The death of Nigerian languages

I figure a number of us would relate to this post.

Some of us can converse in our mother tongue fluently while some even though understand our mother tongue, cannot converse fluently. I will share my own story.

I remember vividly that it was boldly written around all the stair wells and class rooms in my primary school “Vernacular speaking is highly prohibited.” We were not taught any Nigerian languages and we were not encouraged to converse in it.

However, I entered secondary school and it became compulsory to take a Nigerian language as a subject. I knew nothing even though the language was spoken to me at home. Simple things like numbers and alphabets became a nightmare. I had to learn from scratch. A very dear friend, who I am forever grateful to, had to put me through. She taught me starting from the number 1 to 1000; letter A to Y and some proverbs. I also picked up all the literature books for the school year and started reading them in order to learn my language.

Fast forward to 2016/2017, I was shocked when I was told that some “highbrow” schools (both primary and secondary) do not teach Nigerian languages as a subject but would rather teach Chinese, Mandarin, Spanish or German.

Hian! Na so our Nigerian languages no important reach again?


The average Chinese or Indian kid understands his mother tongue perfectly. So what is wrong with our kids understanding our own mother tongue? Why do they have to learn Chinese or Spanish or German instead of their mother tongue? I have no problem teaching them these languages as additional subjects. Yes, it would make them versatile and “maybe” get them those jobs we their parents wish to have. But not at the expense of our own languages. Or do we believe that what we speak to them at home is enough? Some of us don’t even speak to our kids in our mother tongue – I digress; as that is a topic for another day.

To parents whose children attend such schools, I pose a simple question to you. If you or your child/children were in danger and needed to converse with each other, what language would you use?


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