Editorial Commentary: Celebrating Linguistic Diversity; Promoting, Preserving Mother Tongues

February 21, World Mother Tongue Day is a day that celebrates linguistic diversity and promotes the preservation and protection of mother languages around the world. It is a day to recognize the importance of preserving and promoting languages that are spoken by minority communities, and to highlight the cultural richness that comes from linguistic diversity.
Chilli Wawaye (top Right), DDKC (Top Left) Zita Light (Bottom Right) Richard Kings (Bottom Left)

This year, on World Mother Tongue Day, allow me shine a spotlight on the efforts of artists like Zita Light Richard Kings, DDKC Chilli Wawaye, and others who are using their music to promote and preserve the languages of the Nso and Nkwen people in the North West Region. These artists are not only creating beautiful music, but they are also serving as ambassadors for their languages and cultures, helping to keep them alive for future generations.

The Nso people speak Lamnso, while the Nkwen people speak Abonģne-menkwene. These languages are an integral part of the identity and heritage of these communities, and it is heartening to see artists like Richard Kings and Chilli Wawaye singing in Lamnso, and DDKC and Zita Light singing in Abonģne-menkwene, keeping these languages alive through their music.
But it's not just artists who are working to preserve these languages. The Nkwen Language Committee is amongst many village initiatives also playing a crucial role in promoting the learning and speaking of the Nkwen language in different towns of Cameroon, especially during the summer. Their efforts are helping to ensure that the Nkwen language continues to be spoken and passed down to future generations.

During the maiden edition of the Bamenda III Council Festival of Heritage Arts and Culture (FEHACU), the Mayor, Fongu Cletus Tanwe promised to recruite Nkwen language teachers to teach in primary schools in the municipality. This has been done and it is no doubt a proactive step to ensure the future of the language in a growing cosmopolitan environment. This initiative is helping to ensure that young people have the opportunity to learn and appreciate their mother tongue, and that the language continues to thrive in the community.
The theme for this year's World Mother Tongue Day is 'Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning'. This theme underscores the importance of multilingual education in promoting learning and preserving cultural heritage. According to Linguists, when children are able to learn in their mother tongue, they are more likely to succeed academically and have a strong sense of identity and belonging.

The efforts of artists like Richard Kings, Chilli Wawaye, DDKC, Zita Light, as well as organizations like the Nkwen Language Committee and initiatives like the Nkwen language teaching program in primary schools, are all contributing to the promotion and preservation of mother tongues.
On this World Mother Tongue Day, let us celebrate the linguistic diversity of our world, and recognize the importance of preserving and promoting mother languages for future generations. Let us support the efforts of artists, organizations, and initiatives that are working tirelessly to keep these languages alive, and ensure that they continue to be a source of pride and identity for communities around the world.

By Bakah Derick 


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