The significance of language in an increasingly western world.

It is interesting that I have been wanting to start a blog for the longest time, but when I finally created my blog I suddenly drew a blank and had no idea where to start. So, this is me just diving in.

I suppose I’ll begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I was born and raised in a New England suburb and consider myself a first-generation American. Both of my parent are naturally born citizens of Ghana. Growing up, I strongly identified with my African culture and heritage.

Photo Credit: "Market Lady, Ethiopia" by Rod Waddington, CC4.0
Photo Credit: “Market Lady, Ethiopia” by Rod Waddington, CC4.0

As a minor I was fortunate enough to travel to Ghana several times. As a small child I remember that my mother primarily communicated in our native tongue, yet as I got older more and more English words were incorporated into our everyday  communication. Today my mother mainly speaks to me in English, but I make a conscious effort to speak exclusively in my native tongue when we are talking. (Sometimes I forget and speak in English.) The less I speak, the more I forget and I have very little opportunity to practice with anyone outside of my extended family. I cling to my language because without it I feel less authentically African. I am afraid that without it I will not feel a sense of belonging when I am amongst my people. Furthermore, I am proud of my heritage and I want to absorb as much of it as possible.

It perpetually perplexes me when I encounter Africans who were born in Africa, spent most of their lives there, yet cannot speak a single native language. Perhaps their parents or guardians thought that it would be better if they only learned English. Perhaps they saw the English language as the way of the future. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful and important to learn English, but it is equally as important to learn your own language. It is equally as important to pass down your heritage. How else can we distinguish ourselves in this world that is moving more and more toward monotony? So, if you are African and know nothing about Africa do some research. Educate yourself. I am by no means an expert, but I learn new things everyday. It is a disservice to the African community to replace hundreds of thousands of years of rich culture and history with someone else’s. Africans are worth something. Africans have value. Africans are important. After all, one must first love herself for someone else to love her. Lets love ourselves.

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2 thoughts on “The significance of language in an increasingly western world.

  1. From others who are bilingual or seeking to retain their native languages, I understand that writing in it can go a long way to helping preserve it, as it doesn’t require a second person in the conversation, and can allow for a greater range in creative expression that may not be possible with a conversation.

    I hope you are able to pass your languages on to your children as well.

    Like

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