The Executive Secretary/CEO of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has noted that the trend where children only learnt in English language in the school system in Nigeria needs to change, urging parents to make conscious efforts in ensuring that their children are taught Nigerian indigenous languages at home.
Ayakoroma, also a Visiting Associate Professor to Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), who was speaking on an African Independent Television (AIT) programme, ‘IMPACT 360 with Kambili,’ warned that failure to do the above would mean that, children would lose their identity because language transmits culture, the totality of the way of life of a people, which includes their entire value system, belief system, dress culture, language, food, architecture, arts and craft, and so on.
The erudite scholar and cultural administrator averred that, lack of political will on the part of government in policy implementation as being responsible for the decline of indigenous cultural practices and values, while also opining that lack of pride in culture on the part of individuals has contributed immensely to the decline of Nigeria’s indigenous cultures, stating that the National Policy on Education stipulates, among other things, the use of the indigenous language of the immediate environment in the teaching of students in the first three years of primary education but that the policy is yet to implemented by the relevant bodies.
Citing examples of countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Japan, Ukraine, where foreign students are made to study their indigenous languages before they start their educational programmes, he opined that the same approach needs to be taken in Nigeria, recalling that, back in the days, pupils from primary one to six were made to study their indigenous languages in the subject, Vernacular.
Speaking further, Prof Ayakoroma decried the lack of pride by Nigerians in their cultures, stating that if only Nigerians would transfer the love they have for indigenous foods to other aspects like dress, arts and craft, language, music, indigenous sports, then the country would be the better for it.
According to him, the above would result to what he termed, ‘Marketing our Indigenous Cultural Tourism,’ where Nigeria’s indigenous cultural products would be on display in shops at every entry point of the country: airports, bus terminals, seaports, as is obtainable in countries like Brazil, China, Israel, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Gambia, among others that are favourably disposed to their culture and are therefore marketing same through cultural tourism.
In the same vein, the NICO Executive Secretary expressed concern with the infusion of foreign ideas into Nigeria’s cultural festivals, noting that too much foreign culture contact has impacted our festivals, resulting in a lot of foreign carnival trends taking over the rich array of our indigenous cultural heritage.
He therefore urged that restraint should be applied to ensure that our festivals are truly indigenous, which would enable our people identify with their unique cultures, while the foreigners will also see unique things in these festivals other than what they are familiar with, thus attracting international tourists and in essence attracting foreign exchange for the country.
While advocating the promotion of Nigeria’s cultural tourism through the indigenization of our festivals, preservation of indigenous languages and projection of indigenous products, Ayakoroma called for the abolition of negative cultural practices like the Osu Cast System in Eastern Nigerian and communities in all other parts of the country where such or other forms of negative cultural practices are still being observed, noting that these outdated negative practices which are not relevant in modern Nigeria are some of the things painting the country’s culture in bad light in the eyes of other cultures of the world.
He however indentified paucity of funds as a major factor militating against the Institute’s effective orientation, re-orientation and sensitization of Nigerians towards embracing their culture, taking pride in identifying with their indigenous languages, dresses and other cultural aspects, to enhance Nigeria’s cultural development.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus
NICO HQ, Abuja