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Anonymous Villager
Aug 13, 2008, 10:21 PM
I made a serious mistake by not teaching my children, born in the USA, Yoruba. I will forever regret this act.

The children are now 9 and 11 and they want to learn Yoruba. Any suggestion will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Auspicious
Aug 13, 2008, 11:25 PM
You needn't "forever regret" your 'oversight' yet, AV. "Why?", you might ask. Well, because your children are still relatively very young - they are still at that age where they can easily adapt to things as languages much faster than some 'old dogs can learn new tricks'.

A lot of people send their kids to bording schools at home. If you can afford to live with that option, you might want consider it. Another option is to institute a personal rule of keeping your communication with them strictly in your choice of language, telling them "no vernacular" (:wink:) in the house.

You'd be surprised how fast kids can learn. My auto mechanic's son never stepped in Cambodia, but the kid is totally fluent in both Khmer and American english. Now, his case is slightly different; he said he made a point of speaking nothing but Khmer to his son right from the day he was born - lulabbies et al.

It is NOT too late to try the same thing with your kids. At 9 and 11, they are bound to pick it up real fast - depending on how much dedication you're willing to put to it (I mean the home teaching..hopefully you're fluent in the language yourself). Either that or you send them home to school till it's time for college or after their first degree.

It all depends on how bad you want them to learn their mothertongue.

L. Hussein Auspicious.

Anike
Aug 14, 2008, 12:30 AM
Yep, it is too early to start regretting. This is what I know has worked for parents whose first languages aren't English.

Make a habit of speaking [Yoruba] at home as often as you can. I will deviate... There is nothing, absolutely nothing, fancy, imho, about speaking English with your kids or spouse. Too *formal, imo, unless that is the only language you have in common. Many Nigerian learned illiterates that I've met make the mistake of thinking there is something fancy about not communicating in their native languages.

Let your children mix with their peers who speak [Yoruba] well or older people. Ask the other kids' parents if their kids can be your kids' playmates, or if the older people wouldn't mind mentoring your children. (I did this for an older friend's children.)

Take advantage of every opportunity to teach them [Yoruba]. Say things to them in [Yoruba] and they will, I hope, ask you what it mean so you will get to explain the meaning to them.

No matter what you do sha, be prepared for any of your kids refusing to learn [Yoruba]. For example, I know some people where one sibling writes Yoruba so well and speaks it like a non-Yoruba who does not have the right accent would, another sibling is very much interested but can say only few words with the right accent better than the sister, another sibling has refused to learn and does not understand a word... not even how to pronounce this sibling's name.

Good luck.

katampe
Aug 14, 2008, 12:44 AM
if you can , send the kids home for vacation or do what others have suggested. Equally have Yoruba films and music blaring away most of the time. I hope you have taught them the Yoruba alphabets? I would agree with Auspi and Anike that you need not regret.

Soul Sista
Aug 14, 2008, 01:16 AM
Is your spouse Yoruba? If so, you can make it fun for the whole family. You and your spouse should speak only Yoruba to them wherever you are. You can play a game where anyone that breaks the Yoruba code, you included, has to pay a fine or do a task at home.

Also, you can play a new word game that requires each family member to come up with a new Yoruba word or two every week/day, depending on your family's tolerance level. The idea is to make it fun. For this, you should invest in a good Yoruba-English dictionary.

Get one of these interactive learning Yoruba CDs and have them play it. See this site:http://www.africabookcentre.com/acatalog/index.html?http%3A//www.africabookcentre.com/acatalog/Language_Learning_Yoruba.html&CatalogBody

In addition, have people from home send you the first couple of J.F. Odunjo Alawiye books. They are easy to read for beginners.

Earlier this year, Jimi Solanke released a Double CD Pack entitled Oduduwa.Com for the Odu'a Group of Companies. This pack has a lot of simple Yoruba songs that your children can learn and sing along. As you may recall, Jimi Solanke is very good with kids. The CDs are a delight. I don't know how you can get them here. I got them directly from Odu'a the last time I was in Naija.

