Moral decadence has reached an alarming rate in the society, especially in Yorubaland where a foreign language has effectively replaced our mother tongue. Without doubt, Yoruba people are losing their cultural heritage in the quest to be socially acceptable globally! It is a wrong notion to discard your own language before you can be socially accepted in the society. Speaking your own language does not make you inferior to your contemporaries.
It is a fact that the Ifa priest, Yemi Elebuibon, is currently setting the pace in one of the best universities in the United States of America, teaching students Yoruba despite the fact that he had limited western education. In this regard, it is clear that proritising one’s language does not diminish one’s personality in any form.
China, for instance, is dominating the world in technology and we know that the Chinese usually print the manuals of their products in their language. They teach school curricula in the same language for better comprehension. Sadly, this is anathema in many Nigerian schools where speaking one’s indigenous language is termed ‘vernacular’. China’s products can be found anywhere in the world with the manual written in Chinese language.
The language problem has cultural implications: in Yorubaland nowadays, children’s manner of approaching elderly people in the society is disgusting. A child who is 10 years old would simply say “How are you?” to their father’s contemporaries! Even in the western world, the young ones usually say, “How are you sir?”
Everybody should be involved when it comes to prioritising our indigenous languages. Some ethnic groups in Nigeria are intensifying efforts in this regard. Parents, religious leaders and the government, in particular, should endeavour to address the issue of proritising our languages, especially in schools.
Rev. Oladimeji Michael Olalekan, Ibadan.