My Island tongue.


Hello all, hope you have all been keeping well. It has been a hectic fortnight for me, I have finally made up mind now, I am going to move to Naija permanently, I will expound on this another time. Anyways, I have been tryna put some things in place to make that easier for me. Hopefully, I will have some things to post up on my blog after this weekend.

Now, I was reading Original Mgbeke's post about the fact that she cannot speak nor understand much Igbo. I must say I was very surprised, hers is one of few blogs that is so Nigerian, it makes me miss home. I guess one cannot reach too many conclusions from blogs.

I am torn on this, my siblings cannot speak Yoruba either, they understand it perfectly, even different dialects and accents, but because they do not say the words, they only hear them, they find it very hard to speak the language. I am the only one who can speak it well, (I might make an audio blog in Yoruba soon, lol) I guess that is because I was born in Naija and they were not. I am from Lagos Island and as much as my aunt, who raised me, wanted us to be proficient in English, she ensured that we could speak Yoruba and write it. My attachment to my culture cannot be divorced from my understanding of my language, I love the tones, the adages, the flexibility and how one word can mean many things depending on how one says it.

I must say, I enjoy speaking English, I was told my first words were in English, as a result of hours spent watching Sesame Street. I try to make sure I speak it well, proper tense, correct grammar and all that.

I think Nigerian cultures will die a slow death the way things are going, so many young Nigerians, even ones in Nigeria, will tell you that they cannot speak their mother tongue, I read about one of these actors, Tontoh Dike (she is Ikwere) saying she because she was raised in PH she cannot speak her mother tongue, only English and Pidgin. I mean! When I was coming up, my closest friends, Bassey and Chidi, would gladly speak Yoruba to us and then switch to their own mother tongue when they were with their families and speak English at the evening classes, those kids were lucky mehn. Imagine, there are some Lagosians that can speak FOUR languages, maybe not perfectly but still.

I just find it rather sad that so many Nigerians would rather speak someone else's language to their children and to make matters worse, they speak it imperfectly, when they can express themselves perfectly in their own language. We oughta take a leaf out of the Indians' book. I have never, ever, met an Indian person or an Asian person for that matter that cannot speak their own language, what is it about them? If one loses one's tongue, one's culture will die, that is just the long and short of it.

As a result of my childhood, I mixed with Nigerians from different parts of the country, I know some Igbo words (the cuss words obviously) and I have an interest in the culture. I must confess I do not know much about my Island culture, because it is different from wider Yoruba culture. It is a mixture of Bini and Yoruba and I do not know enough about it, I am trying to find out.

My latest thing is learning Pidgin, it is going well because I realised that it is not rigid in form, Lagos Pidgin is mostly Yoruba translated down to its most literal form, so 'you no (dey) hear word' (which in standard English would be, 'you do not listen) in Yoruba is 'O kĺn gbÒ rÒ' or 'no follow me do dat kin ting' is a literal translation from 'ma ba mi se iru kan be (yen). Okay, my Pidgin is not yet perfect but since I have realised this little fact, it is coming to me. I also spend a lot of time listening to Wazobia FM.

So, you can all imagine my joy about the music scene in Naija, they way the singers and rappers sprinkle their lyrics with their own language, I love it. 9ice, Raw, Da Grin.... these are artists that I dig for that reason. I know everyone digs M.I right now, not me though, I find dude too western.

Now that is over.... I got the cleaning bug and I decided to re-arrange my books, that is a picture of my favourite shelf.

10 comments:

Sugarking said...

True talk o jare! we (our generation) really need to keep up.

leggy said...

and the worst part is that the people who cant speak their language say it with pride..lol
i was suprised also by original m cos her blog sounds so igbo..lol.
i love rawwwwwwwwwwww

BSNC said...

i was suprised that original M cannot speak igbo, i thought i will be taking igbo 101 from here..

i wish i could speak more naija languages.

Nice Anon said...

Moving to Naija permanently? Okay I am looking forward to a post on that.

histreasure said...

how is it possible that i'm just finding you..ok, i'l be stalking you now..lol
i love speaking my language and i wil try my utmost to make sure my kids speak it too..it's a thing of joy. indeed, it sets u apart and connects u even deeply to ur roots.
my hubs speaks igbo fluently(he grew up there), speaks our native language(ibibio), speaks yoruba(where he schooled and now works), and a smattering of hausa(where he served) i always envy him but i like the fact that we can talk, joke, gossip, yab here n no one understands..there r somethings that r just perfect wen described in that native language. i totally rep it..and i like people who didnot have the opportunity but try to make an effort.
Now that research has proven that kids can successfully learn two (or even more) languages while growing up, this generation has no excuse.
***ok..now, i need to shut up..my comment is too long****

scribble,me.free said...

i like the hand prints! I might do that in my new flat!

on the topic of language, I understand Yoruba perfectly and can speak it, but not fluently or comfortably. Woken from sleep, my first words will always be in English. I don't see a problem with it, for me that is. I know as much about my culture, my traditional heritage and my language as I want to know. I guess it's subjective.

p.s. Someone with that picture (>>) added me on facebook...wondering if its u

L-VII said...

@Sugarking, glad to know I am not the only one who feels this way, thanks for stopping by.

@Leggy, that is what annoys me the most but what can one do, I am determined to do my part and keeps it moving. Thanks.

@Bsnc, I feel bless every time you stop by.

@Nice Anon, watch this space, I really will.

@Histreasure, I love long comments so do not worry. I do envy your hubby that is such a good look being able to speak. That is a blessing, thank you for stopping by.

@Scribbles, some low life stole my pic, lol... no it is not me. Each to his own, I guess. My language is important to me, so...... Dude, delete that imposter, it aint moi.. Thanks for stopping by.

L.

Anonymous said...

Nice artilce, this is serious concern, I think it less apparent if you are living in Naija now or grew up there. The west, if you are observant eventually reminds you of "certain" things. It is indeed interesting that the Indians and Chinese are understood the importance of continual cultural preservation regardless of location (not sure if naijatown in America is a solution though.....though I think Oshodi in Brooklyn might not be a bad idea...lol)

eccentricyoruba said...

i can understand Yoruba but i can't speak the language. i wish i could though and i know it is only a matter of time before i perfect my Yoruba. however English will always be my first language, i wonder if it is possible to change the language in which i dream in?

the situation is worsened for me due to my knowledge of not only English but French and Japanese (Mandarin coming soon!). i feel i need to learn Yoruba in an effort to stop its extinction.

kay9 said...

You got a boom-box... cool!!