Of all these, however, the most important is constant communication in Yoruba. That is how my parents got all of us speaking Yoruba. They, my father in particular, refused to communicate with us in English for a couple of years, period. And, if you were in the car with him, the radio will be on to a Yoruba speaking station or Yoruba music. So, you need to discipline yourself for constant communication if you want to be really effective. Good luck!

Soul Sista a/k/a Soul Sizzling

purple
Aug 14, 2008, 03:35 AM
I am forever grateful to my paternal grandma who saved me from an English only existence.

Sending your kids home for schooling or vacation may not produce the desired results as they are likely to be given the 'omo ilu oyinbo' treatment. Everyone including the grandmas will try to communicate with them only in English. Some Naijas are more English than the queen

Much of your children's learning of Yoruba should come from you and their dad (if he too can speak the language). Use the informal approach of speaking it to them constantly. Try the immersion style i.e music, videos, books, online etc.

You can also add a formal piece to it. Have a half to 1hr daily session maybe after dinner. As recounted elsewhere I do this with my children. They each have a Yoruba note book. We started out with body parts, then objects, then action words and then short sentences etc. Initially it was hard going, but it is beginning to bear some serious fruit. i.e. they can now say a long almost 15 sentence Yoruba prayer independently and are also doing numbers up to 20. As I speak (type) we have Yoruba words on our refridgerator. The whole idea is to have visual cues and to make the words commonplace and familiar.

Reward them, praise them, immerse them and support them. I think you can do it. If you need some online resources pls ask and I'd be happy to provide some. Good luck on your noble endeavour :).

SNB
Aug 14, 2008, 04:06 AM
Nonee,
When next you go home, buy the Alawiye books, that should give you a start. We adults of this generation as equally as guilty of speaking too much Oyinbo, so when we communicate with our children, that's all we speak.

One other thing, when your inlaws or your parents visit, insist that they speak to the kids in Yoruba alone. This way the kids will be forced to communicate with their grand parents.

I know it may seem tough but it is possible. I have met kids are young as three, who have never set foot on Naija soil, who speak Yoruba even Ekiti and Ondo dialect fluently. Their parents had a lot to do with it.


AV, I want you to believe that it's possible. My best friend's father is from Ife and her mother is Bendel Ibo. My friend never spoke a word of Yoruba but was very fluent in her mother's language. She didn't start speaking Yoruba until she got to University. I can say she can pass for a Yoruba teacher now, even her husband thinks I am lying each time I tell him, his woman never spoke Yoruba while we were growing up. So it is possible.
Combine all the resources given here and that'll you give you a start. Good luck.


@Purple- my dear , u're on point, there's nothing as good as praying in your own dialect. To me, it resonates more. I was so grateful when I got a new Bible with Yoruba translation side by side in KJV this past Xmas.


The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language (Paperback)
by Kendall King

Beginner's Yoruba by Dr. Kayode Fakinlede

Yoruba Dictionary by Dr. Kayode Fakinlede,

Je K'A Ka Yoruba by Dr. Yetunde Folarin Schleicher

Yoruba-English/English-Yoruba Modern Practical Dictionary (Paperback)
by Kayode J. Fakinlede

If you live in NY, there's a school

http://www.oduduwaschool.org/home.html


More comprehensive resources here

http://www.uga.edu/aflang/YORUBA/Materials.html

Oluwato
Aug 14, 2008, 07:01 AM
>>>The children are now 9 and 11 and they want to learn Yoruba. <<<

Half of your problem is solved. They are interested! Let them start with http://www.learnyoruba.com/

Be prepared to plan a schedule for Yoruba lessons and stick to it. Get a Yoruba dictionary and sing Yoruba songs, read Yoruba books to practice, play games in Yoruba, watch Yoruba films (most of them are boring, but a few are actually interesting), eat Yoruba foods (all the best with that, my sons prefer non-Yoruba foods anyday), join a good Yoruba association (most of them are show-off clubs but a few are worthy) and lastly, speak Yoruba at home. If your spouse is a non-Yoruba, teach him/her the language as well. Make it fun. I often translate songs, choruses, colors, shapes, sizes and domestic things in the house from English to Yoruba.

