Seminar on Mother Tongue at the United Nations Information Centre

A man who loses his culture, loses his identity. Some of us may have heard this proverb before, and thought it was a bit too extreme.

On Friday the 21st of February, Olugbenga Adeyinka, Ekomobong Akpabio, Michael Okeme and I, were accompanied by Mr. Alfred Ojigiri to the United Nations Information Centre to attend a seminar on the importance of mother tongue.

The seminar included a video conference with Harare, through this conference we were able to hear the views of students from there.

The mother tongue is a vital aspect of culture, it preserves people and gives people identity.

We were told that in the past, Nigeria had 514 ethnic dialects, now about 11 of them are extinct.

English is accepted as a universal way of communicating because it is a language most people understand. But we should endeavour to speak our languages.

The speaker, Mrs. Envera, urged us to spend time with our grandparents, because they pass the culture down to us and teach us more about the history of where we are from.

We were told about the benefits of speaking our mother tongue. People who do not understand English well, tend to learn better when taught in their mother tongue.

Speaking purely in our mother tongues also has its cons, it tends to bring about discrimination and makes inter-ethnic communication difficult.

We learnt a lot from the seminar and it was a great opportunity for us.

We all left with the motivation to learn our mother tongues fluently!

By Oluwaseunfunmi Onalaja Year 10S

The trip was setup to commemorate UN Mother Tongue Day.

We started by singing a Yoruba song to the organisers and partakers of the event whom we spoke to through a video conference call. It involved a school in Harare, Zimbabwe, Covenant University Primary and Secondary School, Queens College, Fountain Height School and GSCI.


We discussed about how our native languages could help in the development of a nation. The values and the teachings from that day were summed up by the profound words of Late President Nelson Mandela. He said, If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.  


We talked about hoe Nigeria had over 500 languages and today 11 of these languages are extinct, and around the world 6000 languages are endangered. Our languages are our identity and as our mother tongues die out, it does not just mean you lose communication it also means you lose your culture. Our Mother Tongues should be kept alive and passed on because it is the best of expression for our people.


When the video conference had ended we were spoken to by Doctor Phillips on the importance of Polio and Measles Vaccination. These diseases are not very difficult to cure but without vaccination, they become a huge burden. They would be a Polio Campaign in early March, parents are advised to come out and get their children vaccinated: everyone is encouraged to be responsible for one another and report any person that shows symptoms of:


Acute Flaccid Paralysis (a child under 15 years that suddenly has weak limbs) report to the nearest health facility or call 08033388885, 07064185001, 08055104067, 08023116247.


Fever and Rash illness (any person of any age who has fever and rash together) report to the nearest fascility or call 08033388885, 07064185001, 08055104067, 08023116247.


By Michael Okeme 7V

Happy Mother Language Day!

Celebrating with Zimbabwe

The 21st February is known internationally as Mother Language day to remind us of our heritage and further promote cultural diversity and multilingualism, which inspire tolerance, understanding, dialogue and also maintain connections with our roots.

This year, British International School, observed this day by sending four students, Ekom Akpabio, Olugbenga Adeyinka, Seunfunmi Onalaja and Michael Okeme, to the United Nation Information Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos to celebrate our cultural roots with Harare, Zimbabwe.

The event kicked off with a Yoruba folk-song, Iya ni wura iyabiye at the start of the video conference with Harare and a representative in New York overseeing the entire event. Michael Okeme, being the oldest student there was chosen to read the opening statement, welcoming our counterparts in Zimbabwe.

We were spoken to about the importance of preserving our Mother tongues and the traditions that come along with it. We are warned against looking down on those who do speak their mother tongue as being inferior or uneducated. We are told of the importance of our mother tongues, how it identifies people, connects people, is a preservative of our culture, i.e. dress, cuisine, moral, belief etc, and promotes understanding.

In the global world we have today it is difficult to connect with people who cannot communicate in the common or widely popular lingo, which is English. And due to western influence, youths are becoming less familiar or not familiar at all with their heritage. The percentage of people who can actually communicate in their mother tongue is drastically reducing and those details that define a culture i.e. greetings, are becoming infrequent. This increases the chances of many languages becoming extinct.

On the other hand, diversity promotes discrimination and prejudice. It is easy to generalize negative presumptions out of ignorance, outside influence or negative personal experience. This is where awareness comes in; bringing different cultures to mix promotes tolerance, which is why the United Nations is bringing the world closer together one year at a time.

Learn to cultivate the habit of speaking in your mother tongue. Encourage youths to learn the mother language.

Strive to know more about your heritage. We had a fantastic time with students in Harare and, through email, hope to keep in touch.   

By Ekom Akpabio 10I