THE NEED TO PROMISE THE STUDY OF INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE IN NIGERIA
It is a pity that Nigeria’s indigenous languages have been relegated to the background over the years. Nigerian students are taught in English Language which is also regarded as the lingua franca of the country. This is not good enough. Though Nigeria has several indigenous languages, there is need to promote the study of these indigenous languages. This is why the Federal Ministry of Education made it compulsory for every student to study at least one Nigerian language at the Senior Secondary School level.
Even during the tenure of Professor Babs Fafunwa as the ministry of education, it was canvassed that indigenous languages should be used to teach primary school students. Languages are associated with culture and tradition of the people. Therefore, the adoption of another people’s language as a medium of communication in Nigeria indicates that we have relegated our own culture and tradition to the background. This may also connote that we have not as a country thrown away every relic of colonization. Indigenous languages, if promote can be the unifying factor in Nigeria. They promote peaceful co-existence and tolerance among the Nigeria people who will have a sense of belonging in the country. In addition, indigenous languages also promote understanding and appreciation of our own culture and tradition. Why do we have to promote the culture of a foreign country at the expense of our own? The promotion and study of indigenous languages will also give us national identity.
A language is always associated with a nation. So, if we promote and study our own indigenous languages, the world will identify us with these indigenous languages. There are lots of benefits to gain from promoting our indigenous languages. The lingua franca which we have been clamouring for over the years will ultimately emerge if we can promote the study of these indigenous languages. Furthermore, the study of these languages will enable our children to be conversant with mother tongues since thoughts and language can hardly be separated. Finally, it is an established fact that a leaner first thinks in the language of his environment and this process of thinking enriches his experience about his immediate environment and culture. Hence, a thorough foundation must be laid in the study of our indigenous languages in the country.
NIGERIA NEXT PRESIDENT SHOULD BE A WOMAN
Good day, Mr. Chairman, panel of judges, co-debators, ladies and gentlemen and my most attentive audience. My name is Oluwole Oludayo. I am here to support the motion which states that ‘Nigeria’s next president should be a woman”. 2015, it is expected that a new civilian president will emerge to direct the affairs of the country. The presidential candidates for each of the parties have been nominated but there is one thing that I am sure most of us have not noticed all candidates are men! Sometimes, I sit down and wonder why we cannot have at least a woman among the presidential candidates since we got independence in 1960, no woman has been given the chance to contest the presidential election and I think that our great nation is making a mistake. First and foremost, if Nigeria has a woman as her president, there are so many advantages and benefits that we can enjoy. One of such benefits is that a woman president can be more honest than men.
When we have an honest president, then we can begin to think of economic growth. Furthermore, we all know the popular saying which goes thus: ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’. Indeed, this saying is true because women have proved to be better leaders than men. For instance look at the famous Magaret Thatcher. She is a woman of virtue, discipline and honour. She has proved that women can in fact excel in a man world. In addition to this, if Nigeria next president is a woman, she would be upright, disciplined and very firm she would realise that she is in a man world and that she is facing many challenges in which she cannot afford to fail because she wants to prove a point. Therefore, this will make her work very hard and to be firm in decision-taking, she will not bend for anybody. If we have a president who is very firm, bribery and corruption will be curbed. Similarly, there will be less chances of waging war.
The country under the rule of a woman will be at peace with her neighbours. Instead of going to war, a woman will easily negotiate for peace and she will also make sure that she is always at peace with the citizens of the country. I must also state that women are usually compassionate by nature, although they can be firm. If Nigeria has a female president, she would feel strongly for the little children, the poor, the widow and the less privilege who beg by the road sides. Also, those people who do not have clothing and shelter will be taken care of. Finally, I must say that if Nigerians elect a female president, it will be a great turning point in the history of the country. It will also be an honour to have a Nigeria’s first woman president. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I am of the candid view that if Nigerians can give women a chance, I am sure that they will not regret it.
