How Fluently Do You Speak Your Mother Tongue?

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I feel like a glutton. I weigh 74kg and it’s my heaviest ever and I have no idea how to loose it. When I was almost due with my first son I weighed about 72 so you can imagine how much I have added. I thought I was ok and just needed to loose my tummy until I climbed my scale! Now I know it just ain’t a tummy matter…help!!

I watched ‘Living in Bondage’ yesterday. It was interesting to watch the first naija home movie. It was funny to see how archaic the outfits from the early 90’s looked. It’s also interesting how the actors have all added a little weight and have changed over the years. I also find it a bit sad that there are hardly any movies acted in Igbo anymore. You see, the marketers of most Nigerian Movies (who are mostly Igbo traders) decided that acting films in English would be more profitable as it would appeal to a wider audience. While I now can understand that, I still wonder why there can’t be some marketable films in Igbo. A lot of Yoruba and Hausa films are still produced and are doing really well.
I just think my people (Igbo) have a complex; I mean we would rather speak English than our mother tongue. It’s almost like we are ashamed of our origin. A Yoruba person will toast a babe in Yoruba but ndi igbo will say its razz. You can see a pure aje butter Yoruba person speaking fluently but my people… even the one that can speak will form oyibo! My aunt was telling me how she saw a young Igbo boy with his parents. She greeted the boy saying “kedu” (how are you) and the boy answered her saying “my name is not kedu”? This is a child born and raised in Nigeria.
Please Ndi Igbo let’s be proud of our heritage. The other day, a comedian was saying that Igbo people can’t say a sentence without putting an English word. Sad but true. It’s only in Igbo land that you will hear people greeting each other with ‘good morn’, ‘good aft’ or ‘good efenin’… (I just found out that good afternoon is osisioma; but who says that?).
This is a wake up call. Igbo people, our language is dying; don’t allow anyone make you feel your language is inferior. I speak my language wherever it’s appropriate and if people harass me, I tell them to speak their own language. Although, I think it is wrong for people to start speaking their language when they are in the company of other people who don’t understand the same -it is rude. Nigerians, wake up too! It could happen to your language. I have friends from Akwa Ibom who are purposely not speaking Ibibio to their kids, reason being “I don’t want her to have an Ibibio accent”. Hogwash! My mum speaks fluent Igbo and Yoruba and when you hear her speak English there’s not a drop of any ethnicity in it. I have friends from plateau who speak Hausa but have no interest in their own language (Hausa is spoken generally in the North but only a small percentage of Northerners are actually indigenous Hausa speakers). Personally, I think every Nigerian should speak their tribal language and have a little knowledge of others (at least be able to respond to ‘how are you’ or say ‘thank you’ in several Nigerian languages).
When I think of Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Latin; I think of dead languages don’t let the same happen to our beautiful mother tongues.
How many of us or/and our children can fluently speak our mother tongue? Please respond.

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22 Comments

  1. Naija Wife….

    It’s hard to fault your comments. The complex bit, its hard to say that in its self doesn’t play a part. Many reasons have been given for the low esteem of the Igbo folks – the war, continuous marginalisation etc. I don’t mean to belittle these reasons, but I honestly think we need to move on from there. The Igbos are in danger of being an endangered group. This might sound slightly alarming, but it is true.

  2. i love speaking ibo…am sure u know… people say i speak too much of it…lol…

    u are right…ibo people are just cursed….look at anambra state … ..all i can do is pray for the ibo people…i dont know where we are heading…

    God please HELP THE IBO MAN…ABEG

  3. Igbo kwenu!!!!!!my sister you are right, make una dey blast dat language, na sweet one, you self, why you no write the post in Igbo? na dat one for get ya point across now!

  4. Hmmmm me I speak Igbo o! Infact I used to be an…I’m ashamed to say..ajebutter before but since I moved to the UK, I give myself a Nigerian accent as much as possible, I interject Igbo expressions into my English when talking with non-igbo and non-black friends and it’s great.

    I learnt that from my Spanish friend.

    Also the fact that Igbos are commerce inclined means they continually have to adapt for reasons of trade and commerce. That’s why you can fins an Igbo man speaking 3 of the major languages in Nigeria, including Efik and Urhobo but you’d rarely find this phenomenon in any other tribe.

