How Useful is Your Native Language - Native female student in discussion with friend
Native female student in discussion with friend

The self-acclaimed “Giant of Africa” we call home was formed by compounding different tribes; each with its own culture(and subculture in some cases) and language(sublanguage in some cases). 

The average Nigerian child is expected to learn in addition to speaking and writing Queen’s English, his/her mother tongue (in most cases the mother tongue is the father’s language and not the mothers. I have no idea how this came to be either so don’t ask me why).

Of course, this only applies to cases where the mother and the father of the child are from different places; if they are from the same place the mother tongue is the only extra language the child is usually required to learn.

Ask a Nigerian Elder the purpose of learning your native language and he’ll tell you it’s “so that they won’t sell you in your front”.

Now if the sole aim of learning your native language is to be aware of misdeeds being plotted against you then it makes a lot more sense if you decide to learn all the languages in Nigeria so you can be truly “woke”.

This doesn’t mean  learning a second language is completely useless. I just believe in learning only things that are beneficial to me.

I may be mistaken but I highly doubt that there are ancient scrolls or manuscripts written in ancient Igbo or hausa so what exactly is the point of a native language.

Communicating with less literate people can be listed as a reason for learning the language but then which is more practical – me learning a language spoken by a small percentage of the world’s population or the less literate person learning a global spoken language?.

How Useful is Your Native Language - LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

I believe the Nigerian child should be encouraged to learn skills and languages that will open doors for him in the future. Languages like Spanish , Russian, German, Ancient Greek, French e.t.c are way more practical in the long run.

This is not to say that learning native languages should be stopped, far from that. I believe native language should be thought of like ice cream. Ice cream is very effective as a treat but isn’t compulsory for survival.

I daresay a human can stay his/her entire life without tasting ice cream and still live a long and fulfilled life without any mishaps(providing his/her village people don’t remember him/her).

Conclusion

In conclusion, Nigerians need to realize that the old ways are not necessarily the best ways. Insanity has been defined as the art of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

If that definition is taken as truth then we have to accept the realization that more than 75% of Nigerians are insane.

Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing and only by trying new things are we going to be able to improve ourselves. That’s a topic for another day though.

BY LEON CHUX

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