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Illiterates in our own language

Posted by Edonaze on April 29, 2011 at 3:47 AM

Illiterates in our own language

On April 29, 2011 · · In Viewpoint ..

VANGUARD

A PEOPLE’S language is part of their identity. If a people lose their language, they have practically lost themselves.
The English language is supposed to be our second language but now, it has become our first language.

Today in most Nigerian homes, it is common to see parents communicating with their children in the English language. Some parents will not be caught dead communicating with their children in their mother tongue.

The sad part is that sometimes, such parents who are barely literate rather than communicate in their mother tongue, would prefer to speak wrong English, mixing up tenses and this has led to a situation where most children cannot converse fluently in their mother tongue.

Permit me to draw your attention to a passage in the Bible: Nehemiah 13:23-25, it states: “In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke accordingly to the language of one another. So I contended with them and curse them”.

May Almighty God forgive us this mistake. Are we Englishmen imitators? Or is it an inferiority complex? I don’t know. Various types of societies, cultures and living patterns abound. As cultures differ, so do morals and ethical values. Ambition or imitation of foreign cultures, moral, and ethical values is most welcome when they are positive.

Unfortunately, from the experience of a lot of Africans, Nigerians in particular, the situation has not been a favourable one. Nigerians believe in strict child upbringing. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and “It takes a village to raise a child” (Nwa-Ora) or (Ora Nwe Nwa), are adages that have emanated from the Africans, Nigerians and Igbo moral values and culture. What we at times call civilization is nothing but destruction. Raising a child is like building an airplane.

We do not know how much we have achieved until we fly it.

In their quest for the Golden Fleece and better lifestyle, Nigerians, Igbos in particular, have stormed the Western world. In the process, most of them have lost their children to the Western way of life, which brings with it a positive and most times a negative aspect of moral and ethical values.

Freedom of speech and rights breeds trouble. In Nigeria, children are mandated to respect adults and obey law enforcement, authority, teachers and elders. Not to speak unless spoken to.

The situation is not the same here and because the law forbids the strict disciplinary measures that keep a child on the right track that a child requires during formative years, most African children become even useless, lose identity and focus more on the Western way of living.

The parents in turn lose control of their children and remain constantly at the mercy of their children who, at their discretion, can call the police to harass their parents. Most parents are now handicapped, confused, and can’t discipline their own children because of the type of upbringing and rights given to the children. In my personal opinion, fear and discipline can’t ride the same boat.

I encourage you to teach your children your God-given language. It helps to mold them because you speak the same language. Your children will understand it better when you teach your language as part of the culture. The Bible says in Jeremiah 13: 23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spot?’

So my brothers and sisters, no matter how much we speak English and imitate the English culture, we are still African and Nigerians.

Mrs.DOROTHY EJINDU , a commentator on national issues , wrote from Texas, USA.


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