Let’s stand up for African Languages

There is one difference between developing and developed countries. The education system of the developed world is tailor-made to suit the needs of their citizens. To ensure that the learners comprehend whatever they are taught, the main medium of instruction in advanced countries is usually their mother-tongue; the first language of the learners. Whether it is the USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, or Russia, countries that are dedicated to development never use languages of different cultures to teach their own.

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In Africa, majority of countries rarely use the first language as a medium of instruction. Tens of years of colonialism brainwashed us to believe that our languages are not as advanced and as important as those of our colonial masters. Close to a century after attaining independence, Africa is still divided along language lines leading to antagonism among the Anglophones, the Francophones, and the Lusophones.

In the current world, described as a global village, it is important to know one of the international languages for ease of communication and integration in international affairs. That, however, does not mean that African languages should be belittled.

Children acquire their mother tongue before starting basic education. By the time they join school, most of them are mostly fluent speakers of the languae. Foreign languages, however, are acquired later on while going to school. It is a difficult task to learn a new language and comprehend the concepts that come with it. If children are instructed using their first language, there will be little need to teach the language in advanced form since the students and the teachers will be equal in terms of language mastery.

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The current generation of youngsters in the country does not appreciate their language much. Whenever one visits a town (however small it is) they come back to the village struggling with Sheng’ and Kiswahili in the pretext that they have forgotten their mother-tongue despite the fact that it is almost impossible to forget the first language.

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African governments should promote mother-tongues and encourage people to name their children using African names. We may lose most of our cultures in trying to adopt the western one; however, we must jealously guard the languages our forefathers left us with; something that took them thousands of years to refine and pass down to the current generations.

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