How To Promote Mother Tongue Among Children
President of Working Moms Africa, Mrs Mary Ikoku has said that there is a need for Africans to take speaking of their languages seriously, including passing it on to their children, as it is a critical element of preserving their culture and identity as a people.
She said this in Lagos last week during a seminar with the theme, Quality education, languages and learning outcomes, put together by Moms Africa Magazine, a publication of Access Media, in line with the globally recognised International Mother Language Day which comes up every February 21.
Held in conjunction with Imperial Gate School, the event featured several speeches on the importance of the mother tongue, a health talk, as well as a playlette and cultural displays.
“Language gives us worth. Is it not funny that the International Mother Language Day has always been marked all over the world, except in Nigeria? Nigeria is a highly diversified country. From childhood, we have always been told about unity in diversity and just now we are in a global kitchen where globalisation has brought everyone to that common place but globalisation doesn’t say we should do away with what makes us unique. It is all about keeping it real with who we are, believing in ourselves, and keeping your language so that at the end of the day, when we meet in that tower, we will be able to identify.
“There is something spiritual about our mother tongue and what we are doing here today is actually to reinforce that in all of us. It is actually to retrieve our values, retrieve our culture. What stands you out is the language you have that no one else can interpret when you are in danger,” she said.
Ikoku noted that African languages are going out of tune and there is a need to retrieve them as they are the values that make Africans unique as a people. “It is also to say, if government is not doing it, somebody has to do it. We are alive to this thing as mothers so that Nigeria will begin to play a role when the entire world is having this conversation on indigenous language.”
She insisted that everybody is culpable, but it is time to really identify the issue. “It should be noted that the average Hausa speaks his language, so how were they able to get the child to speak the language and the Fulani child to speak Fufude.”
This, she said, in moving forward, next year, one of the speakers would be an Hausa mother, teacher who will share, how they were able to achieve that, not leaving out research.
Also present at the event was founder of Bethel Foundation, Dr Yolanda George-David, better known as Aunty Landa on Inspiration FM. According to her, the seminar is a good opportunity to promote the mother language as well as to reinforce in the minds of people that there is need to act fast.