Some other useful sites are http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/languages.html
http://www.abeokuta.org
/yoruba.htm (http://www.abeokuta.org/yoruba.htm) and
http://www.africa.uga.edu
/Yoruba/ (http://www.africa.uga.edu/Yoruba/)

If you do a web search you'll find more resources, some you have to pay for. The ones listed above are free.

I hope that helps.

If you need any more assistance, feel free to PM me.

Blessings,

felziedoo
Aug 14, 2008, 10:44 AM
well what i will say to this is for you to always bring them home whenever they are all in vacation, but when you look at it on the other hand, you will find out that it's going to cost you some amount of money, only because you want to let them learn their ede abi ni bi, well just buy two types of yoruba cds for them, the oldies and they new skull cds for home videos, as much as they watch it, the more questions they ask, and at the end of the day, the house will become a pure yoruba speaking family.

Again, always speak yoruba to them, anything you want them to do at all, always say it in yoruba language, i think with time they will get use to it

Mind you, should when you want them to learn yoruba deeply, always speak in proverbs for them, write a letter with yoruba, so that they will read it and get use to it, just like when you are learning french, their tongue will get twisted and as time goes on, don't be surprise that when they are hungry, they will tell you "ebi n pe ma" "mo fe mo mi"

calist
Aug 14, 2008, 01:26 PM
Av,

Have either of the grand parent come spend some time with the family and ensure that the only language spoken at home is Yoruba. This measure worked in my family

All the best

Mikky jaga
Aug 15, 2008, 08:33 AM
With the zeal our people abroad are displaying here to ensure their children speak their native language, I am happy that all is not lost. You are all on the right track. Let them learn the language. It's good for them. East or West, Home is best. Even if the parents refuse to, the children will find their way home one of these days.

Keep it up.

depirate
Aug 15, 2008, 12:15 PM
I do not know of any school in Nigeria i will encourage anyone to send their children to (at least not one where any meaningful amount of Yoruba (or other Nigerian language) will be commonly spoken) but if getting your children to speak your language is essential you could try sending them to school in Nigeria, though the best way to have children learn a language is to speak it at home which is what i will encourage you to do.


Many Nigerian learned illiterates that I've met make the mistake of thinking there is something fancy about not communicating in their native languages.

Grew up speaking mostly the English language at home and still communicate to my parents and siblings mostly in English, and it had nothing to do with being fancy and as for the learned illiterate bit (apart from being nonsensical) I find that these tend to be the ones that hold unthinkingly/unswervingly onto their "culture and traditions" (both of which, by the way, are dynamic).

Ps speak Igbo well enough (and enough Yoruba not to get sold)

Anike
Aug 15, 2008, 01:53 PM
deprite,

It's nice to read your different opinion based on your experience, and thank you for sharing with the village that you grew up speaking mostly English with your parents for reasons* besides trying to be fancy.

"[A]s for the learned illiterate bit" of your response, I could not quite make sense of your opinion on that. Do you find that these, the many learned illiterates, are those who "hold unthinkingly/unswervingly onto their "culture and traditions"".

*You did not tell the village why you communicated mostly in English with your parents. Especially considering that you suggested to AV to communicate in Yoruba with her kids and admitted that that is the best way to teach her kids if their ability to speak Yoruba is essential to her. Did you never give a thought to why reverse was the case for you? Or maybe you did not consider it essential. Note: I am not trying to be all up in your business o. Just trying to get the point you meant to make by sharing that in direct response to my post.

depirate
Aug 15, 2008, 03:34 PM
"[A]s for the learned illiterate bit" of your response, I could not quite make sense of your opinion on that. Do you find that these, the many learned illiterates, are those who "hold unthinkingly/unswervingly onto their "culture and traditions"".

Yes, though i would rather refer to such as being unenlightened (slippery slope i know, Eja abeg forgive me)


*You did not tell the village why you communicated mostly in English with your parents. Especially considering that you suggested to AV to communicate in Yoruba with her kids and admitted that that is the best way to teach her kids if their ability to speak Yoruba is essential to her. Did you never give a thought to why reverse was the case for you? Or maybe you did not consider it essential.

Have no idea why we communicate in English (did not realise there had to be a reason, and that is just the way it is), and i said MOSTLY not ONLY in English, so i learned to speak Igbo at home and Yoruba on the streets/in school.

