Greetings to the peace-loving people of Rivers State, and welcome to another episode of Rivethics on Radio, our character-building weekend show. Please remember that though we have a diversity of languages, a warm smile means the same thing in every language. Always remember to share a smile. Our topic this weekend is titled, Our Language, our Culture, in commemoration of the United Nations’ Mother Tongue Day which came up this week, on the 21st of February.
Language is the road map of any culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going. Language is the most powerful instrument of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
Research has shown that children can learn as many languages as they are taught. The challenge is the absence of good and enthusiastic teachers. This should remove the fear that our children by learning their mother tongue may impair fluency in English, the official language. This fear is unfounded and not based on research. Research has proved that the best way for a child to excel in English is to be good in his or her own native language.
Learning to speak in the mother tongue is very important for a child’s overall development. Being fluent in the mother tongue, which is also known as the native language, benefits the child in many ways. It connects children to their culture, ensures better cognitive development, and aids in the learning of other languages. The significance of knowing more than one major language is better appreciated when one realises that only 20% of the world population of 7.5 billion people speak English. Over 1.3 billion people speak Chinese.
Many of the world’s languages and cultures are in danger of disappearing in the coming decades for a variety of political, economic and social reasons. We are all concerned about this phenomenon. The challenge is to slow it down or stop it altogether, by promoting respect for linguistic and cultural rights, peaceful co-existence in multicultural societies and the preservation of our biocultural heritage. Respect for our individual culture and language will help us appreciate the language and culture of other people, helping us become better and more integrated global citizens.
Our guest speakers are Dr. Agu Ovuchi, the CEO of Rivers Language Centre and Dr. (Mrs.) Roseline Alerechi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Linguistics and Communication Studies, University of Port Harcourt. They will enlighten us more on the subject matter. Please enjoy the episode.
Our great Rivers people, don’t forget to always let your manners speak for you.
God bless and keep you and your families and God bless Rivers State.
Her Excellency, Justice (Mrs.) Suzzette Eberechi Nyesom-Wike, The Wife of the Governor of Rivers State and Initiator of the RivEthics Character Development Programme.
You can also listen to and download the Pidgin English version of this Episode below