Renowned historian, Prof. Toyin Falola, has said the decline of indigenous languages will result in poverty and marginalisation.
Speaking as the Distinguished Public Lecturer, at North-West University, Mahikeng Campus, South Africa, Falola, called on academia across the globe, including Africa, to actively support safeguarding indigenous languages.
Falola’s lecture, titled, ‘Communication, media, culture, and evolving trends in the world of indigenous languages,’ read, “The decline of indigenous languages has far-reaching consequences, often resulting in poverty and marginalisation. This unfortunate trend restricts individuals’ opportunities to access education, secure employment, and receive adequate healthcare. Moreover, the profound influence of language on one’s sense of self and identity can harm mental health and overall well-being.”
Falola who is the Jacob And Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair Professor In The Humanities And A Distinguished Teaching Professor At The University Of Texas At Austin, said preserving endangered languages was a moral duty and a profound responsibility of all, saying government efforts, non-governmental agencies and indigenous communities played a vital role in actively contributing to these endeavours.
He added that “By safeguarding these languages, we honour the rich cultural heritage they embody and ensure that future generations can benefit from the practical advantages they bring to our societies. In the past few years, government agencies, international organisations, and local communities have had a surge in initiatives to safeguard and record indigenous languages and their rich cultural heritage.
“These efforts have embraced various tools such as media, technology, and other innovative methods. In addition to government efforts, non-governmental agencies and indigenous communities play a vital role in actively contributing to these endeavours. The success of these preservation efforts holds the potential to empower indigenous languages, allowing them to maintain their vital roles in social and cultural development, going beyond mere communication.”
There is a growing aspiration for academia across the globe, including Africa, to actively support safeguarding indigenous languages. These languages are needed to preserve our rich historical narratives, ancestral heritage, and cultural identity. They serve as the roots that anchor us firmly to our collective past, much like a sturdy tree with deep foundations.”