My point when giving my own advice was that having grown up in only non Igbo speaking parts of Nigeria the fact that i am able to speak it is because it was spoken at home and thus was easy to pick up (don't actually remember learning it).

The second part of my response was directed at your condescending attitude towards those who might have grown up speaking or still speak mainly the English language in their homes, referring to them as learned illiterates and making them out to be some kind of wannabes, i do not know what type of people you have as friends but for me speaking English has always been about communication and nothing else period.


Did you never give a thought to why reverse was the case for you? Or maybe you did not consider it essential.

What was reversed in my case exactly? Consider what essential?:confused1:confused1:confused1

Ps it's DEPIRATE
_________________________
_________________________

......as for the learned illiterate bit (apart from being nonsensical) I find that.....
And the nonsensical part of my initial post was only referring to the phrase "learned illiterate" (lest i be accused of being insulting, also for me it puts the response in perspective)

Anike
Aug 15, 2008, 05:27 PM
depirate,


Yes, though i would rather refer to such as being unenlightenedThis betrays your opininon on how condescending I came across. unenlightened... learned illiterate... I don't think there is a difference in meaning. Do you?
The second part of my response was directed at your condescending attitude towards those who might have grown up speaking or still speak mainly the English language in their homes, referring to them as learned illiterates and making them out to be some kind of wannabesYou did not say anything different, but it appears that you like to believe you did.:D:D Will it be any less condescending in your opinion if I sugar-coated what we are both implying? Okay, here: "those who went to school but are not enlightened to the importance of keeping in touch with their roots".
it's DEPIRATEyes, it is depirate. Unreserved apologies for misspelling it.
And the nonsensical part of my initial post was only referring to the phrase "learned illiterate" (lest i be accused of being insulting, also for me it puts the response in perspective)Thank you for clarifying. I'll admit I misinterpreted that.

Akb
Aug 23, 2008, 12:03 AM
All,

It's been quite insightful getting to see all the suggestions coming from different quarters.

However, I see that almost all made the assumption that the parents are of the same tribe. And I believe that this would surely help.

My own problem is that I too desire to teach my lovely kids Yorba, however I ma forced to speak English at home as my darling wife is from the across the Niger to the east. Thus it means English is the main means of communication.

Any advice on how to tackle this? I must say that my wife is most supportive and we have started by teaching them the daily greetings in Yoruba and they are positively having fun.

Your suggestions would be most welcome.

Soul Sista
Aug 23, 2008, 03:47 AM
Akb:

I think your kids are very lucky to have a dual ethnic heritage. It means they can become tri-lingual quite easily if you and your wife work hard at it.

I think you should follow the advice given above. You speak Yoruba to your kids and have your wife speak her own language to them. It works. It will work even better if they are still quite young, say below 5. How old are they?

I see you live in Nigeria so they will pick up the English in school and with friends. If you live in a part of Nigeria where either Yoruba or your wife's language is spoken, even better. It will help to reinforce what you both are doing at home.

You may feel that your children will become confused by the languages. They won't. Children do very well picking up languages. They will mix them up initially. For example, a toddler may say mo fe eat (I want to eat) or I want to drink omi (I want to drink water). But, they will be fine.

The real issue is whether you both can discipline yourselves to make it work at home. Without discipline, you will relapse into English.

Soul Sista a/k/a Soul Sizzling

thekingsjester
Aug 23, 2008, 01:08 PM
Interesting! My family friends spoke like 5 combinations of languages and dialects in their house! So confusing that when the last child was born he didn't speak till he was three years old!:eek: :eek: :eek: (well can't say if it had anything to do with all the languages but he would only point and make gestures but nothing comprehensible :D)

Anonymous Villager
Aug 27, 2008, 03:17 PM
Souls Sista, Anike, Oluwato, Auspicious, SNB, and all the other responders, please accept my sincere thanks for the suggestions and words of encouragement.

May God continue to bless you all richly.

I've already started putting in place many of your suggestions. I was pleasantly taken aback, last Saturday morning when my 9 year old daughter, got on her knees and said "e karo, Daddy", meaning Good morning daddy.

