Speaking Yoruba Language

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash


Growing up in Nigeria, my siblings and I spoke the Yoruba language. 

Elders everywhere spoke the language to us, our parents spoke it with us, everyone spoke the language to us, we speak it in school and had to be continuously warned by class captains or class monitors to "stop speaking vernacular."

So I speak it fluently, I speak my native dialect too!

Somewhere along the line, a certain wind of modernization swept over parents in Nigeria and the Yoruba language hibernated, it became hidden, to be seen but not heard!! 

The English language became our mother tongue! So kids born in the '80s early '90s upward saw the Yoruba language as an aberration, an anomaly! 

Something like you-are-not-sophisticated-or-you-are-just-too-local if you speak Yoruba! And there Voila! We missed it! We've raised almost a generation of children who can not read or speak "ABD"!!.

The Yoruba classes taught in school can only do little. We have to speak the language consciously to the children at home and enforce it to be spoken back to us. That, I tell you is an onerous task! 

My kids are struggling to speak my language. I waited for them to grow a little, get a grasp of the English language first and then pick up the Yoruba language but it was almost too late! Here we are, at ages 6 and 7, trying to force them to have a grasp of the language, I want them to understand and speak it fluently. Thankfully, they are beginning to speak it, even if they call their own food "aja" which means a dog!

I realized that the easier way out is starting to speak the language once the child is born, the English or other languages would come naturally from school and society. With the older kids, we still have to start somewhere.

Here are a few helpful YouTube links I stumbled on:

Alphabeeti yooba by #btstories74 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQTVj7tioEQ 
DNVlogsLife A on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQHZex6QBgY.
Binoandfino https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_S1cS4XTBQ

My best wishes as you teach your child a very key aspect of their life.

Jumoke Eniola Odepe
Toronto, 2015