Search this Site and the Web

Friday, September 18, 2015

How can my children speak Yoruba or Igbo?

Written by Niran Adedokun

Niran Adedokun
I have lately begun to worry about the inability of my children to speak Yoruba, the only language that I speak apart from English. Someone said to me that it is not such a deal, that in this new age, I should be more concerned about my children speaking French and Spanish and Chinese over and above any indigenous language over which I am brooding.
I have stopped discussing with fellows like this because years of association have shown me that nothing that would make people like this friend of mine see the sense in deliberately making our children speak our languages.

So I decided to start to take positive steps towards achieving my aim. While I do not mind and would indeed encourage my children to speak as many languages as they desire, nothing would make me happy as to see them speak Yoruba, my mother tongue and I am committed to doing my best to see this happen.

Before the end of this last summer holidays, an old friend of mine, Feyikemi Niyi-Olayinka announced a two-week Yoruba summer school opportunity for people like me to bring their children and get them introduced to the language. I chose to explore the noble opportunity.
So I reported with the candidates. On arrival at the venue, volunteer teachers, determined not to speak English to any of the children, asked my six year old daughter "kini oruko e" meaning "what is your name" she drew a blank! For what looked like an eternity, my child looked up at the ceiling like she expected some answer to drop into her arms but the heavens lent no hand, she then turned her glance to me after which I told the teachers that the young lady had no idea what they were saying to her.

I am sure you are beginning to blame me for the girl's situation. True I should take some blame; after all, I am her father and teaching a child in her mother tongue is more of the responsibility of a parent than any other person or institution. If my daughter couldn't decipher a question about her identity therefore, I should be blamed. 
And this is exactly where the issue is. You see, we do not speak Yoruba at home. And it is not entirely my fault. While I speak Yoruba, my wife speaks Igbo and so, the mode of communication in our home is English in spite of efforts that both of us have made to grasp as much of the other person's tongue as much possible over the years. So you see that our situation is fairly understandable even if it is I symptomatic of the general situation with our indigenous languages.

Over the past few decades, the desire of our people to pass down our indigenous languages have progressively waned such that anyone who insists on having his child speak the mother tongue is treated with disdain by a lot of our compatriots.

Before now, those who looked down at the need to speak our local languages used to be members of the elite. Until now, the growing elite and middle class found a medium of expressing the superiority of their class and taste in the English Language and that was the greatest threat to the survival and development of languages that are native, in my opinion.
But, now things have changed! The corruption of our values has caught up with the lower class such that we have all embraced that sub-culture which reduces everything that belongs to us, including the languages that our forebears spoke and handed over to us.

We all, irrespective of our posts in life are hostages of the mentality that sees spoken English as the credential of our individual dignity. As a result, you will see barely literate men and women speak English to their children at home, apparently as a way of suspending the disbelief of their station in life and position their children with those of the elite who speak English with assorted accents. Sometimes, these parents worsen their children's situation because they do not even speak good English!

More than that, experts say that there are more opportunities for children of the poor or anyone for that matter, to do better in their education if they were exposed to their native languages earlier.
Jim Cummin, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto discovered in some of his studies that children who come to school with a strong foundation in their mother tongues develop stronger literacy abilities in the language used at school. He advises parents to develop the knowledge of children's mother tongue.

Psychologists also say that a child's first comprehension of the world around him, the learning of concepts and skills, and his perception of existence, starts with the mother tongue. As a result, the mother language is important to framing our thinking, emotions and spiritual world, because the most important stage of our life, childhood, is spent in its imprints.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation whose general conference proclaimed the annual International Mother Language Day in 1999 also encourages the use of the mother tongue in the instruction of children at the early stage.
A onetime Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO wrote in one of the organisation's newsletters as follows: "Years of research have shown that children who begin their education in their mother tongue make a better start, and continue to perform better, than those for whom school starts with a new language. The same applies to adults seeking to become literate...."

This is why I think that the problem in Nigeria is bit more severe. If mother tongue is defined as the language that is first spoken to a child by his mother, or parents as the case may be, it seems like a lot of us Nigerians are beginning to adopt the English language as the mother tongue for children since it is the thing that most parents speak to their children from the very early stage.

This is at a time when UNESCO and a lot of other countries are advocating the adoption of indigenous languages as the language of instruction in early education. One of those passionate about this point is Angelina Kioko, a professor of English and Linguistics at the United States International University, Nairobi, Kenya. Kioko says that adopting the indigenous languages for instruction would be a veritable way of increasing the level of literacy. This is because as a lot of children in the rural areas would have a better understanding of the curriculum and develop a more positive attitude toward school which would ultimately make it easy for them to understand and speak the English Language better.

More important however is that the gradual erosion of the primacy of indigenous languages in any society signifies the eventual extinction of that language and the erosion of the cultures of the people.
The truth is that a language not only expresses a people's identity, it is also their historical treasure. A Welsh proverb says that "a nation without language is a nation without a heart." Our cultural values, spiritual essence and cultural treasures can be easily discernable through the proverbs and idioms and thoughts in our native tongues. Our indigenous languages are the archival for history.

One thing I also discovered from my own children's enthusiasm to learn the Yoruba language and even their mother's Igbo language is that there is a measure of pride that children attach to their ability to speak their language. My conviction is that it adds to the sense of self-worth of children, no wonder the legendary Nelson Mandela said: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart." Teaching our children to speak and understand our languages would not just help them to become confident adults, it is also the only way by which we can maintain our identity. We all need to pay a bit more attention.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


Biafra Videos: Explosive secret about Biafra...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Featured Post


Topics: Mindset of the enemy. Yoruba were in world's best universities when Usman dan fodio was still learning to ride a horse Th...