In the Upper West Region, for instance, it is clear Dagaare is the dominant indigenous language spoken. Can Dagaare be formalized as a Regional language for the people of the Upper West? In the case of Accra, the Ga-Dangme is the obvious indigenous language. Can it be made the formal language? Can’t those in Ashanti Region maintain the Ashanti Twi? Likewise, those in the Eastern Region will keep to the Akuapem Twi.
What about those in the Central Region and Western Regions keeping the Fante? Then those in the Volta Region will keep to the Ewe. Perhaps this can be done for the Regions taking into consideration the language distribution and dominance of the language in the Regions in question.
If in future one of the indigenous languages should be made a lingua Franca of Ghana why not? But now, I am of the view that we should encourage the use of our indigenous languages in the regions.
The overall effect is that those who settle in these Regions should endeavour to be proficient in the language of the Region and be able to do business in the said language apart from the Lingua Franca.
This means an indigenous language should be made a compulsory language taught in every school in that Region. The Region in question will make sure there are teachers and materials to impart the language.
I must admit that this is not going to be an easy project to undertake, yet it is possible. I believe the demographics can tell which language should be used and where. When this is done, it will encourage people in a particular region to be conscious to learn other languages apart from what they know. It will encourage the learning and development of indigenous or native languages. It will promote bilingual and multilingual education.
In fact, this is what I want to achieve with this piece- multilingualism. Areas with more than two indigenous languages may sacrifice minority languages yet a conscious effort can be made to protect minority languages as well.
It is not something we can deny that most African nations are multilingual. Africa should, therefore, promote regional languages. This will even stop the gradual fading away of African languages. Languages are God’s gift and so should be encouraged to grow.
We should, therefore, encourage languages at the regional level to even consolidate the minority languages. If the indigenous languages were to be promoted in Africa, communicating the dangerous effects of pandemics like COVID- 19 to the masses would not be so much a problem.
The works of health workers, security personnel, like the police and military and others in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic would be easy. It would help them to use a language that will communicate well to the local folks. This would bring a kind of we-feeling or sense of belongingness and collective awareness to fight the COVID-19.
The governments, heads of state, and nations of Africa as they think globally should also think locally with regards to the indigenous languages. Parents should also look at teaching and nurturing their children in indigenous languages. Parents have a crucial role to play in promoting indigenous languages.
Truly, if parents fail to promote the indigenous languages at home, it will be difficult for the younger generation to identify themselves with the use of such languages.
It will be appropriate for all of us to learn and follow the grammatical rules of our indigenous languages. It is disheartening to see how we are keen on the grammar of foreign languages but pay less attention to that of the indigenous languages.
It has become common on social media to see some people use English letters or symbols of other things for the indigenous language. Perhaps, the absence or lack of education in the indigenous language is causing this. Every language has its own orthography and so is the indigenous language. Therefore, awareness should be created for people to realize that just as other foreign languages are important; our indigenous languages are also of equal importance.
Charity, they say, begins at home. Let us attach great importance to our indigenous languages so that they can help deepen our identity and help us in our fight against pandemics such as COVID-19.
Source: Fr. Alphonse Bulloro