  5. Nwannem nwanyi, o di mkpa k’anyi n’asu asusu anyi. O diro ofele ikuzi umuazi kita mana umu m fa ncha ga ma isu Igbo ofuma ofuma. Na obodo oyibo Amelika, ndi Chinko na ndi Mexico n’akuzi umu fa asusu nke fa. Asusu Igbo asoka, o n’eme m gbiri gbiri. Nwanne mmadu n’eje n’iru. Ka Chineke nye anyi aka rue mgbe ebi ebi o.

    ~~Ada ndi Nibo no na Awka South LGA na Anambra state n’ekene gi~~

  6. @aba boy, yep we need to move on
    @mymt..nne I know you love Igbo lol, you actually helped me improve mine.Lets just pray for our state
    @waffarian..chisia ochi ike (lol)ewem ike dere iha n’igbo but then I am not just talking to Igbo people.thanks for coming to my blog.
    @idemilli..true, we can learn alot from mexicans they almost force their language on you!
    @obianuju..Nwannem Nwanyi,daalu oh! Ihe dere bu eziokwu, odiro ofele mana odim kpa ka umu anyi na su Igbo ofuma. Ndi mexico na chinco anaghi eji asusu obodo fa egwu egwu. Nne Gi si ike.

  7. Wow… I must say I’m ashamed… I speak my mother tongue fluently, but my 3 year old knows nothing of the language. My hubby is Esan and he does not speak a word of his language. I am trying to teach my daughter my language (kalabari) but she just brushes me off by making fun of me. Hubby even laffs and they both try to imitate me… I feel the need for her (and subsequent siblingssss 🙂 )to speak at least 1 Nigerian language but I seriously don’t know where to start…

  8. Hey Chioma,

    I think this is really a growing phenomenon from Nigerians across the board. A friend of mine and her husband both speak Yoruba fluently yet they refuse to teach their child. Children are so quick to pick up languages that it seems a shame to not teach them our native languages at an early age. As for me, even though my Yoruba is terrible, I will teach my kids as much of it as possible. Just as an aside – My dad speaks all three major languages but especially loves to show off his Igbo skills. He gave my sister an Igbo name even though we are Yoruba.

  9. LOL@ me typing in Igbo, thx Chioma, ya nwanne gi no na MD is cool people!

    Seriously though kids are very quick to pick up, I had to brush up on my Igbo in my early teen yrs because we had moved to a francophone country and I felt ashamed that I was fluent in french at that time and not in Igbo, so I made it a point and made myself fluent. Now looking back, I’m proud to say I think in all 3 languages, and know how to get what I want in a spattering of other African languages. Language is a big part of culture, and its the best way to get to people. Simply saying hello in Korean got me a discount at a Korean beauty supply store in the states!! LOL we all love discounts abi?

    @nyemoni, your 3yr old is still very young and the time is now. Very soon you’ll be having her speak kalabari so fluently, your husband will be jealous and will run and teach her Esan! Start incorporating it when you talk to her gradually. Instead of saying “come here” say it in Kalabari. Tell her its your secret language with her, so daddy wont understand. She’ll love that. Then get her to tal to you in that secret language…make it a game!

  10. I agree, I grew up in an home where we were spoken to in english although my parents and extended family members spoke yoruba and hausa fluently. Now i understand yooryba but cant speak it well. I want to bring up my children differenty

  11. @nyemoni:I echo what obianuju said..thats how i started teaching my kids, I would start by saying stuff like “close the door” “did you sleep well” etc in Igbo, now my oldest speaks igbo to me.The funny thing is that I am not even fluent yet i am teaching myself and my kids at the same time. I tell my mum to speak only igbo to my kids and my
    househelp(finally got a new one) can only speak igbo (which works for me).Good luck and don’t mind your husband he’s just jealous that he can’t speak his own
    language(lol)
    @gbemi- true talk. I tell people that don’t teach their kids that they don’t know what they have thats why they are not blessing their kids with the ability to speak their languge. Like CNG I grew up in a home where my folks spoke mostly english to us, so i had to struggle to teach myself a lot.I had to endure people taunting me (“your accent is so flat”, “that not how to pronounce that word”)and at a point I almost lost hope on my igbo, thank God i got over it and I can speak convincing Igbo now. I don’t want my kids to go through what i went through.hows ifeoma?:)
    CNG-thanks for visiting my blog like i said I grew up the same way, thats why I am so passionate about teaching my kids my language.doing a great job on your blog!
    @uju- i ma nwanne m nwanyi? Its a small world!