THE SHAME THAT REFUSES TO GO
When I was fourteen years old, I was sent from my village to live with my sister who had just got married. My sister had complained about the need to have house help after having her first born. With the permission of my parents, I went to live with my sister and her husband in Lagos. Immediately I got to Lagos, I was registered in a school very near our house. My sister was a business woman who sold ladies shoes and bags while her husband was a civil servant. My sister regularly travelled to the eastern part of the country to buy her wares. In most times, I would be alone in the house with her husband and baby. After living with them for four years, I noticed a change in the attitude of my sister’s husband towards me.
He was unnecessarily lavishing his care on me, buying me dresses and gifts. Several times, he bought new clothes for me and whenever he did this, he would instruct me not to tell my sister. One day, while my sister was away to Onitsha on a business trip, her husband called me and instructed me to cook rice and ‘dodo’ in the evening and that I should not go to bed until he came back at night. I did as he instructed me and I struggled to stay awake until he came back around 10.30pm. When he came back, he asked me to serve the rice and ‘dodo’ in one plate and that we were going to eat together. I told him that I had eaten but he insisted that I would eat with him on the same table. He further told me that he loved me and that all the beautiful dresses and gifts he had bought for me were mine if I would allow him to make love to me.
My excuse that he should realise that he was my sister husband fell on deaf ears. To cut the long story short, we made love that night and that was the beginning of the several love bouts we had. After a year of having this secret love affair with my sister’s husband, I got pregnant. When I told him that I was pregnant for him he, he told me to make it a secret forever if could not agree to abort it. I was afraid to commit abortion and it did not take long before I was found out by my sister. She forced me to tell her who was responsible for my pregnancy. In her annoyance, she sent me back to my parents in the village, divorced her husband and swore to renounce me as her sister. I later got married and I had to live with my first child whom I had for my sister’s husband’s house.
My husband did not know that Ade was my first child until somebody told him the whole story of my life. He lost all the confidence in me and since then things have not been the way it used to be. He couldn’t love me as he used to and so I have had to live with this stigma for the rest of my life.
THE LOCAL FESTIVAL IN MY VILLAGE
The arrival of civilization and western culture has made us to forget our cultural past. Our heritage has been lost and traded off for the western ways. Those cultural heritages which had delighted our fore-fathers are looked down upon by youths who regard these heritages as old fashioned and anachronistic. I must confess that I did share this opinion with my peers but I have to give it another thought when I was privileged to accompany my parents to our village to witness a local festival. The festival is usually celebrated every first Saturday of September in my village, Obong. Every year the indigenes travel from far and near to convene at Obudu market square, the venue of the annual new year festival.
The origin of this festival goes as far back as when the first group of settlers fled to the plateau for safety and decided to dwell there. I can recollect vividly what my grandfather told me about the first festival when the settlers had their first new yam harvested. Tradition has it that the very first celebration was held at the summit of the Obudu Plateau. The joy and happiness shared among the people was enough to pull the heavens down according to my grandmother. Ever since, the celebration has taken the same pattern. Last year, the new yam festival which I witnessed began on Thursday. The day preceding that Thursday, all men in the village woke up very early in the morning and left for their farms. They returned in the evening with their children carrying large tubers of yam on their hands. I joined the village children to carry the tubers which we dropped at the market square. In the evening, the men gathered after taking their bath to discuss over a gourd of freshly-tapped palm wine.
Their discussion took them into the far night before they went to sleep in their various homes. Very early the next day, the women started peeling the yams for cooking. They brought all ingredients together for the cooking while the young men prepared themselves to carry masquerades. The girls, like myself were not allowed to cook but we helped the women in cooking the food. Saturday finally arrived and the festival was scheduled to begin at noon. As early as 7.00am on that day, the women were up again to add finishing touches to their cooking and finally they pounded the yams.
The real festival began with the arrival of the ‘Usu’, the chief who was followed by the masquerades. The young girls like myself dressed beautifully with the ‘jigida’ beads around our waists. We danced to entertain the ‘Usu’ and his chiefs who occasionally waved their locally made fans. Then the food was served and there was more than enough to go around. Everybody ate to his or her satisfaction. Finally, after all the dancing, singing and eating, the festival came to an end in the early hours of Sunday morning. I could say that this festival is of great importance to the Obudu people because it is the only time of the year when all indigenes of the village, far and near come together to felicitate. Moreover, the festival gave me a sense of pride that I have a heritage which I can be proud of.