WORLD CULTURE DAY - THE DEATH OF ANY LANGUAGE IS THE DEATH OF AN INVALUABLE CULTURAL HERITAGE…. ALAAFIN.


"We need to vigorously promote the study of our history, language and culture. The tendency for educated Yoruba indigenes not being able to speak their native languages should be urgently addressed.
If we cannot speak our languages, which embody our philosophies, wisdom and proverbs, we have lost an essential contribution of our nation to the collective pool of human civilization the population of Nigeria is put at about 180 million. It is, consequently, the most populous country in Africa, close to twenty per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the sub-continents second-largest economy. In the same vein, Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. It is thus, a multi-cultural nation. There are about 500 ethnic groups in Nigeria with very diverse socio-cultural system deeply rooted in ethnic segmentation. The cultural variability in the country is represented through ethnic categorization which collectively forms an ethnic plurality, culture multiplicity and ethnolinguistic groupings. However, in commemoration of the World Culture Day, the Oyo State Government, through the Ministry of Information and Culture conducted an interview for His Imperial Majesty, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba [Dr.] Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. The crew that conducted the interview in the ancient palace was led by the State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr Toye Arulogun. Oba Adeyemi observed that the time to begin to appreciate and re-appreciate the cultural importance to Yoruba and national growth is critically now, as experiences suggest that the pathways to development are strategically hidden in the cultures and cultural-political determinations. He said it is a truth today that Yoruba cultures are under threat, adding that these cultures are in fact been pushed beyond their limits of tolerance in manners that suggest danger, adding that some cultures are in fact already surviving at the merging.‘’The basic culture and civilization which the Yoruba have built still endured and remained the fulcrum of the political, economic, religious and intellectual development of the country till today.  The Yorubas developed a highly sophisticated system of government with effective checks and balances, which was spiced with a high level of gender consciousness, adding that the Yoruba traditional system of government is indeed one of the oldest forms of democracy in the world’.Alaafin who lamented that the elites’ attitudes towards the use of Yorùbá language, said English is regarded as a symbol of our social structure. “The age-long prohibition of ‘vernacular’ is still firmly operational in a large percentage of Yorùbá elite homes. Their children must learn and always speak English. Apparently, Yorùbá language still exists in Nigeria today because of the high level of illiteracy. If we have a low percentage of literacy, the language will be gone. Parents want their children to speak and learn English.
While the language gives us the ability to think differently and retain the mentality, total abandonment of the Yorùbá language brings total dislocation and loss of identity. Some basic aspects of the Yorùbá culture, especially different forms of greetings, are now completely foreign to many élite families.”The paramount ruler explained that some élites find all greetings form in the Yoruba language unnecessary and time-wasting, but adopt a simple greeting pattern such as Hi or Hello, which to them is preferable.“The children too imbibe their parents’ attitude, their personalities and then become not only divided but also totally shattered.
They become localised foreigners. The negative negligence and negligible use of Yorùbá by the élites, has spilled over effects on Yorùbá as a discipline.”According to the Alaafin, ‘’Yoruba culture is not static. At the same time, every generation tries to preserve aspects of the indigenous tradition. This effort is counterbalanced by the pragmatic desire of the Yoruba to an appropriate change in the garb of tradition.”Alaafin further called for inculcation in the children at all levels of education, and awareness of his or her history, folklores, believes, and thought-system, so as to enable him or her gain knowledge of the physical, as well as the spiritual properties of the society in which he or she lives. He also warned that if oral history and verbal art of Yoruba culture are not to be lost in time, the languages in which they are expressed must be jealously safeguarded.
Explaining areas of activities that should form the focus of implementation of the National Cultural Policy, especially in education, the Titan of Yoruba Empire urged both the Federal and State Governments to ensure at all levels of education, a curriculum featuring aspects of education which will enhance the common heritage of Nigerians as brothers and fellow citizens with a common destiny. According to him, "the traditional attitude to oral tradition was one of respect and cultural pride, but with the advent of western education, traditional religion came to be associated with paganism. Added to this is the fact that western education and the colonial style of administration were both based on a written tradition.
As a result, an unlettered person gifted for his or her oratory and steeped in traditional culture came to be seen merely as a simple illiterate and an idol worshipper".Alaafin pointed out that Yoruba forefathers paid special attention to names of their offsprings, adding that this is one of the reasons why young couples in the past send messages to their villages asking their parents to send names when their wives give birth to babies.“Today, they use a foreign language, English, has always been an important aspect of the official language in Nigeria. Though there is a high rate of illiteracy in the rural population, the use of our local languages has its limitations. Many elite families would like their children to learn the English language better than their local language.
Nigerians use and read books written in a foreign language faster and more fluently than those written in local languages. In Nigeria, cultural globalization has impacted on the number of Movies produced by Nigeria Nollywood. Movies produced in English are much more than those performed and produced in Igbo and other Nigerian languages’’."With this development, the name of every Nigerian child has a historical meaning. But unfortunately, all that has vanished thereby eroding and debasing our culture as well as being held in ridicule".He warned that an essential aspect of Yoruba culture is the preservation of its verbal art and oral traditions, which implies preserving the vitality of our languages, in which they are enshrined.‘’It is a known fact that several languages of the world are endangered and threatened with extinction. 
 
The death of any language is the death of an invaluable cultural heritage".Advocating that books and teaching aids used in our educational system and products of society with most of their messages drawn from the Nigerian experiences, the Custodian of Yoruba culture and traditions submitted that mother tongue should be the basis of cultural education, while the development of Nigerian languages should be vehicles of expressing modern ideas and thought-processes."We need to vigorously promote the study of our history, languages and cultures. 
 
The tendency for educated Yoruba indigenes not being able to speak their native languages should be urgently addressed. If we cannot speak our languages, which embody our philosophies, wisdom and proverbs, we have lost an essential contribution of our nation to the collective pool of human civilization. Alaafin, however, noted that whatever human intellectual pursuit we have, it must have a past which forms with the departure point for present and future endeavours, adding that is why all knowledge is historical."So, to develop the human person, we must have a reference point and time perspective, and history provides the milestone against which we can measure how much distance we have covered".