan, Afima, lsekiri, Ijaw, Edo, Ikenne, Joba, Gwari, lbo, Igala, Hausa, speakers are you listening?

http://www.tribune.com.ng/16062007/arts.html
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06-16-2007 11:46 AM#2vince
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Death ke?!Iro o!Agbedo!
Eledumare teaming up with Orunmila will never let it happen!
Eewo orisha!
Ko gbodo shele!
Ka ma ri!
Long live,yoruba language and all the other african lingos,ojare!
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06-16-2007 11:54 AM#3vince
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The writer is a little bit too optimistic,though.Speaking yoruba without polluting it….sorry,supporting it with ede geesi in this modern times,is a bit dificult o!But i can understand where he/she is coming from,and going to.
Now here is something really strange(just in case none of you have observed it yet),when you try to “speak” 100% yoruba,you’ll mostly find the going very tough,but start writing it and you find it a lot easier!Now,that’s weird!How can one be able to write a language in it’s pure form,while one finds it so tough to speak it?
Maybe somebody can explain that to me.

My final parting salvo is this,”Kolo metality is still very much alive and kicking.Africans are still playing the i-want-to-belong-in-a-whiteman’s-world game as if their lives depend on it.”

Don’t be surprised to discover that quite a number of africans unconsciously harbour the belief that the more western you are,the closer you are to entering the kingdom of heaven.No english name,no visa to heaven.No ability to speak english,and the gates of heaven will remain closed on you for eternity.
It is a neverending struggle to “fit in”, for the black race.Pathetic.
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06-16-2007 12:41 PM#4praizes2000
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Yoruba cannot remain great without our language.

True talk my sista, i hope we will all learn especially the so called rich men that prefer private school for their kids.

What happened to afasefetepe, afahonferigipe my Yoruba langage that i learnt in my school (Naija) in those days.
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06-16-2007 01:08 PM#5kolinzo
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This writer is not lying at all o. Yoruba Language is not the only language gradually goint into extinction but the Yoruba local dialects as well. Kolo mentality has a lot to do with this. However, I have taken it upon myself to play my part of the Yoruba language preservation -which means Yooba would be the first language for my unborn child. What parts are you guys going to take?
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06-16-2007 02:10 PM#6Peaches
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tough one. My friend only a few weeks ago baptized her daughter: Mirabelle! I just wondered what was wrong with Motunrayo or Modupe or something like that. Shame!
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06-17-2007 06:53 AM#7vince
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Originally Posted by kolinzo
This writer is not lying at all o. Yoruba Language is not the only language gradually goint into extinction but the Yoruba local dialects as well. Kolo mentality has a lot to do with this. However, I have taken it upon myself to play my part of the Yoruba language preservation -which means Yooba would be the first language for my unborn child. What parts are you guys going to take?
If i ever start making movies,99% of them will be in naija lingos,and a lion share will be in my own native tongue,yooba.That will be my own preservation contribution.
And no foreign name for my pickin,as well.
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06-17-2007 03:31 PM#8Tiron
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Yes, we all have a part to play in keeping our indigenous languages alive.

I have an unusual and uncommon Yoruba first name. When I first started in my professional field, students and fellow colleagues used to smile whenever I introduced myself to a new group. No one EVER forgot/forgets my name.

My children, though UK born and bred, also have Yoruba names. They also understand some Yoruba. I speak it to them diluted with English in most cases I admit!

I have this British Naija friend called Shola. She gets mad whenever some of her “Asan” Naija friends or English colleagues/friends pronounce her name “Show-u-lar”. In fact, it was one of the reasons why she fell out with an “asan”, plum-in-her-mouth, friend of hers recently.
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06-17-2007 04:36 PM#9gqbabe
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http://www.tribune.com.ng/16062007/arts.html
i agree wif the text in purple but i think the text in bold is bullcrap!
http://r.yuwie.com/partypeoplepresents – Get paid to browse!!!

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06-18-2007 08:16 AM#10vince
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Originally Posted by gqbabe
i agree wif the text in purple but i think the text in bold is bullcrap!
I think it is in order.A concrete,even draconian steps like that need to be taken to preserve that precious gift from God to us,yoruba language.
The british did it to us with their language and left us to continue to do it to ourselves(no english,no graduation).
So why can’t the yorubas do it for the sake of preserving their own language in yorubaland?
Bullcrap,it is not.IMHO.

I just think that those sleeping yoruba intellects need to wake up from their slumber and get down to updating and upgrading yoruba language to fit the modern era.
Telling modern yorubas to start speaking old yoruba is very unfrealistic.The language needs to be modernised to fit our era.
How they set out to do this is their headache.Shebi they are the intellects.
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06-18-2007 11:51 AM#11Gen Sani Abacha
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Originally Posted by vince
If i ever start making movies,99% of them will be in naija lingos,and a lion share will be in my own native tongue,yooba.That will be my own preservation contribution.
And no foreign name for my pickin,as well.
That’s why I have made a commitment to write fiction in Yoruba as well as English!
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06-18-2007 11:54 AM#12Gen Sani Abacha
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Originally Posted by vince
I think it is in order.A concrete,even draconian steps like that need to be taken to preserve that precious gift from God to us,yoruba language.
The british did it to us with their language and left us to continue to do it to ourselves(no english,no graduation).
So why can’t the yorubas do it for the sake of preserving their own language in yorubaland?
Bullcrap,it is not.IMHO.

