Atona Owe Yoruba to the rescue of Yoruba language
To rekindle interest in learning Yoruba language with its rich proverbs and save it from extinction, Alhaji Nureni Asamu Raimi has launched Atona Owe Yoruba to provide young people a guide to better mastery of the language. While speaking at the event held at Ijoko Lemode, Ogun State, book reviewer and Faaji FM presenter, Fatai Bamtale, described the book as a collection of Yoruba proverbs simplified by the author to facilitate better understanding of the language for young readers.
Bamtale, who discussed some of the proverbs and simplified them for the audience, noted that the Yoruba language has proverbs that cover all subjects, with some of them designed to give warning, advice, thanksgiving, saying they help to enrich discussion and provide greater insights.
The author stated that he was appalled by the continuing decline of the language among its indigenous speakers, particularly Yoruba youth, adding, “They hardly speak the language very well again. Instead, many Yoruba youth speak nonsense and turn the rich language upside-down.”
According to him, friends who noticed his gifts with proverbs prevailed on him to pen a book that would impart his knowledge to the next generation of Yoruba youth. Raimi observed that there is need to save Yoruba’s culture by motivating the youth towards better understanding of their language, culture and custom.
He lamented that Yoruba language is going into extinction because the native speakers are embracing and imitating other people’s cultures.
According to him, the language and culture that the Yoruba do not consider valuable is what Americans and Europeans are now learning and according immense value. The author also explained that the book contains the interpretation and the context in which the proverbs could be use in discussion.
As he noted, “The book is written in such a way that when we use a proverb, the interpretation is there to simplify the meaning.”
Raimi noted that proverbs are important because they effectively summarise arguments, provide greater insights on issues and facilitate deeper understanding during interaction. The author argued that for the Yoruba to regain their cultural heritage, there is need for them to retrace their steps and commence instructing their children in the language instead of a borrowed one. He advised Yoruba people to return to speaking the language at home and instruct their children so that their culture would not be lost to them.
“If we are not careful,” he warned, “we are going to spend money to learn Yoruba language later in Europe and America!”