I didn't expect the kneeling down aspect of it and I suspect that her mother was involved. Needless to say, I spoilt her and her mother, rotten, throughout the weekend. :biggrin::biggrin:

Once again, thanks.

OverLoad
Aug 27, 2008, 03:45 PM
Awwww...am so proud of you......its a great gift you give to ur kids when u enable them with different beautiful languages. Let your wife too teach them her language. Its easier for toddlers to pick up, i know this vietnamese kid, just 3ish (maybe older now), speaks vietnamese fluently, some cambodian lang fluently and speaks american english without and accent and oh also spanish. Oh its so beautiful. Kids are amazing, formative years between 1-13 , they can pick a lot up if they are introduced/exposed to it.

Thanks for being a good daddy and good husband by appreciating ur wife and kids, I have to commend you on that cos not all fathers are daddies and not all male spouses are husbands, many prefer to be sowing their seeds all around the globe ,all in the name of practising polygamy(or having fun) and looking to live long as if that one na ogun-aiku(long life portion) , some have decided all of a sudden to be Abraham--father of all nations..pssshtt.
I like your focus on your family keep it up and many more cheers to your type out there.!!!!


PS:*cough* could you get maddam a "Gucci" bag on my behalf am sure she will like it...:D.....and lemme do another gbeborun..how u spoil am??...in the "blue" room??...:D.....*cough* :D


Souls Sista, Anike, Oluwato, Auspicious, SNB, and all the other responders, please accept my sincere thanks for the suggestions and words of encouragement.

May God continue to bless you all richly.

I've already started putting in place many of your suggestions. I was pleasantly taken aback, last Saturday morning when my 9 year old daughter, got on her knees and said "e karo, Daddy", meaning Good morning daddy.

I didn't expect the kneeling down aspect of it and I suspect that her mother was involved. Needless to say, I spoilt her and her mother, rotten, throughout the weekend. :biggrin::biggrin:

Once again, thanks.

Auspicious
Aug 27, 2008, 04:02 PM
They are NOT Yoruba..and they sing it so beautifully.

The trick? They are young and can assimilate just about anything.

(Video Courtesy of Smilee HERE (http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/board/lounge/74351-singing-yoruba.html))

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crbO6OHqcr0"]Ise Agbe[/url]

L.H. Auspy.

Oluwato
Oct 23, 2008, 06:16 PM
This article written by a Yoruba-American girl touched me...

http://www.oduduwaschool.org/article2.html

Yorb Girl Lost

The Price We Pay...

(Printed with permission from West African News , July 2007 Edition)

By: Rukayat Aliyu
July 18, 2007


Where do the lost Yorb children go? Do they grow wings and fly away to a new land? Do they wander the streets at night? Do they disappear into a world of confusion? Or do they find their way back home? Where do the lost Yorb children go?

" Il k j k bal il tkak. "
A house does not burn while the landlord lounges with indifference.

No matter how much you work to assimilate your child into this century, into this new world, into your new country or foreign society; no matter how much you do to make them "equal" to their foreign peers, they must always come back somehow. There are few things that belong to any human. If nothing else in this world, a man can claim his body only as his own. At least, while he is living. He can not claim the clothes on his back, no matter how much he paid for them. Because they can eventually be taken away. He can not claim the house he lives within, because that too can be burned down. Nor the car he drives, nor the woman he loves, nor the friends he has. He can not even claim his mind, for that too can be damaged in so many ways. A man owns only his physical body.

Within this body are contained so many things. Millions of things that no one can ever take from him. Not with any machete, not with any gun, not with any fire. Self contained in his body are his features, which speak generations of history to his life, based upon the people he looks like, the features that have been passed down to him. Contained here also are his DNA, of which his features are the visible result. This is all a man truly owns in his lifetime. His DNA can never be erased, replaced, changed in any way. It is permanent and unmoving. It is his identity. Some identity can be created based upon circumstance; however this is a false and temporary identity. The only identity that is real is based upon DNA. His DNA gives him an identity because it is the roadmap of his creation, a roadmap that was created based upon the roadmap of his two parents. And their roadmaps, their DNA, were created by combining the roadmap of their four parents, and theirs by their eight. The history of the lineage of any man can never be changed. No matter what is written, or unwritten, no matter who lives or dies, this history is a concrete one. Every man has this history and nothing can take it away from him.

