Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11 has warned Yoruba all over the world not to allow their mother tongue to go into extinction by making use of the language as means of communication in their homes.
He gave this warning at this year’s ‘Mother Tongue Day’ celebration in Oba Okunade Sijuwade Memorial Hall, Enuwa, Ile-Ife.
The monarch also advocated the use of Yoruba language as means of teaching the pupils and students in schools for a proper understanding of their studies as it is done in other climes.
Tracing the etymological history of languages, Oba Ogunwusi averred that the most spoken languages all over the world today like English had their origin in Yoruba language.
He therefore berated the situation where these languages are given and receiving attention by the Yoruba at the detriment of their mother tongue.
He added that the chequered history of the Yoruba race with slavery and slave trade wherein their brethren were taken to America and Europe and forced to work in the sugarcane farms did not obliterate their mother tongue completely.
He therefore charged the Yoruba race to remember their roots and pay special attention to the resuscitation, sustenance and growth of their mother tongue if they want to sustain their culture and identity within the global comity.
According to the monarch, Yoruba as a race is unique as they are descendants of Oduduwa, just as the Jews are unique as descendants of Jacob.
This unique attribute, he averred, had so much to do with their mother tongue which makes it distinctive from other languages all over the world.
He also charged the Yoruba race to always live in and show love to one another at all times in order not to allow their mother tongue to go into extinction.
To him, love and unity are the basis on which the scriptures – Koran and Bible – are built.
Earlier, the guest lecturer, Professor Rotimi Adeniyi Harrison, who is the vice president of Linguistics Association of Nigeria, disclosed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, had declared February 28 as ‘World Mother Tongue Day’ since 1962 as a mark of the rights of nationalities to communicate and express themselves in their mother tongues.
He added that this came into reality in this part of the world with its celebration in the year 2000.
Bemoaning the recent trends, he said while many nations were striving hard to learn Yoruba language, Yoruba people in Nigeria were relegating their mother tongue to the background in preference for foreign languages like English.
He added that Yoruba language is being given special attention by the Central Investigation Agency, CIA, and National Security Agency, NSA, in America, and it is being taught in more than 29 universities in the USA and lately Japan while Yoruba in Nigeria are lackadaisical about their mother tongue.

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