The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has said that lack of pride and the belief that our indigenous languages are local, are part of the reasons why Nigerians are not proud to learn their indigenous languages.
Dr. Ayakoroma was speaking on the state of the nation’s indigenous languages in his office in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, in an exclusive interview with Emmanuel Ayinmiro, a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) reporter.
According to the ES, “When you don’t take pride in your indigenous language, you will not want to speak it; then you could be said to have a complex as far as your language is concerned. The thinking that if you communicate in indigenous language, then you are uncivilized, describes the erroneous belief that it is when you speak Queen’s English that you are educated, which is not true.”
He described, as unfortunate, the belief by some parents that if children are taught in indigenous languages, they will not perform creditably in academics, saying, “Rather, when children are taught in an indigenous language, their indigenous knowledge will grow and their world view will be much more than what a child will gain when he is taught in English.”
He maintained that whenever our indigenous languages are translated into English, the substance and meaning of what is translated is reduced, pointing out that the aphorisms that go with them improve the child’s awareness and knowledge of his environment, culture and practices of the people, which English does not offer.
Speaking on the issue of the dominance of some languages or cultures over others, Ayakoroma said one factor that sustains a language is when it becomes a language of commerce, stressing that if a language is used, especially, in business and trading, it will grow, adding: “If a language does not become an economic factor in an environment, then the language will continue to reduce as far as usage is concerned.”
He therefore called on the Federal Ministry of Education to make the study of Nigerian Indigenous Languages compulsory from the primary school to university level. His words: “It has to be a compulsory course for students, so that by the time they are leaving secondary school or the university, as the case may be, they would have learnt one or two Nigerian languages and be fluent in them.”
On the need to inculcate in children the interest to speak indigenous languages, Ayakoroma said parents, as a matter of necessity, need to encourage their children to speak their indigenous languages, stressing that when children do not have time to think culturally, there is no way to make them appreciate their culture.