Africans are sub-conscious of the fact that many lo
cal dialects or languages in Africa and the third
world face imminent disregard and should be handled with totality. It may be important to learn about other cultures but there is no reason what so ever for neglecting, nullifying and undermining one’s tradition in a world where cultural distinctiveness is important in maintaining a global reliable image and acceptance.
Our traditional cultures in Africa have undoubtedly been influenced by contact with the outside world even as African cultures to Western education have had encompassing influences on contemporary African cultures. Also to say, modern western music of cultural exchange and cross fertilization is not abnormal in a vast world transformed into a global community (village).
Culture is said to be the total ity of the way of Iife of a given people encompassing intellectual exertions and history myths including their arts and sciences. Culture manifests in the festivals, customs, folk tales, food and eating habits, dressing, languages and modes of worship that define a community. Culture provides psychological anchor to maintain the stability of any society. It is the link between a communities’s past and present.
Assuredly, culture is never static. It moves with time as a society faces new circumstances, confronts fresh obstacles, attain and retain the best in their inherited traditions while making necessary changes to adjust to new realities.
However, what any society must guard against is to loose the essence of its peculiar cultural identity and to become defined with other cultures.
Unfortunately, this was the experience of Africa with the onset of colonialism. Indigenous cultures were left for a “civilizing mission” with the aggressive inculcation of foreign modes of thought, speech, worship and life style. This has brought. us to the realization of not regarding our local languages. We have left ours for the foreign feeling cozy and accomplished and relegating our language to the background. Thus, indigenous African languages and thought systems were subordinated to those of the colonial power. The consequence of this is that they saw themselves as inferior specie of humanity. This lack of confidence brought persistence of underdevelopment in Africa and our continued second fiddle role in the world. Africans are in a crass willing-buyer-aggressive-seller of its local languages and dialects for French, English and the like in a neo-colonialist parody of ignorance.
Consequent to this, it is not that Africans will not borrow a leaf from the outside world but that foreign cultural concept should only be brought in to complement the existing norms for the betterment of the developing countries. The signal is on for Africa to awake from the blatant cultural slumber. It is uncommon today to overhear enlightened Africans propagate the teaching of traditional languages in Africa. To them, speaking in foreign dialect is related to a high level of civilization. It is therefore a grievous crime to pronounce or speak incorrectly as that would be a display of ignorance and inteilectual inferiority. This mistake would invite ridicule and social grasp of other languages as a plus; nothing can ever justify its use to undermine others or to ignore one’s cultural heritage. This happens even in French, English, Portuguese and the like take pride in their tongue and culture. Many of them chose this based on their’ adamant belief that their dialect is superior’. It is not surprising to see French; Spanish speak only their respective languages and have no interest in learning any’ other tongue.
Against this background, it is obvious that cultural re-awakening that will engender a new sense of national pride, confidence and Renaissance is needed more especially in Nigeria because most young people in Nigeria do not see speaking their local ,language as necessary. It should amaze one and a thing of pain to see most people who can’t communicate with their language; they feel alright and fulfilled not being capable to speak their dialect. Nigerians have forsaken their cultures and indigenous languages for the foreign. Noting that most parents communicate with their children in English not putting into consideration if these children can ever speak their language.
It should be of a sad note to see young Nigerians not being able to pass information to aged people in the society who can neither speak nor understand the popular Engl ish language. Our local language should be seen as a means to convey message. It becomes difficult for people who can’t speak their language to pass information or say something that is not for the ears of all to do that because of this handicap. There are times when strangers may be around, the ability to say what you want to say without being understood is an advantage, but when the second party cannot respond to a speech as the individual is not familiar with the latJguage becomes a problem. It is hard to receive understanding from people that cannot understand you because -they have different cultural backgrounds.
It is in no doubt that the specie of people particularly guilty of this show of apathy towards the speaking of local languages is the youths-present generation. Therefore, those who fall into this category of defaulters should be aware that when the afore mentioned happens, the implication and consequences of not speaking our local languages becomes conspicuous.
It will definitely give rise to this generation finding it difficult to communicate in local languages, not a hciving a sense of belonging-this salient point is evident in a situation where one cannot visit his village for some events because he cannot effectively communicate in his local language; it becomes serious problem. Another problem stirring at Nigerians in the face is that this dearth of enthusiasm for speaking of local languages will surely dwindle to the extent of going into extinction. If this happens, it will in a way cause our cultures to phase out automatically. And such locality will exist as a foreigner in its own place and without root which will become an enigma, to the world and loss of cultural heritcqe.
Based on these facts, this generation and those guilty of this should have a re-think and avert from this repugnant behavior by heeding to the advice of a former Special Adviser to Lagos State government on Political and Legislative matters, Hon. Adul Lateef M. Adul Hakeem who said ‘the efforts we make in studying and speaking languages like English, French and others, the same efforts should be made in studying our Nigerian ethnic languages as it will also make us have cultural identity.’
Therefore, the developing world and more. specifically Africa should therefore learn from the Asians who despite learning other foreign languages are deeply entrenched in their cultural fabrics and national language system. They should note that culture influences the development prospects of a populace. Only by identifying your cultural niche can you effectively diagnose your weaknesses and begin to improve them while reflecting them against foreign cultures.
I want to aver that blind adoption of foreign languages in Africa could kill traditional dialects.
Ogbonda wrote in via email@example.com