According to what we were taught in our Nigerian schools, our native language (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa…) is important as English – although English was made compulsory and our natives weren’t.
The standard for judging illiteracy in the world is wrong, especially in the African continent. Emphasis is placed on acquiring proper British/American English while little effort is put in ensuring the adoption of indigenous tongues.
Of course, English is a universal language and its proper use can take you far and wide (ask Nigerian OAPs with fake accents), but it doesn’t mean we should abandon our uniqueness as Africans. Yes, our language makes us unique since our clothes and ideologies are metamorphosing into those of our colonial masters.
This little survey we carried out within our premises shows that Yoruba might become extinct soon if we make no efforts to preserve the language of our ancestors.
We should try as much as possible to achieve equal speaking and writing capabilities in our native language(s) and in the English Language. If it’s too late and you don’t think you can catch up, ensure your next generation does not make the same mistake you’ve made.
Happy International Literacy Day.