Tuesday, 04 July 2017 09:16

What African languages will survive in the future?

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Languages are interesting phenomenon; some have millions of people speaking them whereas some have a few hundred people speaking them. Generally, when languages with a few people speaking them encounter world conquering people and their languages tend to die out. For example, in Britain, before the coming of the Romans in 27 BC, there were many Celtic tribes speaking hundreds of languages. With the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 AD came the Germans (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) and thereafter the Scandinavians and then the French conquest in1066 AD. The smaller languages were subsumed in the emergent creole language called English.

In the USA those Indian tribes with only a few people speaking them have literally died out, or have a few persons still speaking them, and they desperately try to pass their language to their offspring that now speak only English.

In Africa there are literally thousands of languages, how many no one really knows; some estimate them to be about 3000.

The United Nations estimate that by the end of this century, all things being equal, many of these African languages would cease being in existence.  In a couple hundred years, may be, a hundred or so African languages would survive the onslaught on African languages launched by the modern world.

So, which African languages are likely to survive? We do not know but there are indicators of those that will survive.  Those that will survive are now spoken in all parts of the world.

I am currently in Europe. As I go through the parts of the major cities where Africans and black people live I find that the chances are that if I see people speaking African languages they would be speaking Yoruba or Igbo.

In Peckham, Lewisham, Brixton, Greenwich and other parts of London where you find a high concentration of black folks, the chances are that if you are walking down the streets you would find groups of people speaking either Yoruba or Igbo. I did not hear other African languages spoken in those areas.

The same phenomenon is repeated in Paris, Rome, Geneva and elsewhere in Europe. I did not hear one single person speaking Hausa or Fulani or other Nigerian languages.

In fact, if you stand on a street corner in Peckham you would think that you are at Lagos with many of the black folks there speaking Yoruba. Yorubas are very proud of their language.

I talked to a young woman speaking Yoruba to her son, who is about five years old; I asked her why she is not speaking to him in English. She looked at me as if I am insane. English, ke, she said. Yoruba is the best language in the world so I must talk to my son in Yoruba; he must speak Yoruba! I thanked her, of course, in Yoruba and moved on.

The point to all these are that Yoruba, Igbo and a few other African languages are destined to survive whereas the others, like the dodo bird, are likely to die out. This is the nature of evolution.

When people meet they compete and the stronger win and the weaker lose and die out. The West and Africa have met; Yorubas and Igbos have shown that they have what it takes to compete and will survive whereas the smaller and weaker African people and their languages would die out.

Please do not cry for the defeated and dead for reality is what it is; we all are in competition and stronger persons and groups will survive;  the weakest would die out, such is life.

If Igbos and Yorubas cooperate I believe that they could take over Africa and dominate it. Just imagine that wherever you go you find folks from those two tribes. If you go to a hospital in the UK the chances are that the medical doctor is either Igbo or Yoruba.

Where are other Nigerians and Africans, you ask? They are nowhere to be found?

In the meantime, Hausas and Fulani are pretending to rule Nigeria whereas in the rest of the world their presence is not found. Indeed, in Nigeria if positions are allocated based on competition and merit you would scarcely find Hausa and Fulani's in any position that matter.

If  I were the rulers of Northern Nigeria instead of using power and nepotism to retain power in Nigeria I would build schools all over the North and teach Hausa kids to compete and not expect to have anything based on nepotism, as is at present the case. It does not take a rocket scientist  to realize that despite their seeming domination of Nigeria Hausas are going nowhere if they do not produce folks who can compete in the rest of the world as Yoruba's and Igbos now do.


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

July 4, 2017


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176