For a man who owns this identity in the Yorb way, his DNA roadmap is the meeting of the roadmaps of his parents and their forefathers. This may be a purely Yorb lineage or it may contain speckles of other histories, these speckles being the individuals who came into his family as foreigners. It might even be just over half Yorb. Either way, he will usually name his lineage by that which was predominantly his forefathers'. This is his identity. This example obviously applies to any man's lineage be it Kinyarwanda, Akan, Gikuyu.

So a Yorb man, or a Yorb child, or a Yorb woman, or a Yorb girl will receive his or her solid, undeniable, concrete and permanent Yorb identity from the Yorb identity of his or her parents and forefathers, nothing else. Even if he was raised in Yorbland, this does not affect his DNA. Circumstance identity by itself is false and temporary, it is not DNA. The combination of DNA and a circumstance identity go a long way to deepen the individual's understanding of his identity, but the DNA is the only immovable portion of the identity. Your DNA is your identity, which means you are those who came before you. All that you are, all that you own, when stripped down to nothing, when left isolated in the wilderness, is your identity. You must always remember this, whether you are in the corporate boardroom, in someone else's army, on someone else's frontlines, someone else's school, someone else's job, or sitting in the village commons at a village gathering. This is always still the most essential part of your identity. This is not to say your education is not important, your God is not important, your success is not important; however, all of these things can be taken away from you in your life. Your body can not. Your DNA can't. Your education is lost the minute anything happens to your mind, your religion is lost the minute you stop believing, your success is lost the minute your opportunities are no more.

So if you are Yorb, you are Yorb. Nothing can be done about this, to change it or affect it. Your DNA, your identity, is self contained, and this is what it says. On the roadmap for your DNA, for your lineage, your identity, it states Yorb more than it states anything else. Now if this is your historical identity, you have a dire responsibility to proliferate this identity. You have a responsibility to maintain this identity, because if you do not, and if none of your Yorb counter parts do, then you run the risk of extinction for this culture. If every Yorb person were to disown his own identity, it is safe to say that by the next few generations, there would be no more Yorb identity. It would be only a thing of the past, of the history books. Seriously consider this. If there is no Yorb spoken, no Yorb food eaten, no traditions maintained, no rituals practiced, for a certain amount of time, it is safe to say the Yorb identity will be no more.

As a Yorb person of the same lineage, it is your personal responsibility to make sure that does not happen. Through yourself, through your children, through your family, you must maintain this responsibility, to proliferate the Yorb identity.

I am a Yorb Girl Lost. My parents taught me neither the culture nor language. I was partially responsible for losing the language, because at age six, I decided that I was not going to speak it. The culture was lost when I was transposed into a foreign, non- Yorb environment. Because I was young, I would have been able to learn it all again if I had been taught. I do not blame my parents, because it is not their fault. They fell victim to the same mentality that leads many Yorb parents to forget to teach their heritage to their children. There was no sense of urgency that said, "If I don't teach them this culture, they may never know who they are." Many Yorb parents do not appreciate the importance of this impartation because they believe that it is more important that their children assimilate into the new world, than that the heritage which was imparted to them by their parents is proliferated. In this the heritage is lost. For any parent who has not yet had this realization, have it now.

"They don't need Yorb, because they will need to have good English to succeed." "We live in a modern time." "They don't need that useless language." "We don't want them to have an accent." Or a giggle. These are the responses many parents give for not teaching their children what their parents taught them. The giggle is the worst one. The parent who giggles doesn't even regard it as a question worth answering. This parent has no regard for the proliferation of his or her culture whatsoever. He didn't even think it worthy to try to come up with an answer to this question, because to him, it is an irrelevant question.

Thinking our children do not need the language even though we do, is the same as saying our children do not need to eat Yorb food while we do. Adults will speak Yorb to each other, but English to the children. We will prepare amala and ewedu for our dinner, and give the children french fries and burgers. This does not make sense. If the tradition is to be continued at all, through whom will it be continued if not through the children? Do you expect to live forever? Do you expect to outlive your children? Do you think that you can single-handedly proliferate the Yorb tradition without the help of the next generation?

