This blog site was explicitly created to document our journey to revitalizing the Yoruba Language and Culture for the Next Generation!
I am an Engineer, a bilingual mom, an immigrant in the western world, who wants to pass on her heritage and a second language on to her children but I didn’t start out as a passionate linguist.
I have three children; DD is 8, DS is 5 and DDS is 2 years old.
What motivated me towards this movement, was that although my husband and I spoke our language in our home to each other and occasionally to our kids, I didn’t see any sign of them picking it up in any meaningful way.
I was born and raised in Nigeria, a West African Country. I have seen a consistent pattern of kids generally from my region of the world – Middle-class kids growing up in bilingual homes, unable to speak or understand their parent’s language, or understanding the language, but unable to speak it.
The city of Houston, where I live happens to be one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the US. Every race is represented! And there are distinct communities and factions. As I started to watch other communities around me, I noticed a contrary trend. Bilingual children were everywhere! The Indians, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Spanish, the French and even smaller ones like Ethiopians were raising bilingual children! I couldn’t understand why Nigerians children here weren’t consistently bilingual (forgive me for generalizing). So I decided to be proactive about it and at least TRY!
Nigeria is an ethnically diverse country with over 500 Languages. And as I write this, some of these languages are becoming extinct!
In the western part of Nigeria, where I was born, the Yoruba people are the predominant ethnic group and speak the language of Yoruba. Yoruba also happens to be one of the major language groups in Nigeria. However, it also spans a number of different countries across West Africa. Through slavery and migration, Yoruba people are spread throughout the world (you’ll find Yoruba speaking people in places like Cuba and Brazil!
I grew up in a bilingual home; both English and Yoruba were spoken. English was the language used to teach in our schools, but we spoke Yoruba at home with family, other relatives, friends and our neighbors. Because Nigeria was colonized by the British, it pains me to say that our indigenous languages, Yoruba included, were considered secondary languages. When I was growing up, speaking our indigenous language at school was frowned upon, sometimes, we were even punished for doing so. If you slipped up and said something in your language, someone could accuse you of speaking “vernacular”. Vernacular was not accepted during school hours! Slowly as technology advanced and cultures from across the world became more accessible, speaking the language was somewhat perceived as “uncool” especially to the youth.
Well, I moved to the USA as a teenager after high school and over the years, I have developed a stronger sense of identity for culture and heritage.
I see a lot of value in passing on one’s language, history and heritage to the next generation. I’ll be more than happy to share with you, how I’ve evolved as a person and my journey as I try my best to see that my kids and whoever else is interested in this journey, grow up proud and interested in their heritage. And that includes learning my language, Yoruba!
I must say that since I actively started this “quest”, I’m so proud to see the progress in all my kids. All 3 of them!
Yoruba by Oodles of Fun Kids Co. was born out of this Journey! Join me as I share my challenges, conquests, research, and new developments while having oodles of fun as I do so!