Indigenous language is indispensable
2016-11-15 11:42:25 -
Amaechi Obi: Drastic Measures to Save Nations

Before we delve into these prickly issues hampering our national and individual progress with peace and harmony, it is fundamental to have a clear sense of what we want out of nature’s abundance. We cannot do nor have everything. Therefore, what are the most essential things we truly need to live well, happy and healthy?

Lack of a common language for all citizens is in reality one of the major problems facing Nigeria as a nation. The natural potential of the masses goes largely unexplored and unexploited, when it could help boost the national economy and give food and hope to the majority of our beloved citizens. If they all could speak the same language, peace, unity and patriotism would foster a more positive path.

Why is that so? Because, language is a form of cultural representation, and a manifestation of how a certain group of people conceive their communal lives. That is to say that, the words people or communities use show their mindset, and even their cultural heritage that guides and abides them.

This is how cultural beliefs and backgrounds are founded. But it is not a part of Nigeria’s story as a whole nation. Therefore, to unite Nigeria as a sovereign nation, we must first concentrate on formulating a uniform language which all Nigerian citizens will be able to speak, in addition to their traditional tongues.
But how shall we formulate a lingua franca at this stage for all Nigerians? No doubt, that seems nearly impossible. It is clearly a herculean task, but actually achievable with a clear-cut mission spread into the distant future with persistence, determination and national agreement.

Obviously, Nigeria as a nation has no known language that represents and unites its people, and that may be the main reason why Nigerians are people with good talents, yet unable to unite and launch solidly into the technological world and make things happen. That may also be the reason why we lack that sense of patriotism necessary to arouse enthusiasm and motivation for people to work and die for their country. Maybe the lack of a uniform language is the cause of the reason many of my fellow Nigerians seemingly have no respect for any form of national law and order, while at the same time are in tune with a sense of natural justice.

Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and other local languages spoken in Nigeria are not accepted as the national language. They represent specific groups descended from common ancestors with ingrained cultural backgrounds and inherited physical and psychological structures. These groups inherit the culture, beliefs, language, technology and more from those who came before them. This is what is lacking in Nigeria as a nation. 

We all know the history of Nigeria, how different ethnic groups were joined together by the colonial powers to form a nation, and a foreign language was imposed on them. This is what really represents Nigeria for all of us, and that is why after 56 years of independence we seem not to have a sense of direction. Deep down, there is a sense that none of us feels Nigerian first, before our individual ethnic or regional heritage. The lack of a common tongue is one of the fundamental barriers obstructing and hindering the smooth progress of Nigeria in every facet. We won’t move forward until we share the same words.

Amaechi Obi is a writer and peace advocate based in Spain’s Canary Islands.
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