And youth, do you think you can become just as American as someone whose lineage began here? Just as British as the Brits? Do you think you are the same as someone whose lineage "begins" with slavery in this country? Do you really believe that you have the same responsibility as them? If you accept your personal responsibility to your lineage, can you possibly be responsible for the same culture that they are? If we are proud to represent our school, our borough, our company, how can we not be proud to represent our DNA? Because remember that when that school is erased, when you are stripped of all of your other affiliations and possessions, that the only thing left is your DNA identity. A body on an autopsy bed has no affiliations. He is left only with DNA. So if you represent all of these other things, and finally come to a point - which you are guaranteed to someday, if you live long enough - that they mean nothing to you, what will you have left? This circumstantial identity, based on where we live, what we do for a living, where we attended school, the amount of money we make, where we work, is temporary and meaningless.

I came to a point of recognizing the importance of knowing the language at a young age, not much later than the age at which I stopped speaking it. Because I was in an environment where there were other Yorb speakers, I could feel it. If you want to train your child to sell out, you must train him to sell out completely so that he can never feel the lack of his identity. You would have to isolate him from his people, send him somewhere that he can never again hear his language spoken; send him to the moon. I felt it more than my parents could, because even if they had to defend their choices, that comes to an end. There is no end to being lost. Unless you find yourselfin Yorb class.

I yearned to be part and parcel with my people, but not enough to do something about it. I wasn't sure what my options were. I asked my mother to teach me, and she began to. But thus far, I have only met one Yorb person with the patience to truly teach the language, fully. Not my mother.

The older and more educated I became, by life or by books, the more important it became to know myself. The hole in my soul where the Yorb tradition should be became more and more gaping, it even started to bleed, the more I sought to be relevant to my generation. Also as I formed more and more relationships with my countrymen, I found that the language was the distance between us. The closeness that I can not have with some of my people is solely based on the fact that I can not relate to them in that most intimate way that any one Yorb person relates to the next one. Instead of running from it, as I'd once felt forced to do, I ran head first into everything that belongs to me. I began to study it. The more I learned, the more I found I missed. The gaps that Yorb movies and music leave are filled in by the passing conversations. But there is so much to learn. So I remain diligent.

I implore you, if you are a person of Yorb lineage who does not know the language, learn it. Drop everything and learn it. The culture, the tradition. Gain an understanding, and become Yorb. It is not too late. Because I promise you, one day you will find that you are lost. One day you will find that all of the other things that made your temporary identity are lost or are finally meaningless to you. You might find that you have no identity based on your physical body, your DNA - the only thing that you can own in this life - because all you have used to define yourself has been outside of that. That day, will be a cold and lonely day. That day will be a painful day. And you will yearn to fix what's broken. You will yearn to replace what has been lost. You will yearn to go back in time, to undo everything, that day. You might address it at that time, or you might suppress this feeling. I implore you to address it. Even much before you see that day, so that you never have to.

If you are a parent, please, please, please teach your children not only the language, but everything you know about the culture. Do not give them a choice. You may need to be creative about it. You may need to stop speaking English to them completely, or to a large extent. But it is your responsibility to save your children from that day when they are lost. It is your responsibility to teach them their identity, so that they do not one day start running helter skelter to find it at all costs. If you are in a dual language home, teach them what you can of both!

If you are a fluent Yorb speaker or someone who knows the culture, make it your responsibility to teach it. I am attending a Yorb class right now in Brooklyn. I implore you to start one, if you have the means. Wherever you are, seek out those who want to learn, who may be too proud to speak out. Teach them.

You owe it to the blood running through your veins.

What happens to a Yorb Girl Lost? Does she grow wings and fly away? Does she wander the streets at night? Does she disappear into a world of confusion? Does she hide from her culture and avoid the truth? Or is she found, in Yorb? What happens to a Yorb Girl Lost? □

Copyright 2007 Rukayat Aliyu
www.rukayat.com
ruka@aliyu-inc.com