By IGHILE JULIUS
CULTURE is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits music and arts. Today, in Nigeria as in other countries populated largely by immigrants, the culture is influenced by the many groups of people who now make up the country. Culture can also be defined as the way of life a particular group, the totality of a group of people. And it varies from society to society.
There are many cultures in the world today, and this various cultures have been influenced by other culture at one point in time or the other. Examples are; the Western culture, Eastern culture which refers generally to East Asia (including china, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea and South Korea) and the Indian Sub-continent. Latin culture, Middle East which have some but not all things in common, including a strong belief in Islam and religion is a very strong pillar of this society.
African culture, one feature of this culture is the large number of ethnic groups-some countries can have 20 and more – and the diversity of their beliefs. From the foregoing, it is very apparent and clear that culture is a very crucial part of any group of people and language as is an intrinsic part of culture. Language as a communication tool makes exchange of ideals, beliefs, religion, social habits, possible. Language represents a particular group and there are many languages in the world, like the English language, French, German, Italian, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, and Edo language. This various languages help to identify the different groups and society to which an individual belongs. And people are supposed to be proud of their own indigenous language which is referred to as mother tongue and every child is as a matter of importance supposed to know how to speak his own. However in Nigeria, we discovered that the most popular language are the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, whereas we have more than 20 different ethnic groups in the country. The Edo language as it were has been relegated to the background by the Edo people as they no longer teach their children how to communicate using the indigenous language.
Sequel to the above, thee children can’t even greet using the Edo language. This is an aberration in the highest esteem and degree. When a person has lost his self-worth, he or she begins to find avenue to braze up and most times, they resort to the English language which they fell is more popular and ‘’modern’’. As a matter of fact, anyone that speaks the indigenous language is seen as belated uncivilized and archaic.
Added to this is the fact that, people especially the Bini’s now prefer the foreign language (English) to the traditional lingua franca. This is very evident in various offices today. When you greet a Bini man using the local dialect, he will rather answer you with English which is not supposed to be so. What could be responsible for this anomaly? So, many have alluded to lack of proper orientation and unity. We the Binis must rise up as one let us go back to our language, as it is the best to communicate among us.
Furthermore, a Bini child will wake up in the morning and greet his father and mother‘’good morning sir and ma’’respectively. This is an error as there are indigenous ways of doing such. Parents should therefore rise up to their responsibility and teach their children the mother tongue to save our language from total neglect and extinction. Even those who manages to speak, does not even speak correctly as many ascent are missing this is noticed especially in the area of pronunciation of some words. What an error! Whereas we crave to speak English language correctly to the detriment of our own. If the enthusiasm and zeal with which we want to learn and speak the English Language is also transferred to the indigenous Language, I believe we will go farther as a people.
The other popular Nigerian languages like the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo are just like ours, but the only difference is that these groups are proud of their indigenous language and they speak it anytime, anywhere and any place. But the bin’s will never do this, but would love to speak grammar and prove to you that they are very educated and enlightened. In terms of education in Nigeria, it is a fact that the Yoruba’s are more educated than any other group, but this persons still hold their indigenous language in high esteem, and they speak it anywhere likewise the Igbos.
The question that borders any mind is, who is to be blame for these canker worm that has eaten deep into our language system? Is it the parents, government or traditional rulers and custodian of our culture? None of the above is exempted from this wrong notion that has grown so big. The parents must rise up and take a stand to teach their children how to speak the indigenous language. Also, the government must also make it a point of duty to make the teaching of our local and indigenous language a must in the school curricular, to enable this children learn this language from childhood, as it is done in other parts of the country. Added to this, is the fact that traditional rules who are the custodian of our culture must help in making sure that our language is not lost and destroyed by putting measures in place to ensure the learning and usage of our mother tongue.
In conclusion, our language is our tool of communication and identify, it must not be relegated to the background. All hands must therefore be on deck to ensure we speak our language. It must be kept in mind that the Edo language is not inferior to any other lingua Franca in the world; we must therefore embrace, learn, and speak it at home, offices, school and anywhere we find ourselves, home and abroad. Surely, it is our identity.