…… Fall out of the 2023 General Elections
Participants at a roundtable discussion organized by the Lagos State University’s Centre for Yoruba Studies on Language, Identity and Governance have advocated strict adherence to the National Education Policy that will assist children speak in their mother tongue early in life.
The discussion which focused on a statement credited to the candidate of the Labour Party in the Gubernatorial elections in Lagos State, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour was entitled: A Critical Discourse on Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivours’s statement: “I don’t think in Yoruba, held on Thursday.
The discussants agreed that there was the need to adhere to the recommendation of the National Policy on Education that children should be taught in their mother tongue from primary one to three.
They also implored government to implement the NPE policy at all levels of education in the country.
Presenting a paper entitled: Language Thought and Identity: A Reflection on Gbadebo Vivour Statement; I don’t think in Yoruba, Prof Harrison Adeniyi of the department of Linguistics, LASU said identity is what one projects into the world and how one wants to be perceived by others, “because language forms a major part of someone’s identity.
Reflecting on the statement by Rhodes-Vivour, Prof Adeniyi said from the statement; “I don’t think in Yoruba”, it can be deduced that the language is primordial, hence archaic. Lagos is a cosmopolitan state with no need to speak Yoruba and attending schools abroad exclude him from speaking Yoruba.
Prof Adeniyi however explained that Yoruba is a major language of Lagos State and a case study affirmed that apart from Lagos being Yoruba settlement and though, cosmopolitan in nature, there are more Yoruba speakers in Lagos and that every day, non-speakers aspire to learn the language.
He therefore recommends that; “a law to provide for the preservation and promotion of the use of Yoruba language and for connected purposes.”
He also advised all primary and secondary schools in the state to include teaching of Yoruba Language as a core subject at all levels.
According to him: “All the laws in the state would be translated into Yoruba Language and all state owned tertiary institutions are to incorporate the use of Yoruba Language in the General Studies, (GNS), courses.
“The use of Yoruba Language shall be an acceptable means of communication between individuals, establishment, corporate entities and government in the start if so desired by the concerned,” he said.
Prof. Adeniyi also added that it shall not be an offence to speak Yoruba Language by officials of the state government.
Looking at it from a Psychologist perspective, Prof Kayode Taiwo of LASU’s Department of Psychology said the statement by anyone mirrors what the person has inside him or her. He said the statement by Rhodes-Vivour shows whom he is and a man that cannot speak the language would not have been able to handle the state or the culture.
Dr. Henry Hunjo of Department of English, LASU in his paper entitled: Rhodes-Vivour’s Members’ Resources and the Dilemma of Acceptability, said the implications of the statement means that Gbadebo is a product of the cosmopolitan culture, he knows there is a language called Yoruba; he is unable to speak because he feels excluded for the fact that people mock him.
He explained further that; “His sociocultural developments do not include social practice of the Yoruba he views the world with other languages.
On the political implication, Dr Hunjo said this include the challenge of acceptability by the people of Lagos; difficulty in being included in the socio-cultural practices of the indigenous people of Lagos e.g. traditional religion for instance; exclusion from activities that require integration and combating feelings of exclusion dealing with peers that are proficient in the use of Yoruba.
He will also be confronted with; “Difficulty in addressing large crowd of Yoruba speaking communities to discuss state matters that require the use of Yoruba as the language of communication and loss of linguistic independence.
He recommends adherence to the recommendation of the NPE that children should be taught in their mother tongue from primary one to three. To ensure that children acquire their mother tongue before they are sent to formal school at the age of six. The use of indigenous languages at home by parents and guardians should be encouraged and sending children to school overseas could rob one knowledge of indigenous cultures.
In his remarks, the Acting Director, Centre for Yoruba Studies, Dr. Ahmed Adesanya said the discussion is one of the major issues arising from political scene in Nigeria especially during the Governorship election in Lagos State.
He said; “One of the candidate answering question from the media said I don’t think in Yoruba. We have brought that to the public space, academic domain, people can talk about it and give us their various views so that it can help us and help the masses.
“From the discussion, it is obvious that people has slept over their culture. Language as a medium of identity has been pushed to the background and with the roundtable, the aim is to steer consciousness in people to understand their culture, language, to understand their identity and of course all these things should be interconnected.
“It is just a kind of connection between the town and gown whatever happens now, it’s going to be brought to the public domain,” he stated.
He was of the opinion that the outcome will make an impact. According to him; “before now we have diverse views of people in Lagos, various languages, ownership, culture and others but with this discussion here, it has been clarified, so people will now get the real issue.