Back in the primary days, the class teacher would neatly write in the top left corner of the blackboard in bold, “NO VERNACULAR SPEAKING“. This instruction always remained on the wall and most of us resorted to sign language or not saying anything the whole day.
There was this bone with a string attached to wring around your neck if found speaking vernacular. If you found someone else speaking it, you would swiftly put it around his neck.
Later in the evening, all those who wore the bone would be lined-up and ‘kibokos’ were unleashed on their buttocks.
I once got the bone but that day, the teacher lost a relative (
thanks to my prayers).
You must be wondering why I had to tell this not-so funny story, but i guess it is familiar with those of us who went to ‘traditional’ schools, we were forced to communicate only in English, so the only time we switched to our mother tongue was during holidays.
Nowadays, this has drastically changed, we now have kids who speak English everywhere, both school and at home. And some schools don’t bother to teach any of our local languages (atleast i learnt some luganda).
It has now suddenly become a thing of pride among parents when the children speak english eloquently but don’t even know a word in their mother tongue.
There’s nothing wrong if a child can speak english better than the Queen at a tender age, but we need to know that the mother tongue carries along a child’s personal, social and cultural identity.
It is the local language that shapes our habits, conduct, virtues and customs which makes us unique in the world.
In short, no language is superior than the other, just because a language is accepted globally as an easier media of communication is no reason to make ours face extinction. So as it is important to teach our children german, french, latin….they ought to learn to accept their traditional lexicons too.