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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

An Open Letter To Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams A. Oshiomole. For The Sake Of Our Mother Tongue: A Cry For Help


The Comrade Governor Sir,
Edo Focus Parliament is a Pan-Edo interest group, formed primarily to propagate, promote and defend our age-long values of Unity; dignity of Labour; and unassailable cultural standing in the comity of states.
We wish to respectfully draw Mr. Governor's attention to the rather apprehensive and pertinent observation made by UNESCO regarding the imminent extinction of several languages, including sadly,the Edo language from the face of the earth. Your Excellency will doubtless be deeply concerned about this uncheering news since you are a well grounded Edo man. Without much ado, as parents and Guardians, we are reliably informed that Edo language has been systemically obliterated from our public schools curriculum and we are alarmed that most stakeholders have shown little or no concern to this misnomer. We have therefore resolved that you take immediate step to reverse this inglorious scenario and save our dear mother tongue from the predicted hurricane. Andrew Dalby's assertion" A language dies every two weeks" depicts how serious this issue is. Studies by linguistic scholars further buttress this trend; as they evidently affirmed that over 3000 of about 6700 languages the world over will be extinct over the next century. It is worthy of note that 96% of the worlds population speak just 4% of the 6700 languages. This underscores how small languages are marginalized and put under pressure by larger ones and they must "fight" to survive every where, including our geographical divide.
Years of unguided, unmoderated and unwholesome assimilation of other cultural values, especially the English language in its standard, sub standard and bastardized forms have resulted in a violent dislocation that has alienated our youths and some adults from the Edo language in a dangerous way. Comrade Governor Sir, it is considered really trendy and sophisticated for young Edo children and adults to tell you with a sense of smugness that: "I can't speak Edo" "I can barely understand". And we speak of children born, bred and raised in Benin City. For their peers living outside Edo State, try address them in Edo language, and you get a strange look that says, "Oh! here comes one of the village oldies".And God help you, if you are hoary headed and a bit bent from age, because you would just have confirmed their perception. Comrade Governor, we are not being facetious, the loss of identity consequent upon the losing of their language by our youths is complete . It is even more heart rending to find the painful linguistic torture you have to endure from the "English Language" of this class, when you try to engage some of them, in the English language they claim they speak.
When we compare this scenario to that of children from non English speaking European and Asian countries, who at age five can speak their languages fluently as well as the English language learnt from school and how that secures for them a sense of identity and build their self confidence, we can begin to understand the root of the disparity between those civilizations and ours. Comrade Governor Sir, we need not state here the inalienable value of our mother tongue. We need not state how it connects us to the brotherly fellow feeling with our community and how that together reaches back to our progenitors, our history, our heritage and culture. Language is our identity, the common bond of existence in a metaphysical land scape. How many times in our lives experiences have we found unspeakable relief, consolation and bond in meeting our "language person" in other shores of the world. Not infrequently, life time bonds are formed from such musical phrases like: "Ovbiedo u kain"? "Oto' ma u kia"? " E'san we' khin" ? from such chance encounters.
Our Comrade Governor Sir, we are very worried about this negative development and the implications it procures for our history, our present and our future as a race. We are therefore appealing to you, to please convene an Edo Language summit to address this issue. The Forum is pledging an unmitigated functional partnership with the present administration to secure our common destiny. Already, Hon. Edokpolo has been involved in a limited sense in this endeavour through translation of Edo movies language into English to connect to our youth population. It is however our considered opinion that Government needs to firmly make Edo language a compulsory part of our academic syllabus from nursery to senior secondary school levels. This with other deliberately organized and encouraged social interactions with the language will definitely find us reclaiming our roots again across Edo south/North & Central. We are confident that the Comrade Governor will find this a worth while legacy to bequeath to the Edo nation in his administration. Another issue of no less importance is teaching of history and social studies which now seem relegated to some academic trash can, but need to be revisited due to the importance of a people knowing who they are.
Please accept the assurances of our highest regard and support.
Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo
Hon. Austin Atakpu Esq
Rt. Hon. Bright Omokhodion.
For and on behalf of the Edo Focus Parliament, Worldwide.

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