For a very long time now, people have been ringing into my ears the importance of speaking my native language and identifying with my culture and I only started seeing the importance recently, hence my decision to write this post. I realised how easy it can be to feel lost in the midst of so many cultures that we lose sight of our own.
This generation of young Afro-caribbeans are gradually losing the ability to speak their native language due to the comfort that comes with speaking universal languages such as Englis. A close relative recently asked me what the problem was, “is your language [yoruba] not cool enough? Or you want to be English?” he said. What really is the problem?
As we all know, Christmas is fast approaching and a lot of people will be going back home from uni to celebrate Christmas with their family and loved ones. Christmas is time to show love and happiness, but it is also a time to practice and uphold certain traditions and get in tune with our culture.
So here are a few tips to get you back in tune with your Native language and culture during the festive period.
TV: There are loads of TV shows, soaps and even movies these days in various languages with subtitles at the bottom. These can be very helpful for picking up a few words and their meaning, especially if it is your native language, you might already know the meaning of some things so it might be easier to get a hang of. This practice might also help you with your accent and pronunciation of certain words.
You could even go online which is going to be my next point. I watch a soap called “hush” on TV every weekday and they always try to have a healthy mix or Yoruba which is my native language and English but in a modern and classy yet funny setting. This encourages me to identify more with my culture and language and actually appreciate it.
Go online: Apps and websites such as italki give you access to over 2 million language professionals that you can communicate with and learn from 1 on 1 via messaging and you can also return the favour by teaching them a language that you are equally good at, even English! You can also gain access to a variety of over 110 languages. Sites like YouTube have a heap of ethnic movies, songs you name it! I personally know a lot of people that watch Yoruba movies on YouTube. Ghanaian and Kenyan movies are becoming more popular too. Let the likes of BobMarleyy take you away with some Caribbean tunes or whatever does it for you really!
Speaking to people: In my opinion, the best way to learn about a culture or language is to actually try to speak with people that are pretty fluent at speaking the language, listen to them, learn from them and ask questions! Another great importance of connecting with our cultural heritage this Christmas period is that it helps us to identify with others of similar mindsets or backgrounds. Christmas is a universal holiday that appeals to almost everyone regardless of race or ethnicity. So let us use this time to catch up with those that matter and get closer to our roots.
Visit your Country of Origin : I saved the most important one for last because I think this is the best way to connect with your culture and Christmas time is a great opportunity to do this. When you’re at home you can soak up all the culture of your hometown, you’re with your friends and family that have been at home, so you can get a first-hand experience of the language, the norms, how they dress and also address people. Christmas is celebrated differently in different cultures. Some people will rather spend it at home with family and friends and some delicious food and ethnic delicacies, while others will rather go for a fun night out, and many will sit around their Christmas tree on boxing day and unwrap their amazing gifts, while others might just get an envelope full of cash . Whatever it is, make sure you remember the importance of your culture and embracing to your roots.
Until next time folks!