The International Mother Language Day is set aside by UNESCO on Feb. 21 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and protected multilingualism.
Prof. Lenrie Aina, National Librarian, National Library of Nigeria (NLN) has advised Nigerians, especially the youths to take pride in speaking their indigenous languages.
Aina gave the advice in a statement issued by Mr Musa Saleh, NLN’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) on Thursday at an event to mark the International Mother Language Day in Abuja.
Saleh said the event which had the theme “Indigenous Language: Matter for Development, Peace Building and Reconciliation” attracted primary and secondary schools students in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Represented by Mrs Takuya Shehu, NLN’s Director Public Services Department, Aina said language was significant in sustaining and preservation of culture.
The National Librarian explained that mother language helps in enhancing cognitive development of children as well as in learning other languages. Aina said that the influence of western culture was adversely affecting the preservation of Nigeria’s heritage and culture.
He debunked the belief that it is uncivilised to speak one’s mother tongue during social interaction, urging Nigerians and other Africans to keep their cultures and languages alive. “UNESCO has declared 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Languages and this has spurred organisations such as the African Library and Information Association and Institutions to sensitise librarians across the country to the need to impact on the different communities.
“Also on the need to create the platform for indigenous languages to thrive and a lot of librarians have translated stories into many languages in Africa and Nigeria.” Earlier, Mr Kayode Ojo, Head of Area 2 branch of the NLN in FCT, called on Nigerians to promote their mother tongues at every opportunity available to them.
Ojo said the FCT branch of the National Library had organised the event to commemorate the day with the students in order to rekindle their interests in indigenous languages. He said that it was an avenue to educate the students on the need to embrace their mother tongue proudly.
Mrs Okafor Irine, Head Cultural and Creative Arts, FCT Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) said the event would go a long way to encourage Nigerian youths to take pride in their mother tongues. Highpoints of the event were participation of the students in reading, and spelling competition among others.