An applaudable one or we should bury our face in shame?

The over 22 million Yoruba who live in southwestern Nigeria are one of the four major sociolinguistic groups of contemporary Nigeria. The others are the Igbo to the east, and the Hausa and Fulani to the north.  Subgroups of the Yoruba in Nigeria include the Awori, the Ijesha, the Oyo, the Ife, the Egba, the Egbado, the Ketu, the Ijebu, the Ondo, the Ekiti, the Yagba, and the Igbomina.

These subgroups have been described as belonging to a distinct cultural category because of such binding factors as a generally intelligible language, myth of common origin, and basically similar political structures. Besides the Yoruba in Nigeria, subgroups of Yoruba descent exist in other areas of the world as a result of the
Atlantic slave trade and the artificially drawn
international boundaries.

In French Dahomey, now known as The Republic of Benin, the Yoruba are known as the Nago. In Cuba, they are known as the Lukumi. In Sierra Leone, they are known as the Aku, and in Surinam as Yoruba (Warner-Lewis 1996). In Brazil, the Yoruba culture influenced a religion known as Candomble (Murphy 1994; Voeks. 1997). In North America, particularly in Miami, Florida, Yoruba influenced syncretistic religion is known as Santeria (Gonzalez-Wippler 1998).

The overbearing influence of English is so prevalent and pervasive that it has caused the death of some minority languages and is also
threatening the so-called majority languages; most especially, The Yoruba.

The language of a people is a definite way of identifying such people apart from their culture. Put in another way, language is the identity card a people travel with for proper identification. When one loses one’s identity card, it becomes an uphill task to locate such person’s root/family in case of any eventuality!

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We may say something in Yoruba and when asked to say it/interpret it, will say, ” If I say it in English, it will not mean the same thing as in Yoruba.” This illustrates that there are some expressions one can give in one’s language, which may be hard to convey in a foreign language, even after they have been translated and/or transliterated.

This is our identity, No wonder theologians will say that the old King James Version of the Bible is the only rendering that is very close to the original Greek/Hebrew writings of the Bible. Most words are not accurately represented semantically when translated from one language to the other. There is no way an interpretation can be as accurate as having access to the habits of thought of the owners of the language.


Instead of leaving or forsaking Yoruba at the expense of English, why can’t we learn both; and in fact, include other languages, instead of sending our own indigenous language to extinction.

We have multilingual individuals like Harold Williams who is said to have spoken 58 languages, Ziad Farrah who could speak and read well over 50 languages!

We need to realise that no matter how fluent we speak the English language, we would still be referred to as the non-native speakers of the English language, the second language learners (L2).

It is a show of highest level of ignorance, an unquantifiable level of mediocre; when the ability of someone to speak English fluently or the amount of bombastic words or vocabularies that one has mastered is used as a yardstick for measuring one’s intellectual or academic excellence by anyone!

The root cause of the problem is the parents and our teachers. They need to realise that whether they speak Yoruba to the child or not; a child that will understand English will understand English.

How many Yorubas does the father of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Duro Ladipo, Akinwumi Isola, Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa, Abimbola Adelakun, Tolu
Ajayi, Yemi Ajibade, Biyi Bandele, Toyin Falola among others speak to them and yet they are “General Commander of English” as I will call

It sadden my heart when I got to one secondary school today and the principal told me that the penalty for speaking Yoruba in their school is #50-per speak.

What a shame!

And come and hear that their English; rabble rubbish!
“They have brought the light, go and on the fan.

I hardly laugh.

It was this particular incident among others spur me to take my pen and express my emotion, my dissatisfaction and my dejectedness before things finally gets out of hand!



Bamidele Williams is a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, and Convener, OAU pigeonpost.


The Author


I am Maduawuchi, the Editor of Nigerian Infopedia. I am a Biochemist, I love God, I love my family and I love my life. Writing is natural to me that's why I love what I do... Captain, Leader, Motivator, Brother and Friend. Saved by Grace alone.

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