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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Don't Lose Your Heritage..............

I remember back when I was living in England, I used to speak my Yoruba dialect to my son. In fact, he understood "wa" before he understood "come", whenever I called him. I still speak Yoruba to my children because it is a language I want and expect them to understand and speak. I know a lot of young parents avoid teaching their children their dialects, as they would rather have their children speak impeccable English. Well, let me break it to you that denying your children the chances of speaking in their rich, cultural dialects does not in anyway make you a cool parent or watchamacallit.

When you hear the adage "Charity begins at home", that covers teaching your children how to understand and speak your dialect as well. I spoke with a parent recently and he was of the opinion that there wasn't any need for him to be the one to teach his daughter his language as she would learn from school, whenever she starts school. Sigh

How is a child to learn his or her dialect in school rather than at home where family and friends visit and speak this same language? English is the official language in Nigeria in case you missed that memo, so all subjects are taught in English and most schools even prohibit vernacular speaking outside of the classroom certain dialects are taught as subjects. So pray tell me, where else would your child learn your dialect if you do not teach the child from home?

I remember my dad preventing us from speaking Yoruba as much as we would have loved to. As a matter of fact, up till this day I feel more comfortable discussing with my dad in  English rather than in Yoruba. We would wake up and see both our parents and go "Daddy, good morning. Mummy, ekaaro". I still do it till today. Back then, my daddy would throw big English words at me and ask me what they meant. Maybe that also helped my accurate and mostly impeccable English knowledge and perhaps that's where my love for English language stemmed from.

I am very grateful my mum kept us grounded with our dialect.I could understand Yoruba very well but I struggled with speaking it as well as others did and it affected me when I got into Secondary School. I was teased and even bullied for my "oyinbo-ness", and it was really tough for me to fit in at times. Being the determined pikin I am, I started re-learning and perfecting the Yoruba language to prove that I was as Nigerian as those who could speak the language fluently.

In conclusion, I would recommend that every parent teach their children to understand at least one Nigerian language. There's no shame in it because it will help prevent your dialect from going into extinction and it would help stop your children from being bullied when they come of age and head out for higher education.


  1. This just reminds me of an article I read over the weekend about Cultural Assertiveness. It's not crude to speak or want your children to speak their mother tongue. It is being culturally assertive. It is part of our cultural heritage. I not only speak Yoruba to my children but also tell them Yoruba folklores and teach them folk songs too The tale of Yarinbo&Ijapa amongst others

    1. You're on the right track hun. I love the tortoise folktales. Loads of lessons to be learnt from them.


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