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The need for language

  • By Coinbox Limited
  • April 12, 2024

Nigeria is very linguistically diverse with over 500 languages and over 300 ethnic groups. According to Intrepid guide (www.intrepidguide.com), we have 7,117 known languages and 90% of these languages are spoken by 100,000 people or less.

In Nigeria, we have 3 national languages: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Hausa language is considered as the language spoken by the highest number of people at over 50,000,000 people speaking it. The most common language used in official and international corridors in Nigeria is English. Pidgin English in variation of local dialects is also popular.

Language represents:

–        The heritage of the people

–        The identity of the people

–        A sense of community

–        Building and maintaining relationships

–        The culture and values of the people

–        It provides a means for exclusive communication

–        Language represents control and influence.

Language is priceless and keeps a group or community alive and together..

But many languages are getting extinct with fewer people using it. Which invariably means that many cultures, identities, and heritages are going extinct. This situation represents a convergence of the world but a loss of our communal identity, diversity and uniqueness. It also represents nations recovering from years of slavery, oppression and colonialism. Allowing the local languages to die is allowing the continuous spread of colonialism and can still be considered a form of slavery.

But the so called ‘colonialists’ have their own language strong and spreading because they have worked for it by documenting it and using it to educate the next generation which helps to maintain continuity, identity, heritage and all other advantages of having a language.

In Africa, lack of having our language documented is the reason why over 90% of our languages are going extinct or dying. We are losing our identity and feel oppressed and blame our colonialists that have long left and claim that they are still in control without realizing that we have refused to take control.

Its time we took our future into our hands and retain our identity by mordernising our languages by documenting it. There is virtually no language that cannot be documented in such a systematic and organized mode that it can be taught and transferred from the documented materials. We need not just document the language, we need to also use it to teach and educate our children in their schools. This is very important and should be considered a national emergency especially in my country Nigeria.

Teaching our children in our local languages will encourage greater expression as communication with our experienced ‘seniors’ will be smoother.

If the Nigerian existence is documented and maintained by using the language to teach and transfer knowledge, the country will be better for it and expression and progress will be far more than what it is today.

Using the advanced countries as yardstick, the language of the Americans and British is English, that of the Chinese is mandarin, the Arabs is Arabic, the French is French, and on like that.

In Nigeria as a country, based on its diversity, it will be difficult to have one primary official language, what I will suggest is to divide the country into 6 or 9 regions or clusters and a local language prevalent in that region and having a common thread with all the other local languages in that region or a language most popularly spoken in that region is chosen as the local language of that region. This language will now be officially applied in that region for business, entertainment, and education. But this does not bar all the other official languages including English from being used alternatively.

The federal government in itself will continue operations in English but allow states and local governments to operate in their diversity. This will provide a better appreciation and not apathy to our development efforts like education and communication and increase our unity while maintaining our diversity and culture. This will create thousands if not millions of new jobs and greatly improve the economy and country as a whole.

We as Nigerians are a great country made up of great people with a great future and capacity to rule the world, let us not let language deter us from achieving this.


Ayo Emakhiomhe


Coinbox Limited

A Management Consultancy, SME Business Development & Support Company, And HR Consultancy.

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