I remember my junior secondary school vividly, Uncle John who was the head teacher would make sure we were fined if we ever speak Yoruba around the school premises. At the moment, I thought the school was trying to protect us and make us better, not until I grew older did I realize what was been done.
The ban on vernacular has since left the four walls of schools, it has now been extended to the homes. Many parents have forbidden their children from speaking their native languages, instead, they make them speak the almighty English language. This “insanity has gone beyond parents’ banning vernacular; most parents have refused to speak their native languages to their children from the time they are born.
Of course, these parents think they’re doing their children good by making them speakers of English language and non-speakers of their native language, but the reality is that it’s one of the greatest disservice they’ll ever do their kids. There’s no sin in a child being multilingual. In fact, in the world we live in now, being multilingual will open doors of opportunities to the speaker, regardless of what language it is. Every language matters in this age and time.
I started studying English language since 2006, and twelve years later, I’m still not 100% speaker or writer of it. There are still grammar errors in my spoken and written form of the language, and the only reasonable reason that I can say is responsible for this is because English is not my mother’s language. Even the first speakers of the language don’t have a 100% mastery of it, talk more of some wannabe people from far West Africa.
In my opinion, I think it’s inferiority that makes these parents not to speak their native languages to their children. They think that speaking English will earn them respect from others, or that children that speaks their native languages are below their own children. This is not true. Children who speak their mother tongues are way better than children who speaks only English because they always end up mastering both English and their native language, making them bilingual or multilingual, as the case may be, while children who speak only English only just speak English.
Parents of children who live outside the shores of Nigeria are a different case, and their case will be discussed in a different article entirely.
Like I wrote in my earlier article, the new generation of parents have to do better. We have to make sure our children learn and speak our native language, they will thank and appreciate us for that when they are older.