I was thinking about the way I speak Yoruba (my native language from Nigeria). I am quite fluent but I don’t speak as good as my parents. The issue is, when I have kids, I’ll like them to be able to speak the language. However, I don’t think they will be able to speak it half as good as me. This is because people don’t really speaks Yoruba much these days, at least among the millennials in their 20s and 30s. Even if we do, it isn’t so smooth. I hear so many people say, I understand it but I cant speak it. What native language will we pass down? We are (this generation) the only link connecting our culture to the generation after and our link is quite weak if I’m being honest. This is why we are the in between link .it is our turn to carry on the culture but I think we are not doing a good job. I know it isn’t appropriate to generalise, but there are just so many people that are not in touch with certain aspects of our culture and there will be nothing left to pass down when we have kids. Now I’m left wondering about culture preservation and the implications of living without our culture awareness. This topic is so broad,, therefore for us thoroughly enjoy it without being overwhelmed, there will be other parts in coming posts.
Let’s consider names for example. Every time I think about names for my future kids I automatically think Yoruba names. Then I begin to think about the how will the kids cope at school, I don’t them to be bullied at school because of their names. This usually leaves me thinking about giving them English names as their first names while the second and last name because would be their native names. My first name is Yoruba and I am perfectly fine with it but why do I feel inclined to give my kids an English first name? I know so many people have this thought process. Can you see how I have made automatically made our cultural and native names secondary. The question is why? Lupita is a unique native name and excelling in the Hollywood industry regardless. Chimamanda is respected everywhere and her name isn’t English.
My name is Aderonke, I see people from other cultural backgrounds intrigued and interested in knowing the meaning. They want to know where I’m from, something as simple as a name has been a conversation starter on different occasions. A part of my Yoruba heritage lives in me forever just because of my name. Our parents did their parts to sustain our culture, how will our decisions after the future?
Music is a prominent part of our culture . This is one part of our culture that so many people resonate with. So many musicians have been singing in their native language for a very long time, though they are well accepted and recognised among the older generation, they’ve struggled to gain an audience with the millennials. Some of this musicians include Kwam 1, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade etc. I listen to them when I’m feeling nostalgic about the past or missing my parents. That’s another way our parents have helped to sustain our culture.
Kudos to the people responsible for the redefinition of Afrobeats music. They have successfully made singing in our native language cool and something everyone wants to associate with, most especially for Africans in diaspora. we millennials have accepted it with open arms and I see it staying with us for a very long time. we can pass down our Afrobeat’s music thankfully. The harsh reality is Afrobeat’s cannot help to preserve our culture in entirety.
Our form of greeting is also worth talking about. Whenever, I go to my grandfather’s house. I go on my knees to greet him. My parents on the other hand, I just say good morning dad/mum to them without kneeling. It’s not like I don’t respect them, I just don’t kneel down to greet. When I have kids, it is very likely they won’t kneel to greet their grandparents either. How will their future kids ever know that there was a time we used to kneel to greet? Just like that, a part of our culture will be erased. Does this bother anyone? Or we have to accept that we unlearn and relearn culture every time?
I like our traditional marriages, it is usually rich in culture from food, clothes, music, greetings, language etc. However like music, it isn’t enough to preserve our culture unfortunately.
Let’s talk about fashion, this is a well recycled industry no doubt. We recycle fashion every time. I think our culture is somewhat safe in this aspect. Whenever we get bored with our clothes, we as a generation like to get inspired by older generation so this is good.
As I conclude, I want us to think about what our culture means to us. Is there any point in preserving our culture, if the answer is yes, we need to start thinking about sustainable ways to keep our culture alive.
This is not the end of the topic, if you enjoyed this and will like a continuation, leave a comment and share this post with others, thanks.
p.s: I do not own rights to any image used in this post.