• Ekanem Ibokessien

ICAN Donates Books as RU Celebrates Mother Language Day

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has donated 184 reading materials to Ritman University Accounting Laboratory. This coincided with the celebration of International Mother Language Day (IMLD) by the Faculty of Humanities on Thursday 21 February 2019.

The gifts were presented by Chairman of ICAN Uyo and District Society, Mr Eteyen Ikpong. Vice Chancellor of RU, Prof Celestine Ntuen, said his university wants to produce Accounting graduates who have moral, ethical responsibility, are resilient, have a knack for accuracy and can produce reliable financial reports. Commending ICAN for these donations, he said the books would pave pathways for student’s success, just as ICAN members are offering intellectual inputs as lecturers to RU undergraduates.

Prof Ntuen said that as a place for sharing of ideas, RU desires mentoring of students by ICAN. He explained that their motto: knowledge for development, implies practical entrepreneurship, with expectancy that students of this university would become owners of chartered accountancy firms. He expressed delight that the Accountancy and Banking and Finance programmes at RU have been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission.

Declaring open the IMLD, Dr Joseph Udondata who was Chairman on the occasion said their celebration and discourse would think out ways of contributing to development of our mother tongues. He explained that of the 53 countries in Africa, 15 of them speak English as their national language, 19 speak French, 5 Portuguese, 7 Arabic, and 1 speaks Spanish while only 6 speak their mother tongues as national language, which shows linguistic subjugation of the continent by foreign cultures.

Visitor of the university, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien encouraged staff and students to be the best in all they do, noting that no activity is too small in preparing one for the future, hence the need to do every task as if one’s life depends upon it.

Guest lecturer at the Mother Language Day was Prof Joseph Ushie of the University of Uyo who specializes on General English, Stylistics and Literary Criticism, Sociolinguistics, Written African Literature, African Diaspora Literature and Creative Writing especially Poetry, and Cultural Studies. He spoke on The Example of English Language in the Preservation, Protection and Projection of the Mother Tongue.

Prof Ushie made a case for preservation of our mother tongues by learning from the example of the British. He noted that just as the local languages of Nigeria are presently regarded as inferior and not used as official languages, the English Language had once been regarded as an inferior language – the language of the uneducated, menial-working peasants. In 1066 AD, the British were conquered by the Normans and dominated for 200 years. During this period, Britain became a trilingual country: French was their language of civilization – spoken by the upper class, used in academics, employment and the army. Latin was the language of religion, used in church as introduced by the Romans who brought Christianity to them. The Old English was spoken only by peasants or the lower social class. Thereafter was the rise of English nationalism which saw the erstwhile conquered people of Britain uniting themselves with their former conquerors by the English Language. This was after the nation’s recovery from four conquests. Thus they began the process of preserving and propagating their language which has made English a global language today.

The Professor illustrated how a language can be lost by Transformation, which means changing over time into dialects. As an example, he cited the Old Latin which is lost and transformed into four languages: French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish (Romance languages) which are varieties of the original Latin. He mentioned Extinction as another means by which a language gets lost. Extinction happens when the speakers of that language die out. He averred that Annang, Efik and Ibibio are dialects of one language. Prof Ushie said a language could also be lost through Replacement by another language.

He explained that of the 7,000 languages in the world, about 2,000 have been designated as endangered and almost going out, with UNESCO predicting that in the next 100 years, about half of the world’s languages will no longer spoken. Against this background, he taught that just as English rose out of challenges to become a global language, our mother tongues can be developed to prominence. “Your language is your shell”, he said, adding that his poetry succeeds because he thinks in his mother tongue which he knows more than English. He said this also is the secret of successful authors such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Niyi Osundare whose special flavour from their mother tongues enriches their creative works. “Your vibrancy as a human being comes from your ancestral worldview”, he stressed.

The 2019 theme for IMLD was Indigenous Languages Matter for Development, Peace Building and Reconciliation. It is celebrated on 21 February every year with the overall objective to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education. RU students of Annang extraction presented folk songs and dance, while History and International Studies undergraduates did a cultural dance performance to clinch the celebration.

Edidiong Esara 25/02/2019

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