BENEFITS OF LANGUAGE PRESERVATION
a. Ekegusii is not an official language or a language of instruction in schools and colleges has therefore been severely eroded, stifled and forced to lose dynamism. The majority of the language’s custodians - the aged and elderly who were a walking encyclopedia of the language are rapidly passing on and with them the gems of Ekegusii. With no written materials and/or reference materials, something needs to be done urgently now to preserve the language before or the richness and full diction of the language is lost.
b. Depending on the type and level of communication, we recognize that the learning and speaking of other major world languages is envitable for the sake of inter- ethnic and international communication. However, shunning one’s own vernacular for any reason does more harm than good. The silent death of a language is also the dearth of culture and essential social values, networks, heritage and a way of life that holds the fabric of society together against rapid ruin.
c. Language is the true identity of a people for there can be no people without language. A peoples language incorporates in itself the collective and generational wisdom and experience of a people and helps them explain and understand their ecology. It is patterned reality that the young need in their quest for meaningful propagation of the tribe. We fear that the loss of our language in the form of its relegation in terms of refinement and modernization; its shrinking domains of use and spatial confinement in the rural areas, an area that is fast losing the majority of the population to the urban areas; the exclusion of the vernacular from the school environs and mass media and the hegemonic status of Swahili and English in the country all conspire to make Ekegusii an endangered species. Perhaps the question is, why save Ekegusii?
Here under we quote Jon Reyner and Edward Tennant of Northern Arizona University Research Associates on their “North American Indians and Non-Indians” (1993) document:
“Many non-Indians and some Indians see no tragedy in the loss of native languages, but as this country becomes more and more dominated by concern about crime and the breakdown of traditional families, many Indians and some non-Indians see the perpetuation of native languages as vital to their cultural integrity. The reason for this is that in addition to speech, each language carries with it an unspoken network of cultural values. Although these values operate on a sublimal level, they are, nonetheless, a major force in the shaping of each person’s self awareness, identity and interpersonal relationships (Scollon & Scollon, 1981)..It should be noted that in seeking to preserve their cultural heritage, tribes are not rejecting the importance of world languages instruction for their children instead it should be seen as native languages nurturing our spirits and hearts and world languages as sustenance for our bodies..
..The revival and preservation of minority languages is not a hopeless cause. Successful efforts towards indigenous language renewal and maintenance are to be found around the world. Examples are to be found in the revival of Hebrew in Israel, French in Quebec, and Catalan in Spain (Fishman, 1991). Even in the United States with its emphasis on conformity, small groups such as the Hutterites and Hasidic Jews have been able to maintain their languages and cultures”.
copyright Kennedy Bosire / Nigel Deacon, Diversity website
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