The Honourable Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke, has challenged parents to encourage their children to speak indigenous languages, which he said were likely to go into extinction if the current trend continued.
The minister gave the charge in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the opening of the International Conference on the late author of Yoruba literature, Daniel Olufemi Fagunwa.
The conference was organised by the Ondo State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in collaboration with Fagunwa Foundation, Fagunwa Study Group, and Centre for Blacks and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), in Commemoration of the 50yrs Memorial of the renowned author of Yoruba literature.
Duke, who was represented by the Director-General of the National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, said parents, apart from encouraging their children to study their own indigenous language, should also be allowed to study languages of other tribes for effective interaction.
The minister, who said NICO had been organising yearly programmes on indigenous languages during the long vacation, revealed that the 2013 edition of the programme would take place from August 12 in Akure, Ondo State, and advised parents to register their children/wards.
Commending the virtues of the late author, Duke charged Nigerian authors to redirect their works towards the celebration of virtues.
However, Duke’s call for attention on Nigerian indigenous languages was corroborated by the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who noted that various studies had shown that students were becoming indifferent about indigenous languages.
Similarly, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, directed that Fagunwa’s books should be recommended texts in secondary schools in the state.
In his remarks, Fayemi advocated the introduction of Yoruba language as a means of education and communication in schools across the South-Western part of the country.
According to the governor, various experiments have shown that students who study in their mother tongue are better equipped than those taught in a second language.
“We must admit that everyday Fagunwa’s looming image continues to challenge us as a people. His works continue to remind us that our language is complete and that the Yoruba language must not be left to rot away,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mimiko, speaking at the occasion, said he did not understand the message of the Fagunwa’s ‘Ogoju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale,” until he read the translation of the book by Professor Wole Soyinka as, “The Forest of a Thousand Demons.”
Alluding to the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s keynote address on the distinction between heroic and heroism, Mimiko said Nigerians should pay attention to messages in literature, stressing that the distinction should be done in Nigerian politics.
He challenged Soyinka and others to define who was a progressive and conservative in Nigeria politics, adding that some capitalists had been using the principle to deceive people.
The governor noted that there should be a distinction between propaganda and reality, noting that Nigeria was at crossroads.
Original story by James Sowole and Toba Suleiman