Growing up, I stayed with a father who is a Professor of the English Language. He taught the Language in many High institutions of learning. Before my birth, he had taught the language for 4 years in a higher institution and close to 5 years teaching in the Senior High school.But never did I ever see him speak English to me even when he used to teach and take me through English language assignments as a young boy. So as a boy, at the age of 8, I remember asking him in “Twi”, my indigenous language, why he doesn’t speak English with me and my brother. Apparently, I had seen other parents speaking English with their wards so I beleive that influence my choice of question.
My father’s answer was simple, and again it was answered in Twi, if you want to be perfect at speaking the English language, you need to be a master in your indigenous language before you can speak other languages. It made me think at that young age.
Growing up, there has been many manifestations of that point to the fact that this is so true. Ordinary, many people turn to think and make decisions in their thoughts with the indigenous language than the English language. They turn to make “wise” decisions with their indigenous language than thinking in other foreign languages.
Fast forward, I was at the Kumasi mall this Christmas and amazingly, I encountered something that made my thought run wild. A child apparently on a shopping spree with her mother saw a balloon and pointing at it said “Mummy see, the thing, the thing, mummy mummy”. The mum then responded saying “thing thing, done what, thing, Darling thing” and I am like who is forcing these people?
Apparently, most parents and persons are not even good in speaking the English Language but they force their children with the bad English they know instead of speaking to them the indigenous language.
If care is not taken, most of our indigenous languages will go extinct for the foreign languages to rule. I am sorry to say, but if not for colonisation, will we be here speaking other people’s language?
The arguments have unveiled and it has been said that our children write their exams in English so it is only right and just parents speak English with their children. But parents and persons raising that arguments have forgotten that their parents were uneducated and couldn’t speak the English Language to them when they were children yet they passed all their exams without stress. What has now changed? I think we have forgotten that children learn many things in school including English and other Languages so it is only prudent we speak to them our indigenous languages. I do hope that isn’t too difficult to do.
For Africa to regain it strength and it identity, we must shred off the attitude of speaking foreign languages with our children rather than the local languages and begin to adopt and love our indigenous local language that makes us original. We have been colonized for far too long. It is time for us to liberate ourselves and mindsets to accept what is ours and what makes us original so we can get to where we have set for ourselves.
In my next article, I will talk about why I enjoyed my trip on Ethiopian Airways sometime back because of the “Arkish language” which is an indigenous language in Ethiopia.
Leave your arguments as comments and we shall have great intellectual discourse.
Thanks for reading.
By Akwasi Boakye: