The diversity in the Ghanaian culture does not only hover around our tradition, practice, what we eat and wear but also our spoken words which is our indigenous mother languages. These languages which gives unique historical background to a person’s cultural identity embody the composition of songs and folktales which depicts the cultural setting of a peculiar enclave. A mother tongue, linguistically known as L1 is the first sign of connectivity/ bond of socialisation between the mother and child and also contributes immensely towards the total development of a child in terms of their cultural beliefs and character formation. Needless to say, weakness in the mother tongue means a paralysis of all thought and power of expression. This means that, the mother language is an indispensable instrument for the intellectual, physical and moral aspects for the promotion of social and educational development as a country.
Celebrating today as an International Mother Tongue/Language Day on the theme; ” Multilingual Education – a necessity to transform education” marks a unique day alienated for the promotion of our cultural and linguistic diversity in the world of which Ghana is inclusive.
Currently in our Ghanaian society, many are under the influence of linguistic determinism and relativity because of their present environment. The quest for greener pasture, westernization and migration by most Ghanaians have resorted to the learning and speaking of other languages, thereby neglecting our rich indigenous languages.
These acts of acculturation and language imperialism by most government officials, business moguls, students and general Ghanaian populace have led to the speaking of English language at all social functions thereby relegating our rich Ghanaian languages to the background. In our pursuit to promote multilingualism, students are still penalized for speaking their own mother language even at the early childhood educational levels. On the other hand, most students are now addicted to uneducational social media platforms which tends to expose them to abusive languages instead of surfing academic sites which will enhance their language skills. How then do we present and promote this agenda?
There is an urgent need for adroit strategies implemented by the Ghana Education Service to preserve our language to be strictly adhered to by all educational establishment in the country. As stipulated in Ghana’s Language Policy, it mandates the use of the child’s L1 as the language of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3 with English language as L1 thereafter. By so doing, there would be the promotion of SDG 4 (Quality Education) and sheer tenacity in the mode of transmission of our practices and cultural heritage to broaden the knowledge spectrum of the learners as they familiarize themselves with our cultural identity to aid in its preservation for the future.
More so, this global advocacy would only come to fruition through tiredless determination and commitment from the family as a basic grounds for socialisation. The fight to preserve our linguistic identity calls for a national backing from guardians to establish strong home language policy with persistent efforts to help their wards and everyone in the household to increase their native language proficiency.
According to a quote by Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”. Dr. Nana Anima Wiafe-Akenten (First PHD Holder in Twi) was in secondment to this quote during a conversation on the Mother Tongue. She opined that “by promoting and encouraging the speaking of our own languages, we will teach our generation to appreciate and use our own ideology for the development of our nation.”
The speaking of our Mother tongue is a basic tool for communication at home and school to empower both children and adults to mutually understand and appreciate each other’s culture. Indeed, the role of language imperialism is placing the Ghanaian languages in a ditch as we usually proritise other languages over our rich Ghanaian languages and this is gradually defacing the pride of speaking the language of our mother tongue.
Language and culture are inextricably interwoven. Hence, the agenda to promote multilingualism and multiculturalism in Ghana requires tactical strategies to table this all important agenda for the continuous presentation, preservation and safeguarding of our languages on the face of technology through an all inclusive approach to revitalize and enhance the speaking of the mother tongue both in school and at home.
The National Commission on Culture is ever ready to partner with all ministries and agencies who have interest in this area of discourse to help promote our Mother Tongue for the upward progression of our dear country.
For further information, contact email@example.com, NCC, PPRME Directorate.
Say it in your dialect,
Speak your language now!!!
Happy International Mother Language Day.