By Gaanihu Nwokorie – EAC Correspondent – Netherlands
Nigeria is a country of more than 140 million people and there are so many ethnic groups in the country. The three major groups are the Hausa’s, the Igbo’s and the Yoruba’s. English language is classified as the Official language of doing business in Nigeria. I have nothing against having English as the official language but i am not happy that the Nigerian government and most of our citizens are not doing enough to help in promoting our indigenous languages.
As an Igbo man that is in Diaspora, I find it very shameful that many fellow Igbos outside too find it difficult to teach their kids our native language. I reside in the Netherlands; every Dutch person understands and speaks Dutch. More than 78% of them also speak the English language; more than 50% speaks Deutsch (German) etc. Any child that grows up here in the Netherlands can speak Dutch very well because they learn it in school because that is the linguafranca.
Every kid here also speaks English which they also learn at school and most of the T.V programs here are in English. Parents of Igbo origin and other African tribes do not need to be communicating with their kids in English or Dutch because they will definitely speak the language. What they need to be doing is making sure that they teach their kids how to speak their native languages. They can do so by making sure that they only communicate with their kids in their native tongue. You can hardly find any kid that is from Ghana who cannot speak his or her native languages very well.
To all the Igbo parents in Diaspora that have refused to teach their kids our native language, I say to you, big shame on you all. To all the African parents that have refused to teach their kids their respective native languages, I also say shame on you all. You are proud to teach your kids another man’s language but you can’t teach that same child his/her own mother’s tongue. The worst offenders are those living inside Nigeria. Parents in Nigeria hardly communicate with their kids and grand-kids in our native languages. From Abuja to Umuahia, Kano to Lagos, Port Harcourt to Ibadan, Enugu to Jos, most parents now see it as a crime for their kids to speak their native languages.
For Christ’s sake, English is not our language and will never be our language. You can never speak the english language more than the English people. No matter how good your english may be, no matter how many British passport you got, you are still an African and will always be seen as an African. Why can’t you then be proud that you are an African? I have this fool from my village in Imo state. I call this guy a fool because he is a big fool. This guy works with the University of Agriculture in Umudike Umuahia in Abia state( another Igbo state). The Wife lectures in the same University. These fools have lived in that Umudike with their kids for more than 20yrs and yet none of their 4 kids can make a correct sentence in Igbo language. The eldest of the 4 kids told me sometime ago that their parents cane( punish) them when ever they speak any Igbo language. The fool that is their father is also a proud Chief but he sees it as a crime to teach his kids Igbo. Shame on this fool and shame to all the Nigerian parents that are like this fool.
As a Nigerian parent, you do not need to be communicating with your children in English language before they know how to speak it. Allow their teachers at school to do that job. Communicate with your kids in your native language and be a proud African. We cannot allow our language to die.