YOUR LANGUAGE IS YOUR IDENTITY
Prior to the arrival of the British colonialists in the early 20th century into the Middle Belt (Central) Nigerian territory which was to be known as Southern Zaria (now Southern Kaduna), there existed a related sets of people who were mostly monolingual (i.e. spoke languages and/or dialects of their cultural area). Only the few who had contact with the Hausa traders or had lived in their territory were bilingual. The people bore their native names, spoke in their mother-tongues with a sense of pride and independence and upheld their cultural and traditional values with reverence.
With the in coming of the British colonialists in the early 1900s, a quiet revolution was begun. Hausa language began to gain more relevance, and more and more Southern Kaduna (then Southern Zaria) people began to speak Hausa language. The possible causes of this new trend seem to include:
* A higher colonial interest for Hausa language over local languages
* A quest by locals to have a sense of belonging in the new government
* The promotion of Hausa language usage in schools, churches, courts, and other public gatherings, and so on.
After attaining a national independence status, the trend became even worse as the Hausas took over the government. Most television programmes were ran in Hausa language, no one ventured to pay attention to Southern Kaduna languages, just as did the colonial government.
Today, the dominance of Hausa and to some extent, English language in the tongues of a huge number of Southern Kaduna citizens instills in me the fear that if we do not act quickly to protect our languages and their dialects, extinction in a few scores of years is inevitable. Among the city dwelling, it is fashionable to see a young Southern Kaduna boy or girl being proud of not being able to understand and speak his or her mother-tongue, prides him or herself with the amount of Hausa and/or English vocabulary he or she understands and speak. What height of ignorance! Ironically, many of those city dwelling ones go to their villages, and through the charm of influence get those village-dwelling ones polluted, and they begin to abandon their mother-tongue little by little to speak Hausa and/or English. It does not happen at once, but usually in form of gradual metamorphosis.
It dawns on me that people whose mother-tongue has no literature, is not used beyond the house in the school, places of worship, and so on are bound to see their own mother-tongue as inferior and would definitely go for those with a wider scope of usage. A people find a sense of pride when they see their own language measuring up with other languages in terms of modern usage. When that is in place, they naturally would prefer their own language to others.
Being one who was not born in the village or whose parents do not speak your mother-tongue to you is not an excuse for not being able to speak or understand your mother-tongue otherwise, what will you say about the White missionaries who came to our land and spoke our languages even more than a good number of us? You can make a personal move to save your language for the benefit of the future generations unborn by starting to learn how to speak and write your language via personal efforts. Getting a pen and paper would not cost you much, and asking those who speak the language to help you translate words, phrases and sentences into your mother-tongue would not kill you. If your language has no orthography, try get that of a related dialect to yours and advance your course.
If in 50 years time your dialect or language goes into extinction for example, and your people are predominant Hausa (and English) speakers, others would definitely call you Hausas. Even if you have got a different culture, tradition, religious belief from those of the Hausas, all because they speak Hausa with or without native accent. A people can loose their culture, tradition and religion, but if they are able to retain their language, their identity is still intact, but if the reverse is the case, they are a lost people.
This article is only meant to serve as an eye-opener as well as a reawakening to all Southern Kaduna people to see the reason why their languages are so important to them as a people. If it took 100 years to bring down our languages under Hausa domination, it might take another 100 years, plus or minus, to reverse the trend in the opposite direction. The good news is that you do not have to blame others for your misfortune, you can change whatever you do not want – if only you can sacrifice the simple way for the just course!
Let us sacrifice today to keep Southern Kaduna languages and dialects alive to safeguard our identity for the future.
GOD BLESS SOUTHERN KADUNA!
KÅZA NÅ NANG SOUTHERN KADUNA NDA!
ÅGWAZA GU NANG SOUTHERN KADUNA NDA!
NOM DWO SOUTHERN KADUNA!