  12. @ Obianuju (GC) and Chioma, Thanks… I certainly will do my best and keep you posted!! Yeah, I think hubby’s just jealos (lol) and Congrats on getting a new houselp! I hope and pray she’s who you’ve been looking for! Ciao!

  13. I so agree… my parents never taught me any language so I am a Nigerian that can speak only English. With ‘your cute Kitan’ even though we live in the UK, I am determined that dh teaches him Yoruba.

  14. @nyemoni: LOL at your hubby and daughter laughing at you together when you try to teach her kalabari. LOL!! That’s too cute. Persevere sha, he’ll be happy when he hears her speaking it later.

    Good point by obianuju – language is really key in appreciating any culture.

  15. fist time on your blog … and I must say I am loving it so far…”osisioma” I have leant a new Ibo word…thanks. I am delta Ibo so our’s is abit different… I grow up in Lagos .. so sad to say I speak better yoruba than my own language….funny I leant to speak my yoruba abroad, cos we spoke only english at home.. realy no particular reason…

    Now this is one reason I want to move back home (Nja) cos hubby is Edo … me Ibo…my kids dont speak any of the languages…only my mum speaks to them when she is around…
    (well i have stared teaching or should i say she has started picking up pidgin english)
    I say all this so you know how I feel when i read this post….my own kids cannot speak any Nigerian language…I dont even care which one (but I want them to at least understand) I really dont know why Ibos dont speak our language to our kids more…I think some time think it’s is Catholicism that westernised us that way.

    about loosing the kg’s…you kids are still very young..so believe it or not baby fat still dey your body…try reducing you carbo(swallow):) and what I did that worked.. was I went on a NO FOOD AFTER 4PM MAYBE 5PM LATEST … it to me about 8months to loose 2 dress sizes….

    ok I don talk enough … will be by again…stay blessed!

  16. @refinedone..hello! always happy to have new visitors!
    My sister just corrected me that its “esisieoma and not osisisoma”
    You even speak two languages!..I have alot of friends who grew up in lagos and only speak yoruba or speak it in addition to their native languages.I think its wonderful to be multilingual, I understand and speak quite a bit of yoruba and can greet in a number of other languages.I think its so important and even pidgin is part of our culture and a language everyone should be able to speak.I wish you all the best in teaching them they are young(right) so It won’t be too hard just requires a little determination and consistency once they understand they can improve from there.I agree with you about the Church making us to “oyibo”..na naija people dey speak english pass all other african countries.

    I remember as a child when we all had to make a presentation and say goodmorning in different languages all I could come up with was kedu.

    No food after 5..wow,that’ll be hard but I will try.I don’t swallow much, but take too much bread(just as bad right).Thanks for the advice I hope it works.Thanks and stay blessed.ps you have a beautiful blog

  17. ….Thanks:)
    Yes o! 5pm… join the club, if I can survive with out bread I am sure i’ll be a size 8 by now ( not that I want to be a size 8) A beg I am african woman! I dont want my mother to think I am have marital problems 🙂

    anyway all the best..

  18. Another excellent blog. I feel like I was robbed because my parents did not speak to us in Igbo. Luckily, I understand very well otherwise I would be lost at family gatherings. (I was quite proud that I could understand the Igbo comments!!) I hope to make sure that my children can at least be conversant in Igbo and wish there were more opportunities for me to learn to speak well. You are right! We should be proud! I have just started introducing myself to people using my full name instead of “Chi-Chi” and I don’t apologize when they look quizzical or say “That’s a mouthful”. I respect my name which is part of my language and you will too! Oh, and thanks for the new word! Esisieoma . . . I will call my mom in the afternoon one day just to greet here with that!

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