Why I need to learn my mother tongue.
My Father's Sisters, like my grandmothers, always charmed me with their way of speaking our mother tongue. My father's sisters, though away from the village for so long, have never lost taste of the mother tongue such that they keep speaking it whenever they meet and with so much passion, and also during their various group chats and VOIP Calls. They make the language which I once forbade sound so sexy. They make it look so interesting. Those little gossips and those little moments that I can't be part of... Even though I want to. That I and my siblings didn't and could never have because unlike my grandmothers and aunties, we had(have) to a certain extent, decided to denigrate and shun our mother tongue. Why would I speak my mother tongue when according to Krav Biharu Kachrov, English is the world's language of our time? And I already know how to speak that. Isn't it just fine that I can speak the world's language? Even though it doesn't have the most native speakers, it sure has a commonwealth of speakers that makes it the most important, even if it's no longer the most widely spoken language.
I come from a little village called Wum situated in Menchum Division of North West Region Cameroon, West or Central Africa. Aghem is what we call our natives and our native language. For a large part of my life, I didn't feel any necessity to learn the language. Ever been asked this question - "Can you speak French?" What was your response? Did you say something like "I hear but I have difficulties in speaking"? Well... We're in the same pot of soup. I thought just understanding the language was enough for me until I realized that I was behaving like a castrated goat. But what is a mother tongue by the way?
A mother tongue can be described as the language which a person has grown up speaking from early childhood. Going by this definition, one might be tempted to say that most African mother tongues have become English or French. In pursuit of globalization, we fall into the vicious arms of alienation. During my intercultural communication lessons, our lecturer told us of two stages in a human's life - he called them the acquisition phase and the learning phase. The acquisition phase is the period from 0 - 12 years when a child acquires basic knowledge from his environment. The learning phase concerns the period from 12 years till when we die when we have to put in more effort to learn the things we need. And I am still in regret today that I didn't use the acquisition phase of my life, or that it wasn't used to teach me about my culture and my mother tongue.
Truth is that I was born in the village and for the first 2 years of my life, I spoke nothing but Aghem. As alienation is a vicious man, English seemed to be subtler and wiped away all of the already instilled mother tongue language skills I had in me. My citizenship teacher always said this : "A man without principles is like a moving car without brakes" and I'd love to borrow from him and say that a man without culture is like a moving car without brakes. How can you stand somewhere and beat your chest that you're somebody without identifying to something? If you have no language, you have no culture.
The English language we so much desire to master is someone's own mother tongue. True that it's important to speak it well... But let's do things right - for they say that charity begins at home. Studies have shown that those who speak their mother tongues are quicker to learn other languages. And this might just be why I've been having a fumbling with Italian and Swahili. Maybe... I've seen the way the Nso people of the North West Region showcase their culture and never miss an opportunity to speak, bring their mother tongue to the limelight - in every domain whatsoever.
Why do I need to learn my mother tongue? Well... Because I'm tired of being painted with foreign stripes. I'm tired of feeling alien and accepting assimilation. But above all things, I want to feel the taste of gossip in my mother tongue. I want to listen to folklore by the fireside as grandma tells us stories.