The Honourable Minister for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, has stated that our languages are essential components for empowering our people and our country, adding that, according to UNESCO, 30% of the World’s languages are spoken in Africa with over 2000 languages in the continent, and that despite this reality, most of these African languages face the threat of extinction, since in most homes, there is a growing lack of use of the indigenous languages, and most times our indigenous languages are no longer spoken with pride.
The Minister stated this during the official handing over of the Reports on the Harmonization and Standardization of Four Nigerian languages – Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa and Ijaw, at the Conference Hall of the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Secretariat, Abuja, on Friday, September 28, 2012.
Chief Duke noted that the values we place on the use of our indigenous languages have, over time, been eroded by our preference for foreign languages, and this trend is inimical to the realization of the Transformation Agenda, stressing further that our multilingual situation, cultural diversity and colonization, have often been used to justify this and we are not the only ones with diverse culture and languages.
While receiving the Report, the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, said that language is the engine that drives social interaction and an important medium for cultural expression, social integration and national unity, without which our value system will continue to be eroded.
Mr. Wike added that, most of our children are monolingual, speaking, reading and writing in only one language – English, and that the production of practical orthographies for every indigenous language is an absolute necessity, which will help in the preserving, promoting and protecting our culture for the present and further generations, assuring that the Report will be put to proper use.
In his address, the Executive Director, Centre for Blacks and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Professor Tunde Babawale, said that the orthography project was motivated by a resolution from a workshop organized by the Centre in 2008, and that the handing over will ensure that the Primers and Readers in these languages are produced for the school system.
Professor Babawale advised that a follow-up workshop for Teachers and Writers should be organized by the Federal Ministry of Education, to familiarize them with new orthographies to enable them effectively produce literature in these four languages.
The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, was represented at the ceremony by the Director, Orientation & Cultural Affairs, Mr. Festus Ihenetu.
Ibrahim Sule Malgwi