The other day, I saw a video of this American girl speaking Yoruba on facebook. It was just a tour of her walk to school and she spoke a mixture of English and simple Yoruba like “ekaro o” (Good morning) and was able to hold a simple convo with a group of hostel boys about what she had for breakfast. I was amused so I went to her you tube page, watched a couple of other videos and found a link to her blog http://www.northoflagos.com/.
I was more than amused, impressed, blown away! Like, here is a typical American girl, who was learning Yoruba at the University of Wisconsin and went the extra mile to take a year out to the University of Ibadan to consolidate her learning. First question I asked was how in the hell did she get the idea to study Yoruba? A language that is dying out even within its own tribe, a language that a huge chunk of its young generation scorns, preferring to speak variations of “American” and “British” English. *note emphasis on VARIATIONS of American and British English...lol
This girl left her comfortable American uni to live with host parents in Ibadan because she saw a beauty in the language and culture of a people and appreciated the uniqueness and richness of the culture.
So, if someone all the way from America can go all the way to learn our language and appreciate our culture...why can’t we???! It’s really so sad to see young people who are so willing to shrug off their Nigerian heritage, language and culture to be more westernised. Yes, I blame globalization but then I blame us more. I grew up speaking English at home and listening to Yoruba being spoken by my family. I loved the language but in a way I felt almost cut off from it because I didn’t speak it. Fast forward to school days, and then I realised most people didn’t want to be associated with the language anyway. They noted it’s presence around us but then we were not really immersed in it, our Englishness made us aloof to it. And so it became cool NOT to speak Yoruba. If you spoke it too much you were razz and local. That was the beginning of the death of our culture.
Now, I worry that if I can’t even speak Yoruba fluently and frequently, my children would grow up speaking and listening to English and then they would lose any awareness of being Yoruba at all! I really cannot bear to imagine this and as a result, I have been driven to speak Yoruba more often and just appreciate our culture more. I think this is more a problem with the young Yoruba’s than say the young Ibo’s or Hausa’s who are distinctly more Ibo and Hausa in their identity. Young Yoruba’s have embraced westernisation in exchange for their language. *can you say slave trade all over again*
I am not saying ALL young people are like this but compared with the older generations the proportion of non-native speaking Nigerians is MUCH more. I am not saying we shouldn’t be westernised. God knows we are too educated and exposed not to be but what I’m saying is that there should be a more symbiotic relationship between both. Speak English and Yoruba. Eat burgers and pounded yam (I am sure this is much easier for all of us). Wear your Brazilian hair and still be able to tie a gele, and on and on. Being African/Nigerian/Ibo isn’t synonymous with being fresh or bush or razz. You can speak excellent English and still be able to speak your native language. This is not about making it ok to speak bad English, or dress shabbily or anything like that. If you can speak your native language and cannot speak English without gbagauning in this day and age, you oughtta be ashamed!
But PLEASE can we just appreciate what we see around us more and not be afraid to be truly Nigerian, while remaining citizens of the world. Keep our culture alive!
n check her out!