I just think that those sleeping yoruba intellects need to wake up from their slumber and get down to updating and upgrading yoruba language to fit the modern era.
Telling modern yorubas to start speaking old yoruba is very unfrealistic.The language needs to be modernised to fit our era.
How they set out to do this is their headache.Shebi they are the intellects.
They have already been on it for the past 30 years. Check out Prof Longe’s efforts towards a Yoruba language publication of the mathematical theories underpining computer science. He did this back in the early 1980s. Someone else also published a dictionary of Engineering physics in Yoruba, that was in the early 1990s. You should try to find out the activities/publications and research of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria(Egbe Ilosiwaju Imo Ijinle Yoruba Naijiria).

ciao
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06-18-2007 02:56 PM#13vince
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Originally Posted by Gen Sani Abacha
They have already been on it for the past 30 years. Check out Prof Longe’s efforts towards a Yoruba language publication of the mathematical theories underpining computer science. He did this back in the early 1980s. Someone else also published a dictionary of Engineering physics in Yoruba, that was in the early 1990s. You should try to find out the activities/publications and research of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria(Egbe Ilosiwaju Imo Ijinle Yoruba Naijiria).

ciao
All their efforts since all that time has little influence on the yoruba acaedemia,talkless of on the common man.And that is the sticking point.
These yoruba studies association,does it have a website?I am keen to link up.
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06-18-2007 03:32 PM#14gqbabe
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when i was younger, my mom used to yab me tht when God was creating me He put cotton buds in my ear cos other than english i dnt understand any other language. Now if it is made compulsory that you pass yoruba to graduate, then some1 like me wld never graduate. Or if tht person managed to pass, then they’d not be able to communicate wif non-yorubas, as the likelihood of them understandn another language is negligible!
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06-19-2007 04:25 AM#15Gen Sani Abacha
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Originally Posted by vince
All their efforts since all that time has little influence on the yoruba acaedemia,talkless of on the common man.And that is the sticking point.
These yoruba studies association,does it have a website?I am keen to link up.
Remember Prof Akinwunmi Isola, the author of Oleku the book and the scriptwriter of the film ? He is part of that cadre of academics. They have a lot of input into the teaching syllabus of Yoruba language. They also act as consultants sometimes for major Yoruba movies. They also advise government on language policy(although the govt doesn’t seem to take any notice of their advise!).
I don’t the Yoruba Studies Association has a website, neither do their sister organisation, the Yoruba Teachers Association of Nigeria.
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SAVE OUR AFRICAN MOTHER TONGUES-“IN ABUJA,NIGERIA CULTURE EXPERTS CANVASS PRESERVATION OF MOTHER TONGUES”-FROM THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER-NIGERIA

May 16, 2009

From ngrguardiannews.com

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).

“ARE AFRICAN LANGUAGES IMPORTANT?ASKED BY BBC NETWORK-SEEN ON RAMADJI.COM

May 15, 2009

FROM ramadji.com
originally from bbcnews.com

Are African languages important?

source: news.bbc.co.uk

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.
Anonymous

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

TEACH SCIENCES MATH IN THE MOTHER TONGUE U.N. HEAD TELLS NIGERIAN KINGS!-UNESDOCS.UNESCO.ORG

May 15, 2009

FROM unesdocs.unesco.org

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,
Excellencies,
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
supports.
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,
Excellencies,
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
technology.
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.
DG

“DECLINE OF MOTHER TONGUE IN AFRICA”-FROM SUNNEWSONLINE.COM,NIGERIA

May 15, 2009

from sunnewsonline.com

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.

THIS YORUBA GROUP WANTS TO SAVE YORUBA LANGUAGE !-FROM THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER,AUG. 2008

November 22, 2008

from nguardian.com

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Group advocates for proper use of Yoruba language
By Gbenga Adetunji

A SOCIO-cultural group, which is at the vanguard of protecting the Yoruba heritage, Egbe Ifesemule ati Ilosiwaju Yoruba, is set to host a competition on proper use of the language in composing songs, writing drama scripts and broadcasting. The event, which is billed to attract a number of broadcasters, artistes and singers, begins in November at the premises of Lagos Television (LTV 8), Ikeja, Lagos. Chief Jubril Ogundimu, who is chairman of the organising committee of the group, said that the competitions would promote the speaking of the Yoruba language among its people, especially children who are becoming lost to the language and also uphold the honour and dignity of the race and tradition in Africa and the Diaspora. Ogundimu stated that the group noticed that there is great decline in the use of the language, “and today all manners of words are springing up in the name of slang that have greatly eroded the standard of the language. “It is against this backdrop that our organisation has come up with a programme to re-orientate and re-educate the populace on the proper use of the language. According to him, the first step in this advocacy is to organise contest among the major users of Yoruba language in the area of music, broadcast and theatre practice, who have the medium of mass communication as their reach to the larger society. It is our belief that once these users of the language are enlightened on the didactic and its aesthetic use, then we are more than half way through to the development of the proper use. He, however, stated that the effort of the organisation is to create a platform for meeting minds of the commercial users of Yoruba language through competition that is fully supported by notable scholars and stakeholders in Yoruba language.


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